Are my kids too young for a trip to Ayers Rock & back??

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 11:40
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I'll explain myself, I have friends that want to travel to Ayers Rock around August this year and have asked us to come. We're pretty keen on the idea but is the idea realistic for us? I've got 5 boys aged 9,6,5,3 & 1 and we live in Warrnambool, so off to Adelaide first then up.

A few people have said it might be a bit ambitious to do this given the age of our kids so I'd like to get some advice from those of you who have done it with young kids, is it possible, is it going to be a nightmare?

Over to you,


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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 11:50

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 11:50
John!! We took our 2 and 4 yo boys to the centre some years back and they had a ball. It depends how hard it is by how you do it, camping, motels etc. We tented it with 2 boys , it was hard work and we needed to be very organised and be prepared to stop for frequent stops to give the kids a break and if camping, stop to set up early afternoon so you have plenty of time to organise and cook and spend time with the kids. Give it a go !! Remenber to keep it simple and stress free!! Michael

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Reply By: peterjg - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:27

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:27
we did it with our 2 kids 18 months ago (from Sydney). Admitting they were somewhat older. But if kids generally travel well in the car over long periods then go for it. We succumbed to the portable dvd player and that was a great source of distraction / time killer for our girls.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:31

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:31
Hi John - I depends on how your boys cope with long journeys, and only you will know that. Many families travel happily, whereas a few hours in the car with my brood was torture - sometimes I even threatened to tip them out on the roadside when just going shopping at our regional centre, and a times have turned around and gone home to stop the squabbling. Hence we never tackled long distance travelling, whereas as a small child, i loved travelling and would have enjoyed such a trip. Our son and daughter in law went to NZ a few years ago with a three year old. There they were in this amazing scenery like in a boat in Milford Sound and the lad was bored stiff and wanting to go home - only happy when skiing, skating or in a playground. Try a few couple of days at a time trip first.


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Reply By: Dermottj - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:58

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:58
Sorry, I should qualify my question a little. We did a trip to Adelaide, round the Yorke Penninsula and back to Warrnambool (round trip of just over 2,000 kms) over 3 weeks and the kids were fine. What I'm worried about once we get past Port Augusta is there doesn't look like there is much between there and Uluru (playgrounds etc....). I guess this is the part of the trip causing us concern, just us and our friends and red dirt for a few days!

Thanks for the input so far, looking forward to more responses
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Follow Up By: Member - Royce- Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 17:16

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 17:16
Playgrounds at Woomera, Coober Pedy etc.... but.... I'm guessing your kids will make up games as they climb over rocks and build cubbies with sticks?
No need for playgrounds, just get far enough off the road and find some shade if you stop. Keep a good eye on them of course.

They'll love it. I've only got two kids, but travelling with friends the mob added up to four adults and five kids.... and we did a round Oz trip over 6 weeks at similar age ranges.

Meanwhile my sister and her friend and 8 kids travelled completely around Oz from Derby WA to Gippsland Vic. That's two ladies and 8 kids. The youngest just out of nappies. They did the full loop and loved it! But get this.... they travelled by bus and train! [Plane back up to the Kimberley from Perth]

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Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 21:31

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 21:31
I suspect you will be surprisd at how much the kids will find to do.

If you need a play ground, I can't see a herd of little boys not enjoying Woomera.

My kids were a bit older the first time we headed up there - but as the others said, give yourself time and everyone will have a great time.

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Reply By: Hairy (WA) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 13:18

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 13:18
Playgrounds? hahahahaha....... There are thousands of square Km's of playground and pubs evey few hundred Km's!
As for their age's....... people with kids do actualy grow up and live there.......they dont move away until their kids get a certain age.
You know your kids better than anyone else.......are they upto a drive?
Im not sure what part of a drive up a well used bitumen road to a small city full of resorts is ambitous?

Short answer.....of cause you can do it......get out there and enjoy does your kids good too.

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Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 14:01

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 14:01
Having taken 3 girls in that age range on the Canning Stock route I'd say quite doable. You need to have a simple camping system & encourage the boys to be involved with setting & packing up. Your travell companions will need to be flexable with random stops plus expect to drive 30% less distance in a day than without kids. You'll need a system for carrying & dispposing of nappies and I'd suggest taking a Portacot for keeping the young ones out of the dirt. There will be many walks the children will simply not be able to do or you'll require backpacs to carry them but there will still be plenty to see. In the car you will need to have a few activities for them to do. (Talking books, kids CD's, coloring books, DVD player)
A practice run over a long weekend will give you an idea if its going to be Too ambitious for you.
Cheers Craig...............
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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 14:30

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 14:30
Hi John,
my parents took the four of us everywhere (in an old austin six, before graduating to a woolsley) when we were small; and that was when there was no colour TV, computers, laptops or even portable DVDs etc. We loved it. Roads and facilities were a lot different too. Don't sell yourself or your kids short, they are a lot hardier than you think. Go ahead, give them memories of a life time.

Ensure you involve them in the planning; talk about the trip often; prepare them for what's coming; show them pictures of where they are going and what they will see.

And most of all... ENJOY!
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Reply By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 15:23

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 15:23
Spend a day or 2 at Coober Pedy to break the trip. Lots to see and do there.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 16:01

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 16:01
Hi John,

Its been a while since we travelled with young children but we have done plenty of it over the years. These days it is relatively common when travelling around the country, including the "outback" to see young families, and usually they are having a great time. Once we stopped for a break on the Stuart Highway and a family with 7 young kids pulled up beside us - all the kids had something to do, including the older ones looking after the littlies. I guess its a case of being very well organised and the kids knowing what is expected of them.

Certainly the older ones will get a great deal out of the trip, provided you encourage them (by your example) to be curious and observant of all the different things they will see.

If you are travelling with another family you should be fine, provided that you dont try to do too much in any day and have the flexibility to stop when necessary. If your friends dont have a family then you would both need to be very clear about expectations and your need for flexibility.

I hope you are able to avoid succumbing to too many electronic aids to take away the "boredom" of the long drive. If you can make it a family time involving the kids in storytelling, singing, playing observational games etc the time will fly and the kids will be richer for it. Encourage them to keep a diary where they came write about and draw what they see to show their friends and class when they are back home.


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Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 16:42

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 16:42
I couldn't agree more than with your closing paragraph.

I was going to say that they could indulge their kids with DVD players & video games & they wouldn't even know that they had been away!
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Follow Up By: Hairy (WA) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 17:29

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 17:29
My kids sre 13 and 16 and we still play eye spy. hahahahaha
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Follow Up By: rumpig - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:29

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:29
if you think kids that watch a dvd player in the vehicle don't have a clue about the holidays they have been on, then maybe you should have a word to my 8 yr old daughter. she's been across The Simpson and up through The Gulf in the last 2 years, she can tell you all about Burke and Wills, the overland telegraph line, about crocodiles and dingos and Ayres Riock etc.
it's up to the parents to point out stuff along the way and when you stop somewhere with explain the relevance of the place to them, the fact they watched a dvd whilst plugging 300 - 700klms up a road somewhere doesn't mean the trip is wasted on them.
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Follow Up By: rumpig - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:30

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:30
oh for an edit button to fix my poor spelling from fat
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Reply By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:06

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:06
Gday John
We took our little kids on trips and they seem to be ok. Others might say different about Little Wes , but there is always one in the family.
I suggest that you go and enjoy.

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Reply By: ljsroslyn - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:15

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:15
Hi John

We too are from Warrnambool so good to see someone else from home on the site.

It is a long time since we travelled with young children. My only advice is go for it. They will learn so much and learn to explore it will be worth the effort in many ways.

The older children can help with the younger ones especially when setting up camp and packing up and give them chores/help actions that the are capable of doing.

For the older ones a bit of preparation with diaries will keep them busy. Give them things to find/look for/collect and place in the diary. This will keep them busy when you stop - which you will need to do on a regular basis - and they won't be looking for a play ground each time.

One thing we used to do on the first day, was leave really early ie- 3-4am. We would bundle them up in their pj's into the car, have some snacks and day clothes on hand and drive till they woke up. When driving to Qld this usually got us out of Victoria before we had to stop for breakfast as they continued to sleep for quiet some time.

Enjoy and go for it.

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Reply By: rumpig - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:19

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:19
we took a 3 year old to Cape York back in 2006 and a 2yr old and 7yr old across The Simpson Desert last year, aswell as a 3yr old and 8yr old up through The Gulf this year (nearly 10000klms in 4 1/2 weeks), so i reckon age isn't a factor.
i don't care what anyone says, get the kids some dvd players mounted to the headrests or one to the roof of your vehicle, it'll be the best thing you ever did. anyone that thinks kids of that age like to look out the window hour upon hour looking at the landscape are kidding themselves IMHO....and i don't care if that's how you did it 20 or 30 yrs
last year we bought some refurbished Sharp DVD players off of ebay, they were relatively cheap and had the option of playing the same movie on both dvd players or seperate movies on each dvd player. it woked out great as our oldest daughter could then load the movies on here dvd player instead of my wife having to get up out of her seat and do it whilst we were driving along (yes i know that's illegal, so no need to tell me so). plan lots of rest stops along the way, but you'd be surprised how far kids will travel each day if they are watching stuff they like.
one rule we have is the dvd players never leave the vehicle, once we are stopped somewhere the kids need to run around and burn off energy and explore the area, not sit down and watch more dvd's.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (WA) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:46

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:46
I dont think anyone is complete against DVDs and electrical gear.....just how they are used.
Some friends kids get in the car with their Mp3 players crank them up and dont get out of the car, look at anything or talk to anyone unless they are dragged out of the car!
Ive got a DVD player for my car put my kids only use it on long bitumen trips, for limited time and always gets turned off when we get near a town or anything of interest.
It all depends on how you use them.......

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Reply By: mikehzz - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:21

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:21
We droveSydney to Perth with our 3 year old and he didn't stop chattering the whole way. He sort of drove my wife insane with constant questions but we look back on it as a fabulous trip. It also prepared him well for other trips and by the time our next one arrived he was a seasoned traveller. I say go for it. Definately stop at the rocket park at Woomera. My boys thought that was great. Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Ian W1 (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:55

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 18:55
Absolutely GO FOR IT! When our kids were 5 & 7 we drove from Melb to Darwin via Ayres Rock in a NissanSkyline. Prior to the trip they used to whinge after about 20 minutes in the car but after about a week of travelling they didn't ever whinge again! They still mention that trip occasionally (for the GOOD memories they still have) and now they are in their mid-thirties. We had a great time, camped just about all the way with just the occasional stop in a motel when we found one. As the ad says - Just do it!
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Reply By: Member - brocky05fj - Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 21:09

Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 21:09
Give it a go.

We took a 1yr old and a 6yr old from Sydney to Lake Eyre on a 2 week round trip.
They didn't need playgrounds as they found plenty to do with rocks and sand.

We had a DVD player but they knew they got 1 movie a day and thats all.
The 6yr old spent most of her time drawing what she saw and loved it.

It was hard work tenting with the 1yr old, but each night we got better at setting up and I would do it all again tomorrow.

Do it while you can.

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Reply By: rainbowprof - Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 21:44

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 21:44
Absolutely- do it. We always travel with our 4 kids ever since they were tiny. What can I say, there'll be ups and downs. They always enjoy the trips and the whole camping scenario whether it's basic swags or tarps thrown on the ground with mattresses and sleeping bags, or tents, or campervan setup, or sleeping on the seats in the vehicle. We buy lots of snacks in the city and slowly ration them out on the trip to avoid the roadhouse high prices. Gameboys/ nintendos and mp3's can be useful. Give them your old digital cameras to play with. We usually carry a netbook or laptop and sometimes there's a movie night. Paper and pencils is always useful. The nightmare part depends on your attitude. Give everyone a musical instrument and get a band going around the campfire. Lots of ball games, too. You'll be pleased you went to the trouble to do it. If it's too easy it won't be fun!! It's not too ambitious. But my commiserations - when are you going to have a girl or two?
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Follow Up By: Dermottj - Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 16:37

Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 16:37
Ha ha, there will be no girls unfortunately (unless the Dr has buggered up his part of the procedure I've had done!).

Sincerely thanks for the response, we've now booked ouselves in for the trip and to be honest I'm really looking forward to it (my wife was getting cold feet hence the post!).

Nice to know that you've done it well with 4 kids, lets face it we can have nightmares at home sometimes so we shouldn't let it hold us back!
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Follow Up By: rainbowprof - Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 17:30

Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 17:30
Touché. The hell I've put my wife through dragging everyone all over the place is hard to put into words. The Tanami, Wolfe Creek, Plenty Highway, Boulia, the Isa, Lightning Ridge, Wilpena, Birdsville track- and further afield: Everest Base Camp in Tibet, Laos by boat, overland to Angkor Wat, trekking in Nepal (okay, with porters), Gobi Desert by train- even Komodo Island by bus from Bali to see the dragons. Kids always in tow with bellyaches, sore feet, too hot too cold--and loving it. We all smile when we see the photos afterwards and remember a laugh here, a person there , a sight somewhere else. Penny poor but experiences to vie with Encyclopedia Britannica. And that's with twin girls from when they were six weeks old (went to Bali on the way back to Aus after they were born overseas- and they were unassisted homebirths at that!). And my wife thanks me in the end for managing to get us there and back again in one piece. All this on one teacher's salary. Half the time it's great to get out of the house- that's where I find it really gets a bit much. And a tip- in Australia we never eat in restaurants. For our family it's rarely a fun time. Chips in the park at the playground and a large tub of ice-cream with a spoon each. They like that more than a restaurant and clean up with a bottle of water. Sandwiches, noodles, rice, salads, in-season fruit, cereal. Surely you have a trailer;-) We lashed out on a 50 l Engel fridge last trip and that helped keep a smile on my wife's face. I can only say $1100 well spent. That was half way up the west coast on the way to Alice. Not essential but, really, kids are sometimes secondary. A happy wife helps you sleep at night. Supposed to last a long time and really works.(The fridge and the carving knife:-). We spent so many trips before buying ice every stop for the esky as everyone eats all the ice along the way! Safe travels buddy. Roll with the punches.
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Reply By: rainbowprof - Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 21:49

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 21:49
And if you get a chance drag as many of them up the rock as you can- they'll be so pleased they did it. Carry an extra couple of bottles of water and almost everyone should have their own little backpack.
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Reply By: Dermottj - Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 16:41

Monday, Jan 16, 2012 at 16:41
Thanks for everyones input to date, we've booked in and committed to the trip which we are very much looking forward to.

I've liked the suggestions to date too, plenty of good ideas on how to keep the kids active & looking forward to the next destination etc... If you're able to, I'd appreciate it if you would be able to let me know from experience what the "must see, must do" things on the way up & back to the Rock, or any other tips or tricks you might have up your sleeves.


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Follow Up By: rumpig - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 at 18:40

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 at 18:40
hey John,
have a read of my trip report on another forum ( ) to get a few ideas of what to see along the way to Ayres Rock. basically once we go past Lyndhurst on the start of Day 5 is things you may be interested in seeing along the way. Farina Ruins would be a great stop over point IMHO, i'd have stayed there over Lyndhurst if i knew about it beforehand. we didn't stop off at The Painted Desert between Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta either due to problems encountered along the trip, something i would like to have done but didn't.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Jan 20, 2012 at 15:34

Friday, Jan 20, 2012 at 15:34
Hi John,

If you are going as far as the rock, go that extra few hundred kms and have a look around Alice Springs and the east and wet Macdonnell Ranges. There is spectacular scenery, gorges, waterholes, meteor craters in abundance to look at. IMHO that area is far more interesting that the rock - but while you are in that vicinity dont forget to go the the Olgas.
Have a look in our blogs - we did trips around and through that gerneral area in 200, 06,07 and 09.


J and V
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Reply By: The Landy - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 at 11:23

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 at 11:23
How old do they need to be?

Seriously, just take them, why worry about what others might think, only you wil know best when it comes to your kids..,
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