It's nearly summer family holiday time, and Perth is gearing up.
With its beautiful weather, endless beaches and parklands, family-friendly wining and dining, cuddly animals and adventure playgrounds - not forgetting the ever-popular Rottnest Island - what more could you want for unforgettable family time?
These are our top 5 spots to explore around Perth on your family holiday this summer.
No family holiday in Perth is complete without a trip to Rottnest Island. Accommodation fills up fast, so book well ahead to get a holiday unit or heritage cottage in the perfect location. Many overlook the ocean, and all are within a short stroll. This is possibly the most relaxing Perth holiday destination for families, and makes a wonderful day out too.
On this holiday island surrounded by water, and with our perfect Perth weather, family holiday fun involves getting wet one way or another. And what better for kids than a huge inflated adventure playground floating in the bay? Just 4 Fun Aqua Park, in North Thomson Bay near the main jetty, has been created for safe leaping, sliding, climbing, balancing and inevitably splashing into the water. There's a Knee Deep Zone for toddlers, and barbecue facilities are close by.
Essential to any Rottnest visit is a tour of the little island's necklace of bays, either on the Island Explorer hop-on hop-off bus, or the traditional way - by push bike. Hire your bicycles plus snorkelling equipment on the island. Rottnest is one of the easiest places to learn to snorkel in the beautiful, calm, pale turquoise ocean. The water can be a little chilly though, so luckily you can hire wetsuits. There are plenty of great fishing spots too if you'd rather catch fish than swim with them.
Shipwrecks and battles are as intriguing as the sea life here. Follow the shipwreck trail, or get dry and go underground to learn about Rottnest's wartime history. Read more here: So Much More Than Swimming and Cycling
Another fun way to explore the island for ages 12 and up is by Segway - those two-wheeled, standup, motorised trolleys that let you zoom around quietly with very little effort. It's a unique way to see more without sitting behind a bus window or having to pedal a bike uphill, and the kids will love it! Segway Tours offers family packages, which are best booked ahead to avoid disappointment. Their tours take you around the settlement, along to popular swimming spots and up to the lighthouse, with time to stop for quokka selfies.
Voted the cutest animals on earth, the little quokkas are, of course, always on the list of things to do during families holidays in Perth. Join a free guided walk to meet the quokkas when you first visit the island, to make sure little ones understand how to approach these very tame and trusting wild creatures.
A range of activities for kids are run by the Rottnest Voluntary Guides during school holidays, from encountering pirates to learning about the island's flora and fauna. Download a Holiday Activities program from RottnestIsland.com
Getting to Rottnest Island from Perth for your family holiday is easy with Rottnest Fast Ferries from Hillary's, Rottnest Express from Perth and Fremantle, or Sealink from Fremantle. For a simple map and advice on the best swimming / snorkelling spots, go to this link: A Journey Around Perth's Secluded Island Escape
The Perth family holiday destination chosen by Just 4 Fun as the location for the second of its two Aqua Parks is on the sheltered estuary in Mandurah. No surprise there, as this is another really easy and fun place to spend time with the whole family, with plenty of space to run, lots going on at a relaxed pace and foreshore dining to keep the grown-ups happy too.
Mandurah means coming nose to nose with those clever, friendly, smiling sea mammals it's impossible not to love - dolphins! Join a Mandurah Cruises tour to meet and learn all about them - one of the most joyful things to do on your family holiday in Perth.
Kids will be intrigued to know that dolphins can't breathe underwater, which is why they come up for air every few minutes, making it easy for us to spot them leaping and playing. Read more about dolphins and where to find them on your Perth family holiday here: Best Places to Spot Dolphins
In December, the waterways are dressed up in time for summer family holidays, and Perth residents travel down just to see the famous Canals Christmas Lights. The canals of Mandurah are transformed into a wonderland of lights mirrored in the water, best seen with Mandurah Cruises, but do book ahead. The cruises depart every day between 1 December 2018 and 9 January 2019. Start getting excited by watch this video shot from a Mandurah Cruise boat on a previous Christmas Lights tour: Mandurah Canals Christmas Lights Phenomenon
A stroll around the canals and Mandurah Boardwalk is great for easy-going fun, peering at the boats and browsing the shops. There are lots of family friendly cafes and restaurants along Mandurah Foreshore strip to stave off the hunger pangs, many serving up the fresh seafood the town is known for. Cicerello's is hard to beat for top notch fish 'n' chips. Take your lunch down to the wide grassy banks, ideal for picnicking and playing.
The Eastern Foreshore and Mandurah Boardwalk are the places to be on a Sunday, when the Farmers Markets and Manjjar Markets set up their stalls. The Farmers Markets provide breakfast, kids' activities and live music to keep the whole family amused while you browse through scrumptious fresh local produce. Mandjar Markets are a must if you love arts and crafts, with lots of gifts and souvenirs to take home, and there's free kids' entertainment here too.
For another fascinating experience, Mandjoogoordap Dreaming tours are a great addition to your family holiday, telling of Perth's original inhabitants through stories and secrets. Guides explain the significance of each place as you walk or bus around Mandurah, giving you a feel for the indigenous culture underlying this ancient part of the world. The tours leave from and return to Mandurah Performing Arts Centre; booking advised.
Getting to Mandurah from Perth is easy either on the freeway or by taking the 50 minute train ride. A free shuttle bus carries you from the train station right to Mandurah Foreshore. There's plenty of accommodation to choose from, from Seashells Mandurah and Quest Mandurah serviced apartments to Mandurah Houseboats and Mandurah Ocean Marina Chalets.
Go to this link for more Ways to Make the Most of Mandurah and the Peel Region, and drop into the Mandurah Visitor Centre when you arrive for up-to-date ideas on things to do with the family.
On a family holiday in Perth's Swan Valley, you'll have everything except the ocean. But who needs the waves when you're surrounded by family friendly wineries, fresh countryside ... and chocolate factories!
Whistler's Chocolate Co makes and sells chocolatey sweets of all kinds - think honey comb, rocky road, ice cream, macarons, fudge, and fabulous gifts packs. The cafe serves light lunches, and when you're ready for the kids to burn off that sugar, the grassy outdoor area has a playground. Chocoholics should drop into the Margaret River Chocolate Co too, just five minutes away.
A trip for all the family is with Swan Valley Wagon Tours, a horse drawn trail to sample some of the wine, honey and gourmet food the Swan Valley is know for. Swan Valley Tours also offers some fabulous ways to meander around the Valley tasting chocolate, cheese, honey, wine, cider - the list goes on.
You'll find many family friendly cafes and vineyard restaurants to make sure you enjoy a delicious and relaxing Perth family holiday. The following links list some of the best:
Your Best Brunch Spots in the Swan Valley
Swan Valley Coffee Spots
Family Friendly Wineries in the Swan Valley
Wonderful as it is, your family holiday in Perth's gourmet region needn't be totally taken up with food and wine! Everyone is sure to love the many outdoor activities to indulge in between meals.
Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm is a big family favourite. Not only do you get to cuddle and bottle feed baby farmyard animals, but the kids can ride a pony, enjoy a tractor ride and hop on the merry-go-round or bouncy castle. All these are included in the entry fee of just $18.00 for adults and $13.00 for children (under 2's free).
Visiting native animals at Caversham Wildlife Park is another must-do. Here you can hand-feed the kangaroos, have your photo taken with a wombat and ride a camel. You're right, camels aren't native to Australia, but many people don't realise that there are an estimated 1.2 million feral camels running around the country, brought in originally from the Middle East and India to use for transporting heavy goods.
Children will already know about the sheep introduced by Europeans more than 200 years ago, and will be fascinated by Caversham sheep shearing demonstrations and watching the sheep dogs show off their skills.
Caversham Wildlife Park is within Whiteman Park, a popular family holiday day trip from Perth on the edge of the Swan Valley. Take your time to explore the Children's Forest, visit the craft shops and enjoy a picnic on sweeping lawns with barbecues and splash pool.
Whiteman Park Tours are either free or very low cost, so plan to join one of those for more of an adventure. The nocturnal tour lets you watch little native marsupials called woylies and quendas feeding at night.
If the kids are still bouncing with energy, make the trip up to The Maze and Outback Splash in Bullsbrook, where they can get lost in the amazing mazes and splash to their hearts' content in the huge inflatable waterslide playground.
Oasis Supa Golf is another great location for some action and family bonding. This fun challenge enables all ages from 6 up to play a simple version of golf together.
Supa Golf is within the Swan Valley Oasis Resort, a great choice for accommodation. As well as golf, there are laser combat games, an Aboriginal art gallery and a brewery on site - something for everyone to enjoy. Other places to stay include Discovery Parks Swan Valley and Midland Tourist Park, both ideal for young families, and the fabulous Novotel Vines Resort with its top class golf course.