Take your budding crew to the shore by day, swim and splash, build sandcastles, comb the beaches, stage a picnic in the shade of some she-oaks, take a trek. Treat them to the odd seaside fish-and-chips and holler the ice-cream boat when it rings its bell. Otherwise, catch your own fish. Kids have short attention spans so target the tiddlers.
Trapping crabs is a hoot – ditto pumping nippers ashore at low tide – and do teach your kids about the dangers of snapping claws, stingrays, oysters, jellyfish and sunburn. Set up camp in summer with a beach tent, portable cooler and lunch. In daylight savings, invite them to a beach barbecue dinner. Eat early, play late. After which come long zeds.
We’ve cruised the coast with the young family aboard, surviving hours of passage-making to reach postcard places like Fraser Island, Jervis Bay, Port Stephens, Yamba and more. Yet the big adventure can be lost on young minds. Don’t burden yourself with unnecessary risk and look at the world through their wide, innocent eyes instead.
Go boating in your backyard. Every big-city waterway offers a sense of escapism around some bend, across the bay, upriver and upstream. Let your kids play Huck Finn or Hiawatha in the backwaters. Find your favourite boltholes and beaches and be cognisant of the eventual need for social interaction.