Camping with Kids in Central Australia
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!
I’ll let you in on a little secret. You just need to be incredibly 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 especially easy kids, especially little Miss. In fact, she had the attitude of a teenager before she was two! She also has a very, very, VERY, loud voice when she doesn’t get her own way.
Despite this, we were still crazy enough to make this 6,704 km round trip with the kids from the East Coast of Australia. Check out my post on the route we took: Central Australia Road Trip With Kids (The Route We Took)
I personally would have preferred to hire a private jet, stay in luxury accommodation, and buy every single one of our meals. Unfortunately, my purse isn’t big enough for such luxury tastes, so self driving, catering and camping it is!
We travelled in our own 4WD but if you choose to fly to either Alice Springs or Yulara, you can easily hire a vehicle from there. It’s a long way between fuel stations in Central Australia so it’s worth filling up even if you still have quarter of a tank left. You will also need to budget more than normal for fuel as it’s pretty expensive out there in the middle of no-where.
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 took a roof top tent to Central Australia. The benefits are that it’s fairly quick to put up and you don’t have to remake your bed every night as it stays in the tent. Being up high ensures you avoid ants and creepy crawlies that live on the ground.
The big downside to a roof top tent is if you want to drive somewhere, you have to pack it up. This is awesome if you plan on staying at a new camp sight every night, but not so great if you want to set up somewhere for a few days.
What you sleep in will depend on your families needs and budget. There is nothing wrong with staying in standard old budget tent. We’ve done it plenty of times and kids don’t care either way!
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.
Driving somewhere every day was enough to keep the battery charged and therefore the fridge going the whole time. Major campgrounds such as King Canyon Resort and Ayers Rock Resort have powered sites anyway.
Buying fresh food in Yulara (the 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 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 Ayers Rock 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. When camping, number one’s happen in nappies or on a tree.
When it comes to number two’s, we use public facilities at campgrounds. We have a kids travel toilet sets that sits on top and folds up small when not in use. If there are no toilets available, then we use a camp toilet with a bag underneath.
OCCUPYING THE KIDS whilst driving
When driving, the kids had a box between them full of toys. I am not ashamed to admit that 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 while they nap or have quiet time.
When we are at camp grounds and need to cook dinner, my secret weapon was BUBBLES! 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 awesome things to see here are either free or good value for money. Check out my post on Central Australia with Kids for ideas.
Looking for inspiration for your next getaway?
For more blog posts, photographs and information on my travels through Central Australia with kids, check out this page: Central Australia with Kids
For more information on ALL of my travels, please check out this page: My travel destinations
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