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8 easy outdoor adventures to have this summer

The summer holidays don’t have to cost a lot of money. All you need is some imagination and a sense of adventure.

Warmer weather, weeks off from school and work, and the opportunity to get outside makes summer the perfect time to discover new ways to spend time with friends and family.

No matter where you live, there are affordable ways to enjoy the great outdoors, and activities to suit any fitness level or ability. From discovering local bushwalks, to exploring a different part of your city, there’s something exciting for everyone.

Make the most of the holidays with these outdoor activities that anyone can take part in.

1) Go bush

Finding a local bushwalk is a wonderful (and free) way to be active and enjoy a change of scenery. Your local council should be able to provide free guides and maps, so start there. Be sure to choose a route that suits your ability – Trailhiking Australia allows you to search based on skill. If you’re with younger children or those with mobility challenges, make sure you research the length and difficulty of the walk before you head out. If it’s not a circular route, factor in that you’ll need to walk back as well. Less experienced bushwalkers might choose a route that has designated trails or boardwalks, which call for less effort.

Make it fun for kids by taking binoculars to spot birds and animals, and keep your eyes peeled for different coloured plants or flowers. Choose a walk with points of interest like a lookout, a waterfall, or interesting rock formations.

Up for a more challenging trail? Always tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. Fully charge your phone, pack plenty of water, and wear weather-appropriate clothes.

What you’ll need: Good walking shoes, map, hat, sunscreen, water, snacks.

Suitable for: Nature lovers.

2) Break out the tent

You don’t have to book a pricey campsite to cosy up under the canvas. Pitch a tent in your backyard and enjoy all the fun of sleeping under the stars, without queuing for toilets or sharing the cooking facilities. Drag your pillows and doonas outside, bring snacks, grab a torch and tell spooky stories.

Suitable for all ages and abilities, it’s a great practice run for families with young ones who like the idea of camping but aren’t quite sure what to expect. The best part? If it gets windy, wet or just plain uncomfortable, your own bed is nearby.  

And when you’re ready to camp for real, Camps Australia Wide can help you find the right site for you, with information on if a site is pet-friendly, plus costs and facilities.

What you’ll need: Tent, bedding, torch, comfy clothes.

Suitable for: Night owls and star-gazers.

3) Be a tourist in your own city

Look at your area through a new lens by taking a walking tour. Visit your local tourist information centre, or research city walking tours online, and you can discover self-guided tours, perhaps with a historical or architectural theme. Aside from the obvious advantage of being free, a walk can offer a new perspective on a place you might think you know inside out, because being on foot takes you on routes you wouldn’t normally explore.

Urban walking tours generally take place on paved footpaths, so they’re easy for most people to navigate, even with walking aids. If you need a flat or wheelchair-accessible route, pre-plot your journey on a map, so you can make sure it’s suitable and fun for everybody.

What you’ll need: Comfy shoes, route planner, hat, water.

Suitable for: History buffs and explorers.

4) Hit the water

Nothing says summer like grabbing your swimsuit and heading to the nearest lake, river or ocean for a dip. Swimming, rope swings and inflatables are all great ways of having fun in the water, and are suitable for most age groups.

If you want to challenge your abs, a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is the perfect way to exercise your core while enjoying nature. They can be used on flat water or on calm days in the ocean, and some are easily inflated when you arrive at your destination. Check out your local sporting goods store, or shop for gear online.

Many beaches and lakes now have easy-access paths so wheelchairs, prams, and people who find it difficult to walk on sand or uneven ground can get down to the water’s edge safely. Remember, if you’re near the water with young children, keep them within reach at all times. Be aware of ocean rips, and currents in lakes and rivers.

What you’ll need: Sunscreen, sun shelter, hats, water, beach toys.

Suitable for: Anyone wanting to cool down.

5) Set up your own sports day

Grab some friends, head to the local park and stage your own wacky races. The sillier the better; three-legged races, sack races and egg-and-spoon races are all great ways to get moving and have fun.

If you have young children with you, organise events like who can hula hoop the longest, or have races with beanbags balanced on their heads. Older children might enjoy trying to race each other on skateboards or scooters, run an obstacle course, or dribble a ball through cones. As well as having a lot of fun, these activities are the perfect way to exercise without it feeling like a lot of hard work.

Kmart has a great range of outdoor sports and games for all ages and ship nationally.

What you’ll need: Race equipment, plenty of water.

Suitable for: Sports lovers.

6) Pack a picnic

It’s always fun to pack up a picnic to eat outside, but it’s also the perfect way to get kids of all ages excited about healthy foods and snacks. Involve children in the prep by tasking them with making their own sandwiches, choosing different coloured fruits and veggies to make a rainbow, or baking their own healthy muffins. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes, pop fruit or veggies on skewers, and pack brightly coloured plates and a rug. It’s a lovely activity for the extended family – just remember to pack some deck chairs or camping chairs so grandparents can choose not to sit on the ground.

What you’ll need: Picnic basket, rug, food, something to drink.

Suitable for: Budding chefs.

7) Plant a garden

Growing and tending to plants is a wonderful way to enjoy being outside – and you can reap the rewards of your hard work at the end of the summer by picking and eating any fruit, veggies or herbs you’ve grown. And no, you don’t need a huge garden! Plant seeds in garden beds, pots and window boxes. Or find a local allotment or community garden if you don’t have space at home – this can be a great way to meet people and make new friends.

If you find it hard to stand or kneel for long periods, grab a cushion or a small chair so you’re able to stay comfortable. Get the kids involved, too. They’ll love watching plants grow and getting grubby in the soil.

If you really don’t know where to start, check out some books at your local library, ask your nearby garden centre if they offer lessons, and search online for beginners' tips.

What you’ll need: Seeds, planters, watering can, gardening gloves.

Suitable for: Nurturers.

8) Get out of the gym

No, we’re not recommending you don’t do any exercise! Summer is a great time to switch up your usual fitness routine and get into the great outdoors. There are plenty of different ways to boost your heart rate, or just move your body, while you’re outside enjoying the summer mornings and longer evenings. Try roller-blading, skateboarding or cycling to get your cardio fix, and search for local clubs and groups on Facebook if you don’t want to go it alone.

Need something a little less strenuous? Take a yoga mat outside and do some gentle stretches or meditation. Simply being outside in nature can help reduce your stress levels after a hectic day.

What you’ll need: Sports equipment of your choice, water.

Suitable for: Anyone!

Words by Katherine Chatfield
First published December 2021

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