Camping with Kids in Central Australia
(How We Did It)
Quite a few people looked at us like we were crazy when we mentioned our road trip plans with the kids. Some people even came right out and told us we were crazy. The secret is to be flexible with driving times and armed with snacks at all times!
THIS IS HOW WE DID IT !!
I want to start by saying that my kids are not particularly easy, especially Miss 18 months. In fact, she has a teenager attitude already! She also has a very, very, VERY loud voice.
Despite this, we were still crazy enough to make this 6,704 km round trip with the kids from the East Coast of Australia. This is the route we took: Central Australia Road Trip With Kids (The Route We Took)
I personally would have preferred to hire a private jet and stay in luxury accommodation. Unfortunately, my purse isn’t big enough for such luxury tastes, so self driving and camping it is!
We were on a pretty strict budget for this adventure, however I’ll put up our costings in a future post.
We traveled in our own 4WD (Mitsubishi Triton), however if you choose to fly to either Alice Springs or Yulara, you can easily hire a car or 4wd. If you drive yourself, you need to keep an eye on fuel stops as it can be a long way between fuel stations. Fuel is pretty expensive out this way as well, so you need to budget a lot more for it.
When getting around on foot, our kids are too young to keep up on longer walks and hikes, so we used the Ergo Baby Carrier and the Piggy Back Rider for when we needed to carry them. See my baby and toddler carriers for travelling section for more details.
We all fit in a roof top tent ! If it gets too squishy cause the kids are sleeping sideway, one of us would sneak down into the annex.
I absolutely love roof top tents because the sheets and mattress stay in there when you fold it up. They are pretty quick to set up and pack up once you know what you are doing. You also avoid ants, crocodiles and other creepy crawlies. The only downside is that you need to fold it up if you want to drive anywhere.
We got our roof top tent from https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/. The price was very cheap compared to other places however it doesn’t seem poor quality at all. We get most of our camping stuff from here.
EATING and SHOPPING
We have a dual battery set up in our car with a 90L Evakool fridge so basically, we just shopped like we would at home and cooked on a portable gas cooker. If I am being honest, I don’t really like to eat at restaurants with the kids cause they are a bit of a handful at that time of the evening.
We don’t yet have solar panels for our fridge however we drove everyday. This was enough to keep the battery charged and going the whole time. Many campgrounds have powered sites anyway.
If we didn’t have the fridge, we would have used an esky and ice and bought more canned items.
Buying fresh food in Yulara (closest town to Uluru) is a bit pricey. Considering it’s location, this isn’t a surprise. Canned food prices are comparable to back home. Fresh fruit and vegetables were really pricey. Nappies were ridiculously expensive in Yulara, so its best to stock up as much as you can in Alice Springs.
WASHING and BATHING
If we camp somewhere free or cheap with no facilities, we use one of those cheap solar showers. It’s basically a big black plastic bag (kind of like a goon bag) with a hose attached. You leave it in the sun to heat up, we like to leave it on top of the car.
The kids also happily took a bucket bath. I’m pretty strict on bath right before bed when camping because I don’t like dirty kids rolling all over our shared sheets !
We had enough clothes for about a week so we just made sure we camped at a proper campground with facilities every now and then so we could use the washing machines. We used Yulara Resort Camp Grounds and the Big 4 at Alice Springs.
WEE’S AND POO’S
When you have young kids, this subject is a HUGE part of your life unfortunately.
I’m not going to lie, when we are camping with kids, weeing happens in nappies or on a tree.
When it comes to number 2’s, we would either use public facilities at campgrounds. We have a travel toilet seat that folds up small for Mr nearly 4. If he is too scared to use the public toilet, we have a camp toilet with a bag underneath.
OCCUPYING THE KIDS whilst driving
When driving, the kids had a box between them full of toys. Ok, i’ll be honest, some of the items were from my kitchen drawer. My kids are still young enough to find plastic tongs fun!
We have a portable DVD player in the back and I drip feed them snacks they wouldn’t normally get at home.
When they start getting restless, we just stop for a snack and a run around. We try hard to wear them out in the morning so that we can get a good chunk of driving done around lunch time.
When we are at camp grounds and need to cook dinner etc, my secret weapon was BUBBLES! With kids this young, that whole dinner/bath/bed chore is the hardest part of the day. The bubbles really distracted them whilst one of us did the cooking. At this age, a bucket of water and some small items to clean is also a novelty.
THINGS TO DO
There is a LOT to see and do in this part of the world. Most of the cool things to see here are free or good value for money and will appeal to both young and older kids as well as adults.
Looking for inspiration for your next getaway?
For more information and blogs on the things to do around Central Australia (The Red Centre), please see my page on the link below: Central Australia & Northern Territory
To see all of my destination, head on over to this page: My travel destinations
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