Ultimate Australian Camping Guide for First Timers: Camplify
Wednesday 13th September 2017
By Dave Eddy
You’ve never been camping? That’s OK. But maybe, just maybe, you’ve been missing out on one of life’s great joys, especially if you have a family with kids. To whet your appetite we’ve put together the Ultimate Australian Camping Guide. It’s not for the experienced camper. It’s for you, the first time camper. Consider the guide a camping checklist for newbies.
We know it can be intimidating hearing about camping on the internet or from your friends. It seems as if everyone knows what to do! We’ll assume you don’t!
Do you own an RV? Interested in learning how Camplify can help you turn your caravan, camper or motorhome into $5000 - $35,000 per year? Learn more about how Camplify works for owners here
We’ve divided up our guide into 5 easy to read parts:
Why Go Camping in Australia?
Planning Tips and Tricks for the First Time Camper
A Camping Checklist of Useful Apps, Books, Maps and Sites
10 Ways to Enjoy Your Camping Experience
Don’t Forget to Share!
Hope to see you out there... Enjoy our ultimate Australian camping guide for first timers!
Part 1 – Ultimate Australian Camping Guide for First Timers
Why go Camping in Australia?
Australia has some of the best opportunities for camping anywhere in the world. We have huge areas of natural beauty, fantastic beaches, lots of cool camping gear and efficient ways to get you to where you want to go. Added to that, there’s always somewhere on our island continent where the weather is just perfect for camping, whatever the month. This makes camping the best way to see Australia with your family.
If you’ve never been camping before, or it was so long ago you haven’t caught up with what’s new, we’ll tell you why we think camping in Australia is the perfect choice for individuals, couples and families of all ages.
Camping can be:
a wonderful way to experience nature close at hand;
a great way to have family time;
an economical yet rewarding holiday;
a social experience second to none.
Camping gets you close to nature
There’s no more effective way of experiencing Australia’s national parks, beaches, enormous open spaces and abundant wildlife than camping. While it’s true that not all camping sites are in natural areas, many most definitely are, with hundreds of national park campsites available in every state and territory to choose from. In addition, there are state forests and other wilderness areas, as well as many spots around the coast where you can pitch a tent or park up your RV or caravan and open your windows onto a view of the surf. As for wildlife, many campsites, especially in national parks, have resident birdlife and other critters that have got used to human presence, so are easy to spot. Just don’t feed them, or they may get too close for comfort!
If you choose to go camping and you have a family, there’s nothing better for spending quality time with them. For a start, there’s more space. Set up a cricket match, chuck a ball, go for a walk on the beach or go for a swim in a creek or the sea. You do need to make sure there is plenty for your kids to do when the weather turns nasty, but at least you will all be together!
It’s not always as easy to take a pet. Cats, budgies and pet guinea pigs are better left behind, but dogs love to go camping. You just need to do some planning if you choose to take your dog to make sure that it is welcome on the campsites you choose to go to.
Campsites are a lot cheaper than hotels, motels or guest houses, especially if you have a family. When you camp, you can save money, but of course you can still choose something that suits your budget. Some RVers, for instance will mix a few nights in one of the many well known “free” campsites with some time in a well organised commercial campsite where they can plug in, have a hot shower and do their laundry.
Check out Free Camps by Campers Way on Facebook for an extensive list of free and low cost campsites.
Whether you have young kids or are retirees looking to travel Australia, camping can be a socially rewarding experience. Most camping sites will have other kids for your kids to meet and play with. That’s far better for them than locking them up in a hotel room where there may be only the TV for company. As for older couples, Australia’s highways and campsites are often busy with interesting people just like you. In fact, some campers, RVers and caravan campers swear that the best thing about their camping holiday is the time they have socialising with others!
Camping can be enjoyed in more ways than one!
If you have never gone camping before, you may be thinking that it means squeezing into a little tent, slapping mozzies and enduring a night under canvas tossing and turning on a hard, stony ground. Well, if that’s what you want, it could be like that......but camping can be experienced in many more ways than one! Camping can be any of the following. It’s all up to you and there’s no reason why you can’t try a bit of everything to see what you like best!
There are six main ways that you can go camping in Australia:
The ultimate adventure. Hiking deep in the Aussie bush or the mountains while on a multi day walk.
Did you know that Australia now has a growing number of long distance bicycle trails? Get a decent bike and go cycle touring - with your camping equipment of course.
Car camping. Safe, easy yet satisfying.
4 wheel driving. Gets you where few others can.
In a RV or motorhome. Drive your comfortable camping home around with you.
Caravan camping. Hitch up your holiday home to your own vehicle and go camping in comfort.
Want to try options 5 or 6 but you don’t own a caravan or RV? Camplify has you covered. We are Australia’s largest caravan hire and RV sharing community. After you’ve read this guide, go and check out some of the amazing RVs you can hire from expert owners across the Australia.
Hiking on one of Australia’s multi day trails is best for fit and hardy individuals or couples. Many trails are one way so you do need to know how to get to the start and back from the finish. This is the ultimate camping adventure as you often have to take everything with you, including a good tent, sleeping bag or swag and all your food. If you crave solitude amongst the bush or mountains, and you are fit enough to do it, this may be for you.
Cycle touring is a bit like backpacking, but instead of remote bush trails you are more likely to use one of the growing number of long distance purpose built cycle trails or a quieter stretch of highway. Most cycle tourers use a combination of camping in commercial campsites along the way as well as nights in guest houses, B & Bs or motels.
Car camping is probably one of the most common ways that Aussies of all ages go camping. Plan where you want to go, chuck all your camping gear into the car or on the roof, and off you go. If you change your mind or think you need something you forgot to pack in the car there are plenty of camping equipment stores in most of the larger towns and cities so you can add camping accessories while on your way.
Four wheel driving is more adventurous and you really need to make sure your vehicle is equipped for the places you are intending to go. There are plenty of opportunities in every state in Australia to get off the beaten track. This camping option is likely to suit those who prefer to be self-sufficient and get away from the crowds, but you do need to build up your experience before you go too far from civilisation.
RVing is becoming one of the most popular ways to see Australia. RVs, also called campervans or motor homes, can be expensive if you are thinking of buying your own and you may find that it ends up sitting idle for weeks on end when you are back home. Of course, one option is to hire an RV in the area that you want to travel from or to.
Caravanning has many of the advantages of travelling by campervan with some disadvantages. It can be a very comfortable way of camping as you can take almost anything you want, including the kitchen sink. One advantage over a motorhome is that once you have parked your caravan on the campsite of your choice, you can take your car or SUV to go tripping around. One disadvantage may be the extra weight if you’re towing and the inconvenience while the caravan is attached to your vehicle.
Part 2 – Ultimate Australian Camping Guide for First Timers
Planning Tips and Tricks for the First Time Camper
If you are new to camping, planning your first trip can seem rather daunting. These are the questions that first come to mind when planning a camping trip.
Where should you go camping in Australia?
When should you go camping in Australia?
How can you get there?
What should you take with you?
Read on to find out more about planning your perfect first time Aussie camping trip!
Where can you go camping in Australia?
Throughout Australia there are 4 different types of campgrounds to choose from. In each category there are literally hundreds of different possibilities. These include:
National park campsites are a big hit with families as they are usually far away from city life and the bright lights, offering a mainly DIY camping experience. Few of the sites have power so if you are travelling in a caravan or RV it’s best to be self-contained, even down to carrying your own drinking water.
A great example of this type of camping site is in NSW on the Bermagui–Tathra Rd at Mimosa Rocks National Park. This is the chance to take your family fishing or walking along the lovely sandy beach. You can even whale watch in the season and summer offers swimming and walking. One of the drawbacks of a national park camping site for dog owners is they are not usually pet-friendly.
Holiday parks / commercial campgrounds don’t generally offer quite such an isolated environment as the national parks but they have far more facilities than national park campgrounds, like hot showers, laundries, dump stations, and have a range of fun filled activities for families to enjoy. Some holiday parks are caravan or RV only, so if you are car camping and only have a tent, you have to find a park that takes tents.
The Jacobs Well Tourist Park in Jacob’s Well, Queensland, a stone’s throw from the Gold Coast is a typical commercial campground with full facilities. There is a kid’s playground and a safe swimming enclosure. Camping accommodation options include shaded camping sites for RVs, caravans and tents. In the school holidays a special program is put on for families. Apart from the action packed activities there are hot showers, a well equipped kitchen and laundry and it’s pet friendly. It’s only 15 minutes drive from Movie World, Dreamworld and Wet ‘n Wild and the Gold Coast beaches.
Free camping sites exist in many places, but you usually have to be completely self-contained, even though there may be a dunny or two. Many of these sites are conveniently located on the sides of highways. Some small towns have free campgrounds with facilities to encourage campers to stay and spend money in their town.
Victoria has a good selection of free campsites and one of these is on the edge of Erinundra National Park at Ada River which is particularly suited to motorhome and caravan renters and owners. Pets aren’t allowed but there is plenty of space for the family to spread out.
Walk-in camping sites may be suitable for more adventurous families who might like to get their kids away from the car, caravan or RV for a day or two to be exposed to a true wilderness experience.
Walk in campsites might also be campsites in national parks and other protected areas that have been strung along hiking trails. Usually, these have basic facilities like a water tank and a long drop type of toilet. A good example would be the 100 km Great Ocean Road Walk along the Victorian coast. These campsites may have to be booked in advance and are for fit hikers carrying all their gear with them.
Don’t forget for any walk in campsites you will need a backpack to carry all your gear and check the weather as you will be in a tent so if it’s likely to rain it must be waterproof.
When should you go camping in Australia?
Australia is so huge that there are distinctly different seasons in different parts of the country. This basically comes down to a North South divide. The North is tropical and has a wet, hot, sticky summer and a cooler, more dry winter. The South has a warm to very hot summer and a cool to cold winter with transition months in between.
If you have kids and are going on a family camping holiday, you are most likely restricted to school holidays. Families do take their kids out of school in term time for holidays, but generally this is not good for their education unless you are well organised around correspondence and online schooling, which has its limitations when camping anyway.
All states and territories have their longer school holidays at the end of the year. This is great for the southern states, as it corresponds with the best months to go camping. The only disadvantage is that every other family will be camping, too, so you may have to plan ahead for accommodation, even in campsites!
For the tropical states of Queensland (especially the North), Northern Territory and northern WA, the fact that the longer holidays occur right in the middle of the wet season is not so good for camping. It’s doable, but you may think about coming south rather than enduring days of monsoonal rain and thunderstorms in the north. The NT does have a fairly long mid-year school break, so that’s an ideal time to go camping in the Top End, or anywhere in Northern Australia if you live in Darwin or Katherine.
For those who don’t have families with school age kids, the best time is a combination of the best weather and when the kids have gone back to school. For the South, that means November through to near Christmas and any time after the end of January right through to just before Easter. In the North, it means any time after Easter when the land dries out and beautiful sunny days are much more common. The monsoonal “build-up” begins in late October with often oppressively hot weather and the start of thunderstorms.
Because of the often very hot conditions in many parts of Australia in the middle of the southern summer another good time to go camping is in the shoulder seasons: Spring and Autumn. For places like the WA southwest coast, Spring has the added advantage of the spectacular natural wildflower show. This may be a good time to go camping in central Australia too. Summers can be just too hot, even with a caravan or campervan, and mid-winters can be surprisingly cold at night.
How can you get there?
This all depends on the type of camping you are going to choose. By far the easiest choice is to take your own car with you and plan a relatively simple trip close to home. You will soon get the idea of what’s in store and whether you like camping or not. If you are car camping, it’s a simple step to go further afield and for longer and as you build up your experience you will soon know what to take with you.
If you decide that you want to go camping on the other side of the country but are reluctant to drive several thousand kilometres just to get from Melbourne to Kakadu to take one example, or simply don’t have the time, you may think of renting a car when you get there and taking at least some of your camping equipment with you. If this seems impracticable, remember that there are always plenty of good camping supply shops like the ubiquitous BCF in every large town and you can pick up camping necessities away from home if you are renting.
If you are going to do long distance wilderness camping, it may be more sensible to look at using public transport to at least get to a trailhead or the nearest trailhead supply town. You will find that many popular long distance trails in Australia such as the Bibbulmun Trail in WA, the Larapinta Trail in the NT or the Overland Trail in Tassie will have well organised shuttle services that take hikers to each end of the trail. They are not cheap, but overall, it’s hard to spend much money on this sort of camping trip so the cost of the shuttle can easily be budgeted for.
4 wheel drivers will prefer their own vehicle and will no doubt be taking considerable time off to go camping in the wilds. It would be fair to say that it’s unlikely that you take your 4WD, if you have one, off into remote parts of Australia camping until you are experienced with this type of travel and camping experience. You can rent 4 wheel drive vehicles, but there may be stipulations as to where you can take it and it certainly won’t be a cheap option.
Campervan and caravan campers will either have their own vehicle or will hire something to suit. If you are first time campervanning (RVing) or caravan camping, it might make sense to hire a suitable vehicle first so that you get the feel of it before you splash out on thousands of dollars on your own RV or caravan. You can easily hire a campervan or RV just about anywhere in a largish regional city and this is a great way of exploring a more distant part of Australia. Check out Camplify to hire a caravan or camper near you!
If you are thinking of hiring a caravan, you will either have to have your own vehicle suitably equipped to tow a caravan of the size you want or hire a vehicle as well as the caravan itself, which gets a bit more costly.
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What should you take with you on your Aussie camping trip?
Before you set off on your first camping holiday in Australia it might take you off the beaten track in order to get to the best national parks camping locations. This means you should be well prepared for things that could happen when you are further than you thought you could ever be from the nearest full service town. Fortunately Australia is well endowed with a vast range of camping equipment and camping stores so as long as you plan well you should be able to pack up into your car, RV or backpack everything you need for your family camping holiday.
Here are some of the main camping stores that are found in most larger centres:
BCF (Boating, Camping, Fishing);
If you want a more comprehensive list, check out the article we wrote here on Australia’s best camping and outdoor equipment stores.
TIP: You will already be familiar with Big W and Kmart as general department stores, but you might not realise that they both have quite large camping sections. Depending on what method of transport you intend to use this will determine what camping gear you are able to carry.
The Bushwalker’s Australian Camping Checklist
This sort of travelling is really camping on a budget. If you are hiking one of the long distance trails in Tasmania or Victoria or you are using public transport to get you from one camping site to the next you will need to be travelling fairly light. You should also be thinking about the weather you may expect to encounter on your trip. If you are going into the Snowy Mountains in Victoria you may be camping in the snow or Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania you may be camping in the rain, so you could pay a visit to the Kathmandu outdoor and camping store as it sells a wider selection of camping accessories for the harsher conditions you are likely to encounter. You will need:
A good quality large volume backpack of around 75 litres as this will give you some space to play with for your camping equipment
A sleeping bag that has a temperature rating to suit what you expect to experience
A water resistant tent with a flysheet
A lightweight camping mat
A small petrol/white spirit camping stove
A camping pot
A lightweight unbreakable camping plate and mug
Sturdy walking shoes/boots
A waterproof anorak.
A sturdy 2 litre+ camping water bottle.
If you intend to be doing some bush camping or adventure camping in remote places, don’t expect a Big W or Kmart tent to keep you dry. You must look carefully at the labels on the tent and buy one that has a water resistant material of at least 3000mm. These you will only find in a specialist camping store like Kathmandu or Camping World.
If you are camping in campgrounds along a main highway and the weather turns to custard you can always dive into a camping cabin or motel unit, you can’t do this if you are doing mountain camping.
Car Camping Checklist
You don’t need to be so fussy over what and how much camping equipment you need to carry but of course you will need:
A tent for you or you and your partner or your entire family. You can sacrifice a little bit on quality but make sure you have one of those large blue tarps available to protect the tent from too much sun or rain.
Camp beds. You can take heavier camping beds than backpackers which you can buy quite easily at a low cost from Kmart, Big W and even Bunnings, either as roll up beds or inflatables. Don’t forget the pump as a camping accessory.
A stove like a 2 burner LPG camping stove with an attachment for a cylinder.
Eating utensils, such as cups, plates and camping cutlery as well as a saucepan and frying pan.
BBQ fans will find most campgrounds in the country have them available for their patrons to use and it might surprise you that many states have BBQs scattered around roadside parks. Some don’t attract a cost while others are coin operated gas.
Don’t forget the camping esky or fridge to keep your steak and sausages cool.
One thing you shouldn’t leave behind and that’s spare fuel and water containers filled up just in case you get caught out too far away from civilisation without enough fuel or your car breaks down on a hot day.
Australian Caravan Camping Checklist
Caravan camping is a popular camping choice as you have a hard roof over your head. There’s no need to worry about even packing a tarp. You just load up your caravan with all the luxuries you are accustomed to at home. Don’t forget you will need a roadworthy (safety) certificate for your caravan and a gas certificate too.
The most important consideration is ensuring your car/SUV/4WD has the power to tow the caravan up steep hills. Some destinations which are more remote may not have roads wide enough or in good enough condition to take towed caravans so carefully check the route you intend to take beforehand and the camping spot you would like to stay at. This will save disappointment when you see the NO CARAVANS sign.
Australian Motorhome or RV Camping Checklist
These are the crème de la crème of the happy campers’ experience. You just have one vehicle to worry about and they are available in all shapes and sizes. You couldn’t be more self sufficient. They are far easier to turn or park in an awkward space while camping sites just love them. However, due to their comfort and versatility they are not a cheap acquisition unless of course you are selling your home and are intending on becoming a nomad as you have reached retirement and want to move from one place to another rather slowly.
If that’s your plan have a good look around and buy one that suits your comfort level and off you go. If you haven’t put too much thought into RVing this might be your chance to get into it by trying out a motorhome rental first.
Packing up your RV is much the same as caravan camping as you can pack the kitchen sink if you want. Adding a solar panel to your RVs roof will help to supply your lighting requirements if you intend to spend any of your time camping in remote national park camping spots where there is no electricity in the campground. If you happen to have forgotten to turn off your RV’s lights at night and your battery has gone flat a solar panel installed can be a life saver as long as the sun’s out. You can be out of this annoying situation within an hour or two and back on your way to do some beach camping.
Many motorhome owners buy a generator to charge up their batteries but this can be very disturbing for other campground users and many campgrounds limit the use of generators after a certain time or ban them altogether. That’s when a solar panel really and an inverter (which converts 12 volts from your batteries to 240 volts for mains appliances) pays dividends, although don’t rely on it to power your fridge or freezer unless you cover your roof with panels!
If you don’t own your own RV, Campervan or Camper Trailer, you can rent one on Camplify, check out our range of RV’s in your desired area here.
More tips and tricks when planning your family camping holiday in Australia
When you are compiling your camping plan, don’t forget to include travel insurance in your budget for camping for you and your family. Depending on the sort of camping you choose you will need to know how to set up a tent, how to drive a motorhome, how to drive a campervan and how to tow a caravan. You must also consider how to take food while camping. There are various ways of keeping food fresh and one is buying a small fridge to put in your caravan or campervan, another is buying block ice everyday to put in your camping esky and the third is using the freezer or fridge at the camping site.
Part 3 – Ultimate Australian Camping Guide for First Timers
A Camping Checklist of Apps, Books, Maps and the Internet
You may have worked out where you want to go, when to go, how to get there and what to take, but there is going to be more to it than that. You need to know where to camp, how much it’s going to cost, where there are free camping spots and what the facilities are.
There are more apps, books, maps and websites that you will ever have time to read and every year there seem to be more and more of them while other old favourites simply fade away. Here is a camping checklist of useful apps, books, maps and websites to help you get the lowdown on your camping trip.
Useful Camping Apps
It doesn’t matter whether you are a bushwalker, a cross country touring cyclist, a car camper or motorhome owner or renter apps are convenient and very useful. There are a small number of really useful camping apps that are either free or so cheap that you can ignore the cost. Everyone has their favourite, and until you have tried using them yourself, you won’t really know. It may be best to download two at least and cross check for information reliability. Try Googling “Best Camping apps” for the latest reviews of what’s available. This can change remarkably quickly.
Try Campermate and Wikicamp for starters. They are available for Apple or Android devices. Both are very comprehensive and give huge amounts of detailed information about campgrounds, free campsites, national park and state forest camping facilities as well as commercial and council campgrounds.
Campermate is probably the simplest to use, but Wikicamp has the advantage that it can be used offline. Both have recent comments and reviews and these are really useful to check on updated prices, how nice the places are, even whether the site is still open! Some of the reviews can be a bit suspect and may depend on a very personal experience but after a time, if you see 10 positive reviews for a particular site and 1 negative review, this should give you a good enough balanced picture overall.
There are plenty of other useful apps we might take a look at in Part 4: Ten Things to Enjoy When Camping in Australia, such as apps for the weather and the tides, the night sky, identifying birds and other animals, wildflowers and trees, first aid and bushwalking suggestions.
Useful Camping Books
If you are car camping or travelling in a motorhome or towing a caravan, you will have space for some of these. There are books galore on every aspect of camping, how to set up camp in the bush, where to go and where to camp for free. These days, it is almost as easy to find an app to replace a hefty book, so you may want to think about space before a trip to your nearest bookshop! It’s more of a matter of personal preference and whether you are happier with electronic info or the paper variety.
The main advantage of the camping guides are their huge detail, maps and photos and the fact that they are unlikely to run out of battery power just when you want to use them! The main disadvantage is that they are rarely up to date, particularly for prices and facilities. Commercial camping sites, especially the smaller ones can change from year to year as ownership and management changes hands.
General Australian Camping Guides
The selection below is by no means all there is. There are plenty of Australian camping guides but these are all recommended.
Camping in Australia by Craig Lewis & Cathy Savage – 2,500 campsites described in detail with a lot of other useful information about national park permits and what the best things to do in each place are.
Explore Australia by Caravan or Motorhome by John & Jan Tait. A very experienced couple who spent 12 years travelling around Australia with their caravan. 600 campsites described with a lot of useful information specifically for campervan and caravan camping.
Camping and Caravanning Across Australia by Ian Reid. This has been around for a long time and is good for the main routes around Australia, but not so good if you want to get off the beaten track. 1,000 campsites described plus a lot of other information for campers and caravanners.
Free Camping in....by state or territory. These guide books are kept updated by Steve and Sue Collis. There are books for each state or even parts of a state. The info. Might not be as up to date as on the camping apps mentioned above although there is still a huge amount of detail and useful tips for free camping.
Useful Maps for Camping in Australia
Even if you have an iPad or laptop and can use Google Maps, it is a good idea to invest in some real paper maps or map books. Digital maps or a GPS are great for navigating your way around an unfamiliar city, but most Australian highways are not so extensive that you are likely to get lost. It’s more important to have an idea of where to go and what the main features are in the area you are interested in: national parks, beach access, campgrounds, filling stations, etc. It’s a good idea to buy a series of maps in ever increasing scale for the places you are visiting. That means:
A smaller scale map of the whole of Australia for planning;
A state road map, preferably a map book which will probably have town maps in it as well;
National park maps or maps of particular interest
Useful Aussie Camping Websites
Camping apps like Wikicamp may tell you what campgrounds are available and how much they cost but you will need to know whether there is space for your tent or vehicle and be able to book accommodation, especially at peak holiday seasons. That’s where websites come in useful. One reason to go camping may be to get away from all that online pressure but, let’s face it, the internet is so much more handy than trying to find an information centre just when you want one.
Most commercial campgrounds will have their own websites and you can either make a booking online, send an email or just ring up to confirm a booking. There is usually a link to the commercial campground’s website on the app you are using, otherwise you may have to do a Google search. Some of the smaller campgrounds may not even have a website and you may have to ring them.
Each state and territory has a dedicated national park site with booking pages for campgrounds. Just Google “State/ Territory” national park camping. This is the site for NSW national park campgrounds and booking information: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation
Note that there are also a few federally run national parks. Famous Kakadu NP in the Northern Territory is one example.
Another tip is that many states have their own discounted prices for residents of that state or for annual passes for anyone. It can be quite expensive visiting some national parks if you don’t buy a pass in advance as there may be a daily fee for your vehicle as well as a campground fee.
National park bookings can be a bit tortuous to navigate but in peak season you may not have any choice, as you cannot rely on just turning up. In fact, with so many national parks having cut back on staff, often the only way to pay for a campsite is booking it online or by phoning up in business hours. In some national park campgrounds there may be a locked gate that has a code to get in. You don’t get the code until you make a booking!
Part 4 – Ultimate Australian Camping Guide for First Timers
Ten Things to Enjoy When Camping in Australia
We could include 100 things in this section of the Ultimate Australian Camping Guide, but we won’t! Instead, here is a short selection of ways to enjoy your first family camping trip.
Campfires are cosy, entertaining and provide a lot of natural light, so there’s no need to worry about running out of battery power.
Campfires invite contemplation, inspiration, singing, yodelling and family games like story telling. Someone starts a story with a few lines, then passes the buck to the next person who adds some more. Keep going until you all fall asleep or think of the next game!
Do think carefully about starting a fire. Use campfire rings or places where available. Don’t use green wood, just dry, dead logs or branches or firewood that you have bought elsewhere. Take account of fire restrictions and make sure the fire is out before you all go to sleep.
There is no shortage of campfire games you can learn about on the internet. Here is just one of the many websites available with some examples of family fun campfire games to play.
As long as your campground doesn’t suffer from “light pollution”, which means that nighttime lighting around you makes it hard to see the night sky, star gazing is a really neat campground activity. Camping means you have the time to stare up in the sky which has a lot more things in it than just stars. It’s a great learning activity for your kids too. You can get an app called “GoSky Watch” which you can use to point at a feature in the night sky with your tablet or phone. The app works out where you are pointing and displays a map showing what features are what.
Camping doesn’t have to mean eating boring food. You can take whatever you normally eat at home if you have a vehicle and a fridge or esky, but how about trying some totally new, wicked camping recipes when you camp? Americans talk about something called “s’mores” when they go camping and they are a great idea. A “s’more” is supposed to be something so tasty that you want “some more” of it! What you try for an Aussie style s’more depends entirely on your imagination. Why not have a family competition to come up with the best s’more?
Of course, there are plenty of tasty campground ideas on the internet. Here is just one of many useful camping recipe websites.
We are not talking about computer games, but ones that you can play outdoors. If you are camping near other families with kids, even if you don’t know them, this is a perfect excuse to allow your kids to let off steam while you have a chance to meet someone new. Pack a ball or two, frisbees (tough plastic plates will do), cricket bat, ball and stumps. There are other fun games too which you can make up with minimal equipment like tag and races. To be honest, most kids will come up with their own games, even if you don’t, as long as there is company of the right age. Many of the commercial campgrounds have standard playgrounds for kids and a swimming pool.
Whether you are beach camping, or camping by an estuary, creek or lake there is always fun to be had on the water, but not if you forgot to pack the right gear. Depending on where you are going, it could be a surf board, a canoe or kayak, paddle board, even a tyre, inflatable ring or tube.
The weather and tides (if you are on the coast) are important when thinking about doing any water sport, especially if you think your kids might venture out of sight. Make sure you check the weather, sea state and tides as well as any currents before you head out. One very useful all Australian weather and tide app is called WillyWeather. Like most good apps, you can get it on Google Play or iTunes and best of all, it’s free!
Australia’s favourite past time. If you’ve never tried fishing, now’s your chance. It doesn’t take up too much space to load a rod, reel, hooks and bait is sold just about everywhere. Here is one of many beginners’ fishing guide sites to get you started.
The chances are that you’ll be woken up by a cacophony of bird song. Kookaburras, currawongs and cockatoos are probably the noisiest of our feathered friends, but there are plenty more that might be a little more secretive. If you are bush camping, take a bird identification guide or app (see below) with you and spend an hour or two trying to find out what birds there are around. Early mornings and late afternoons are when the birds are busiest and most noticeable.
If birds are your thing, then try Michael Morcombe & David Stewart’s Australian Birds eGuide. It’s an app that’s available for Apple or Android devices. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but very easy to use and very comprehensive with 790 species of birds described. This app is still way cheaper than a lot of standard bird guides and lighter to carry around.
Don’t try singing too loud in a commercial campground or anywhere where there are other campers, as the golden rule of shared campgrounds is to keep the noise down after 10 p.m. But if you’re on your own with your family, this may be the time to practice all those half remembered songs you might have sung when you were a kid yourself. If you can’t remember any, take a camp song CD and try some karaoke! A guitar is always appreciated around a campfire as long as you know how to use it. Leave the trombone at home!
There are all sorts of neat creatures out and about at night. Plan a night walk with good torches or spotlights and join the creatures of the night. In fact, most Australian mammals are nocturnal and you may see something scurrying away or frozen in your beam that you have never seen in the wild before, like a bandicoot, ring tailed possum, quoll, pademelon or an owl or nightjar. If you do spot something, don’t focus a bright beam on the animal or bird, especially if your torch or spotlight has an LED bulb in it.
Tip: Choose an easy to follow path or trail and know where you are going. Going on a night walk when the moon is coming up and more than half full is a great time to do this sort of activity.
Not every Aussie campground has nice soft campsites. Many national park campgrounds are often sandy, stony or are just a bit bare. Some commercial campgrounds can get like that at the end of the season, too. Even what seem like green grass sites can get a bit bony after a time. Even if you have a caravan or a campervan, you don’t want to sit inside all the time. Make sure you have something comfortable that you can sit on to maximise your campground enjoyment. It could be collapsible camping chairs, an old bean bag or large cushion, an inflatable camping mattress and a tarp to stick underneath to protect your seat of choice from sharp stones or twigs.
Part 5 – The Ultimate Australian Camping Guide
Don’t Forget to Share! Sharing is Caring! You made it! You’ve just completed your first camping trip ever and you and your family is still alive to tell the tale! How was it? Don’t forget to share your experience!
Speaking of sharing… As you have probably gathered, Camplify is all about sharing the caravan love! We are on a mission to help more people experience the joys of camping and caravanning. Our community is always on the lookout for new members who are passionate about the sharing economy or just passionate about camping.
If you own a caravan, campervan, motorhome or camper trailer that isn’t being used enough, why not share it and earn some handy extra income in the process? Learn how much you could earn from your RV here.
If you’re looking to experience a new type of holiday, then you’ve come to the right place! Find the perfect caravan or camper for your next getaway on Camplify today.
Apart from the usual social media sites, if you used any of the camping apps like Campermate or Wikicamp, or booking sites like Booking.com write a short review or comment that might just help others who follow in your footsteps (or wheel tracks). If you hired a car, or a campervan or caravan like one through Camplify, be sure to let them know what your experience was like!
Do you own an RV? Interested in learning how Camplify can help you turn your caravan, camper or motorhome into $5000 - $35,000 per year? Learn more about how Camplify works for owners here