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The best family-friendly hotels in New South Wales, from bush survival courses to private zoo tours

Ariela Bard
Highlights at Zoofari Lodge include feeding the giraffes and getting close to the lions

The state of New South Wales on Australia’s east coast is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – from patrolled swimming areas (good for children) and surfer-friendly waves to ocean lap and rock pools – but we all know it takes (a little) more than a bucket and spade to have a harmonious family holiday. The following properties range from ‘fair dinkum’ outback destinations for little adventurers who aren’t afraid to get their feet dirty to high-end retreats for pampered princes and princesses. Think Junior Rangers programmes featuring archery, fossil hunting and bush survival courses, and behind-the-scenes tours at Dubbo Western Plains Zoo. Here's our pick of the best family-friendly hotels in New South Wales.

Elements of Byron, New South Wales

Elements of Byron

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

9Telegraph expert rating

Private access to one of Australia’s most renowned beaches, a Parkour-inspired all-natural playground set within a rainforest, and an outdoor games area – they can all be found at Elements of Byron, along with a solar-powered heritage train that chugs into the centre of town (keeping parents happy by avoiding the Byron Bay traffic or looking for that elusive beachfront parking spot). The resort’s Lagoon Pool Precinct is a dedicated area for toddlers and babies to enjoy safe water play, while older children have free reign of the large pool and fun pods that surround it. The two-bedroom villas are ideal for families. Read expert review From £209 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Newnes, New South Wales, Australia

9Telegraph expert rating

Children lucky enough to visit this conservation-based resort, in bushland between Wollemi and Stone National Parks, will be treated to a whole range of activities. Not only are there mountain bikes outside every cabin, hosted wildlife safaris and stargazing tours, the Junior Rangers programme features archery, fossil hunting and bush survival. You can also hop on the Sundowner Tour for a two-hour bus ride through the property to see the many kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos and wombats. Each villa has an indoor plunge pool, and a separate living room. Dining is a treat, featuring delicate and artfully presented dishes – plus children’s menu. Read expert review From £1,271 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

8Telegraph expert rating

The beauty of this five-star is its position on 45 acres of native forest. Guests can meander the hotel's wooden boardwalks to spy local wildlife, such as wallabies and goannas, borrow a bike or play tennis before a dip in the heated outdoor pool, shaded by rainforest and with a small children's pool to the side. Given Byron Bay’s reputation as a place to unwind, it's apt that the hotel creates a calm environment that's at one with nature, and so the hotel has both family-friendly and child-free areas. One interconnecting room is available, as well as sofa beds in selected suites. Read expert review From £186 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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QT Bondi, Sydney

QT Bondi

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

8Telegraph expert rating

Located just across the road from world-famous Bondi Beach, QT Bondi is just footsteps down to the sand. It’s full of families in summer – large rooms with fold-out couches and large living spaces make it ideal – and bicycles and surfboards are available free-of-charge for all guests. While there is no restaurant at the hotel, there’s a chargeback system at Drake Eatery just downstairs. Otherwise, there are nearby restaurants, cafés and a supermarket that’s good for stocking up rooms for a comfortable stay. Pastel-coloured doors and polka-dot carpets echo Bondi’s carefree, frisky tone and give the hotel a sense of fun. Read expert review From £110 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Rae’s on Wategos

Rae’s on Wategos

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

9Telegraph expert rating

The Spanish Mission-style building was built in the 1960s by a local and, according to legend, the garden was designed by family friend Salvador Dalí. The hotel, which is set above one of Byron Bay’s best beaches, has light, uncluttered spaces resulting in a relaxed and sophisticated seaside feel. The children’s menu is sure to please even the fussiest of diners, and even includes fairy bread (buttered slices sprinkled with hundreds and thousands). A villa, two penthouses and four suites comprise the seven individually designed rooms. Extra beds can be added at an extra charge; children under five stay free. Read expert review From £354 per night

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Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia

7Telegraph expert rating

Family comes first at this Blue Mountains retreat, and they really pack the facilities in. The kidzone, located discreetly on the lowest floor, has a bowling alley, video arcade, two massive climbing gyms and a mirror maze, among many other activities. Bumper cars operate outside and the Fairmont Express – a miniature steam train – leaves twice daily for a 20-minute journey around the property. The hotel prides itself on being a cross-generational happy place for families and some dishes are a nod to cooking styles of generations past. Spacious rooms emulate the same log-cabin vibe as the rest of the hotel. Read expert review From £98 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

8Telegraph expert rating

Situated in the heart of Circular Quay, Sydney’s tourist precinct, the Shangri La is footsteps from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Sydney Opera House, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, so sightseeing is easy with a family in tow. Rooms above level 30 come with the best views and access to the Horizon Club (which offers a private check-in service, light breakfast and dining options, snacks throughout the day and, for the parents, cocktails in the evening). Level two is home to a pool. Children are welcomed with complimentary amenities and the occasional small stuffed Australian animal or star-shaped chocolate lollipop. Read expert review From £119 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Bannisters Port Stephens

Bannisters Port Stephens

Soldiers Point, New South Wales, Australia

8Telegraph expert rating

For foodie families, Bannister’s is the go-to destination. With Rick Stein at the helm, it’s not hard to see why gourmands continue to flock to this seaside bolthole. Children will love the beachfront access and the activities “the dolphin capital of Australia” is famous for. A typical day out in Port Stephens could include whale watching, camel rides, frolicking with dolphins, hiking, kayaking or riding the white dunes in sand buggies. And there’s a dedicated children’s menu that includes Stein’s fish and chips, linguini with tomato sauce, and minute steaks. Ice cream to follow, of course. Read expert review From £114 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Zoofari Lodge, Australia

Zoofari Lodge

Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia

7Telegraph expert rating

Zoofari Lodge, located just behind the African Savannah at Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, is the ideal family adventure that doesn’t scrimp on comfort. The behind-the-scenes tours, given by an entertaining and informative guide, both delight and captivate children. Highlights include feeding the giraffes and getting close to the lions. The guesthouse has a communal dining room where guests share breakfast and dinner, and a games room centred around a large, stone fireplace with a chessboard and library. You’re also given a two-day admission pass to Taronga Western Plains Zoo which you can explore on foot, bike or buggy. Read expert review From £187 per night

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Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Sydney

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

7Telegraph expert rating

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is well placed for illustrious harbour beaches and windswept cliff-top walks – great for paddleboarding, scuba diving, or spotting a passing pod of dolphins. The lobby, dining room and Beach Club are decorated in Hamptons-chic style; think white-washed furniture, dip-dyed soft furnishings, fishing nets, and sailboats giving it a homely sense of place. Dinner at the Beach Club includes some excellent meal options for children, while the beach and playground are fun all day long. Opt for a room that doesn’t overlook the Beach Club if the kids are sensitive to noise at night. Read expert review From £196 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com