As we bid summer goodbye it’s time to prepare for our final hurrah before hibernating or heading north. Whether you love it or hate it, the Easter break is one of the biggest dates on the camping calendar, one we often share with little ones new the fold. So how do you make it worthwhile for you, the kids or the grandkids? Pack an open mind and a sense of wonder and you’ll have a great time. After all, you are on holiday and this is your stomping ground!
THE INNER NATURALISTE
It doesn’t take Bear Grylls to engage kids outdoors despite apps on tap. Nature even on a small scale can inspire, whether you’re spotting night-dwellers by torch, eyeballing a chrysalis, digging for sand crabs, inspecting rockpool ecosystems or just upturning a rock at camp. Life is engaging.
Of course, wildlife doesn’t always present itself at a busy Easter camp (unless it’s raiding your happy hour loot) but evidence of life will pique the inner-detective. The key to is to engage the senses: can you spot the scratchings at the root of the tree? What’s rustling in the leaves? And what’s that sweet smell? They will be right on the case in no time.
A good place to start looking is where animals may feed, drink and gather or try seeking areas where tracks are less likely to be disturbed such as on a quiet unsealed road, dry creek beds, or soft ground where it is safe to do so. Bushwalking can get you into the thick of it in terms of tracks and sightings, and often you don’t need to wander for long...
Early morning and mid-late afternoon are the best times to find activity. Be sure to look up and down to increase your chances.
At this time of year, days are getting shorter making nocturnal sightings earlier for little campers, so pack red cellophane and a torch and lead the crew for a wander after dark. You’ll enjoy better success on your second or third night once you’ve sussed out what’s around.
Sealife is often abundant on beaches an hour or so after low-tide as waves ferry them onto the rocks and sand. The trick to finding these treasures is to wait for the wave to recede. Sand crabs caught on sand shelves will dig down, leaving a trail of bubbles but you’ll need scoop quickly to spot them as they’re fast! Chat with the local ranger, visitor centre or caravan park manager for some insight on what’s around.
For most kids, Easter is all about the chocolate, but hollow chocolate eggs can be tricky at camp particularly in transit and if you’re hiding a stash. Shed the surplus packaging and drop the googies into cartons away from prying eyes, or failing that, opt for pantry-friendly alternatives such as jelly beans sold in plastic egg moulds. If chocolate eggs are non-negotiable, throw in a few solid, confection-coated types which are less likely to break or spoil.
I like to augment our stash with camp-friendly goodies, such as melamine cups and bowls, bunny slippers, blankets or beach towels, anything holiday-helpful that minimises breakage en-route.
You needn’t go overboard given the restrictions of camping (mum, dad, are you reading this carefully?). Besides, if you’re on the road you’ll likely to encounter festivities; Rural Australia loves an Easter celebration, with the public holidays a popular date for country shows offering petting farms, parades, egg hunts and more. Check out our events guide on this page for ideas to find options near you.
Treasure hunts are synonymous with Easter, so why not let your crew relive the fun again (and again) with this budget craft? Tea-stained maps are easy to make and are perfect for camp, only requiring a piece of paper, ballpoint pen and lukewarm black tea to age it.
It’s a great way for budding explorers to think about their locations. They’ll be dragging you around camp for what may feel like hours of endless entertainment.
Campgrounds at Easter are notoriously busy but what’s lacking in serenity can be found in neighbourly camaraderie. This is especially true if you’re an eight-year-old kid.
Bikes or scooters (if you’re short on room) will keep your crew up with new found friends. While a few communal toys like frisbees or cricket stumps will help occupy mobs.
If you really need to shake the holiday crowds be prepared to forego facilities or even unhitch the van. Think bush trails and hard-to-reach crown land: basically anywhere that requires more driving skills to reach.
An afternoon exploring or clinging to rope swings by the river can wipe out your crew, so it’s best to prepare for a little downtime.
Board games, Yahtzee or card games like UNO are fun for kids and adults alike, especially if they’re big enough to cop a can of whoop-arse and you’re not compelled to throw every game. A Bluetooth speaker will keep the mood upbeat but just be mindful of your neighbours this time of year.
Fishing is another great, low-energy activity that will hook the kids at the taste of success. Lakes are good but a pier is better as you can use a net or drop a reel. Watch the gulls and choose cloudy water near man-made structures for better luck with your catch and get a little local intel before you go.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #573. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!