Philip and Cathryn travel over 50,000 km each year researching, visiting and documenting locations across Australia while talking to travellers along the way. They seek out the best places to camp in Australia and share these special sites with thousands of travellers.
You know how you start with a plan in mind, and then it all goes pear shaped?
We purchased our Jayco Starcraft Outback Caravan after seeing it at the Queensland Caravan Camping and Tourist Supershow last year – we loved the configuration of bunks for our two youngest – and lots more (we had an oven installed instead of microwave – it was one of the things we really missed when we travelled Australia).
The Queensland Caravan Camping and Tourist Supershow is a Mecca for travellers
Then we bought CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE. Realising we needed to really go off-road with this business, Heatley had more caravans to check out at the Supershow last week.
After visiting the destination and tourism stalls, CMCA and caravan associations, that’s what we did. This Supershow is better than a lolly shop to my husband. So much to see! Not as many stairs up and down camper trailers and caravans as last year, as we had quite a specific goal in mind.
At this point I would like to thank the organisers – our young teen was on a mission, kept quite busy tracking down the stations for the raffle.
We did drag the husband away from his quest to refuel. I would still like to find out the name of that perfect chardonnay at the Welcome to Bowen Hills Bar. An excellent tip from our friends Marg and Peter Grant from Saturn Antennas as was the calamari stall!
It gave us time to discuss the beautiful machines we had seen. I wondered if an off road motorhome may also suit our new roles.
It was a motorhome – 6 berth – not 4WD at all – where we created all those lovely memories of our whole family together on a lap, learning about and experiencing Australia.
We still haven’t quite got our heads around hitching and towing! In fact, our first trip felt really weird – sitting in a 4WD and not being able to play cards around the table, or reach under the sink for the snacks as we journeyed.
Don’t get me wrong, we are totally aware of the issues of motorhomes and packing up for day trips (especially converting the third bed to dinette each day) but we never did have to bring a picnic lunch.
So after our refreshment, we plodded on a few more kilometres and found some four seated, queen bed beauties. I think he is smitten. Maybe we’ve found our next mobile. Of course, kids would have to be turfed into swags outside. In a few short years, we’ll be only two!
So what to do? Caravan or motorhome? We’d love to know what you think!
Gregge Haythorpe from On the Road Magazine sold plenty of CAMPS 9 and CARAVAN PARKS 4 books – pictured with Heatley from CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE at the event
Experience whale watching, based at what is likely to be the newest Caravan Park in Australia.
Fraser Coast’s Pier Caravan Park opened for business last Friday, and adjoins Hervey Bay’s historic Urangan Pier – at almost one kilometre, it’s one of the longest in Australia. You’ll be rewarded with a great view of the town and you may see fish, rays and dolphins.
The Caravan Park is also walking distance to beaches, markets and eateries, as well as being close to the marina and shopping centres.
There’s a swimming pool and games room available, brand new amenities include a camp kitchen, BBQ, dump point, drying area and gated entry. Plus it is pet friendly!
We drove along the esplanade, and stumbled on EAT at Dan and Steph’s. I remembered them from My Kitchen Rules, and when they visited nearby festivals. With views of the Bay, the café offers an all day menu and I couldn’t take my eyes off the choices! Normally there may be one of two dishes that grabs your eye, but I was in a quandary!
After your culinary adventure, it is probably time to walk off your lunch. Hervey Bay is perfect for cycling and walking with beautiful foreshore paths – you can travel for miles. There’s also a good range of shops in the town, as well as op shops, cinemas, and plenty of clubs. Hervey Bay is a known retiree destination.
The whale watching capital of Australia’s season extends from June to December. Best to book early as the tours are very popular.
As you travel from NT, this is the last campsite near the road before you arrive at WA, and what a good one.
Number 173 in CAMPS 9, it is 117km west of Timber Creek – where we bought petrol. Just frozen bread on offer from their store – so it was a Saos and tomato, wraps and spreads kind of lunch. After our drive from Katherine, the kids were happy just to be out of the motorhome.
After taking our towels out to air, and utilising the ‘facilities’, our tired travellers acquired a picnic table. (As you can see from this photo – can you spot the toes on the other seat?)
We also demolished our fruit, vege and honey as 70km on and you are at the border to the quarantine and time difference.
There are disabled toilets, BBQ and shade at this site, plus it is suitable for big rigs, pet friendly and note it is 24 hours only. Best of all are those views, a beautiful precursor to the ranges of the Kimberley!
Phillip and Carolyn gave it the CAMPS tick of approval and said to to enjoy the wildlife and sunset on the escarpment.
It is recommended you get here early, because it fills up quickly. I can see why.
Saddle Creek is picturesque site – so good I made them pose for a photo
It was popular when we there – and that was at midday
Have you ever wanted to sleep in a vintage caravan? How about one made out of Lego?
Me, please? I adore Lego, I refuse to pass on our Duplo, Lego or even a little collection of baby Primo. Our kids will be able to claim (most) of it once they have offspring. Not the Harry Potter Night Bus though, that sits near my desk.
The world’s biggest Lego caravan at the Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow stands 2.2 metres tall!
So to see the world’s biggest Lego caravan at the Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow this week, was jaw dropping.
Firstly, it was so beautiful. Not just any old caravan – it was vintage. In fact, it uses the original chassis from a 1973 Viscount Royal, with a ‘minimalist’ steel frame constructed to support the Lego bricks.
Secondly – it really was big! Measuring 2.2m tall by 5m long, the 700kg of LEGO bricks are held together by 70 L of glue.
Finally, there were people inside! We spotted it just as the show ended, and the ‘The Brick Builder’, Ben Craig was still building the ceiling. Two of them were inside creating incredible detail with more than 280,000 individual plastic bricks. Adult fans of LEGO (I did not know AFOLs existed) have contributed to the 700 hours required for the build.
Full-time Lego builder, Ben, started assembling the life-sized Lego van in his garage on the Gold Coast in March.
The show is aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Lego caravan, as part of its half-century celebrations.
Viscount caravans of this type, size and era would have sold for around $200 – this one cost $100, 000.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia and Top Parks are funded the creation, and the retro masterpiece will be soon travelling Australia.
It has everything a 70s caravan would – wardrobe, sink, stove, refrigerator, dinette, cupboards with sliding drawers and even a LEGO bricked double bed.
As it tours other caravan park shows – you’ll even be able to sleep on board. Sign me up!
We are honoured and privileged to have been included as one of the Top 10 Australian Camping Blogs on the web. Blogs are ranked by
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Feedspot gave us the big high-five this week for our contribution to the world of the Australian camper and traveller. We are thrilled to have received it. You can find a list of other bloggers that share the Top 10 spot with us right here !
Our readers would do the most driving in Australia, outside of truckies, that is! SO we think you are the right people to ask – what are Queensland’s worst roads?
The RACQ are are asking road users to nominate roads they feel are in poor condition, dangerous or not meeting the standard for safe driving. When they identify the worst roads they will lobby the government for improved infrastructure and a better experience for all road users.
Your opinion counts! Complete the survey and you can even win a $250 EFTPOS gift card. The survey is open now and it only takes a few minutes to have your say – the results need to be in by June 18 so:
The community of Rand welcome travellers to their new site, Billabong Creek as a free camp for self contained vehicles. Rand is a small community 70 kilometres North West of Albury between the Hume and Newell highways and a good route for those travelling in a North-South direction.
Rand has about 70 residents in a reliable mixed farming area in the Southern Riverina. The all weather accessible site is in the town, next to the bridge, on the bank of the Billabong which is an iconic permanent stream lined with large red gums.
Pets are no problem, there’s plenty of room for them to run around and big rigs and groups of campers.
There is a hotel with a small shop selling a limited range of necessities, about 100 meters away, where you access toilets when open, and can get a meal most nights. Toilets and new playground equipment at the sports ground about 300 metres away. The town also has a bowling club and a 9 hole golf course.
We stayed at Kimberleyland for over a week, it was such a terrific spot. The location on the banks of Lily Creek Lagoon, with the shining pairs of eyes to be spotted at night was super special.
We burrowed in here to complete our work duties, but also spend time enjoying some beautiful day trips in the area.
The camp kitchen, pool, BBQs and plenty of grass to play on was very welcome – and they now offer a coffee shop and feature live music.
We walked into the markets and town, and checked out some local establishments for a meal outside our tin can. We toured the Hoochery, marvelled at the irrigation systems, and picked up some farm produce along the way.
We visited Kelly’s Knob Lookout, Mirima National Park, found Boab trees, and took off for a night canoeing on the Ord River. We also saw the bungle bungles from the air here too! Both, a story for another day.
The motorhome was left here another night whilst we hired a 4WD to a fraction of the Gibb River Road.
After El Questro gorges and hot springs, it was at the Home Valley Station bar we realised we didn’t have to head home through outback Queensland as planned, but instead we set our compass for further west, and anticlockwise home.
No wonder I have such good memories of the Kimberley!
To top it off, our safari tents were upgraded to motel rooms – three because there was six of us. What joy!
With our four teens scattered across the country, our visit to Charlie Moreland Campground was a chance for them all to get outdoors, reconnect with each other – and be spoilt with home baking and camp cooking. Our share-housing eldest was so grateful to see a bursting fridge and cupboard – not to mention the Engle! When we drove through Kenilworth, we stopped into the bakery and picked up even more sustenance. We didn’t try the mega sized donuts, but did add an impressive looking high top loaf to the supplies.
The campground was chosen for the maiden trip for our new caravan. It does include 5km of dirt road, and a causeway through water, to reach the campgrounds, but it is still accessible to conventional vehicles. Set in Imbil State Forest, part of the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland, thankfully it was only 12km back into Kenilworth, for the many things you realise you don’t have on that first trip away! Unimportant things like gas and an axe … thankfully one of those teens was a P driver, she enjoyed the novelty of driving through fresh water, as opposed to our salty washouts on the coast.
Charlie Moreland Campgrounds were beautifully maintained
There were ample grassy, shaded campsites, all an easy walk to the facilities (toilets, BBQS, picnic tables) and better still, Little Yabba Creek winds around the clearing. We found two main waterholes, one with a sandy “beach” and the other a waterpark after the rains we’d had. The track led to a small bridge, and our crew had loads of fun letting go of the bridge and fighting the current to return. You could easily paddle between the two.
Little Yabba Creek winds its way through Charlie Moreland Campgrounds
Another reason we would definitely return (besides the wonderful fact there was no mobile reception), is that it is also home to cute Rufous Bettongs. Nocturnal creatures, these kangaroo mini-lookalikes were plentiful.
Cute Rufous Bettongs
We filled our days with swims, books and badminton – but the park was also centrally located for our other expeditions:
Cooling off in Booloumba Creek
You can also camp here at No.4 Campground for 4WD caravans and motorhomes, another gorgeous creek and water holes plus a bit more of a 4WD track (or hike) took us to beautiful Booloumba Falls.
Booloumba Falls was another favourite rockhopping spot
With its quirky bakery, friendly library, informative visitor centre, op shop and boutiques, this village deserves a stop. Our family had fun on the flying fox and pedaling in the air at the playground, but love the tastings at the Cheese Factory across the road even more. Especially the chocolate mousse, which they just took out grand prize for at the Ekka.
Fig Tree Walk
Stop here on the way to Kenilworth, park at Little Yabba Picnic Area – another camping spot! Cross the bridge, the walk is wheelchair accessible, and won’t wear anyone out as it is less then 1km return. You’ll see an immense Moreton Bay fig – and signs say it is a great for bird watching.
Mapleton and Montville
Our family favourite was Kondalilla Falls
Drive up the Obi Obi Road to Mapleton Falls lookout, there is a picnic area and walks, we stopped to admire the valley and waterfall. Driving a bit further along the range to Montville brought us to our family favourite, Kondalilla Falls. After a brisk trek, we were ready for another swim under a waterfall. And where there are jumping rocks, our kids are happy – even better with water added in. On return you have an option to visit the lookout – via a daunting set of stairs – one glimpse and you know that what goes down must come up! But the stair workout was worth it, to see the full majesty of Kondalilla. A magical spot, rated by the kids as their pick of the week.
Walk a bit further to Kondalilla Falls lookout
Add in another op shop at Mapleton (we bought too many books). After a picnic and play at Russell Family Park in Montville, and collecting some fresh produce from the roadside stalls, we returned back to our cosy caravan and BBQ dinner, campfire, marshmellows…. bliss!
We’d give this place a big thumbs up. Oh, we did learn something on this trip – don’t leave the bread on the tablecloth while you walk to the creek! There wasn’t much left after the birds were at it. Oh well, another trip over the causeway….
More and more Australian families are choosing to take a few months, or even years, out of the rat-race in exchange for adventures travelling around the country. Instead of the daily grind, they choose to explore the great outdoors and wake up each morning to a new view.
The popularity of camper touring has soared in recent years, largely due to the increasing number of retirees or “grey nomads”, trading in a sedate life pottering around at home for an opportunity to explore the best the country has to offer. But, there is also a growing number of younger families deciding to make the same trip while their kids are still young, sometimes opting out of traditional schooling entirely and taking up home-schooling on the road.
Camping with kids can certainly be a rewarding experience – you’ll get to experience proper quality time together as a family, and your kids will benefit from being outside, learn to respect nature, and become more confident in new situations.
However, a family road trip is bound to come with some challenges and needs careful planning if you don’t want your dream trip to become a nightmare.
Tent or Campervan?
Your choice of accommodation will depend on how long you want to travel for and will also be influenced by the age of your kids, the climate and time of year. You will also need to take into consideration when and where in the country you’re travelling, and your personal preferences in terms of “home comforts”.
For short trips and older kids, nothing beats the authentic experience of camping in a tent under the stars at night. However, in colder weather, if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, or you’re planning to be away for months, you might be more comfortable in a campervan with a proper roof over your heads and conveniences like a bathroom and kitchen.
If you do decide to take a tent, make sure you practice erecting it home at first so you’re not left staring blankly at tent pegs when you reach your campsite. If you’re travelling with older kids, helping to put up the tent can be a fun learning experience for them.
What to Take
Packing light may seem like an impossibility when there are kids involved and you’d be right! On the other hand, you can use your camping trip as an opportunity to downsize and avoid the usual commercial trappings of having a baby or young kids in Australia. You don’t need to go overboard and bring all the bells and whistles, but packing a little extra equipment for your kids can come in very handy.
Generally useful items:
Lots of baby wipes (useful for so many things when you’re travelling) and a minimal selection of toiletries
An electric fan if you’re camping in summer and staying at a powered site – tents and campervans can become unbearably hot. Hang a damp muslin wrap in front of it to create a makeshift aircon
Plenty of sun cream and insect repellent
Lots of snacks and food with a long shelf-life that doesn’t require refrigeration (tins of soup and beans, cereal, jam, vegemite, biscuits)
First aid kit with antiseptic cream, Band-Aids, bandages, insect bite cream, and children’s Panadol.
A baby carrier – choose one that balances weight well and is comfortable to wear for long periods. Leave the pram at home.
A car seat – obviously essential for travelling in the car but can also double as a seat when around the campsite
Plenty of clothes and nappies, a few hats, and plenty of blankets for wrapping up warm if the temperature drops
Portacot – not essential, especially if you’re in a tent where it’s probably easier for baby to sleep with you, but they work well as a makeshift playpen. Portacots provide a safe place for babies and toddlers to play outside and when covered with a net, they’re an easy way to keep mosquitos off. You can also buy special mini sleeping tents for babies.
A portable high chair or Bumbo seat can be useful for older babies for both meal times and keeping them safe while playing.
Favourite toys and security blankets (avoid Lego and toys with small pieces)
Outdoor toys – Frisbee, balls, etc.
More clothes than you think you’ll need (kids get dirty quickly when they’re playing outside and your washing facilities may be limited)
Books, including school books for older kids. It can be nice to take some nature guides and wildlife spotting books to provide a fun and educational activity when you’re out in the bush
Rainy day activities like activity books and travel journals
Their own torch or headlamp – kids love torches and they’re useful too
Poncho or raincoat for wet weather
Their own backpack – kids love having their own bag to pack their essentials in and it can be used to collect treasures when they’re out and about exploring the bush. There are also backpacks with leads available, which can be helpful to stop toddlers from wandering off when you’re out and about.
Keeping the Kids Occupied
Children find long car trips boring, so you’ll need to plan ahead to keep them occupied when travelling between locations. Try to keep trips as short as possible with lots of breaks to stretch their legs.
Taking plenty of snacks for the drive is one way to keep the kids happy. Avoid lollies and sugary snacks (although keep a few hidden away for emergencies) and opt for healthier snacks like fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, and muesli bars.
Travelling for long distances with kids has become a lot easier since the invention of the iPad. Mounting some kind of tablet in the car and playing a movie can easily while away an hour or two. If you load up the tablet with educational games, you can kill two birds with one stone by keeping them occupied and entertained and making sure they learn something at the same time.
If you’d rather keep screen time to a minimum, be prepared with lots of interactive games like “I Spy”. Road trip bingo can also be a fun game for kids, keeping them looking out of the window to spot different road signs or licence plates.
Once you’ve reached your camping site, it probably won’t be too hard to keep the kids occupied. Most children can quickly find something to do when left to their own devices outside – let them play and use their imaginations to explore, build dens, and get nice and muddy! If they need a little encouragement, it’s easy to set up a treasure hunt or obstacle course, or you can set up some easy craft activities with scavenged natural materials.
Bushwalks are an obvious family activity for camping and are fun at any age, but younger kids can tire easily. Babies and younger toddlers can be put in a carrier but you’ll want to avoid carrying older kids. Start with shorter distances and build up to longer hikes to encourage them to walk; bring lots of snacks, and keep them busy by giving them a treasure hunt of plants and rocks to photograph or collect along the way.
Some organised campsites have outdoor play equipment, or you can always take a trip into the local town so that the kids can play at the local playground. This can be a nice change of pace from exploring the bush.
School on the Road
Don’t try to replicate the school day in your campervan – there’s no point in going away if you’re going to keep the kids inside, chained to their books all day – and the outdoors is the best classroom anyway.
Use the places you visit as valuable learning experiences to teach how to identify different trees and plants, how the water cycle works, how to track animals, and how to build a campfire.
If you’re away for only a few months, you can simply ask your children’s school for an extended leave of absence and provide some basic ad-hoc educational activities while you’re on the road.
However, if you’re planning to be travelling long-term, you’ll need to look into more organised home schooling. Home schooling is legal in all states across Australia, but you’ll need to register. Each state has its own set of requirements regarding monitoring and requirements – make sure you do your research.
If you’re planning to return to regular schooling after your trip, you’ll want to make sure your kids keep up. It’s worth asking your school for a copy of the curriculum they use and a book list so you can make sure they don’t fall behind.
There are now plenty of educational apps and home-schooling websites that can be very helpful, particularly for older kids if you’re bringing a tablet or laptop computer.
You should also take advantage of libraries in the towns you pass through, particularly on rainy days. They can provide hours of educational activity and entertainment for even the youngest children.
Falls and scrapes are inevitable and all part of the fun of being in the great outdoors, so make sure you bring along a well-stocked first aid kit with plenty of band-aids and antiseptic cream to deal with any mishaps and keep tears to a minimum.
Burns are a common camping injury so you should make sure your children are aware of basic fire safety and take precautions to keep young children well away from any open fires. Don’t let your kids run or play close to the fire and make sure campfires are completely out and doused with water when you leave them.
You should also be extra vigilant of your kids around any creeks, swimming holes, or other bodies of water. Keep a rule that even older children shouldn’t go in water unsupervised and try to make sure your campsite is at least 100m from water sources. Keep young kids in life jackets or flotation devices when you’re around water but don’t rely on them and never leave young children unattended even for a minute.
When out in the bush, don’t quash your kids’ natural curiosity but make sure they know to keep their distance from any snakes, spiders, or other potentially dangerous wildlife they come across. Scan the area for any immediate dangers when you’re setting up a new camp.
Finally, when sleeping in a tent, make sure there’s an adult sleeping across the entrance so that young children can’t leave the tent and wander off undetected if they wake up first.
Other Tips and Advice
Camping with kids is one of those things that you’ll work out as you go along, but if you keep a few tips in mind, it will help the whole experience go smoother.
Keep to a routine. Young children thrive on consistency and being out of the normal routine they were used to at home can lead to overtiredness and tantrums. Have set meal times, bedtimes, and nap times, and plan your day around them.
Get the kids involved. They’ll be happier when they’re involved in choosing where to go and what to do, and plotting out your trip on a map can be a fun pre-trip activity. Giving them some tasks when you’re setting up camp, such as collecting firewood or banging in tent pegs, keeps them occupied and gives them a sense of responsibility – even washing up can be fun when you’re camping!
Avoid busy holiday times and crowded campgrounds. This is particularly important with a baby who still wakes up crying in the night – try to be respectful of other campers.
When in doubt, offer snacks!
Above all, remember to have fun! Taking the kids camping is a great opportunity to shake off your normal responsibilities, enjoy some new experiences and grow together as a family. Don’t take it too seriously and remember it’s your experience – nobody is forcing you to attempt a full wilderness experience if all it will do is stress you out. Do your research and if you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of a longer trip, try out a few days first to see how the experience goes.
The beauty of camping is that it’s got no age limit – everyone from babies to teenagers, to grandparents can enjoy it and it’s a wonderful way for families to bond. Plan your trip but don’t spend so long on planning that you never make the leap – just go! You won’t regret it.