Despite economic uncertainty, it is possible to enjoy a family holiday without breaking the bank, so we sent the Getaway
crews across Australia to find some great and affordable locations.
Natalie Gruzlewski started the ball rolling in Coffs Harbour. The coastal resort town is where the mountains meet the sea.
The Big Banana
Visitors have been stopping at the over-sized attraction for more than four decades. In 1964 the owner of the land wanted to increase his number of customers, and hit upon the idea of an enormous banana after seeing Hawaii's Big Pineapple.
It's even bigger now and has a cafe, gift and souvenir shop, candy kitchen, games, a nursery, an ice rink and toboggan ride, trike rides, The World of Bananas multimedia theatre and Australia's first three-storey waterslide, The Banana Slip. The water park is the start of a planned $150 million development.
There is a tempting selection of banana jams, sauces and condiments, fresh bananas and local macadamia nut products.
The 21m-long butterfly house which opened in 1995 is one of the few fully enclosed, climate-controlled butterfly houses in Australia. A gas furnace provides perfect subtropical rainforest conditions for the health and contentment of the beautiful inhabitants. Daytime temperature is 29°C and from the moment you enter you are surrounded by hundreds of fabulously coloured and patterned Australian butterflies. Guides are on hand to answer butterfly questions.
There are about 400 on display year round, made up of 17 species and they could just decide to land on you! The butterflies vary with the seasons, but you are always assured of a colourful treat. The largest you will see is the Cairns birdwing.
Butterfly House has a maze within a maze where families have great fun hunting for clues to answer a quiz. There is a woodturning gallery, souvenir shop and tearooms serving delicious morning and afternoon tea, lunches and drinks served in a beautiful garden.
BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort
This beautiful resort is a haven for couples and families, offering absolute beachfront at the uncrowded Diggers Beach. Set amid open parklands and sub-tropical gardens, it's an oasis with an endless combination of accommodation and recreation to suit everyone and there are plenty of ways to save yourself some money.
Two lagoon pools each have cave spas, waterfalls and shady palms. One has a children's waterslide. There's a heated indoor pool and of course, the ocean at the doorstep.
For some active fun there are tennis and beach volleyball courts. Sport and beach equipment are available. There is a gymnasium for those wanting to maintain their fitness regime.
If you enjoy holiday pampering, Mi-Time Day Spa has a great variety of health, beauty and massage services for all ages.
Award-winning Finz on the Beach restaurant features seasonal cuisine and Casay Bar and Café serves alfresco meals in a casual environment.
STAR Kids' Club entertains 2-12-year-olds with face painting, games, craft and dances and babysitting can be arranged if you fancy a romantic dinner at Finz on the Beach.
The only hard part about staying at Aanuka is deciding which accommodation is right for you. There are regular rooms, spa, honeymoon and family bures and two-, three- and four- bedroom villas. They have kitchens so you can enjoy meals in luxurious surrounds and save yourself a few dollars.
Coffs Harbour, around 530km north of Sydney.
The Big Banana is open every day between 9am-4.30pm.
The Butterfly House entry is $14 for adults and $7.50 for children. Cost includes entry to Butterfly House and the outdoor maze within a maze. Family passes and concessions are available. It is open between 9am-4pm every day except Mondays during New South Wales' school terms, and every day during New South Wales' school holidays.
BreakFree Annuka Beach Resort studio rooms start at $148 a night. Paradise Spa Bures start at $188, Honeymoon and Family Bures $228. Full-buffet breakfast is included. Two-bedroom Spa Villas are $240 a night and three–bedroom villas are $290, room only. Kids' Club day sessions are $20, including morning tea and lunch and evening sessions are $25, including dinner.
Virgin Blue has flights to Coffs Harbour.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $75
- Brisbane $139
- Melbourne $170
- Adelaide $230
- Perth $300
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are subject to change.
Prices correct at December 3, 2009.
For further information
The Big Banana
351 Pacific Highway
Coffs Harbour 2450
Ph: (02) 6652 4355
Fax: (02) 66 525 160
Coffs Harbour Butterfly House
5 Strouds Road
Ph: (02) 6653 4766
Fax: (02) 6653 4716
BreakFree Annuka Beach Resort
11 Firman Drive
Coffs Harbour 2450
Ph: (02) 6652 7555 or 1800 226 852
Fax: (02) 6652 7053
Ph: 136 789