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How to go camping with your family when you’re not a ‘camper’

Julia Smith

Julia Smith

Julia is a Sydney born-and-raised mum of three girls. With over twenty years in the media industry, including four years with parenting publishers, she’s passionate about creating entertaining content that connects with parents. When she’s not working or parenting, you’ll find her binge watching TV and revenge-procrastinating about bedtime… or nerding out at gigs...
Created on May 09, 2024 · 7 mins read
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For years, my best mum-friends have been trying to convince me to go camping with them. They’re big-time campers, who are already kitted out with special gear and well-rehearsed planning schedules to go with it.

They’ll wax lyrical for days about their incredible adventures with their kids in far-flung wilderness, and they even came close to dragging me there once. I had booked the campsite and everything, but then (two weeks before the scheduled adventure) became totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of organisation required to make it happen – the equipment, the logistics, the food planning.

I’ve always been a holiday house kinda gal… somewhere I can pack for the whole family on the morning we leave and don’t have to plan anything. I can just turn up, I have my own bathroom, and I can order takeaway and watch Netflix. But after years of my kid’s friends boasting to them about how great camping is, the time had come. We were going to have to bite the bullet… but how? Where do you even start with something like this? Answer: Camplify.

Camping made uncomplicated

My discovery of Camplify changed everything. A magical place where you can hire camper trailers, campervans, caravans, and motorhomes, and even organise for them to tow gear to the location of your choice and set it up for you! 

With a long weekend upon us, we decided to take the plunge and give this camping caper a go. I began to peruse the multitude of options on the site, looking for something to accommodate a family of five, when I stumbled upon a 6-berth Winnebago motorhome. It was shiny and modern with its own kitchen, toilet and shower – so I didn’t have to wear my rubber thongs in the communal showers at a campground! It was the opposite of everything I know camping to be (what a joy). 

Fast-forward to the day of the adventure and the Winnebago was delivered to our home with a seamless handover from the owner, Linda. She carefully explained to my husband and me how to use the fancy toilet, operate the various appliances (including reverse cycle aircon), plug it all in, and connect the water and waste. It was so easy to follow, even for rookies like us. 

True to form for me, I hadn’t packed a thing yet… but herein lies the hidden brilliance of a motorhome adventure. You don’t have to pack anything! It was like I’d parked my holiday house right on my front lawn. I’d done a sneaky grocery order the night before and simply popped the shopping bag contents straight into the fridge and pantry cupboards. 

Likewise, with no space for bulky luggage, we packed clothing and activities like drawing and boardgames into smaller bags and tucked them away in one of the many little cubby holes, ready to hit the road. 

The kids were beside themselves with excitement, combing through every aspect of the van. They opened every compartment, tested the blinds, and dutifully called ‘dibs’ on their chosen beds for the trip. Once we’d cleared the neighbours out of the van (it caused quite a lot of excitement in our quiet little suburban street), we buckled up the kids in their booster seats in the dining room and headed for the freeway. 

On the road and buckled in

Despite the Winnebago’s 7.3m length, it was an easy drive (yep, even through Sydney’s traffic) and we were on our way to Hawks Nest, approximately 3 hours north of Sydney. 

We’re no strangers to a long car trip with the kids and I was bracing myself, ready with snacks and water bottles and dreading the first “Are we there yet”… but it never came! The novelty of being seated around a dining table for a car trip paid dividends, and the kids happily coloured in and played together the whole time. Sure, half the pencils spilled onto the floor, but it was well worth it for the calm trip. 

Rolling into our campsite mid-afternoon, we found our way to our powered slab site to park up and plug in for the weekend. The Motorhome thankfully came complete with two camping tables and enough comfy camping chairs for all of us. 

We were fully set up for the weekend within half an hour of arrival, without any fuss. The kids headed off to explore the area on their scooters with their new friends from the adjacent site, while the hubby cooked dinner on the Weber barbeque provided, and I soaked in the serenity of a thousand rainbow lorikeets while sipping a glass of bubbles. I decided there and then… this was ‘my kind of camping’. 

My kind of camping

The next 3 days were filled with incredible family moments that we’ll always treasure. I was so worried that we wouldn’t survive four days and three nights living in something the size of my kitchen, but the concern was unfounded. The nights were cosy – spent playing Monopoly and Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (if you don’t know this game, do yourself a favour and get it). 

We got the TV working the first night we arrived but decided to continue the ruse that it didn’t work. As a result, we spent a weekend with the kids totally device-free (a feat in and of itself).

It didn’t take long for the kids to re-calibrate to life without screens and joyfully adapt to playing quietly with toys, drawing, and scooting up to town to get chippies and ice creams. It was like a sweet step back in time.

It also allowed us all to reconnect with nature. We took a long family walk up Jimmy’s Beach, across the Yaccaba Headland and back down the Great Mermaid Beach on the other side. We discovered millions of perfect and brightly coloured shells, made sea-weed mountains, and cartwheeled our way back down to the campground with salty hair and happily tired legs. 

On the second day, the sun came out with a vengeance.  We spent hours on the unspoiled beach making sand mermaid tails, digging holes, and watching the incredible local surf lifesavers at work. We even had the thrilling experience of swimming in the ocean with several pods of dolphins swimming up and down the beach. 

The all-too-soon farewell

Fast-forward to Sunday and it was time to pack up and head back to Sydney, where the motorhome would be collected from our house at 4pm. Once again, the Winnebago came into its own. 

Others in the campground had woken early to start the arduous task of packing up their extensive camp set-ups. We had a leisurely breakfast in the sun outside our motorhome, and then quickly packed away the tables and chairs, rolled up the awning, secured all our belongings back in the little cubby holes inside, and off we went!

There were tears from the girls as we trundled out of the campgrounds. 

Our first family ‘camping’ experience was so memorable and beautiful for our family. Sure, we’re still a long way from bush-bashing and free camping, digging a hole for a toilet… baby steps. But we’ve found our way to camp and connect with Camplify. 

Would we do it again? Hell yes. 

If you’d like to try your first family camping adventure, get a sneaky $100 off your booking with Camplify by using the promo code TAKE100 (T&Cs apply ).

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