Walking with kids

As we prepare to start taking our children on walks (now 2.5 and 4.5) I have been doing a lot of reading, below is a list of tips, hints, and quotes that I have found helpful. Please note that this is not any sort of authoritative guide, and it is entirely possible that some things will only make sense to me. Feel free to add more tips in the comments section if you want.


  • Remember that kids are natural malingerers
  • Most important bit of advice I can pass on is simply “Keep it fun”


  • The one piece of clothing to spend money on is a decent waterproof jacket/storm parka and over pants.

Getting lost

  • Practice what to do if they get lost
  • Lost: If you are in the bush and you can’t see a grown-up then you are lost
  • Always carry loud whistles (teach them to use them only when truly lost)
  • Sit under the nearest tree (but do not leave the trail)
  • Ensure they have written information on their person to advise what to do if they find your child seperated from you.

Food Water

  • Keep and eye on how much food and water they are getting
  • Consider a hydration backpack

Snakes and other things harmful

  • Carry setopress bandages and be comfortable performing correct first aid.
  • Ensure children are wearing protective footwear (including gaiters).
  • Teach them to take care when touching things
  • Teach them not to eat or touch unknown plants/berries


  • Good quality socks
  • Plenty of snacks (not lollies)
  • Warm and dry clothes to change into
  • Carry emergency blankets


  • Make sure the sleeping arrangements are comfortable
  • Good quality sleeping pads and pillows
  • Note: Lightweight tents could be a bit fragile for little kids.
  • Consider a double sleeping bag while they are young (they will happily share)
  • Conversely also consider what will happen if they wet the bed… what is the backup plan


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10 thoughts on “Children”

  1. G’day. I saw your comments on about getting out walking with your kids. I’m not registered on there – just look occasionally – so followed the link to this site and thought I’d respond here. We live just over the hill at Lake Macquarie and have kids now aged 6 and 4. After a big break from overnight walks when the kids came along we decided to get back into it this year. We’ve now done 3 overnighters with the kids that might suit you too. First was a 2km flat walk into a camp site on Myall Lakes – great site with pit toilet and lovely sandy swimming for the kids (can’t remember the name at the moment but can find out – just north of Bombah Point). Next was a 1km steep walk down to Tallow Beach in Bouddi NP on the Central Coast. Again, nice site, pit toilet and great fun on the beach – the road to the carpark is a bit rough and recommended for 4wd but conventional cars do go in carefully. We had to carry sufficient water for both of those as fresh water not available. 3rd walk was from the Putty Rd down Bob Turners track to the Colo River. About 3.5km each way and pretty steep and rough so the climb back out tested our youngest – he was 3 at the time. Beautiful remote camping on the river, no facilities, but can get water from a side stream nearby. Waiting for the weather to warm up before we take them out again – maybe a circuit up on Barrington Tops (my favourite local place to walk) or back to another site at Myall Lakes (lots of great spots up there only accessible by boat or walking). Happy to answer any questions. If you aren’t ready for hiking yet, just head down to Wangi Caravan Park for an easy weekend camp and walk around the point and foreshore – not remote, but a beautiful quiet area. Plenty of other local walks too – check out the Lake Macquarie council website – they have a great list of daywalks that we have been working through. Enjoy. It’s great getting out with the kids. Richard.

    1. How do you go camping near water? So far I have been looking for sites away from water. Neither of my girls can swim yet, and the youngest is not old enough to always grasp the rules.

      1. No problems so far. We have spent a lot of time around the water with our kids since they were born including sailing. Having said that, they are pretty cautious and not early swimmers. The 3 walks I mentioned though are OK – the one at Myall Lakes in particular (Freshwater Campsite) has really shallow water for a long way out so the kids played for hours in water only knee deep. But that’s the beauty of hiking with kids – there is not much else to distract us from spending time with them so they are unlikely to be wandering off unnoticed. Tallow beach campsite is a good hundred metres or so back from the water too.

  2. Thank you so much. I will look up those three walks on the NP website. I think we are going to head down to Wiseman’s Ferry for our first camping trip (car-based) as we don’t have a light enough tent yet (not of reasonable size), but I have my eye on a Hogback for the family.

    1. Yep, there aren’t many options for light 4 person tents. We considered the Hogback too but ended up getting a Sierra Designs Flash 4 although I think they may have discontinued the 4 man version this year. A bit heavier than the Hogback (still only 2.8kg though) but seemed more robust to have kids roaring around in it and also better ventilated which was a big factor for me considering we’d be mostly using it for warm coastal area trips. It has been fantastic so far – heaps of space for 4 and nice and breezy, even on muggy rainy nights.

      1. I hadn’t even considered that. Being winter at the moment, I am so focused on warmth, I forget that in summer we will want the opposite (though tarping it might be an option then).

        We have three tents at the moment, one massive thing that takes an hour to setup and is so heavy that I can’t even drag either of the bags it is stored in across the garage. It is the best tent when it is up, but really only worth it for a week of car-camping. We have a big popup (still about 20kg), which I think will be good for 1-2day car camping and our lightest tent is a 2-man tent that weights 2.3kg.

        Is this the Sierra Designs tent?

        1. Yes that’s the one we have. I tend to use it now when I go hiking with a mate as well. It’s only a few hundred grams heavier than my two man tent but the internal size is awesome. Does require a bit of space to pitch though compared to a tiny 2 man tent. Let me know if you ever want to check it out, we’re not far away and I’d be happy to show it to you.

  3. G’day,
    I just checked the bushwalk forum again for the first time in months and saw your latest plans and discussion. Thought I’d add my comments here for you (and any others that might be interested).
    Firstly, congratulations on the pending 3rd bub! We’ve been down the same road since I last commented here and our 3rd is now 6 weeks old.
    Here is a quick update of our hiking related activities that might give you some more ideas for future trips.

    Last spring I took my six year old on a dad/daughter walk from Cowan to Brooklyn on the Great North Walk. Camped at the dam near Brooklyn. It was a pretty tough walk for her but she is a real trooper and loved it. I carried all the gear for that one including all water.

    On the October long weekend (2014) we did a family hike (Mum, Dad, 6 and 4 year old) in the Warrumbungles which was fantastic. Drove out Friday night and camped at Premer, visited the Observatory on Saturday morning then started walking after lunch on the Spirey Ck track. Camped beside Balor Hut (which has a water tank), then on Sunday spent the morning on Grand High Tops then came back down the western side and had lunch at the track junction while I ducked back to Balor Hut to refill all water containers for the rest of the trip. Continued west to camp at Ogma, then on Monday headed back to the car via West Spirey Creek. Had lunch in Coona and drove home. About 16km total spread evenly between the three days. There had been some recent rain so the greenery and wildflowers coming through the burnt bush was spectacular.

    Then in March this year, while my wife was about 4 months pregnant and kids now 7 and nearly 5, we went to Kosi. Spent a night in Thredbo YHA, then chairlift up to the top and walked across to Kosi summit before camping at Wilkinsons Creek. Spent the next day visiting Mt Townsend for lunch and just exploring/relaxing/playing. Beautiful clear weather but very windy and cold (around zero with wind chill most of the time). Camped a second night there and then walked back and caught the chairlift back to Thredbo YHA. Probably about 22km total over three days. 2 more nights in Thredbo then drove to Dead Horse Gap and walked up Cascade trail before branching off up the creek toward Big Boggy. Had planned to camp up there, but was again windy and in the end family consensus was to head back to the car and drive down the Thredbo River to camp at the Diggings which was a lovely spot, so we ended up walking about 12km that day. Next day walked with a day pack about 5km up the river to the next campsite to have lunch then Mum and kids played cards while I jogged back and got the car and we headed for home.
    One of our best hiking accessories is a couple of “wow” toys – plastic toys just a bit bigger than lego people. Each of the kids take a small motorbike/trike thing and a person, and wherever we camp they entertain themselves for hours building houses/campsites/roads/etc for their little people.

    Another favourite is our Excalibur dehydrator. We just make big serves of mince/casseroles/etc in the weeks before we go and dry them, including dips and spreads. The kids love Nacho’s when hiking!

    I am planning a dad/son overnighter with my 5 year old in the next couple of weeks – Mungo Brush, down the beach 4km, across to camp at Brambles Green, then back up to Mungo.

    I hope you enjoy your Yuraguir trip – you may be up there now I’m guessing! And good luck with the pregnancy etc. Kids are such wonderful blessings and a great reminder to take pleasure in the simple things.


    1. Richard, thank you for that info. I am going to look more closely at those areas soon.

      Yes, we have been and gone, just got back a few nights ago. I was blown away by the kids abilities. We took it slow, and ate lots of trail mix.

      The first two days the trail mix had sultanas and stuff, and we would stop and eat… then I through the healthy eating out the window and the trail mix was just lollies, and ‘shapes’ biscuits, and muesli bars, and we ate while walking (one bag would get us about a kilometre).

      My 5yo (nearly 6) did amazing. She never complained and just walk. We did 8 or 9 days of walking, including 2 days which where 5hours long. The only time she complained was in the last hour of those two long days.

      My 3yo also amazing. She walked 13.5km on one of the days…. 5hrs of walking, with only a 10minute break in the last hour. We ate and talk… I found telling stories kept them going, I must have made up 100 new Octonaut stories for them, but it kept them plodding along, through some horrendous wind.

      I am just culling photos now, and I will write up my blog and do post on the forums soon.

      1. That sounds great. Well done – not just the kids, but also to you for planning and making it happen.

        I’ll look forward to your write up and we may use your research and advice to follow in your footsteps sometime. It’s a beautiful part of the world up there.

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