Holidays

‘There’s no question my family is now closer’

Matthew Hayden and his family had an awesome experience travelling in the Northern Territory.

FORMER Australian test cricketer Matthew Hayden and his family have been on the experience of a lifetime in the Northern Territory.

Matt, his wife Kellie, daughter Grace, 14, and sons Joshua, 11 and Thomas, nine, recently starred in their web series The Hayden Way, which saw them travel from their home in Brisbane to Uluru to begin their road trip north, visiting Kings Canyon, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Daly Waters, Katherine, Kakadu National Park and Darwin over 14 adventure-filled days.

Along the way, the Hayden family visits iconic sites and ancient landscapes, learn about the connection the Territory’s indigenous people have with their land and share in an extraordinary family adventure like no other that will inspire you and your family to also travel to the Northern Territory and follow “The Hayden Way”.

THE TERRITORY — THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY DESTINATION

Matthew first visited and fell in love with the Northern Territory while playing cricket for Australia and has returned many times since, thanks in part to his passion and dedication to the Hayden Reynolds Tiwi College Project in the NT’s Tiwi Islands.

Getting up close with some of the Territory’s wildlife.

Getting up close with some of the Territory’s wildlife.Source:Supplied

So when it came to deciding on a holiday destination for the family last year, Matt says the Northern Territory was at the very top of his wish list.

He says his family was drawn in by the Northern Territory’s stunning ancient landscapes, friendly inhabitants and fascinating histories.

“We were able to immerse ourselves in the detail of this pristine environment, whether that was in the territory of the desert people of Uluru, or the spectacular landscapes of the Kakadu Wetlands,” he says.

“Time is no doubt our greatest asset in life and you never get it back so trips like this one to the Northern Territory gave us a chance to absorb life at the right pace, consider nature and obtain perspective on the indigenous peoples who have lived for 40,000 years in these remarkable landscapes.

“There is no question that my family is now closer and more appreciative of the way of life of our indigenous brothers and sisters as a result.”

TRAVELLING IN THE TERRITORY

Matt says that he and Kellie decided on this itinerary because, on average, it covers around 350km per day and ensures an attraction worth stopping for at the half way mark — a site, an experience or a refuel and refreshment stop so the kids can stretch their legs, engage in a uniquely NT experience and divest some of their energy.

The Mataranka Springs were a welcome stop on the journey.

The Mataranka Springs were a welcome stop on the journey.Source:Supplied

“The trip between Daly Waters, one of Australia’s iconic outback pubs, and the incredible Nitmiluk National Park in Katherine on day nine is around 300km travel on the ever consistent Stuart Highway,” Matt explains. “At slightly over the halfway mark was Mataranka Thermal Springs, which was exactly what the doctor ordered.

“A lovely pub lunch serving fresh catch of the day — usually NT’s famous Barramundi — and a dip in the crystal clear Mataranka Springs just to burn off a bit of the kids energy put us all right back in the zone for the onward journey to Katherine.”

He recommends a comprehensive nibbles inventory, an array of car games at the ready, a really good music play list with everyone’s favourite tracks, plenty of freshwater — at least five litres of water per person for each travel day — and sound knowledge of the distance to and location of the next fuelling station.

“We travelled in winter, which presents its own challenges as the difference between night and day temperatures is significant,” he says. “Folks, it’s really cold in the middle of winter at night in the desert and zero degrees without the right apparel is no fun … so be sure to use the weather as a guide when packing.”

Kings Canyon’s walking trails are among the best in the world.

Kings Canyon’s walking trails are among the best in the world.Source:Supplied

GADGET-FREE FAMILY-FRIENDLY ADVENTURE AND FUN

Getting out of the everyday groove and immersing themselves in an experience so removed from their lives back home was something Matt says his family revelled in.

“We’re all consumed by our busy lives and, sure, devices add value to the kids’ and our lives but they equally take value if we’re not vigilant in protecting quality time together,” he says.

“The Northern Territory is exactly the destination to consider if you feel you’re losing control … climbing, cycling and walking trails like the spectacular Kings Canyon National Park — which is rated in the ‘Top 10 Walks in the World’ — are a very welcome relief to break the ‘gadget cycle’.

“I can honestly say, on our 14-day ‘The Hayden Way’ family road trip experience, our kids were at no stage looking to get ‘wired’ because they were distracted with the simple pleasures of our life on the road together.”

HAYDEN’S WAY IS THE FAMILY WAY

Matthew believes that his greatest responsibility in life is being a father to his three children. “My kids love being outside and on every occasion possible I encourage them to revel in the simple pleasures of life — the ability to light a fire, catch and cook a fish and admire and therefore gather a greater understanding of a landscape or a people,” he says.

“The NT provides the perfect platform to enable these simple parent-to-child transactions in the hope that one day they’ll remember that ‘Dad taught me this’ … Isn’t that what life is about?”

To learn more about the Northern Territory as a family-friendly drive holiday destination, visit the Tourism NT website northernterritory.com/Drive.

This story originally appeared on Kidspot and is republished here with permission.

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