Travelling round Central Australia might seem like a daunting mission, but hire a campervan and suddenly a trip to the deserts of Australia is an exciting and memorable jaunt for the whole family. The campervan will make this a fun kids holiday before you even hit the road – for the children, the spectacular and brilliant scenery will just be an added bonus.
Central Australia contains a brilliant array of natural wonders for those who love the outdoors. There are plenty of stunning hikes to get everyone exercising and enjoying the fresh air. The biggest hindrance, though, are the long driving distances. But hire a campervan and commuting is transformed into an activity in itself.
There’s something so twee about the idea of a Winnebago that it’s retro cool. While kids will love the house on wheels, it is actually a very practical way to get around the Northern Territory with kids, providing accommodation, access to cooking facilities, storage room for food and drinks and transport, all in one. There are several companies who hire them including Apollo and Britz.
While Alice Springs proper doesn’t have much to offer as a tourist attraction, it’s the critical gateway to some of Australia’s most stunning scenery. Among the ochre sands and vast open spaces are some of the most awe-inspiring natural formations in the world which are the historic and cultural heart of Australia’s identity. And a drive through the desert to get to them is memorable enough in itself for the kids.
Over 450 kilometers from Alice is Uluru, the sacred landmark of the indigenous people. While it’s disrespectful to climb the rock, you can walk around the base. Its colours become the most spectacular at dawn and dusk.
While Uluru is the most famous, perhaps the more memorable formations are the nearby Olgas. Walking through huge corridors of boulders is a haunting and magical experience worthy of any adventurer.
Between Uluru and Alice is Kings Canyon, another spectacular walk overlooking huge valleys along large cliff-top plateaus. The scenery is some of the most beautiful and peaceful on earth.
The Territory is all about viewing the natural wonders at their optimum – which means hiking. These wonders are unspoilt – no pathways or ramps for strollers. Treks are long and only suited to children who are willing to walk or can be easily carried. Pack water and sun protection (sunscreen and hats) for the entire family every time you go hiking.
Drives are long and campervans can be hot in the height of summer. It is worth considering pitching additional tents in the evenings at designated campsites. (Children will find this adventurous, there are opportunities to meet other kids and families and it will also provide a welcome break from the stuffiness of the van.)
[For more ideas about camping with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
This is the desert and people can die from dehydration (but usually only in extreme circumstances). Fill the campervan with water and food for emergencies. In the event of a vehicle breakdown stay with your van. It is safer to stay on the road near shelter and water – do not attempt to walk to get assistance.
Flies are endemic so you must ensure you keep food, drinks and young infants covered at all times. Invest in the extremely ugly but practical fly net hats you can find all over the area – they will save you and the kids constantly swatting your faces.
While all fresh food and water is generally safe to drink, we suggest you avoid drinking the water from the tank in your campervan since you don’t know how long it’s been there – buy bottled water instead.
To read about a family that drove right around Australia, click on the suitcases&strollers story here.