With two weeks of Autumn school holiday fun on the cards, Central Coast families may be considering a camping trip to make the most of the weather before it gets too cold! But, for families with small children, we know that camping can seem a little daunting – with questions like “what if we forget something” and “will the 18-month-old actually sleep in a port-a-cot?” coming to mind! So, for families yet to dip their toes in the camping water, we’ve found the perfect solution – backyard camping!

We’ve come up with a heap of ideas to bring the bush and fun to you, so your family can embark on a backyard camping adventure – without having to travel too far at all! So erect a tent, throw on your old clothes, blow up the mattresses, stoke the campfire and enjoy some old-school family fun camping in your own backyard. And if you forget the nappies, it’s no biggie!

Make S’mores on the Camp Fire

Have you heard of the deliciousness of gooey S’mores? They’re a North American treat that we’ve adopted in our home, and we reckon you’ll soon adopt them in yours.

S’mores Recipe:

+ A packet of Graham Crackers*
+ A packet of marshmallows.
+ A packet of plain or dark chocolate – whatever your favourite.
*Please note, in Australia you can only buy Graham Crackers from specialist North American shops; we’ve substituted Arnott’s Yo.Yo or Arnott’s Teddy Bear biscuits too – really any sweet plain biscuit will work.

Roast your marshmallow over the fire. Sandwich the hot roasted marshmallow and pieces of chocolate between two biscuits – do it quickly so that the marshmallow melts the chocolate and makes it gooey and delicious. Take a bite!

Play Spotlight in the Backyard

It’s like hide and seek… but WAY more fun.

Make Damper

This is super Aussie. Super easy. And it’s a great little educational exercise that teaches kids about cooking and creating food with minimal ingredients.

+ 6 cups Self-Raising Flour
+ 1 tablespoon baking powder
+ Pinch salt
+ Warm milk, as needed
+ Butter, honey or golden syrup, to taste

1. Start fire and warm camp oven. (You can bake it in a baking dish in the oven if you don’t have a fire).
2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
3. Add warm milk slowly to get a doughy consistency.
4. Put it into a hot camp oven and put into hot coals in fire and put some hot coals on top.
5. Cook for about 30 minutes. If it’s hollow sounding when you tap it it is right to go!
6. Slice it up and spread with butter, honey or golden syrup. Enjoy!
Tip: If you prefer it sweeter, add a tablespoon sugar to the dough.

Boil a Billy (and Swing it ‘Round your Head!)

Boil water on the campfire, add gum leaves, and then swing it ’round your head. If you don’t know what we’re talking about it’s probably best you don’t try it 🙂

Whistle through a gum leaf

Did you know you can whistle through a gum leaf? Yep, you can. But we’re no expert. Learn how from musician Jeff Willmott.


Set up an Outdoor Shower

Grab the backyard hose and set up an outdoor shower. It’ll be cold – really cold… just like camping. And the kids will love it.

Put up a Hammock or a Tyre Swing

Make a Baked Bean Jaffle in a Jaffle Iron

We honestly have no idea if they still sell jaffle irons, but they made the absolute best toasted sandwiches. Think a toasted sandwich over coals.

Build a Fire Pit in your Backyard

Fire pits are available from Bunnings and other outdoor stores. Needless to say, please be careful and always adhere to fire restrictions.

Read by Torchlight, Tell Ghost Stories and Sing Around the Campfire

Remember all the classics and teach them to your kids:
+Waltzing Matilda.
+ Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.
+ Kumbaya.

What songs did you sing ’round the campfire as kids?

Star Gaze

Backyard camping is the perfect time to look to the stars. Search out the Southern Cross, the Saucepan, and numerous other constellations.

Teach your Kids how to Whittle a Stick

Kids love being given independence and being trusted with “grown-up” activities. Buy them a kid’s whittling knife, show them how to whittle safely, and watch them work away for hours.

Do a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts can be as easy or complex as you choose.

You can simply make them open-ended and have your kids search for leaves, flowers, insects, feathers, nuts, and more – these objects can also be used for creating craft projects later.

Or you can set out a full treasure hunt with clues and hidden objects and a special surprise at the end.

Don’t Forget the “Fun” Stuff

+ Check for leeches and ticks before crawling into bed.
+ Be sure there’s a drip in the tent.
+ Make sure you have an air mattress that goes down in the night…

And, remember, it always rains when camping, so take your gumboots for playing in puddles!