8 epic outdoor school holiday adventures for the whole family

School Holidays in Mandurah

8 epic outdoor school holiday adventures for the whole family

Feels like yesterday that the school term started, and now we quickly find ourselves staring down the barrel of another round of school holidays. Keeping the kids entertained is hard work, but with a little bit of inspiration and planning, it can be an adventure for everyone.

Less than an hour’s drive from Perth, Mandurah is perfect for a fun filled day trip outdoors, or an extended holiday spot. We’ve taken the guesswork out of what to see and do, with a range of unique activities the whole family will love.

Ahoy me hearties, your young explorers will have the ultimate time sailing the seven seas (Mandurah’s waterways and canals), on an epic pirate adventure on board a real life looking pirate ship.

Get your crew together and come dressed in your best pirate outfit, as you go searching for the infamous bottlenose dolphins and other wildly creatures. If you’re lucky, ye old sea captain may even let the kids steer the pirate ship and ring the bell. But beware, those who misbehave may be obliged to walk the plank!

You don’t have to trek all the way to Monkey Mia to get up close to the wondrous bottlenose dolphins. Our pods of playful residents have made Mandurah’s waterways  their home for years, with more than 90 of these curious creatures leaping in and out of the Peel Harvey estuary every day. Take the family on a dolphin cruise and see how many you can spot!

Dolphins live and swim together in groups, so when you see one there’s likely to be more nearby, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled and camera ready.

Get the kids out of the house and onto the track. Whether it’s in the bush or by the beach, there are stacks of cycling trails you can set off on at varying distances and levels. Bring your own bikes or save yourself the hassle and hire a bike for the day. And be sure to download a trail map before you go.

Is it a catamaran or a giant banana? Jump on a bike ride of a different kind – on the water with Mandurah waterbikes. Easier than riding a bike, these waterbikes are steady and stable, so you won’t even get wet as you gently pedal and glide through the water

. Hire a waterbike any day of the week during the school holidays and choose where you cruise, exploring Mandjar Bay and the stunning canals from a new perspective.

Explore hidden parts of the Peel Harvey Waterways by kayak on a guided private river or estuary tour with Salt and Bush Eco Tours. The tandem peddled kayaks are great for beginners and all level kayakers, which means you can spend more time concentrating on the incredible scenery and wildlife around you.

Get your wriggly little humans moving at one of WA’s newest skate parks by the waterfront. Suitable for all abilities, you can skate, scoot or BMX your way around three different skate zones including the very cool skate bowl. Get the kids down for a session – they’ll love it!

Get your kids to master a new skill these school holidays in the surf. Led by accredited surfing instructors, they’ll be taught how to launch themselves onto a board safely and get on top of their first wave. Ever wanted to try it yourself? Join in and give Star Surf a go!

Jump on board Mandurah’s trackless train. Your little ones will love seeing the sights as the Big Toot or Mini Toot takes them on a fun journey around the foreshore and city.

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Easter endless long weekend hop down for some family fun

Not only is Mandurah jam-packed with adventures the City has been running a successful series of Endless Long Weekends. The Easter long weekend is bursting with family friendly events from easter egg hunts, music, carnival rides, family movies and much more.

So, make the most of the sun while it’s still out and Visit Mandurah these school holidays.

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Escape to nature this Easter in Mandurah

Easter in Mandurah

Escape to nature this Easter in Mandurah

Sorted out your Easter holiday plans yet? With a four day break from the daily grind, it pays to think about where you’ll spend it. And what better way to unplug and get away from the stresses of everyday, than a zippy road trip to Mandurah, less than an hour from Perth.

Whether it’s unwinding in the company of nature or revving up for an outdoor adventure, taking timeout with the kids or a romantic couples retreat, a foodie escape or a cruisy getaway with mates, be inspired by our top picks of what to do in Mandurah this Easter long weekend.

A Nature Lover’s Paradise

From the bushland to the waterways, the Mandurah Estuary and Peel Inlet is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and home to a unique abundance of wildlife, birds and marine animals that’s worth exploring.

Jump onboard a custom guided private nature tour with Salt and Bush Eco-Tours and you’ll be amazed by this biodiversity hotspot right on your doorstep. There’s plenty to delve into when you wander and discover the incredible surroundings on a bushwalking trail, paddle or sail on a kayaking adventure with a difference, go bird-watching or simply settle in for a peaceful evening of stargazing.

Get wet and wild… or just chill out

With sunshiny days still hanging around, you can hit the water at whatever rate your heart can handle. Speed across the expansive estuary on a jet ski, drift naturally along on a paddle board or take a relaxing dip and enjoy the leisurely vibes at Falcon Bay Beach.

Wanna hang out with the locals? Go pedalling on a waterbike and get up close to playful bottlenose dolphins, or carve it up in the green room along 60km of uncrowded pristine coastline.

Back on dry land there’s a stack of mountain bike trails through amazing natural landscapes to get your adrenalin pumping. New to the Peel region is the Murray Valley Trails – three purpose-built downhill mountain bike trails catering for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders.

For a change of pace, Mandurah’s art scene is sprinkled all over town. From the foreshore to hidden laneways, on the pavement or building facades, we recommend checking out the insta-worthy art trail.

Relaxed by Nature

Cruising The canals

Mandurah is laidback central, so if you’re searching for the ultimate in relaxation, then get comfy because your best vantage point is on the water. There is no better spot to watch wild dolphins in their natural environment than along pristine and calm inland waterways of Mandurah aboard the Dolphin Scenic & Marine Cruise.

Kick back on a Murray River lunch cruise while enjoying impeccable views, or go it alone and get grilling on an Eco BBQ Boat – no skipper’s ticket required. When evening hits, there’s no better way to take in the west coast’s most spectacular sunsets than on a Sunset Tapas Cruise, with all you can eat tapas included. That’s your Saturday night – and appetite sorted!

Endless Long Weekends

The City of Mandurah has reshaped Mandurah’s event season, bringing a wide variety of events for everyone to enjoys. Easter long weekend is bursting with music, rides, Easter egg hunts, and family movies. What more could you ask for a fun-filled family Easter?

Indulge Your Tastebuds

Mandurah is a mecca for seafood, renowned for its blue swimmer crab. If you don’t fancy catching your own (although going crabbing is half the fun of it – just ask Justin Langer), there’s no shortage of cafes, bars, breweries and restaurants for you to cure the cravings after a jam packed day exploring the amazing outdoors.

Bags packed? We’ll see you soon!

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How the Locals like it -George Walley

When people become aware of the amazing local Aboriginal culture, they often become emotional as their eyes open to something they didn’t know.

How the locals like it

George Walley,
Mandjoogoordap Dreaming

Bindjareb Noongar people have lived in this area for thousands of years. The footprint of cultural knowledge allows visitors to experience a number of tours and learn something amazing through my cultural knowledge.

Our ancestors gave us the name, Mandjoogoordap and its meaning is “meeting place of the heart”. 

It is respectful to the land, spirituality and the people. This place is our heartland or kaaleepga and our names are more than names, they are concepts that have names within names which gives a true meaning of the human relationship with land and Spirit. 

For me, the thrombolites in the Yalgorup National Park are the most significant visitor attraction and they attract global interest. Thrombolites are the oldest known living bacterial life form, surviving after millions of years of existence. This rare and endangered natural feature is also very spiritual, playing a big part in our creation story. They act as a very visual link to the Aboriginal heritage of the region and when the wind blows, it is a very spiritual experience.

The waterways are Mandurah’s best asset. The co-existence of the waterways as a popular resource, and our most important Spiritual asset, reassures me that there will always be an opportunity to show visitors something special in many places around the area. I find that people who go on our tours are very respectful. I see a range of reactions and changed opinions. 

When people become aware of the amazing local Aboriginal culture, they often become emotional as their eyes open to something they didn’t know. Mandurah has become a more attractive place to visit in recent times. It has so much to offer and it’s great to see many tourism businesses making the most of the natural assets such as the waterways.

GEORGE’S TIP FOR A RE-CHARGE GETAWAY

Nanga Mill campsite in Dwellingup. It’s a place we can chill out and get back to nature. The land and the forest give you good energy.

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How the Locals like it – Emma Blyth

My parents opted for a sea change when I was four. Dad liked the surf and fishing so they chose Mandurah as a great place to raise their family.

How the locals like it

Emma Blyth,
Artist

My parents opted for a sea change when I was four. Dad liked the surf and fishing so they chose Mandurah as a great place to raise their family.

I really love the waterways of Mandurah – and it all revolves around our beautiful Mandjar Bay; it really is the heart of Mandurah and a lot of my Mandurah-themed works are inspired by it. 

There is a real community connection to it – as well as the Old Bridge with its multi generations of fisher people. I have my own gallery inside the Mandurah Visitor Centre and create original paintings, prints and Australian made gifts to promote our amazing region and beyond. 

I have seen some big changes to the area in recent times. The Old Bridge replacement is an obvious one, as well as an increase in visitor numbers with the ease of travelling down from Perth on the train. I think even more community involvement and supporting local in recent years has also had a big positive factor in the growth of our city and the connection of our people.

I don’t spend a lot of time at the front of my gallery but when I do, I love to have a chat. There has definitely been an increase in tourists from Asia and there have been quite a few young couples from Europe doing the big drive around the country popping in to visit!

The region has the most amazing natural qualities. The waterways are by far our biggest asset, with our dolphin population being a massive drawcard for tourists. One of my favourite things to do is head out to the Peel Estuary in our dingy at sunset with a wine in hand while my man catches a feed of our famous blue swimmer crabs.

Our annual Crab Fest is a great time to visit the region, and the dolphins often put on a spectacle of their own, delighting the crowds. It is now one of WA’s most loved festivals and I am so proud to create the art for it!

EMMA’S TIPS ON WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

It is hard to pick just one!

  • Morning coffee – DPM Café, an awesome hole in the wall coffee shop with views of the foreshore. 
  • Breakfast/Lunch – Mataya Eatery Fresh and healthy! 
  • Dinner – Flics Kitchen Tapas style, exciting food, in the heart of town. 
  • Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant for a special occasion and The Bridge for a beer!

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How the Locals like it – Guy Jeffreys

We are the only restaurant in Western Australia that grows all of the fruit and veggies used in our kitchen which means you’ll only ever see seasonal dishes on our menu.

How the locals like it

Guy Jeffreys,
Head Chef,
Millbrook Winery
& Restaurant

One of the things that makes Jarrahdale unique is that it experiences four true seasons. We have proper, cold winters, hot summers and true spring and autumn conditions. This means we can grow a nice variety of fruit and vegetables in the Millbrook Restaurant garden, giving us a diverse arsenal to work with.

Photo Credit: David Griffen Photography

We are the only restaurant in Western Australia that grows all of the fruit and veggies used in our kitchen which means you’ll only ever see seasonal dishes on our menu. Another unique aspect is that we chefs do all of the gardening. From planting to harvest we are on our knees in the dirt, weeding and nurturing so when the crop is finally ready for the kitchen, we have the utmost respect for the produce and treat it accordingly. 

For all of our other produce, such as meat and cheese, we try to source as locally, sustainably and small scale as possible. We love family-run businesses and use a barter system for some ingredients, swapping Millbrook wine for what we need.

No Waste Mondays is a concept that’s proven incredibly popular. We create a new menu each week, using whatever is left over from the weekend’s trade. We are consistently booked out and even have a waiting list of people trying to get a table.

I’ve lived on the property for three years and I love it. I like to say Jarrahdale is close to nothing but near everything. It’s in such easy reach of Mandurah, Perth, Fremantle, Rockingham and Armadale we get a great mix of customers from lots of locations.

Jarrahdale has so much history and such natural beauty. The bush and walk trails such as Kitty’s Gorge and Serpentine Dam are fantastic. The best way to top off these experiences is with Millbrook wine and a meal at our restaurant.

Millbrook Winery and Restaurant was ranked at number five in the 2018 West Australian Good Food Guide Awards top 50 restaurants in WA.

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How the Locals like it – Jodie Pantaleo

Pinjarra Bakery was established by my parents over 20 years ago. They had a supermarket in Pinjarra and started selling freshly made bread, cakes and pies.

How the locals like it

Jodie Pantaleo,
Pinjarra Bakery

Pinjarra Bakery was established by my parents over 20 years ago. They had a supermarket in Pinjarra and started selling freshly made bread, cakes and pies.

Photo Credit: Ben Steiger Photography

Soon that part of the business became so successful they built a stand-alone bakery and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, we have three retail stores and a distribution centre. Mum and Dad still work in the business as do I and my two brothers. 

We are very grateful we get to do what we do together with our team. Our customers include everyone from hipsters to grannies, corporates to tradies. Families are also an integral part of our customer base, particularly on the weekends with road trippers heading south for the day. 

We are all about the experience; not only our delicious products but providing a beautiful space to sit and enjoy them. We have room for the whole family here; there is a lot of joy to be gained when food is enjoyed together. The local region is perfect for families.

We love to take our kids into Mandurah for fish and chips and they just love the foreshore. There’s always lots happening with markets, pony rides and face painting. 

Our kids’ favourite place is Adventurescape Playground in South Yunderup and we go as often as we can.

One of the things I love about this region is that it’s still relatively untouched and has kept its country feel. 

The Murray River kids’ playground and suspension bridge in Pinjarra is still a favourite as is Dwellingup with its wineries and fruit stalls and Lake Navarino in Waroona. 

I loved growing up here and I’m so glad I get to share that with my kids. The open space, fresh air, trees and just being surrounded by nature. There is always a good sense of community.

JODIE’S FAVOURITES AT PINJARRA BAKERY

  • Honey Chilli chicken and vegetable pie (packs a punch of flavour!)
  • Vanilla slice (Crowdpleaser)
  • Classic beef mince pie (best in Australia)
  • Sausage roll (Can’t go wrong!)

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How the Locals like it – Lyn Beazley

Being a biologist, I love animals, plants and the natural environment. Mandurah and the Peel Region offers amazing forests, rivers, the estuary, wild dolphins and so much more.

How the locals like it

Lyn Beazley,
Adjunct Professor
AO FTSE

Being a biologist, I love animals, plants and the natural environment. Mandurah and the Peel Region offers amazing forests, rivers, the estuary, wild dolphins and so much more. The migratory birds of the region are of particular interest; I love to watch them here for half the year, knowing they will make their journey up to Russia and Alaska for the other half.

I moved to Mandurah in 1985 when the population was 10,000. We were holidaying on the Murray River when we came into the Peel Inlet, saw a row of little houses and thought, ‘this looks awesome!’

We managed to buy a rundown cottage and have raised our children here. There is so much more to offer visitors now including internationally acclaimed shows at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and beautiful restaurants with outstanding water views where you can watch pelicans, cormorants and dolphins while you dine. There are world-class golf courses, great shopping opportunities, you can go horse riding, fishing, snorkelling, watch all manner of wildlife … these are the kinds of experiences people travel half way around the world for and they are right on Perth’s doorstep. 

When I was Chief Scientist of Western Australia, I helped set up Dolphin Watch whereby trained volunteers monitor the health of the state’s wild dolphin population. There are an estimated 100 dolphins in the waterways around Mandurah and it is one of the only places in the world where you are almost guaranteed to see one if you head out on a boat.

 I once watched a mother dolphin who had stunned a large fish, continually toss it up in the air so her calf could practice catching it. I often take international scientific visitors around the region and they just can’t believe the beauty and abundance of wildlife. They tell me we are so, so lucky and I agree.

LYN’S SECRET SPOT

BLUE BAY – You can swim and snorkel in the shallow water, it’s never crowded, is protected from the breeze and is pristine, with shower facilities and a carpark immediately above the beach. It’s beautiful for families.

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How the Locals like it – Krista Nicholson

Mandurah dolphins and their behaviour has blown my mind. I am a PhD student at Murdoch University in Perth but spend a lot of time studying the dolphins

How the locals like it

Krista Nicholson,
Mandurah Dolphin
Research Project

Mandurah dolphins and their behaviour has blown my mind. I am a PhD student at Murdoch University in Perth but spend a lot of time studying the dolphins in the Peel Inlet-Harvey Estuary and adjacent coastal waters and I absolutely love it.

Krista-Nicholson Dolphin Research Project

We have identified a year-round resident community of approximately 80 dolphins occupying the Peel-Harvey Estuary and also around 30 that are coastal but spend a lot of time in the Dawesville Cut. 

One dolphin who was stranded as an adult, and tagged in 1990, is still regularly seen in the estuary. He would be approaching his 40’s now. The dolphins are really social and inquisitive. Their foraging behaviour is especially amazing to observe. 

I have seen a dolphin toss a cobbler 30 times to make sure it was safe to eat. Mandurah appears to be an excellent environment for them to forage because of all the canals and rock walls; they use these to trap several species of fish, like mullet and salmon, which they often herd to the dead ends of the canals for an easier catch and feed. The juvenile dolphins are the most playful and these are the ones you’ll most often see frolicking alongside boats which I know is a highlight for many visitors to Mandurah. 

I thoroughly enjoy my time in Mandurah. As soon as you arrive you feel like you’re on holiday. It has such a relaxed atmosphere and I love that you don’t have to pay for parking! 

Also, where else can you pull up at a jetty in your research vessel on the way to work, hop out and buy a coffee and drink it as you watch the sunrise? I think Mandurah is unique in that you can watch dolphins from the shore at so many locations. Everyone can enjoy them – you don’t have to spend money. It feels like the dolphins really belong to the people of Mandurah.

KRISTA’S TOP SPOTS FOR DOLPHIN SPOTTING

  • The Mandurah foreshore and Dawesville Cut – I’ve never once walked my dogs here without seeing a dolphin. 
  • Going on a tour with Mandurah Cruises is also great if you wanted to have a closer look at the dolphins 
  • DPM Café on Mandurah foreshore and Pelican’s Café on the Murray River– you get to watch dolphins while enjoying good coffee and cake!

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How the Locals like it – Damien Bell

I’ve always had a love for fishing. I love the ocean, I love boats and I love being outdoors. I have lots of energy and can’t keep still.

How the locals like it

Damien Bell,
Bellbuoy Seafoods

I’ve always had a love for fishing. I love the ocean, I love boats and I love being outdoors. I have lots of energy and can’t keep still. I’m an aquaculturist by trade but always wanted to be a commercial fisherman.

Damien Bell Bellbuoy Seafoods Mandurah

Fourteen years ago my dad bought into the crab fishery and I first leased his license then luckily was able to buy my own. I love the challenge of commercial fishing. You never know what the day is going to throw at you from the weather to the behaviour of the fish themselves.

Freshness is the best thing about the seafood you can get in Mandurah. Where else can you go to a fisherman’s house and buy from him direct? People do that at Wattsies Place on Old Coast Road seven days a week, many of them driving down from Perth. 

It’s iconic to the region and so important to the industry and the fabric of Mandurah. One of the things that makes Mandurah seafood so good is the high level of quality control. The industry worked hard to gain sustainable fishing accreditation from the Marine Stewardship Council to ensure our stocks are protected now and into the future.

I think the best thing about Mandurah is the estuary. You can swim in it, fish in it, go kayaking and kite boarding, walk a dog around it – its uses are endless and it’s beautiful and protected, just great for families.

I also love the hub of bars and restaurants at the base of the new bridge. Places like Redmanna, Bar Therapy and Flics Kitchen are all great and it’s a terrific part of town. Where we live in Falcon, the kids have kangaroos at the back door, the ocean over their right shoulder and the estuary over their left. It’s the best place to live and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

DAMIEN’S TOP 3 SEAFOOD EXPERIENCES IN MANDURAH

  • Mandurah Cruises Wild Seafood Experience 
  • Buying fresh from Wattsies
  • Dining at Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant

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How the Locals like it – Daniel Wilkins

I absolutely love living in Mandurah. I grew up here and all my family and friends are here. I even still bump into old teachers!

How the locals like it

Daniel Wilkins,
Photographer

I absolutely love living in Mandurah. I grew up here and all my family and friends are here. I even still bump into old teachers!

I have a young family and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to raise kids. Mandurah has a good vibe and a great culture and while it’s grown up a bit, it has kept its small town feel in many ways. 

Being a photographer for the Sunday Times newspaper, I’m in the car driving all day and sometimes have to deal with quite serious issues.

Living in Soldiers Cove means we have the estuary at the end of the street, allowing me to walk by the water which grounds and relaxes me. Mandurah is the yin to my yang of having to drive to Perth for work. 

There are so many fantastic photography spots in the region for people to capture great memories of their holidays. 

The thrombolites at Lake Clifton is one of my favourites and my pick of all the great beaches is Blue Bay in Halls Head. The new bridge at sunset is a spectacular shot and make sure you keep an eye on the water for our resident dolphins which are fun to photograph. Mandurah is so picturesque it’s hard not to get a good photo.

I know a lot of people associate Mandurah with the water – and for good reason. It’s just so accessible from everywhere. People are always asking me if it’s crab season or if the fish are biting which is kind of funny because I don’t own a boat and I don’t fish but I do go kayaking and the family spends many weekends in summer four wheel driving on Preston Beach – one of the closest beaches to Perth where you can drive right up onto the sand. 

I also love that Mandurah is coming of age in terms of places to eat and drink – it’s not just about going to the pub or having a chicken parmie anymore.

DANIEL’S TOP PICKS FOR EATING AND DRINKING

  • Flics Kitchen
  • Boardwalk Café
  • Blackboard by Food & Co
  • The Bridge Garden Bar & Restaurant
  • Bar Therapy

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