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West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Helsinki, Finland
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West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Hi!

I would like to get some suggestions for our family holiday. We are a couple with a 9-months old baby and will be traveling in West Australia with a campervan for 3 weeks (beginning from 16 February). We arrive to and leave from Perth, so we need to drive a circular route.

Any suggestions where to head? We are looking for beautiful nature, beaches, some outback (not too far, though :)). Our first plan was to drive to south and visit for example Albany, Denmark, Margaret River and Esperance, and then drive to Shark Bay area. Is this however too much driving for 3 weeks? If it was only adults, it could be manageable but now we have the baby with us. It is our first time in campervan, so we don't have previous experience how it will go. We booked a campervan with toilet and shower, and of course kitchen and fridge etc.

Which camping places should we visit?

Is there something else we need to take into account when traveling with a small child? We have stroller and baby carrier with us. Of course we need to be avoiding the sun. Do we need to be extra-careful with some insects or snakes or something else?

rural West Aussie
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for Perth
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1. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

To be honest, a campervan in February will be hell on wheels IMO. Temps may well be in the high 30Cs or low 40Cs during the day, and while the south west is usually a little cooler it will still be really hot, especially for someone from Helsinki.

I'm not sure Shark Bay is a good inclusion. It's a _long_ drive, it will be even hotter, and may even be experiencing a cyclone as it will be cyclone season to the north.

Are you committed to the campervan? Often it is even cheaper to hire a regular car and stay in chalets (self contained cottages) in caravan parks. Advantages to this are that usually the chalets have air-conditioning, much more space than a campervan, you will use less fuel (which is expensive) for a car, a car is easier to drive and park (especially at tourist attractions), and all-round less hassle.

For your baby you will need to hire here an ASA approved baby seat. Seats for all babies are mandatory as is an ASA approval sticker. Can the campervan be fitted with this? You can't just sit in the back.

You also need to stay in approved campsites or caravan parks as free camping is not permitted.

Is your driver's licence in English? If not you will need an International Driver's Permit.

Gungahlin, Australia
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for Canberra
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2. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Could I just emphasise the concern about heat in February. Children in vehicles can overheat very dangerously in a surprisingly short time. I don't know how it works in a campervan, can you cool it when parked and plugged in or something?

Helsinki, Finland
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3. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Maybe the terminology was not correct: we have rented a motorhome which has air-conditioning. It is a "walk-through" model so while the driver sits in the cabin, the other parent sits with the baby behind the driver (there is no wall between them). We chose this model so the parents can discuss and don't need to yell from the front to the back (in many campervan models the passengers sit in the back).

The motorhome can be plugged in at night and the air-conditioning works also then.

Of course the baby will have a car seat. We have rented one from the campervan company, but are still considering bringing our own, rear-facing seat (which is, according to crash tests, 5 times safer for the baby than forward-facing in case of an accident). I am not familiar with Australian car seats and ASA approval stickers, but the Scandinavian laws are strict on car seats and our seat has been proven very safe in crash tests. This is not something I take lightly, we have considered the safety of the baby in detail.

The reason why we chose campervan instead of renting a car and staying in other accomodation was that it will save us from packing+unpacking so often. Everything will just travel with us in the campervan.

So we will eliminate Shark Bay from our list and stay in the Southwest area, if it won't be as hot there.

I am a bit alarmed from your posts, and am now wondering is this trip really so dangerous for us.. We have been in Australia in February before (without the baby though) and managed :). Of course it is different for the baby, but I suppose we won't be the only tourists with a baby there, even in February.

Helsinki, Finland
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4. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

This is one route option for us:

-Perth

-Fremantle

-Rockingham

-Bunbury

-Margaret River

-Augusta

-Pemberton

-Denmark

-Albany

-Stirling Range National Park

-Esperance

-Wave Rock

-Swan Valley

-Yanchep National Park

-back to Perth

This route would be about 2100 km, meaning 100 km per day. Of course it would be nice to stay at one place for a couple of days, and then drive further.

Are there some places you would delete or add from this list?

Edited: 2:57 pm, January 11, 2013
Perth, Australia
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5. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Firstly re the car seat. Your comment re "Of course..."- there is no "Of course" on TA. The number of people who overlook this requirement is staggering and as such, YorkFoodie is ensuring that you are aware of the Australian requirements. Seats from other countries are NOTpermitted hence the ASA approved comment. Under Top Questions to the right of the forum you will see a q dealing with child restraints & the WA law.

As to being alarmed - would I be horribe in saying I am pleased that you are experiencing this emotion? Not so much as to you being alarmed but perhaps in maybe you are now thinking this through a little more and you hadn't quite realised the impact on a 9 month old baby of 40 degree heat. They can dehydrate very VERY quickly and must have lots of water preferably but juice and milk also helps. Ensure they have a bottle or sippy cup all the time...with something in it :-) The increase in the number of nappy changes will show your child is obtaining sufficient liquids :-)

…vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Heat…

Remember the inside of a vehicle goes up 10+ degrees within a matter of minutes of turning the air con off. Motorhomes even with their air conditioning can be as hot as Heddes - I know - I hear about it from my parents who have been motorhome/caravaners for the past 50+ years. They limit their trips in the summer due to the fact that even with the air conditoning on, the heat at times can become overwhelming. I have learnt from them and we don't do it!

Be aware of mozzies wherever you travel and put infant insect repellant on your child and tropical strength on yourselves. Ross River Virus is contractable from mozzies as well as the general annoyance of the itching.

…wa.gov.au/3/1528/3/ross_river_virus.pm

Listen for fire alerts on the ABC radio.

So - head down south, make sure you park legally i.e. in caravan parks national parks or camp sites designated for free camping and pay an enormous amount of attention to both your child and your own well being in the heat. Of course you are not the only tourists travelling with a baby and if you take adequate precautions, heat or not, you will be fine.

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g255101-i530-k4…

australianexplorer.com/campsites/…index.php

http://www.natureplaywa.org.au/links

Edited: 3:20 pm, January 11, 2013
Perth, Australia
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6. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

It's 4 hours driving (380+kms) from Esperance to Wave Rock. It's 345 kms from Wave Rock to Perth... You are going inland - it will be even hotter than the coast. An awful lot of brown nothingness...

Why not pick out 4 or 5 places and stay there, enjoying whatever the area has to offer?

Chhose a campsite at one of the following:

1. Woodman Point/Coogee/Rockingham or even Mandurah

2. Busselton/Dunsborough/Yallingup

3. Denmark/Albany

4. Esperance

Back to Perth same route staying in different location than on the way down.

Helsinki, Finland
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7. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

^ I don't know if the language barrier (English is not my native language) has a) given you the wrong impression that I am not thinking about the wellbeing of my baby (regarding car seat and/or heat), or b) maybe I get the wrong impression of your text that you think I am overlooking it..?

Anyways, thank you for the link about the heat-related illnesses, and also for the information about foreign car seat not being accepted! We have been prepared to bring the baby's car seat with us from the other side of the world, but of course if it won't be accepted, then we won't do it.

The baby is breastfed so no need to give milk or juice. Water of course will be given but breastmilk is best for the baby since it contains best balance of nutrients, minerals/salts, vitamins etc. And it is naturally important to keep the mother also hydrated so that there will be enough milk for the baby :)

Helsinki, Finland
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8. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

^^ Problem with Esperance is that if we will drive there and back to Perth taking the same coastal route, it will be even longer route than driving through outback via Wave Rock. Maybe we need to delete both Esperance and Wave Rock, and stay closer to Perth, for example having Albany the furthest destination.

It is a good proposal to take the same coastal route back and staying in different places than when driving south. Thanks!

Perth, Australia
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9. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Sorry - I did not wish to intimate that you did not have your baby's well being at heart. It is apparent that you do. I was trying to infer (not very well obviously) that consideration of heat issues for all of you is the most important thing.

AND

the reason I mentioned water and/or juice etc is because breast milk for a 9 month old in the heat is NOT sufficient hydration. I have had personal experience with visiting OS relatives who refused to listen to this advice who ended up with a severely dehydrated baby in hospital. You state you will be giving water so that is great!

You sound like an intelligent person with as we would say here "Your head screwed on". :-) I am sure you will be fine.

Enjoy your holiday.

Fremantle, Australia
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10. Re: West Australia holiday: campervan + baby

Hi there. I am sure you will love the South West of the state and is often a bit cooler than Perth. Definite no to Shark Bay IMO.. Liked Perthite's suggestions about campgrounds. Drive past the Woodman Pt/Coogee one often and looks a great spot-very convenient too. I have more experience of the Albany/Denmark region than MR. Great campgrounds there and you could easily spend a week or more and have terrific day trips. If you didn't want to go across to Esperance there still wonderful beaches, forests and wineries in the Great Southern and South West. Recently took young Swedish friends down to Albany and was the highlight of their time in WA. Then you can head back via the Albany Hwy.

I too breastfed (4 kids) but as others have noted, drinks of water are necessary for all of us and certainly gave mine water during summer-I used tap water but filtered water is readily available.

Happy to give suggestions for Albany if you plan to spend longer there.