Holidays are expensive if you take into account flights, hotels, meals and entertainment. Why not consider something simpler and arguably more fun? Family camping Australia-style can be as exciting or relaxing as you want it to be, and there’s something for Mum, Dad and the kids to do, wherever you go.
Beginner camper plans
If you’ve never been camping before, the best idea is to start small. Don’t go too far from home; pick a caravan park that has shared amenities like bathrooms, communal barbecues and the chance to meet other camping enthusiasts. You can stay in a caravan or you can pitch a tent. It’s possible to buy all the camping equipment you could need for your first experience without spending a small fortune. You need a tent, bedding, cooking and eating utensils and a way to provide light.
Take the family on a shopping expedition to look at all the different products on offer. It can be really fun stepping inside tent displays, trying out the sleeping bags and learning how to work everything. You could even visit a camping expo the next time one visits your area because the range of equipment that’s available is simply mind-boggling. There are items you would never even think you would need, but someone has invented them! Here are some of the more fascinating ones:
- LifeStraw – A personal water filter that you drink through, direct from a natural water source.
- PowerMonkey – A solar powered mobile phone and tablet charger.
Jaffle Iron – Don’t live without your toasted sandwiches just because there’s no electricity.
- Selk’bag – Wear your sleeping bag and walk around in it!
to Summit Kitchen Sink – Yes, take the kitchen sink too! This one has a 5 (or 20) litre capacity and collapses flat.
- Head lamps – Portable light that you can direct exactly where you’re looking, and completely hands-free!
Even those family members who have to be convinced to try camping will be more interested if you have one of the above to take along!
When you own a campervan, you can pack up and go at very short notice because everything you need is already in your accommodation-on-wheels. You can also hire campervans at reasonable rates and all you usually need to take is bedding and your own clothes, food and toiletries.
Every day, you can wake up to a new location and a new view. The kids will love a campervan holiday because it will seem like living in a cubby house.
Roughing it with the family
If you really want to get away from it all and pack minimal equipment, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a really basic family camping trip. There are those ‘happy campers’ who pack everything they possibly can into their vehicle and practically transfer their normal home to their ‘away from home’ home. But if your goal for your gang is to spend time outdoors, enjoying the environment and the simple pleasures of nature, then only take the barest necessities.
You’ll need some kind of shelter so that could be a tent, a lean-to, a tarpaulin or you could sleep in the back of your vehicle. You’ll have to think about how you’ll prepare meals and whether you’ll need a camp stove or a you’ll light a campfire. ‘Roughing it’ means no electric equipment like refrigeration and no electronic devices such as phones or tablets. Your amusement will come from spending time together, exploring the landscape, swimming, hiking, climbing and telling stories.
Travellers who have experienced both ends of the spectrum often report that simple camping is more rewarding and enjoyable. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Tips for keeping kids happy when camping
In this era of over-stimulation and constant screen time, children need to be tempted to try other activities when on family camping trips. Lead by example and show them that there is a definite freedom in not being ‘chained’ to their iPad or TV. Hopefully, you have chosen a location where there is lots to see and experience. Here are some suggestions:
For family camping, Australia has it all
- Teach them how to set up the campsite. This will involve erecting the tent, establishing a fire pit, collecting firewood and knowing how to fetch water and from where.
- Show them around the area and point out items of interest such as birds’ nests, animal droppings, water courses, native trees and how to understand their location based on the movement of the sun and moon.
- Star gaze at night and try to identify the different constellations.
- Tell stories after dinner.
- Go swimming, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, shell collecting, jogging or fossicking.
- Prepare fun foods on the campfire that they wouldn’t normally have at home like roasted marshmallows, damper, and toad in a hole.
- Take some favourite board games. You’ll be surprised how much more interested they’ll be in playing them when there are no electronic devices around.
- Take along a Frisbee, a ball, a kite or a skipping rope.
Whatever your family is into, you’re sure to find a family camping option that will make them happy. Sports lovers will be thrilled to be outside, readers will be pleased with the peace and quiet and food lovers will have a great time experimenting with campfire cooking. Toddlers will revel in the opportunity to get dirty and teenagers will have parents all to themselves. (Hint: They won’t tell you they like it; you’ll just see it!)
As for Mum and Dad, camping with the family is an activity that brings everyone closer together. Beginner or experienced … the best family camping in Australia happens when you and your loved ones are together. Instead of rambling around in a big house with everyone doing their own thing, it’s a chance to reconnect, talk to each other and have fun.
If you’ve yet to try a family camping trip, don’t let your inexperience stop you. Buy a cheap tent, book a spot at a family-friendly park, pack a few things and make it happen!