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5 of Australia's best glamping experiences

Forget punctured air mattresses and leaky tents, suggests Philippa Macken, and raise the bar on a happy glamping holiday Down Under.

It’s the stuff of treasured childhood memories. Musty tents with siblings crammed together like giggling, cocooned caterpillars, and that delicious feeling of waking with the kookaburras, nothing but a canvas wall between you and the outdoors. We all want to recreate the same unforgettable memories for our kids, but, for some, the thought of roughing it under the stars has lost its appeal. Enter glamping.

The global trend in eco-luxury offers the best of both worlds: long days frolicking in nature, complemented by private bathrooms and a proper mattress to sleep on. Check out five of the best family safari tents in Australia.

australia glamping

Image credit © Paperbark Camp

Paperbark Camp

WHERE: Wollamia, New South Wales

Camping with the kids doesn’t have to mean sleepless nights and mozzie infestations. Paperbark Camp’s cosy canvases, near Jervis Bay, may well have inspired the ‘glamping’ craze in New South Wales. Spend lazy days snorkelling off Huskisson and Hyams beaches, the latter boasting the whitest sand in the world. Explore Booderee National Park on hiking trails tailored to even the tiniest member of the family, and picnic at Currambene Creek while being serenaded by a happy chorus of crimson rosellas. Paperbark’s Gunyah Restaurant serves up delicious breakfasts and dinners, with gourmet picnics on hand for lunch on the fly. The minimum age of children is six.

BEST FOR...

families who appreciate little luxuries. The stylish tents capture the sea breeze, and come with top-quality amenities, including soaps and lotions. The King Deluxe safari tent is the ultimate in family camping, accommodating up to six people. For something more economical, the “original safari tent” sleeps two adults and two children, and the Deluxe Safari Tent sleeps three. Children must be at least six years of age.

glamping australia

Image credit © Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Open Range Zoo

WHERE: Werribee, Victoria

Whether you’re five or 55, roasting marshmallows around a campfire to the spine-tingling roar of a lion nearby is a moment you’ll never forget. The Werribee Open Range Zoo, 30 minutes from Melbourne, redefines camping with its Slumber Safari experience. Think comfortable tented lodges, African-inspired cuisine, nighttime walks and exclusive animal encounters. Wake the kids early and step out onto your tent’s viewing balcony to witness the glorious elephants and giraffes rise and shine for a new day.

BEST FOR...

animal-lovers of all ages. The tents overlook the Werribee River and the zoo’s African savannah. This is a fully hosted experience, with drinks and dips at sunset, and exciting nighttime activities. Kids will get a buzz out of staying up late to feast on jam, scones and marshmallows around the campfire. Congregate in the Safari Dining Hut for breakfast before setting out to meet the animals. With only eight tents available, you’ll feel like you own the zoo. The Slumber Safari experience is available during school holidays.

glamping australia

Image credit © Wilpena Pound Resort

Wilpena Pound Resort

WHERE: Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia

Introduce children to Indigenous art and storytelling at one of Australia’s favourite glamping destinations: Wilpena Pound Resort. Off-the-beaten track, 430 kilometres north of Adelaide, Wilpena Pound is for the true Aussie adventuring family. Learn about the Adnyamathanha people and local Aboriginal culture on recently launched tours. Kids will love the Marri Mita (Bush Buddies) experience, a one-hour guided walk with an Adnyamathanha guide. They will explore the biodiversity along Wilpena Creek and hear traditional stories about the breathtaking countryside. They will also be introduced to arts and crafts using natural materials they’ve collected along the walk. When the sky is full of stars, snuggle up in one of 15 ensuite tents in the resort’s Ikara Safari Camp. Set among river red gums and native pines, this is one glamping experience the kids will be begging to go back to.

BEST FOR...

families who love staying close to nature and for curious minds, young and old. If luxury accommodation isn’t for you, Wilpena Pound also has 46 powered sites, as well as permanent tents. Plus, there are some great tours for mums and dads (and older children), including a guided stroll to the Old Wilpena Station.

Beachcamp Eco Retreat

WHERE: Fraser Island, Queensland

Fraser Island is a true bucket-list destination perfect for a multi-generational, 4WD family holiday. Beachcamp Eco Retreat offers a little bit of civilisation on an untamed island, where you can relax and wash the pristine white sand out of your swimmers after long days exploring this remarkable World Heritage Site. Take in the sweeping ocean views, cook up a barbecue feast or stoke the wood-fired pizza oven, and enjoy a campfire singalong under a starry night sky. Each glamping tent features a bathroom, linen, towels, and blankets.

BEST FOR...

nature-loving, down-to-Earth families. Book a six-bed bunk tent or leave the teenagers to their nighttime antics and take the queen tent next door for privacy and a good night’s sleep. Beachcamp Eco Retreat is set 100 metres from the beach, tucked safely behind the dingo fence.

glamping australia

Image credit © Paperbark Camp

Karijini Eco Retreat

WHERE: Karijini National Park, Western Australia

The second-largest national park in WA is a wonderland of gorges, waterfalls and crystal-clear pools surrounded by rocky desert that blooms with wildflowers come spring. While the environment is rugged, your accommodation doesn’t have to be. Karijini Eco Retreat offers the first and only glamping experience in the 627,000-hetare national park, inviting families to venture out by day and relax by night. There are 40 ensuite and 10 dorm-style semi-permanent eco tents designed with the fragile landscape in mind, offering natural ventilation rather than air conditioning, and a licensed al fresco restaurant where you and the kids can enjoy a taste of outback hospitality.

BEST FOR...

families in search of exploration and adventure. There are a limited number of Deluxe Eco Tents that sleep up to four guests, comprising one king-size bed and a set of bunks. These family tents are only available by calling or emailing, and be sure to book well in advance.

This article appeared in volume 10 of Caravan & Camping with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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