How the Great Outdoors Got its Groove Back

How the Great Outdoors Got its Groove Back

Caravanning and camping are sometimes seen as old-fashioned holiday options, but times are changing. Improved technology and facilities and a falling Aussie dollar have seen a resurgence in a back-to-nature getaway.

And if you think it’s only retirees and boy scouts ‘roughing it’, think again. In fact, a whopping 85% of Aussies have enjoyed an adventure under the stars at least once (i), and this type of travel makes up about 10% of all trips away (ii).

What’s more, with the rise of ‘glamping’ (camping with a little luxury thrown in) and the availability of increasingly sophisticated caravans, interest in ‘old school’ getaways has long been on the rise.

Families are escaping to nature

“The popularity of caravanning and camping has been climbing for at least a decade,” says Stuart Lamont, CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia. Throw in a big fall in the value of the Aussie dollar and more families could be tempted to get in the car and head to the coast or the mountains rather than fly to an overseas resort.

Lamont says camping holidays appeal most to the under-50s, with groups of young people and families with kids keen to escape busy lifestyles and spend time in nature.

“As we’ve become more technologically advanced we’ve become more distracted, so caravanning and camping provides a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and get away from the stresses of life,” he says.

Research shows campers are more happy, energised, fit, optimistic and satisfied than non-campers. Families who go camping also feel closer and, interestingly, wealthier. 80% of kids who camp say their parents are less stressed when camping. (iii) 

Retirement adventure

So-called ‘grey nomads’ continue to dominate the caravan market, with people over the age of 50 being over 42 per cent more likely than the average Australian to have stayed in a caravan or campervan on their last local holiday. (iv)  “In times gone by you would go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, work for 40 years and then go camping. So it’s built into our DNA – older Australians like to get out and explore,” says Lamont.

Caravan registrations have experienced a higher rate of increase than any other vehicle type in the last two years, and the number of registered caravans in Australia has risen year on year by 5.5%.(v) 

Options for every budget

Camping and caravanning costs can vary dramatically. Depending on size, shape and vintage, caravans can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $100,000 – but the average is around $45,000. Tents can cost as little as $20 and an unpowered site $10 per night, but many families choose to fork out for more expensive gear and as much as $100 per night for a powered site.

Renting a campsite cabin is also an option; once again prices vary but it’s usually cheaper than shelling out for an equivalent holiday home or hotel room.

Top spots

Australia has no shortage of wonderful places to take the family such as nature-rich West Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory (vi), but staying closer to home is also popular. Grey nomads typically head north in the middle of the year to avoid the chilly southern winter.

From WA’s famed Ningaloo Reef, to the lush forests of the Grampians National Park in Victoria, to watching the sun set over Uluru or the Blue Mountains in NSW, our sunburnt country offers something for those of all ages and budgets.

After something more specific? How about some of these spots for your next trip!

Family-Friendly Camping Spots

  • Bonnie Vale campground, Royal National Park NSW
  • Crosslands Reserve, Galston Gorge NSW
  • Ballina Beach NSW
  • Nioka Bush Camp VIC
  • Walyunga National Park WA
  • Murray River Region VIC
  • Newland Head Conservation Park SA
  • D’Aguilar National Park QLD
  • Cradle Mountain National Park TAS


‘Glamping’ Spots

  • Cockatoo Island, NSW
  • Ikara Safari Camp, Flinders Ranges SA
  • Tanja Lagoon Camp, Tathra NSW
  • St Jeromes – The Hotel VIC
  • Nightfall Wilderness Camp, Lamington National Park QLD


More than memories

Lamont believes camping and caravanning have one large advantage over other types of getaway: “You can go on a holiday with your own gear and afterwards you still have assets you can reuse, as opposed to just memories.”

So what are you waiting for? Pack that car and get out there! What are you favourite family-friendly camping spots? Share them on Facebook or Twitter with the community!


  • i uploads/2015/02/MEDIA-RELEASE-State-Tourism-Bodies-recognise-excellence-in-caravanning-and-camping.pdf
  • ii or_Camping_FINAL.pdf
  • iii 2015/02/MEDIA-RELEASE-The-Value-of-Camping.pdf
  • iv
  • v attrib/file/19/2014%20Caravan%20and%20Campervan%20 Data%20Report.pdf
  • vi
Sacha Loutkovsky
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