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The Mercure Resort in Queensland.
The Mercure Resort in Queensland.
Hire a Maui van in SA.
Bunbury Accommodation Village in WA.

Family holidays I & II

Thursday, December 19, 2002
It's holiday time and the Getaway team has scoured Australia to come up with a good selection of places to go this summer.

It's almost school holiday time again. The Getaway team has scoured Australia to come up with a good selection of places to go this summer.

The Mercure Resort in Surfers Paradise is a great place for children of all ages. It has the only licensed creche within a resort on the Gold Coast for the very young and a free Gecko Club for 5 to 12-year-olds. It's open for 12 hours from 8.30am and they have two film nights a week. There are five play areas, including a little town, two lunar walks and a painting room. For the 13 to 17-year-olds there is an unsupervised playground and Club Extreme.

The rooms are big and comfortable and there is a special menu and eating room for children during holiday time. Passes for Sea World, Wet'n'Wild and Movie World are for sale at the reception desk and a shuttle bus runs to the amusement parks. Rooms start at $137 a night and children under 12 stay for free.

Surf Educate Australia is owned and run by Craig Riddington. His love of the surf began as a nipper and continued during his 12-year career as an Ironman. Craig is very aware of the need for children to be safe in the surf and his education course is very much hands-on.

The three-day intensive program builds confidence and knowledge. Trainers are top level athletes who take the children through skills such as body surfing, rip awareness, board riding and general beach fitness. Programs operate throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria. The location featured on the show was Manly beach in Sydney. A three-day program costs $110 per person.

Lake Eildon Holiday Boats in Victoria are perfect for the family that loves to be on and near the water, fishing, skiing, jetskiing and swimming. Lake Eildon is Australia's largest inland lake. You can choose from 22 houseboats, including a double-storey beauty with eight berths, kitchen, lounge, bathroom with shower, sundeck and barbecue.

These are just right for large families or for two or three families who want to holiday together. You need to take your linen, blankets, sleeping bags, towels, clothing, food and drink. You can order food and liquor by phone and it will be waiting for you when you arrive. Holiday boats start at $638 for six people for a three-night weekend or four nights mid-week.

Tasmania fly/drive is the most popular way to explore this beautiful state and most packages include an accommodation pass which gives great flexibility. You can pre-book your hotel or motel or you can book as you go. There are properties to choose from all over Tasmania and seven passes offering a range of places to fit your budget.

Best Western has 18 hotels in Tasmania. Tassie B&B Pubs are relaxed and friendly and have 23 properties. There are eight Parkside Motor Inns, 24 Flag Hotels and 15 properties under the Tas Holiday Apartments pass. Historic Houses of Tasmania have 14 properties of three different levels and Cottages of the Colony, Past and Present have 33 places, ranging from an old mill to a gaol house and a bakery. You can mix and match from the lists. Qantas Holidays has a three-day/two-night Tasmanian fly/drive package starting from $616 per person twin share.

Maui Motorhomes can be picked up in most major Australian cities. These are an economic way to sightsee, sleep and eat, all in one comfortable van. West Beach Caravan Park in South Australia is where we tested the motorhome. They are fully equipped and include unlimited kilometres, maps and campground details, so you can move on to a new venue whenever the fancy takes you.

All vehicles except Spirit Two and Spirit 4WD have toilets and all except Spirit 4WD have shower facilities. They have single or double beds and Maui's brochure covers sleeping, mechanical and cooking specifications.

Bunbury Accommodation Village has been a family favourite for years and is one of the best in the west. It is about 2 hours south of Perth and is really geared for children, particularly during school holidays when they organise special activities. There are safe swimming beaches nearby and should parents feel like indulging in some wine tasting, Margaret River is about half an hour away.

The main accommodation is, of course, caravan sites, with basic powered sites and sites with ensuites. There are also self-contained chalets which sleep up to six. Powered sites start at $18 per night. Caravan ensuite sites start at $23 per night and Chalets start at $74 per night.

Ooraminna Bush Camp is on Deep Well Station, one of about 10 Northern Territory cattle stations which welcomes visitors. It's one of the smallest stations in the Territory, with a couple of homesteads, a school of the air room, 5000 cattle and 30 horses. There are five areas for setting up your swag and two bush huts.

Activities include riding a horse around the property, learning to make damper in an open fire and a four-hour 4WD station tour. 4WDs are used for rounding up cattle these days, the sheep became too used to dogs and would not obey their instructions. City children take a few days to get used to being in the real outback, the darkness, the quiet, the fresh air and the sheer size is quite overwhelming.


All around Australia.

More information

Mercure Resort
Ph: (07) 5579 4444 or 1800 074 111
Surf Educate Australia
Ph: (07) 5593 6192 or 1800 501 721
Lake Eildon Holiday Boats
Ph: (03) 5774 2107 or 1800 015 101
Tourism Victoria : Ph: 132 842
Tasmania Fly/Drive
Phone Qantas Holidays 13 14 15
Maui Motorhomes: Ph: (03) 9415 1069
Bunbury Accommodation Village: Ph: 08 9795 7100
Ooraminna Bush Camp: Ph: (08) 8953 0170

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