By Jennifer Adams, founder of TV travel series Places We Go, mother of 7 year-old daughter Charli, and lover of the adventurous life.
Best School Holiday Camping Destinations
Every time school holidays come around we are faced with the decisions about what to do? Where to go? We don’t go away every single time but when we do fancy escaping, you can be sure a camping holiday is high on our list.
Fostering family time on a camping holiday
One of the biggest reasons (apart from our own love of nature and simplicity) is our daughter. Camping encourages a disconnect from technology and screens, and fosters a wealth of outdoor time, family time and physical activity. Charli (now 8 years) loves meeting fellow kids at the campground, where instant friends are made and temporary communities are built.
Making instant friends at the campground
Whether we are camping in an established Holiday Park with lots of facilities (think pools, jumping pillows, playgrounds, camp kitchens) or in a campground with only the basics (toilet blocks and barbecues if you are lucky) – the general feel is still the same. People all around you are escaping from their everyday lives, taking the time to spend with their family and simply enjoy the great outdoors without any frills. Like-minded travellers bond over the BBQ’s, share their cheese and wine at dusk, and throw each other the aeroguard. It’s refreshing and real.
It’s also really budget friendly. Once you buy a tent and the gear, you don’t need to keep putting your hand in your pocket, and site fees are minimal. You usually do most of the cooking yourself, meaning there are no big restaurant bills; only a trip to the supermarket. And we would be willing to bet your kids would love this kind of holiday just as much as an expensive resort.
Mucking in setting up camp for young and old
Everyone gets to muck in on a camping holiday. From setting up camp, to cooking and cleaning, there is a job for all family members and this can be a rich learning experience for little ones and a great exercise in responsibility. As is the experience of ‘living’ in the outdoors. Spotting wildlife, opening your ears to different sounds, and cooking and eating alfresco is a huge adventure for all little ones, and we can guarantee you that some unforgettable memories will be made.
Camping is one of our favourite holidays
We have been camping around Australia for many years and have experienced some amazing locations. From the bush to the beach (or my personal favourite, a location combining the two) Australia is blessed with camping opportunities in some incredible places. Here are a few of our favourites, all within a few hours (at the most) of Australian capital cities.
Wilsons Promontory, Victoria
‘The Prom’ is situated on the southern-most tip of the Australian mainland and seems a million miles away from anything, even though it is only a 3 hour drive down the highway from Melbourne.
Prom Country is made up of pristine national park, dramatic granite cliffs and mountains, wild bushland, unspoiled beaches and a huge population of native wildlife.
The only permanent settlement in the park is at Tidal River, where a campground hosts the annual influx of enthusiastic campers on powered and unpowered sites, and a General Store is the only place to get your ice, spare batteries and a latte (of course!).
Campers here enjoy beautiful bushland all around them, and one of the best beaches, Norman Beach, directly behind them. We love the beach for its expansive sandy shore – perfect for a game of beach cricket with the family.
Pristine beaches at Wilsons Prom Friendly visitors at your campsite
Beach Cricket on Norman Beach
It would be rare to camp here and NOT see one of the most common residents in these parts – the wombat. They love to visit your campsite and you can usually expect to see a few during a stay here. Wallaby’s and colourful parrots are also really common, and kids get a huge kick out of living side by side with the wildlife.
Amazing views from the many walking tracks
The Prom also has a network of family-friendly walking trails to tackle, from easy to difficult, taking you through the park to enjoy its spectacular array of beaches and lookout points.
At night, Tidal River often hosts an outdoor cinema where the family can enjoy a movie together before hitting the airbed. Don’t forget to zip up the tent at night, those wombats love our food as much as we do!
An hour south of Sydney on the NSW South Coast, rolling green farmland meets the spectacular coast at Kiama.
Famous for its incredible blowhole (which can sometimes spurt water 25m in the air!), this is a classic beach town surrounded by pastures and forest.
Beware of the spray at the Kiama blowhole!
Passionate producers in the region are making a huge range of gourmet goods and some great wines, so foodies in particular will love a stay here.
Enjoying the beachfront location at Easts Beach
We love to camp at Easts Beach, just a few kilometres from the town centre, where the BIG4 Holiday Park sits directly on the shore. It’s the perfect situation; we can mix our time at the beach with time at our campsite without any hassle.
Views of Easts Beach from the Kiama Coast Walk
If we are feeling energetic, the 22 kilometre Kiama Coast Walk passes right through Easts Beach and is a great path to follow the coastline and enjoy incredible views of the surrounding landscape, plus some very fresh air.
Enjoy the amazing local produce
We also love to tear ourselves away from the beach and visit some local producers – from cheesemakers to winemakers, this little town has a lot happening and we always pick up some delicious goodies to enjoy back at our campsite.
This particular holiday park has a massage studio on site. With this little luxury, it might be easier to say that this is in fact ‘glamping’ but we prefer to simply acknowledge that camping comes in many forms these days and it’s great to experience the lot!
Front row seat to the sunset and sunrise
At the end of the day, this is one of the best places we have experienced where you can simply kick back at your campsite, and watch the sunset over the beach in front of you while the kids play.
North Stradbroke Island, QLD
North ‘Straddie’ is an island that is actually more accessible to reach than you may think. A short ferry ride from Cleveland, 30km from Brisbane, will take you straight onto the island with your car if you wish, and from there, you are on island time.
North Stradbroke Island beaches Gentle swells for surfers at Cylinder Beach
In the north of the island is one of our favourite beaches in Australia – Cylinder Beach. It is a hit with the whole family, with a gentle wave for surfers, calm waters for young ones and even the odd dolphin and whale passing by!
Nearby there are several fantastic campgrounds where you can enjoy the proximity to the beach, plus also the beautiful and pristine bushland that this part of the world has to offer.
Spot the dolphins and turtles from the North Gorge Walk
The nearest town is Point Lookout where most holiday makers congregate to enjoy the local cafes and Straddie pub. But one of our favourite things to do is the North Gorge Walk, a headland walk at the western end of Point Lookout and a fantastic way to spot the local wildlife including turtles and whales.
Kayak fishing for dinner!
Another adventure activity here is kayak fishing. With local waters brimming with flathead, whiting, bream, mackerel and more, it is always fun to try your luck and catch dinner. Tip: if you don’t succeed, there is a fresh seafood van in the area where you can always buy it!
Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
One of the best beaches we have ever experienced is 45 minutes south east of Adelaide, along the Fleurieu Peninsula. You might know this area for its famous wine region, McLaren Vale. And which parent can resist a spectacular beach combined with top class wineries?
Amazing, expansive beaches
It’s such a great combination that we love returning to the Fleurieu. Camping down in a little spot called Port Wilunga offers us walking distance to the beach and a ten-minute drive to the wineries. It is quite simply the best of both worlds. And wine isn’t the only thing that’s produced well around here – the locals are a passionate lot, and the region is bursting with cheesemakers and other gourmet goodies.
It’s a perfect day when you can hit the beach, then head to the local farmers market or producer to pick up some treats for sundown.
Combine McLaren Vale wines with a beachside location
The beaches themselves are sparkling. Expansive, white sandy shores meet clear turquoise waters that are fantastic for divers, being home to several ancient shipwrecks and some stunning marine life. And they are perfect for safe swimming, surfing, fishing and more.
The kids will be spoiled with the amount of aquatic activities on offer around here, and the local Holiday Park is packed with fun too – with jumping pillows, a playground and more.
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