Ultimate Guide to Fun Backyard Family Camping


Whether it’s inclement weather, a national park or campground closure or some kind of other unforeseen emergency – whatever the situation is, your meticulously planned family holiday is now in a shambles. But, that doesn’t have to be the end of your getaway. If you’ve got a decent yard, then why not take your holiday to your backyard?

At the end of the day, it’s the experience kids often love more than the location, so why not get them outside in a different way. It requires a portion of the organisation and planning of a trip away from home plus, there are no travel times to get there.

Mother and son reading book inside tent in backyard at night

The best part of backyard camping – no long car rides! Image: Nikki Fotheringham

Setting up your shelter and sleeping gear

Any tent will do because, let’s face it, if things go pear-shaped you can just go inside. If you don’t already have a tent, you can pick one up at an affordable price that will more than suffice for backyard campouts, such as the Sundome from Coleman.

But, why not go all out and set up a full campsite with a family tent, mats, sleeping bags plus all the extras like table and chairs and a camp kitchen. You’ll still get the outdoor experience and it’s easy to throw in luxuries from the house if you like.

You don’t have to be a minimalist as you won’t be trying to squeeze everything into the boot of your car, so packing up and setting up your campsite is as easy as transporting your gear from inside your shed and house, to your own outdoor space.

Fill up your tent with all the creature comforts you usually wouldn’t bother dragging out to the campsite like plush cushions, pillows, doonas and blankets to give it a cosy atmosphere.


Pick any tent that suits your needs for backyard camping. Image: Coleman Australia

Have some fun with your shelter setup

You’re free to get creative with your backyard setup and really ‘transport’ everyone into a different space. With some help from the kids, create a fort using tarps, blankets, sheets and rope, and bring in the furniture from the playroom to turn it into a fun space for the kids to hang out in.

You can pick a theme, or raid your shed and bring out all those seasonal decorations if you like! Have fun with it, you’re on holiday!

Mother and son under fort in backyard

Pick a theme, or build a fort to make it a bit different. Image: The Ultralight Hiker

Add some atmospheric lighting and music

Now is the perfect time to use your solar lanterns, fairy lights or other string lighting to add a warm glow to your backyard. Grab your speaker to play some chilled-out tunes or if you really want to escape – the sounds of nature will do the trick too.

Fairy lights on tent at night

Create a nice mellow vibe in your yard. Image: Lillie Farrow

Try your hand at some camp cooking at home

If it’s safe and considerate to do so, stoke up a campfire in your backyard or use a cooker like the Ozpig to refine your camp chef skills in the backyard.

Damper is an easy recipe to master, can be made to just about any savoury or sweet variation.  I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like hot damper soaked in butter or Golden Syrup.

You can try your hand at smoking food too, it adds a whole new flavour to the food you already love but may be better suited to the tastes of the adults in your family. Try this damper recipe or this roast pork recipe is simple and delicious.

Don’t forget to brew some hot chocolate and bring marshmallows for toasting on the fire as well.

Two young girls toasting marshmallows in your backyard

Toast some marshmallows at home in a firepit. Image: Suburble

Stay outside and disconnect

Depending on how strict you want to be, you can make a rule to not go inside the house once the camp out starts.

If you want to truly ‘get back to nature’ and get the teens away from the screens, you could even change the Wi-Fi password temporarily, or keep the phones in the house so that everyone can disconnect and spend time together like you would when camping.

Family relaxing under a tent in their backyard

Relax and unwind without modern technology. Image: Ellie DeLano


This is a great opportunity to see what you can spot in the skies from your house at night. Grab your telescope if you already have one, or some binoculars, download a free map of the sky, and have some fun examining the heavens and seeing what constellations you can see.

Boy using binoculars to stargaze at dusk

Check out the constellations from your house: Image: Gary Seronik

Discover your own backyard

You can create a mystery to solve, or a treasure hunt for your kids utilising the space at the front of the house, around the sides and in the backyard. You can draw out a map, and give them a compass and even have prizes at the end to keep them occupied and entertained. The winner gets to pick the movie for the night!

Boys dressed up as pirates holding a treasure map in their backyard

Organise outdoor activities for the kids. Image: Amanda Morin

Grab the popcorn and have a movie night

Relaxing in your own outdoor movie theatre is a real treat for the whole family if you have a home projector setup, or you could cheat if you have a TV out on your patio. Either way, you can stream a classic film, while you unwind and enjoy the serenity of your own backyard.

Kids watching a movie outdoors in their backyard

Watching a movie is a great way to unwind. Image: Stacey Leasca

Head outside and enjoy what you have

In times of crisis or when things don’t go to plan, all you can do is make the most of what you’ve got and try to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones.

You don’t need to have a fancy over-engineered setup, what matters is that you’re able to get some much need downtime with your family.

Happy camping everyone!


Have you ever gone camping in your backyard? Let us know in the comments.

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