Take the kids on a trip to the reef with Cruise Whitsundays.
Take the kids on a trip to the reef with Cruise Whitsundays. Jason Dougherty

Ultimate family fun at Airlie Beach

MY wife cried when I told her we were taking a holiday. We hadn't had a break in so long.

But as any mum and dad knows, a real holiday with the kids must keep them happy and entertained so the parents can have a rest, too. And it can't cost the earth, either, or the next family holiday will be a long way down the track.

That takes quite a lot of planning, research and lead-up time. But I will make it easy for you because I reckon we found the ultimate family holiday.

At the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort at Airlie Beach, park owners Greg and Naomi McKinnon have turned their little piece of paradise into a haven for mums and dads.

Whether you bring a tent, camper trailer or caravan or prefer to stay in any one of their luxury cottages, you are sure to enjoy your stay.

Each site is partitioned by a beautiful garden that provides shade and privacy and you wouldn't even know you had neighbours unless you went and knocked on their door.

On arrival at the resort, the kids sprung to life as we drove to our modest two-bedroom cabin complete with spa bath, air-conditioning and bunk beds, full oven and all the luxuries you would expect.

We didn't get a chance to unpack the car before putting our togs on and spending the morning beside the 33-metre swimming pool.

This isn't just any pool but an adventure park in its own right, with two waterslides, three “raining mushrooms” and two spas. No wonder it took three hours to convince the kids they needed to eat lunch.

One of the highlights of the trip was boarding Seaflight – Cruise Whitsundays' 37-metre luxury ocean cruiser – bound for the Great Barrier Reef.

From Able Point Marina, the picture-postcard views were endless as first we stopped at Daydream and Hayman islands.

Captain Phil set Seaflight on a course of 21 degrees and cruise speed of 23 knots with the children happily doing activities from the on-board Finding Nemo activity guide.

On the trip out to Knuckle Reef Lagoon, the staff of Cruise Whitsundays had plenty of local knowledge and couldn't wait to share their little piece of paradise.

For those like me wanting to have a 30-minute scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, the staff will guide you through a few safety rules and regulations and put you at ease.

I haven't dived before and am glad I did. Floating effortlessly on the reef gives you a greater appreciation for our environment and sea creatures.

With so much to do on the reef – scuba diving, snorkelling, water sliding, the glass bottom boat and underwater adventure – the time just gets away from you. But trust me, you don't want to miss the smorgasbord lunch provided.

As we departed Knuckle Reef, all passengers shared their experiences of the trip. So many different stories were told as every person took away their own personal memories.

Not long into the return trip, a photo slideshow is shown on the plasma screens and not too long after that, almost all passengers were resting or sleeping – evidence of a great day out.

We spent the next day exploring the resort activities, starting with the 18-hole mini golf that gets the team spirit going, then a tour of the resort for an hour in the pedal karts.

We stopped for lunch followed by a session on the jumping pillow and swings for the little ones, then off to the pool and waterslides for the rest of the afternoon.

By the time I'd cooked the evening barbecue and we'd settled down to the 7pm outdoor movie on the big screen, all three children were fast asleep within 30 minutes.

Our final day brought a whole new meaning to fun with Junior MasterChef contestant Siena hosting cooking classes. The boys learned how to cook wontons and chocolate mousse, but the real challenge began when we cooked wontons for dinner.

The resort also runs Kermit's Kids Club, where they can play pass the parcel and make door-handle hangers in an afternoon jam-packed with activities.


BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort

25-29 Shute Harbour Road

Airlie Beach, Queensland Australia, 4802

Contact the friendly froggetts on 1800640587

For a fun-filled day on the Great Barrier Reef, contact Cruise Whitsundays.

Building 2, Abel Point Marina North Qld 4802.

Freecall 1800426403.

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