Freelance writer living in Melbourne. If you enjoy the following article please click on the 'like' button to give me feedback. I am a mum to two very active boys, who is trying to share her passion for nature, art, social justice and a love of life.
Published February 5th 2014
Camping with kids--and a cafe coffee in the morning
Camping with our kids is one of our favourite ways to share time together. We love the peace, intrigue and passion that being outdoors brings our family. Our favourite place at the moment is Wilson's Promontory. The Prom, as it is affectionately known as, is one of Victoria's most beautiful places and is located at the southern most tip of mainland Australia. Located almost 3 hours south east of Melbourne's CBD, it is a bit of a drive, but well worth it. Here you will find gorgeous beaches, sensational rain forest, gigantic granite mountains and an array of wildlife.
This is great!
The reason this is a great place to camp with kids though, is because you can camp in what feels like bush, but there are warm showers and toilets within 50m. There are kangaroos and wombats that will walk through your campsite, but you can still get a newspaper and coffee from the general store in the morning. If it is raining, you can take the kids to the education centre and if it is not you can take them to a child friendly beach. And if you forget anything cool that you read on weekendnotes, there is an information centre with very helpful staff just to help you out. This is camping with kids with all the support you need to make the weekend memorable.
Let your kids experience the freedom of 'roughing it'.
Depending on the age of your children, there is a great selection of walks available for you and your family. With our younger family, we choose to stay close to the campsite and walk to the many offerings within a rough 30 minute meander from the campsite. We have always taken our trusty Tatonka BackPack to help us with tired legs and enable greater mobility. Given that you may have older or younger children, the best option is to stop in at the information centre and talk with the friendly staff there. This way you will also be able to find out if the tracks are closed for maintenance and grab a map before heading out. Walking maps are available at the information centre. A word of warning, the weather at the Prom can change pretty quickly so always take rain gear and water.
The Loo-Errn Track This is a beautiful 30 minute walk (with younger children, double that time) along the banks of Tidal River to Squeaky Beach. You begin your walk at Tidal River's information centre and meander along the board walk through the gorgeous wetland and paperbark forest. Cross the footbridge, stop in a Pillar Point for a great view and some happy snaps, then back onto the well trodden path down to Squeaky Beach. A great walking track, but once across the footbridge it is no longer pram friendly and is a little uphill. However, if you do make it there, the beach is stunning and you will 'squeak' as you walk on the gorgeous white sand.
What a great way to get around!
The white sand can be blinding on a sunny day - bring your sunnies!
Another walk is the beautiful Lilly Pilly Circuit, but being approximately 6km this may be for older children, depending on your families fitness and experience walking. Further from this, there is Little Waterloo and Sealers Cove that you can walk into and camp, then walk back out the next day. These walks are significantly longer and much more preparation that rain coats and water is required if you are taking your children. These are too long for young children to walk in and walk out of.
Whale Rock and the beautiful child friendly beaches.
If you have not seen a kangaroo, wallaby, wombat, deer, cockatoo, kookaburra, possum or echidna in the wild - get yourself ready. Depending on where you camp, you may find that your closest neighbor is a wombat. We had a mumma and bubba wombat sharing our spot on our last trip, and were sent of to sleep with the dulcet tones of a deer trotting nearby and munching on grass. The wildlife is prolific and on the drive from Yanakie to Tidal River, keep your eyes open for kangaroos and emus in the grassy lowlands. Given this, try not to drive at sunrise or sunset as this is when you may find them crossing the road.
Try hard not to feed the wildlife though, as they are getting pretty friendly.
If you are not into camping, luckily the great people at Parks Victoria understand this and offer a variety of accommodation including huts, cabins, wilderness retreats and lodges at Tidal River. And if you like your coffee fresh each morning, no problems; Tidal River has a general store and take-away food shop that will give you your hot chocolate at night and coffee in the morning fix.
We've loved the Prom for many, many years, but now the Victorian Liberal Government has decided that from April this year,prices for camping sites will increase "to match private caravan parks". The fee per night for 3 people on an unpowered campsite wil increase from $32.80 to over $50 per night for 2 people. This is outrageous and beyond the capacity of many families. Yet, the Government will allow all day visitors to use all facilities - parking, showers, BBQs, walking tracks, beach, use of information centre etc for no entry fee. This position does not make sense. It will cost less to camp outside the Prom and drive in daily.
Thank you for your article. I am planning a trip with two young children (2 and 5) and your detailed descriptions and advice about the walking tracks is just what I was looking for - particularly which bits are pram-friendly!