Father's Day is upon us and if Dad can get some time off, he'll be angling to take his kids on a few escapades, as much to blow his own cobwebs away as to indulge his offspring. So what can the family look forward to on the perfect dadventure?
1. Something spontaneous.
While most dads like to think they've got the planning and organisational skills of a sergeant major, the reality is that we miss the spontaneity of our youth. Who better to help us recapture that spirit than our children, and what better way of doing it than throwing the Turbo Tent (up in ten minutes, according to Black Wolf – blackwolf.com.au) in the back of the car and heading off for a night in the bush. Favourite camping spots within cooee of Sydney include Treachery Camp (treacherycamp.com.au) at Seal Rocks to the north, where small campfires are allowed, and Bonnie Vale in Royal National Park, an hour to the south, with its beautiful lagoon, shallow bay and great fishing, trekking and kayaking (in warmer months).
2. Something scary
A few screams are good, even if Mum might disapprove and they are mainly coming from Dad. Indulge him by going on the Tower of Terror at Dreamworld together (dreamworld.com.au) or witnessing his expert face plants in the dunes of Stradbroke Island while sandboarding (straddiekingfishertours.com.au).
3. Something wet
Aussie Dads are drawn to the ocean like politicians to election promises. If he hasn't already taught his kids how to ride a wave, then surf lessons will be on his list, either close to home at Maroubra or Bondi or further afield off Byron Bay (letsgosurfing.com.au). Donning a mark and snorkel makes him feel fearless and so he'll want to inveigle his children into joining him, especially if they are holidaying anywhere near the Barrier Reef (oceansafari.com.au).
4. Something new
Adhering to the philosophy that "a change is as good as a rest", the perfect Dadventure will involve an activity the family have never done before. These could include drift snorkeling down a river (with backcountrybliss.com.au on the Mossman River, near Port Douglas) or ziplining through the rainforest canopy (in the Daintree, with junglesurfing.coma.u).
5. Something convenient
Dad knows he's not capable, like Mum, of mastering several tasks at once, so he'll opt for a resort with onsite restaurants, buffet breakfast, pools and games room on site like Shoal Bay Resort at Port Stephens, or with its own onsite tours like Thala Beach Lodge at Port Douglas (thalabeach.com.au).
6. Something wild
Dad knows that encounters with animals will stand out in his kids' memories as they did during his childhood, and the closer the meeting the better. In the winter, there is nowhere better to take small people than Hervey Bay, where mother humpbacks and their newborn calves regularly ambush whale-watching tours(spiritofherveybay.com) passing right beneath the boat. In warmer weather, none of the family will forget swimming with wild dolphins, off Port Stephens (dolphinswimaustralia.com.au).
7. Something challenging
When on holiday, Dad loves to lead his troops, whether it be getting them up in the dark to ascend Mount Warning, near Byron, to see the Australian mainland's first glimpses of the sun (mtwarningrainforestpark.com/the-experience) or gathering them up for standup paddleboarding lessons on a Mid-North coast lake (pacificpalmssup.com.au).
8. Something educational
Dad knows there is more to life than physical exertion, so he'll usually try to incorporate some learning into the holiday. Whether it be an indigenous tour in the Blue Mountains (bluemountainswalkabout.com) or a day spent at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, experiencing earthquakes and bolts of lightning (questacon.edu.au), he loves to see his kids' minds expanded, especially when they quote a fact they've learnt, when back at school.
9. Something silly
He knows he is the family entertainment minister, destined to make bad dad jokes and encourage silliness in his kids. Gold Coast theme parks like WetnWild (wetnwild.com.au) provide myriad possibilities for going nuts, as well as combining two other dadventure essentials, something wet and something wild. Otherwise, indoor trampolining arenas are doubly good for crazy moves and wearing the kids out (flip-out.net.au has numerous venues around NSW, including Brookvale, North Wollongong and Newcastle).
10. Something thrilling
In the end, a dadventure is judged by its thrill factor, so he'll be itching to take the kids rock-climbing or abseiling as soon as they're ready for it (climbingadventures.com.au in the Blue Mountains) or failing that, to scale the world's most celebrated coat hanger above Sydney Harbour (bridgeclimb.com).