Spoilt for choice on a short tour of Australia

A whirlwind tour of Australia, and a stopover in Singapore might prove taxing with a toddler in tow, but there's a wealth of sights to see.

We will be visiting Australia at the end of the month with our 18-month-old son. Could you suggest a few things for us to do in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney? We will be in each of these cities for four days and will also be stopping over in Singapore - will four days be too manyin Singapore?

Just a few days in each city means you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing the sights, but travelling with a toddler is exhausting. Pace yourself and plan plenty of pit stops to make sure it feels like a holiday.

Adelaide may not be as glamorous as Sydney or Melbourne, but it's full of interesting things to do and see. Go on a bus tour (www.adelaidetours.net) around the main attractions and landmarks, including Parliament House, the war memorials, churches and sculptures. Devote an afternoon to exploring - and picnicking - in the sprawling, 150-year-old Botanic Gardens, located a short distance from Rundle Mall (a good place for a few hours of shopping on your way back). For baby, don't miss a panda tour for a behind-the-scenes experience with the animals at the Adelaide Zoo (www.adelaidezoo.com.au). For a dose of grown-up culture, some of the museums to visit include the Tandanya National Aboriginal Institute and the South Australian Museum, which has six floors packed with exhibits and an Ancient Egyptian room.

In Sydney, besides the mandatory visits to Hyde Park, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, enjoy a cruise around the harbour. Important sights to choose from on a tour of the city include the 19th-century Fort Denison, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Darling Harbour and the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Head to Bondi Beach for surf and sand. If the sea is rough, there are salt-water baths for a safe dip. About 40km to the west of Sydney lie the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage Site that offers walking if you have a backpack carrier for baby, more relaxing cable-car rides and the steam-era Zig Zag Railway (www.sydney.com.au), which is great for children, even small ones.

Explore Melbourne by hopping on the free shuttle bus that runs around the city daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm (www.onlymelbourne.com.au). The bus stops at key sites, including the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens, Queen Victoria Market, the arts precinct and Chinatown. The city is also home to stunning public art, best viewed from a City Circle tram in the squares and streets off the Yarra River. Melbourne is an excellent base from which to go exploring the surrounding region: visit Phillip Island Nature Park for wildlife spotting; Mornington Peninsula for its beautiful Lavender Gardens, strawberry farms and Ashcombe Maze; and Aboriginal Victoria for an interesting and insightful tour covering thousands of years of history.

In Singapore, first-timers like to stop at the famous Merlion statue; "the durian" opera house; and, of course, the Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel. Sentosa Island (www.sentosa.com.sg) is another popular tourist destination, offering all kinds of entertainment, including a beach resort, Universal Studios theme park and an impressive underwater park - each is worth a day trip. Don't forget to visit the observation deck atop Marina Bay Sands hotel for vertigo-inducing views. At Singapore's well-known, very child-friendly zoo (www.zoo.com.sg), you can enjoy breakfast while watching the orang-utans, before taking a stroll along Orchard Road to satisfy shopaholics.

travel@thenational.ae

Published: August 6, 2011 04:00 AM

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