I have always been a passionate traveller, spending many years of my pre-baby life living, working, volunteering & visiting over 30 countries. Some of my greatest life moments to date have happened whilst travelling and I’m determined not to loose that sense of adventure now that I have a family. Family travel definitely has it’s challenges and requires a lot more planning, but the life experience & rewards are priceless.
Jennifer Adams, from Network Ten’s travel show Places We Go, knows a thing or two about family travel. Jennifer and her partner Clint Bizzell have embarked on countless family adventures over the last five years, including a 4 1/2 month stint travelling Australia with their then two-year-old daughter Charli in tow! The culmination of these adventures is the perfect resource for the adventurous family: AUSTRALIA’S TOP 100 PLACES TO GO– The Ultimate Bucket List. I couldn’t wait to ask Jennifer first hand about her experience, recommendations & advice for family travel.
What lead you embark on this family adventure?
There have been so many family adventures that led to the making of this book, but the key one was definitely our four-and-a-half month trip around Australia, which we also turned into a 13-part TV series for Places We Go.
It’s a trip we had always wanted to do, and since our daughter Charli was two years old at the time, it just felt like perfect timing. Charli is now six, so as you can imagine there have been countless adventures since. We actually took both of Charli’s grandmothers (our mums) with us on our trip around the country, so it really was the ultimate family adventure. I remember standing on the side of a red dusty road in the Northern Territory watching the sunset, and I said to Clint (my partner), ‘I never want this to end’. Australia really is a magnificent country, a place that we will never stop exploring.
Where is “home” for your family?
We live by the water in Sandringham in Victoria. When I come home after travelling, the first thing I love to do is head down to the beach for a run or a walk, followed by a coffee in the village. There is nothing like coming home, and I feel very blessed to have such beautiful family and friends to share our adventures with … but I must say, I love the fact that there is always another adventure somewhere around the corner, and that can be big or small!
Have you always travelled with Charli?
Charli has travelled pretty consistently since she was three months old when we took her up the Cape York Peninsula for four weeks and filmed a documentary. She has already had two passports, and travelled more than most people I know. But since she started school this year, she is the one who has led to us all settling down a lot more. While she is incredibly adaptable, she loves stability and routine (like all kids I guess) – there is nothing better for her than having friends over for a barbie, and all just hanging out. But I don’t doubt travelling is in her blood, as every now and then she will say: ‘Mum can we go back to Kangaroo Island or Tassie?’ It was a special moment when we received a copy of Australia’s Top 100 Places to Go – the Ultimate Bucket List, and Charli asked if she could take it to school for ‘show and share’. She delighted in sharing with her classmates all of the amazing places you can visit in our beautiful country!
Name your top 3 family friendly destinations
1. Kangaroo Island, South Australia – Kangaroo Island is our daughter Charli’s favourite place to go in Australia. She fell in love with the close encounters with the wildlife. An afternoon spent feeding grey kangaroos in a wildlife sanctuary left quite the impression, not to mention watching the fur seals come in out of the ocean! For the adults, the farmers’ market and meeting the passionate locals who are so connected to their environment made KI a wonderful place to visit.
2. El Questro Wilderness Park, the Kimberley, Western Australia –The Kimberley is a place I tell all of my friends they must experience in their lifetimes, as it’s just so stunning, farmed as it is by the red, rocky ranges and the big blue Kimberley sky. El Questro is the perfect way for a family to experience the true outback (and those stunning red sunsets). We watched the sunrise on a horseback trail, took Charli on hikes to waterfalls, soaked in the thermal Zebedee Springs where we all relaxed and enjoyed a ‘bath in the wilderness’, and even took a cruise on the Chamberlain River and fed the resident barramundi who swam beneath us.
3. Wilsons Promontory, Victoria – In our own backyard of Victoria, the “Prom” is somewhere we love to escape to as a family and feel completely enveloped by Mother Nature and her pristine wilderness. We’ve had some wonderful memories there, from waking up to a wombat in our tent to taking the many nature walks (which are suitable for children), and wonderful afternoons playing beach cricket followed by a long barbie around the fire.
I’m sure there were many incredible moments, but was there one stand-out experience that you will never forget?
Yes, there are many stand-out moments from our travels around Australia, but my number one ‘experience’ was swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. There is a majesty about them that defies words.
Were there times you felt you’d had enough of the transient lifestyle? What were the biggest challenges?
Of course! The biggest challenge has been to make it work for all of us, and of course our priority is our daughter. We are still travelling a lot, but I would say that it is an evolving part of our life. Sometimes we are on the road a lot, and other times we feel like slowing down, especially this year with our daughter starting school. I don’t worry too much about what the future holds, as our life is quite the adventure regardless.
What are your must have travel items?
Sense of adventure and an open mind. Oh, and my credit card and mobile phone in case we break down or get stuck! That’s about it really, anything else you can get by without!
Any tips for travelling with kids?
Try not to do too much. Plan one or two things for the day, but leave the afternoon for them to have some play time (Charli always wants to make sure there is a pool nearby!).
What is the best thing to come out of this experience?
Reminiscing about all the wonderful places we have travelled to, and the incredible people we have met along the way. It’s been a real privilege.
What’s next for you and your family?
We are currently working on the seventh series of Places We Go (I just returned from Turkey and the Greek Islands two days ago!) and we have booked a family holiday on Stradbroke Island for Christmas – a place that is dear to Clint’s heart as he grew up holidaying there with his family. We are going to be with all of his side of the family – there will be lots of outdoor barbies, and the kids running around with no shoes on, and surfing at the beach. How lucky we are to live in such an incredible country!
Do yo have a favourite family destination? I’d love to know where- please leave a comment! xo
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