Opinion: Camping with kids

For kids like mine that grow up in the suburbs there is plenty of good times to be had when camping. Whether they are skimming rocks into a river or stoking the campfire – they can get learn stuff and have fun at the same time.

Wellington River near Licola
Wellington River near Licola

Now when I say camping I don’t mean staying at a  Big4 caravan park in your Winnebago with an ensuite and air-conditioning.

Doing your maths homework in the snow....that's commitment
Doing your maths homework in the snow….that’s commitment

I am talking about camping in the Aussie bush. Where the nearest pub is an hour away and a straight drop dunny is a luxury. As long as the conditions are favourable there is no reason you can’t take your baby camping with you. However if you want to go to remote locations and/or in bad weather you need to know what you are doing and have some good quality gear you can rely on.

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Now as your kids get older and more comfortable in the bush you can go to more adventurous places. I have now taken my kids on several overnight hikes which is more demanding than car camping but a lot of fun. Unfortunately the weather on some of these trips has been less than ideal.

Mt St Gwinear Winter 2013
Mt St Gwinear Winter 2013

In a world where every kid in the class seems to get an award just for showing up – I think it gives kids a real sense of achievement to face a few challenges and push themselves outside their comfort zone.

Mt St Gwinear
Mt St Gwinear

Tip 1. Make sure you know where you are going. Getting lost in a storm with a little kid is not good.

Tip 2. Get another adult to go with you. Having someone else around can be very handy if things go wrong.

Tip 3. Be realistic about how far you can hike – and allow plenty of time for breaks. If your kids don’t have any fun they won’t want to go again.

Trip Report: Simpson Desert 2010

Click to open map in new window and then click again to zoom in on our route
Starting from Melbourne we covered 5,408 kilometres in 18 days
The underground motel at White Cliffs was a maze of tunnels and underground chambers.
The underground motel at White Cliffs was a maze of tunnels and underground chambers.
Mrs Bretto and T-Bag at White Cliffs
Mrs Bretto and T-Bag at White Cliffs
We finally made it to the western side of the Simpson - Mt Dare Hotel
We finally made it to the western side of the Simpson – Mt Dare Hotel
Safety first! Driving lessons at Lake Eyre
Safety first! Driving lessons at Lake Eyre
Sunrise at Cooper Creek near Innamincka
Sunrise at Cooper Creek near Innamincka
Cooper Creek
Cooper Creek
Breakfast for Bretto and the family - French Line style
Breakfast for Bretto and the family – French Line style
Crossing Eyre creek in the trusty 120 Prado
Crossing Eyre creek in the trusty 120 Prado
Sunset at Eyre Creek
Sunset at Eyre Creek
We started with 5 cars at Birdsville. 3 Prado's, 1 JK Wrangler and a GQ Patrol
We started with 5 cars at Birdsville. 3 Prado’s, 1 JK Wrangler and a GQ Patrol
Dragging a busted Prado over hundreds of dunes requires a lot of patience and teamwork.
Dragging a busted Prado over hundreds of dunes requires a lot of patience and teamwork.
We saw very few animals in the desert. Here is one cheeky dingo.
We saw very few animals in the desert. Here is one cheeky dingo.
Mrs Bretto swapped out the noisy kids for a session in the bone-jarring JK Wrangler with T-Bag
Mrs Bretto swapped out the noisy kids for a session in the bone-jarring JK Wrangler with T-Bag
The desert is filled with beautiful things if you take the time to look around
The desert is filled with beautiful things if you take the time to look around
2 little monsters on Big Red. Note the extensive flooding behind that required several lengthy detours
2 little monsters on Big Red. Note the extensive flooding behind that required several lengthy detours

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The dunes provide a great opportunity to stretch out those little legs after a day in the car
The dunes provide a great opportunity to stretch out those little legs after a day in the car