Camping Australia Blog

Camping Australia Blog

Move out of your comfort zone

To return to home page, click on  http://boblake72.wix.com/camping-australia-blog

 

Further up-to-date blogs and camping information can be found at our other website and blog by clicking on, or cutting and pasting: 

http://ozcamper.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/home-camping-guide-australia/

 

....................................................

 

So, back to: Move out of your comfort zone

 

There are those people who simply don't understand campers and camping - maybe they had a deprived childhood; I don't know. They simply cannot understand why anybody would subject themselves to discomfort to experience the sort of things they could watch on TV.

 

Depending on the company they find themselves in, campers may be admired, politely ignored, or even ridiculed. There are those too who can extract laughs from the situation. Here are a few famous quotes that make campers the butt of humour.

 

  • Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business.
  • Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.
  • Camping:  The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.
  • It always rains on tents.  Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.
  • Campers: Nature's way of feeding mosquitoes.
  • How is it that one match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box of matches to start a campfire?

 

But then, for those who have experienced the true wilderness, the star-filled nights, the camp fires, the wet dawns, the profound silence of isolation ... these people don't need to explain it. They have a confidence and self-reliance that comes from meeting the challenge of bogged vehicles, high winds and wet firewood. What others think or say matters not to them. They recognise a different theme in famous quotations.

 

  • Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.   
  • We don't stop playing because we grow old;  we grow old because we stop playing.
  • Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.

 

So there it is; you pays your money and you takes your choice.

 

You will find that those things you do all your life will carry you into old age. I have one friend in his late 60s who dons lycra and races his cycle up and down a 600 metre' mountain, and another friend in his late 80s who was really upset because bad weather forced him to give up - at 3500 metres - a trek in the Swiss Alps. Both had cycled or walked all their lives.

 

So it is a question of take it up, and not give it up. But it's never too late to make modest progress and develop some activity that will give you exercise and satisfaction. I have camped all my life, have adapted with age to different ways of camping, and can still make and break a camp pretty efficiently.But a later activity has been cycling. When, at age 70, back, knee and hip surgery began to limit my bushwalking capabilities, my thoughtful children bought me a bicycle.

 

It was 50 years since I had ridden a bike, so this was a new challenge. I shall never race up mountains but, strangely, cycling seems to overlook my structural health problems and I can cycle all day without effort. What is more, it gives me enormous pleasure.

 

It's been a bit of a ramble, this post, but what I am trying to say is this: Don't back off from life. Set challenges for yourself and meet them. Develop the quiet pride and confidence that comes from self-sufficiency. And, if you can do it, make your peace with - and in - the wilderness. You will carry it with you always.

 

 

There are moments that make all the effort worthwhile

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

 

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

Horses for courses

Different strokes for different folk

 

There are many different reasons for going camping and there are certainly many different ways of doing it. For some it is an inexpensive holiday by the beach or in the mountains. For others, it’s back to nature, solitude and a break from work and routine. It can be a chance to visit out-of-the-way places, sometimes very remote indeed, where there is no other choice of accommodation. It can be a recuperative rest, a complete change away from the stress of modern life.

 

For us, it is freedom, independence, self-reliance and the carefree aspect of travelling light, as the will takes us, with our home in the boot of the car.

 

Out bush, there is a meditative power in the action of doing practical things for yourself, improvising, developing bush skills; the peace of the wild, fresh air, exercise, cooking your outdoor meals, sitting around a campfire – alone or with others –  in the evening; sleeping under the stars.

 

For young families, there is the satisfaction of teaching your children to work cooperatively, putting real values into their lives ... when work becomes pleasure and nature walks bring the wilderness alive.

 

Apart from which, camping is by far the least expensive way to see the country and to enjoy new experiences.

 

Don’t take everything with you; the bush is an experience in itself. You don’t need portable generators for television; generators disturb other campers and are banned in most parks. For news and entertainment you can have an unobtrusive iPod or MP3 with earphones. You can read; nights are long, so have a strong reading light in the tent. But it is the cultivation of outdoor activities – often new ones – which enrich our camping. Have a purpose apart from just getting away; develop an interest in bushwalking, nature, photography, geology and fossicking. Take binoculars and a bird field guide. We often fish or canoe if the camping spot is near water, and we always take our bicycles with us- where is it not too hilly.

 

There's so much to do. It's not difficult to get started, the initial investment is comparatively little, and a whole new lifestyle will have dawned.

 

Above: Cooking fresh-caught crabs on a remote Great Sandy Straits beach. We spent two weeks camping in this beautiful spot.

 

Below: Camping beside a quiet Queensland river - forty years ago. An inexpensive tent, a small boat, basic sleeping and cooking equipment, fishing tackle ... what more could you ask?

 

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

Experience, memory and worldview

In my younger days I lived, worked and travelled for many years in desperately drought-stricken regions of Africa and inland Australia. I have watched the skies, month after month, hoping for a cloud on the horizon; have seen farmers shoot flocks of sheep numbered in the tens of thousands – rather than watch them die of starvation, and I have been on the road with thousands of cattle, searching for grass. In doing this, I have slept in tents, swags, mud huts and under the tailboard of trucks.

Cattle on the road seeking grass and water.

Digging in sand for water in a dry riverbed.

 

And these experiences have coloured my worldview for a lifetime.

 

Today we live, in retirement, in a cool subtropical area at an altitude of 1800 feet. The soils are deep and red, the rainfall high and regular, the grass is always lush and green. Frequently we get long wet spells, and our friends are longing for fine weather, blue skies and sunshine.

 

We have had an excessively wet summer, with several huge falls of rain and various parts of our region have suffered severe flooding and storm damage. A couple of weeks ago I measured 20″ of rain within three days; yesterday I measured 7″ in 24 hours – a township in this region where we used to live, measured 7″ in an hour. Almost 4″ again this morning. Our roads have been cut, our bridges washed away. Our power, television and sometimes, phones, have been affected. We keep three dehumidifiers going at times like this to combat mould.

 

And still it rains.

 

But do you know what – and this is where experience, memories and worldview come into it – every time the rain eases off, I get a pang and hope it hasn’t stopped. No matter how wet it has been and how much we need things to dry out, I can’t bear to see it go away. And if it is not raining, then I look at cloud movements on the Internet, hoping that they are drifting this way.

 

And, for superstitious reasons, I never grumble about having too much rain. When I feel it falling on to our lawns, dripping into the rainforest and turning the creeks into muddy torrents, I feel that rain is soaking into my soul.

 

So, there it is. Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, but that eye also reflects those images of the past which colour my interpretation.

 Retirement: Rain from our sitting room window.

Don't overlook the humble tarp

An invaluable camping item is a simple, cheap tarpaulin. Depending on size and quality, these can be purchased from hardware or camping stores from a few dollars upwards. They are light, pack flat under anything and, with a few extra tent pegs, light ropes and a couple of spare poles can serve many purposes.

 

Currently we have a good quality 4mx3m tarp which cost us $25 but have other very cheap blue tarps of various sizes – some of which cost us less than $10. Surprisingly, with a bit of care, they can last for years.

 

We generally carry a couple of tarps, packed on the roof rack, car boot or floor of a covered ute, they take up no room at all.

 

So what do we use them for?

 

Well, the most common use has been to stretch them out from the back of the car, or to one side or the other, to provide shade or shelter from rain when we have been either sleeping in the car or just living out of it. (The picture shows us camping on the Nullarbor Plain … one of many overnight stops where we just drove off the road, threw up the tarp, and slept in the back of the ute).

 

A tarp can serve as shelter or shade when strung between trees, between the car and a tree, or by using poles. We have wrapped a tarp around bushes to provide a toilet facility when camping. And don’t forget, when sudden rainfall occurs, a tarp can be quickly thrown over exposed items … this is particularly useful when setting up or breaking camp.

 

On really hot days a tarp can be set up as a temporary carport. When there is mud underfoot it can provide somewhere clean (if wet) to stand.

 

For ultimate simplicity, a tarp, a rope, half a dozen pegs and guys can provide an emergency bivouac when strung between trees or poles, and a smaller tarp can serve as a floor.

 

Yes, we have had many and varied a camping set-up but a couple of tarps have always been an essential item on our camping list.

 

Don’t leave them behind!

 

 

 

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

So much is close at hand

 

During our camping days we have incorporated many other activities. Tents have taken us to rainforest walks, outback cattle stations, desert splendour, wonderful mountain trails, canoe and kayak locations, fossicking grounds, dinosaur digs, distant cycling tracks, and places just to sit in a camp chair and enjoy the day.

But, we have found as we got older, that we don’t need to drive 1000 km to engage in our favourite activities. In recent years we have travelled up to 6000 km on a two-month trip … and great fun it was too. But we can’t camp all the time so we keep our hand in by kayaking local waterways. So, what have we found during the past few months exploring flatwater kayaking locations around Tamborine Mountain? (Certainly a wonderful rainforest environment and a great place to live, but hardly a canoeing paradise!).

To our great surprise we have spent many days exploring waterways behind the Gold Coast. We had never really considered this area before … overdevelopment, heavy traffic, big crowds of holidaymakers – you can keep it. But between the Gold Coast highrise skyline and the mountains (about 20-30 km inland) lie countless hundreds of kilometres of rivers, creeks and small branches of both that meander quietly between the mangroves. Generally we put our kayaks into the water at a ramp, in what is a residential area, check the map and start paddling. Within minutes we can enter a wilderness of mangroves, mud, birds and fish … and could be a thousand miles from civilisation.

Yesterday we tried an area we had not canoe’d for many years … Jacobs Well. We launched off a sandy beach beside a boat ramp, headed north then west, and spent the whole day exploring a fascinating wonderland of wilderness. So many creeks and diversions, and so many times we said: “We must come back to this one and follow it further”.

And, believe it or not, from the time we turned off into a creek, 10 minutes from launching, we did not see another human being all day; no tinnies, no houseboats, no jetskis. Sheer delight.

So wherever you are, examine your local neigbourhood for recreation. Within an hour’s drive of home we have more waterways to explore than we could cover in a lifetime. And when we travel further afield and take our kayaks, we have maintained our fitness and are ready for the challenge of a new location.

 

 

Good camping and kayaking.

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

Summer picnics

We rarely go camping during the northern Australian summer - say from November till March ... after all, there are another eight or nine months of the year when camping conditions are much more favourable. Summer is the wet season, sudden storms, cyclones, very hot spells, outback flies in plague proportions, and the beachside spots are crowded. This is the main holiday time of year, school is out and many people crowd all the popular areas during Christmas and New Year. The only reasonable activity we found was kayaking on day trips along the less popular waterways, but age has caused us to give up kayaking.

 

So, when we don't go camping in summer, how do we enjoy the outdoors? We go on picnics.

 

There is almost as much fun setting up a traditional picnic as there is in eating it!

 

Even during summer in the hot, wet tropics of Queensland, there are cooler spells and drier days and it is not difficult to pick a suitable day for an outing. A quick look at the sky, a longer look at the Internet weather forecast ... particularly cloud cover for your area, and you can make an instant decision to have a day out.

 

Our old picnic hamper is always packed and ready to grab at the drop of a hat. It contains plates and mugs, cutlery and napkins. pepper and salt, wine glasses and beer mugs, bottle openers and ... well, just about anything else you are likely to need.

 

Then we have a big esky, with iceblocks permanently frozen at the ready in our frig. This we load with a couple of bottles of beer, a bottle of wine, some cordial -  still leaving room for what we are going to pick up on the way. A large thermos of iced coffee and a couple of hard-boiled eggs completes this part of the preparation ... total time to pack up and go is only about five minutes.

 

We keep a couple of picnic rugs in the car; sometimes we take camp chairs as well.

 

On the way out of town we buy small quantities of a variety of traditional picnic goodies - a crusty loaf, a soft cheese, a selection of sliced meats, pickles, olives, ready-made salad, potato crisps, peanuts, biscuits, chocolate, a couple of cream cakes. Sounds expensive, but we always have a lot left over to bring home, and it is only a fraction of the cost of a restaurant lunch.

 

We use these picnic days to get away early and explore small and largely deserted country roads in the hinterland. We take our binoculars for bird-watching, a book to read, cameras, and notebooks for writing poetry or making other observations. We find a pleasant shady spot for morning coffee and spend half an hour exploring and birdwatching. We then drive on, explore some more and, a couple of hours later, we seek out somewhere really quiet and beautiful ... a creek, cool shady tree, often a good view, and here we park ourselves for a leisurely lunch.

 

The traditional picnic makes a wonderful relaxing day out and, if you continually seek out new places to explore, over the years you really get to know your district very well. We have become addicted.

 

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

Camp camaraderie

 

 

You’ll learn a lot just sitting around a campfire in the evening with other campers – swapping stories, discussing the best places to stop, bad places to avoid, tips on pitching tents or cooking damper at which Steve, pictured above with wife Rosie, is king.

 

Over the years, of course, we have found the greatest source of information to be our own ‘trial and error’ experiences – making mistakes, solving problems, figuring out the best way to do anything. But following that, we have learned a lot from talking to other campers.

 

Campgrounds are friendly places; you can have as much, or as little, social interaction as you like but these are places where even solitary campers can enjoy good company and learn so much.

 

Much of our camping education came from (smugly) sitting around in camp chairs, outside our tent, watching other people set up camp. Some are so well coordinated, fast and efficient that it has depressed us just watching them. Others are so slow, so bad at it, and make such a mess of having to do every job twice, that we gain maximum enjoyment from it.

 

Either way, we have learned. We see so many good ideas and just as many ways of not doing things. You really will find there is much to be learned from closely studying other people’s vehicles; the way they are packed, how they set up and strike camp (we have even timed them!), their methods of cooking, and the amazing variety of bits and pieces of ‘cool’ camping gear they have either bought or improvised.

 

And don't hesitate to compliment other campers on their equipment and techniques. Discuss points of interest with them, ask questions, ask for advice. Whenever we have talked to other campers about anything that interests us, they were only too happy to discuss the pros and cons of what they have and how they do it.

 

More than this we have learned about good and bad places to camp, out-of-the-way and little-known spots which are often free or low-priced for camping. And we have made friends with whom we still go camping by arrangement, and others we bump into from time to time.

 

So watch, ask and listen; create bonds and make your day-to-day camping experiences so much more enjoyable.

 

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

 

Early camping days in Africa

Camping memories

 

When today we look at the fine and sophisticated camping gear we own, we remember that it was not always this way.

 

It is now exactly 50 years ago that I lived in this tented camp in a remote big game hunting area of inland southern Kenya. I camped here for a period of four months, during the first month of which I had friend who then moved his tent to another location some 20 miles away.

 

The initial camp, shown below, was comprised of four tents: one was mine, one was my friend’s, the third was a kitchen tent and the fourth a ‘dining room’.

 

 

 

These heavy canvas ‘cottage’ tents had wooden poles, big fly sheets and no floors. This latter was of some concern when venomous snakes occasionally came in to explore. We sometimes took one of the tents when travelling away from camp for several days.

 

During this period we had lions walk through the camp, then an angry rhino charged a tent and carried it away some distance on its horn (fortunately with no-one inside). We were treed by elephant and once, had to evacuate when safari ants came through. On one occasion, I shot a rabid dog from the awning of my sleeping tent. (Useful tip – always shoot rabid dogs in the chest, not the head, and bury them deep. Hope this helps you).

 

At one stage, while away from the main camp, I pitched my tent beside a river (See below. Edge of tent in the bottom left corner; me in aggressive pose on the river bank). While there, I had a primitive laundry. In the evening I would wrap my dirty washing around a large stone, tie it with cord and throw it into the water, which was a metre deep close to the bank. The next morning, keeping a wary eye open for crocs, I would wade out and retrieve it. It was probably well rinsed but everything finished up a muddy brown colour.

 

 

 

 

Back to the tents. These were heavy and cumbersome, and took a lot of work to erect. Fortunately I had African employees to put them up for me, and to cook my meals, do my washing, and steal my gin. A win-win situation for everyone.

 

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader.

And for gardeners , Julie's Gardenezi series books can also be viewed at:  www.amazon.com/kindle. (Search title and download to PC or eReader). Current titles available are:  Great Garden for Just Two Hours a Week, Growing Great Azaleas ,  Improving Your Soil -The Natural Way, Grow Herbs-Make Money, Tropical Foliage Gardening , and a novel - A Garden in Africa.  Price of each is $4.95.

To download these Kindle ebooks to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste the following address: 

ttp://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311   

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing 

Warrumbungles and Snowy Mountains

Time has not stood still

 

So, after a gap of 25 years or so we re-visited the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in New South Wales and, after a few days there, went on to spend a week in the Snowy Mountains - at Sawpit Creek near Jindabyne.

 

The Warrumbungles were still magnificent but the campgrounds much more crowded. There are now areas set aside for caravans and motorhomes, for camping trailers, for tents, and for large groups. All very civilised, the tent sites are good and the amenities include hot and cold showers and a laundry. The national park information centre is well stocked, not only with information, but with Coca Cola, potato crisps and all the other necessities of life.

 

To get the most out of this national park you need to be a good bushwalker. When we were last here Bob was just under 50 years of age and we took day-long walks into some of the beautiful granite country. This time - due to health and age - we could only take much shorter walks and this detracted from the value of the experience.

 

 

A pleasant campsite in the Warrumbungles, Julie is sitting under a tarp strung between trees to keep dry during intermittent rain.

 

There were a lot of storms about so we decided not to spend a couple of days in the Weddin Mountains. Instead, we camped in the tent area of a pleasant caravan park with excellent amenities in Cowra. We had a purpose in staying here; this was the scene of the great Japanese prisoner of war breakout during World War 2 and the town's tourism is based on the theme of reconciliation. There are spectacular Japanese gardens, memorial cemetries, a small museum, and other relevant features of interest.

 

Camping in caravan parks is always a risk. Firstly they are generally on a highway, which means noise from trucks. Then, having erected our tent in the reserved tent area we were horrified - returning later in the day - to find a large caravan parked right next to us - even though there were many vacant caravan sites. When I complained, the caravan park owner said the caravanners wanted a nice grassy site where their three children and doggy could play. So be warned.

 

We had an interesting departure from Cowra. Driving conditions were likely to be less than ideal and we needed an early start to get to the Snowy Mountains that afternoon. So, at 5.50am a heavy thunderstorm broke and was still going - with torrential rain - when we struck camp at 7.30am. Happily Julie had a bright idea - we made a couple of car trips to the large campers' kitchen with all our unpacked baggage, packed it up in the dry, reloaded it in the car, and then were left with only the wet tent to drop and load. Our ponchos came in useful here.

 

We had a chalet for a week at Jindabyne, with a carport that allowed us to air the tent. The high country was magnificent with plenty of snow still on the mountain tops and down into many valleys into late spring. From there we camped around the truly beautiful NSW south coast, then Kangaroo Valley (a good, free campground here), where we saw lots of wombats at dusk. The weather then turned really foul and we abandoned any more camping and ran for home.

 

 

Impressions: We saw lots of varied and very beautiful places that were new to us. But, unless you have a rugged 4WD rig, some companions, and can really get out into the wilderness, the roads, national parks and campgrounds are becoming crowded. Weekends in some places are dreadful and even out of school holiday periods and during the week, we struck groups of Parents of Under 5s 'bonding' with their children in groups. Or the State Under 11s football finals. It is hard to get away from it. Food for thought.

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or e-reader. To download this Kindle ebook to a PC or laptop computer, you can install free software from Amazon (which will also allow you to download thousands of other Amazon ebooks). To download this software, CONTROL/CLICK (or cut and paste):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311

For further information and support go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing

And if you are a gardener, visit Julie's book - Growing Great Azaleas - at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006DPNJPE

 

 

The ways we camped

We've tried them all

 

Changing circumstances and advancing years have meant that we have camped in many ways. We've rolled up in stockmen’s swags on the ground under the stars; have slept on iron bedsteads in shearers’ quarters; have got up close and personal in the back of utes; shivered under the tailboard of trucks; laid out mattresses under canvas strung between trees; occasionally taken advantage of empty log huts, and even had a brief flirtation with camping trailers, campervans and caravans.

 

But, in the end, only tents do it for us. With the right equipment and right know-how, tents are the least expensive, the most flexible, the most satisfying, and the only way of getting to really out-of-the-way spots for a wilderness experience. Today we tow a 6x4 box trailer for longer trips, with extra gear for camping in one place for a week or more. For shorter trips, we just take our all-wheel-drive car with enough room inside and on the roof, to carry a tent and appropriate gear for getting to more difficult locations or for fast road trips where we move camp every night or two.

 

So, we have used many camping systems but today are confirmed ‘car campers’, with or without box trailer. There is a reason for this. When you first buy any outfit – tent, campervan, camping trailer, caravan – you get out and use it a lot ... for the first year.

 

But time moves on and we found that when you invest $20,000 upwards in a camping trailer, campervan or caravan, you feel continually guilty if you don’t use it. Bad weather, work, social obligations and other activities can leave these costly items sitting in the driveway or shed. Then you start to think about the interest on money invested, the licensing and insurance, the maintenance, deterioration and depreciation, and you add it up to see what it is costing you a year. Ouch!

 

With car camping, your modest total expenditure can quickly pay for itself by savings on accommodation in your first trip or two. After that, you can store and maintain your gear and use it as frequently or infrequently as you like – without feeling any guilt at all.

 

Our progression followed a pattern. After camping with tents for half a century, we began to consider camping trailers. It seemed so easy; tow the trailer on to a site, flip it up, slide out the kitchen, make the bed and ‘bingo’. So we got one and had a lot of fun with it for a couple of years, but it still took time and effort to set up and did not allow us to pull up on the roadside during bad weather, immediately make a cup of tea, cook a meal and fall into bed. So we sold it and bought a small caravan.

 

Now we had a different ballgame. Much less work to load, set up, pack up when leaving and with little to unpack when we got home. We could stop by the road for coffee and a rest. So why did this way of camping last for less than two years? The main reason was that it largely restricted us to caravan parks and other campgrounds that were easily accessible to caravanners – lovely people most of them – but did we really want to live in a caravan city? Did we want to be out on the road in convoy with large numbers of other caravanners? Did we want to join the morning ‘potty parade’ and spend our days gossiping in the laundry?

 

No. It seems today that many elderly folk retire quite happily ‘on the road’. Anywhere you can tow a caravan is just too accessible, too civilised, just too many people. We wanted to get away from crowds; we wanted to hang on to our youth as campers. We wanted to be able to get out into the more remote places.

 

And we were worried about the cost of maintaining a caravan that we were using only occasionally. We found we were able to upgrade our camping equipment for a fraction of the price we received for the caravan.

 

But at our advanced age some additional factors came into play regarding health, strength, comfort and convenience. Our solution was to get rid of the caravan and buy the rig we have now, giving us great flexibility and mobility combined with a reasonable standard of comfort.

 

 

So, there it is - a neat, versatile and easy-to-handle rig.

 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ... Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or eReader.

 

It doesn't have to be that hard

Taking the soft option

 

Last month we took our tent inland and went camping for just a few days - Tuesday to Friday. There was a purpose to this trip, we were checking out an area for a birdwatching camp to take place this month. So we were not planning anything too arduous; just somewhere to sleep and eat when we came in each day.


Now we found the only place to camp was the extensive tent area of a small private caravan park. There was no national park campground on that mountain - ah yes, I should have mentioned, this campground was at almost 3000' - a pretty chilly place to be in early spring.


 



 

So we thought about it and realised that on this occasion we were using our tent merely as convenient accommodation. We had a camper's kitchen onsite, a small shop and restaurant, hot showers ... so why not pay the extra couple of dollars and get a powered site - something we don't usually do with a tent. It worked well. We took an extension cable and bedside electric light and a small (kettle-sized) safe ceramic heater. We did feel a bit ashamed of ourselves but this was more than offset by the comfort.


We had wondered how much heat the tent would hold, but we are not talking about canvas here. The tent was wonderfully insulated. Each evening, before showering, we would turn on the heater. When we came back 15 minutes later, the tent was certainly warm ... in fact we had to turn the heater down to avoid it becoming a sauna. We turned the heater off when we went to bed but, even then, turned it on again at a low setting during one night when it got very cold.


It is worth remembering that not every trip is the same, does not have the same objectives and does not present the same circumstances. And you don't have to prove you are a rugged outdoors type by suffering unecessarily. So, if there is a camper's kitchen, don't bother with your billy, cold box and gas stove. If there is power, don't take up space with gas cylinders and gas lamps. For us, on this occasion, the bedside lamps and ceramic heater made much more sense.


Don't forget to visit our Camping Guide Australia book at the Amazon Kindle ebook store. This is a comprehensive and practical camping guide drawn from more than half a century in which we have been camping. Go to:
www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel at the top.

 

Into every life a little rain must fall

Time to call it quits

 

On occasions we have found enough is enough. Don’t ruin your trip by persevering when things get too tough. Sometimes it makes sense to just cut and run.

 

In inland Queensland, we once camped uncomfortably for several hot, dry, dusty fly-ridden days and eventually fled to the cool of the mountains ... where it rained, and rained and rained.

 

After two days of unceasing torrential downpour we were sitting cross-legged on our camp-beds, looking at 20mm of water which had pooled inside the tent when, late that afternoon, the same thought came suddenly to us both: “Let’s go”. We pulled heavy stuff and everything of value out of the tent and quickly collapsed it, jamming the tent, bedding, clothes and the odd soaking wet book into the car. Then, cold and wet, we drove four hours home through the dark.

 

It took three days to dry everything out before we could resume our camping holiday. This time we were luckier, camping beside a lake in perfect weather.

 

 

When you can see, and feel, bad weather moving in, it is time to make a decision. Do you pack up and move on? Or sit tight and weather it out? If the latter, make sure you are ready to leave if conditions become too bad.

 

Don't forget to visit our Camping Guide Australia book at the Amazon Kindle ebook store. This is a comprehensive and practical camping guide drawn from more than half a century in which we have been camping. Go to: www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel at the top.

 

Where to camp in Australia

 


Many national parks offer outstanding camping experiences, with great sites, many walks and, in the case of this New South Wales national park, good fireplaces and a wonderful pile of firewood.

 

Do your homework before you take off


This is a brief extract from our Amazon Kindle ebook Camping Guide Australia.

 

Before you take off on a camping trip, do your homework on camping sites, including locations, costs, permits, amenities, whether or not fires are permitted, is firewood supplied and do you need to book a reserved site in advance? Here are some of your options:

 

National Parks

 

Australia has a large number of national parks throughout all the States. The further inland you go, the fewer national parks there are – but those that do exist are often very large.

 

Each State and Territory features national parks, conservation areas, Aboriginal lands (which usually require an entry permit), forestry reserves, stock routes, local authority camping reserves and other types of reserved land – many of which are available for camping. Most of them charge a modest fee but there is an increasing number of free – generally roadside – camping sites available for limited periods, where campers are encouraged to stop over for a night or two during which they contribute to some small country town’s economy. It is worth checking these out in advance, as they provide a cheap and useful way of travelling around the country.

 

Information and costs given here (in 2011) will always be subject to change ... new national parks may be acquired, others may be closed temporarily to campers, fee structures or amenities provided may be changed. So always undertake up-to-date research before you take off.

 

Something to watch for is the total cost per day of camping, and this means doing some study in advance. For example, in Queensland – where fees for all national parks are standard - a couple would pay around $10-$11 a day – that is $5 or so per person. There is no vehicle admittance or day fee. Generally however, Queensland parks are often not particularly well-serviced and firewood is rarely provided.

 

Over the border in NSW, daily charges can vary from $5 a person per day up to $10 a person per day, with the more popular parks charging the higher fee. In addition, most NSW national parks charge a $7 per day vehicle fee – and that is for initial entrance whether you are camping or not, and $7 for every day thereafter. A week’s stay in a popular NSW national park could then, cost two people more than camping in the tent area of a private beachside caravan park.

 

There is some compensation for these higher fees, however. One is that NSW national parks often provide good fireplaces, firewood and a good standard of amenities. And, if you are likely to camp in NSW for more than a week or so each year, you can buy various grades of annual car passes which reduce the cost significantly. We have a country pass which allows us to take our car into most NSW parks and stay as long as we like without paying the $7/day fee. This pass costs (at the time of writing) $45 a year, with a reduction for a two-year purchase. Annual vehicle passes do not cover nightly camping fees ... only car entrance fees.

 

All Australian States have their own national parks organisations, their own regulations, fees and requirements. Victoria, for example, does not charge an entry fee and some parks provide free camping. And NSW gives park entry discounts on seniors’ cards and exemptions to pensioners. Worth checking it all out, State by State.


 

Visit Camping Guide Australia on: www.amazon.com/kindle ...  Type 'camping guide australia' into the search panel. Click on book title – then click to look inside. This gives the introductory chapters. You can buy the ebook for $US 9.95 and download it to your PC, laptop or eReader.

 

Pilbara parks and NT crocs


 

 


More than 300,000 hectares of the Pilbara's most picturesque recreation and conservation areas have been formally recognised in a new management plan for Millstream Chichester National Park and Mungaroona Range Nature Reserve.

 

The plan will guide the management of important wetland ecosystems, flora and fauna, as well as enhance significant recreational activities including camping, bushwalking, picnicking and four-wheel driving.


 

Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the plan outlined strategies to manage the park and reserve over the next decade and protect the area's natural, cultural, economic and educational values.


 

"Millstream Chichester National Park is part of the recently established Warlu Way Drive, which links landmark sites of the Pilbara region and provides an opportunity for indigenous businesses to thrive," Mr Marmion said. "The plan also proposes the development of low-impact, nature-based tourism accommodation to cater for the more than 20,000 visitors that come to the park each year."


 

Copies of the management plan are available from the DEC office in Karratha Minister's office - 9229 5000



 

CROCWISE in the Northern Territory


 

Campers visiting the Northern Territory should take their safety seriously when around crocodile habitat, the Northern Territory Government Parks and Wildlife Service says. It must be assumed that any body of water in the Top End may contain large and potentially dangerous crocodiles. The NT Parks and Wildlife Service actively manages saltwater crocodiles to reduce the risk of crocodile attack across the Top End, with the exception of Australian Government controlled lands such as Kakadu National Park.


 

In the Top End, many people live and participate in recreational activities in and near water. People need to be ‘crocwise’ and must know how to enjoy the waters in safety.


So far this year, 14 crocodile sightings, incidents or removals have occurred. Of these, 11 crocodiles have been captured and removed from billabongs, nature reserves and similar water habitats where people might visit or camp. These removals included three very large crocs of 4.1m to 4.5m.

 

So take care where you camp, walk or swim, and don’t mess around with crocodiles.

 

Note: Go to www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'Camping Guide Australia' into the search panel. This will take you straight to Camping Guide Australia. For other and more direct links, scroll down this page.

Heading for the high country

 

Well, it's been about 25 years since we last camped in this magnificent NSW national park, west of Coonabarabran off the Newell Highway. Our memory of it includes long walks, spectacular granite plugs, and space, wonderful space.

Because we will be en route to Kosciusko, we shall only spend maybe three days camping at the Warrumbungles. From what I read, it will be quite civilised at Camp Blackman, with 70 sites - about half of which are powered, along with a picnic area and electric barbecues. This campground is suitable for tents, caravans, camper trailers and motor homes.

Our next stop will be the Weddin Mountains, about 20 km south of Grenfell. This national park contains cliffs, ridges and gullies and is said to be an old bushrangers' haunt. Ben Hall's cave here was named after one of Australia's most infamous bushrangers.

Then we're in for a spot of luxury; a chalet up in the mountains for a week - between Jindabyne and Thredbo. Even though it is mid-spring, temperatures are still low with snow on the mountains down there.

Julie pictured below when we camped in the high country in winter many moons ago.


 



So, we'll spend a week exploring the high country - again an area we haven't re-visited for about 25 years, (Bob pictured below during a summertime trip there).

 



After that it's back to camping our way home, along the southern NSW coast and Great Dividing Range national parks.

Note: Go to www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'Camping Guide Australia' into the search panel. This will take you straight to Camping Guide Australia. For other and more direct links, scroll down this page.

Variety in a small package

 

Tasmania provided us with a wonderful month's camping some years ago - as you can see from the picture, it was mid-winter and cold. The upside was that we had the place pretty much to ourselves which more than compensated for the freezing conditions.

 

We were not well off at that time and had a large old Holden Statesman with more comfort than reliability. It had dodgy automatic transmission and a large boot, which we packed with fairly basic camping gear. We took our car over on the ferry and travelled round the island anti-clockwise. The main impression we brought back with us was the friendliness and help we received from Tasmanian residents. Maybe we were lucky; maybe the island hadn't been too much affected by tourism, but we were impressed.

 

Our next impression was just how much variety was packed into such a small, accessible island ... accessible, that is, if you exclude the south-west which is still one of the world's great wilderness areas.

 

Not so good at that time was the central west coast, which was our least favourite region. I am told it has been improved over the years and is now attracting an increasing number of tourists. When we were there we found that Queenstown - a 'must see' attraction - stood as an example of just how much desecration can be created by mining. The ugliness was spectacular.

 

Nearby Strahan, at that time was a dump, literally. The whole waterfront was like a third world tip, with plastic bags of garbage as thick as seaweed. We shook the dust of Strahan from our heels within the hour, motoring on to Lake St Claire. This was a beautiful place to camp, even the rain did not dampen our spirits. Possums visited the camp, there were some good walks and we lingered for a few days.

 

Next Mt Field, another good camp where again we were raided by possums but also saw platypus in the river. Our few days there were marred only by the shooting of possums (outside the national park) which went on for much of each night. These attractive little creatures have multiplied into such numbers that culling had become necessary.

 

 

Then Hobart - a lovely old city - and the south coast. We explored Hastings Caves and went to the edge of the huge Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area in the south-west, but were not equipped to walk into it. This is still a vast and mostly impenetrable national park, with some camping grounds and walking tracks.

 

On the way home we spent a few days camping at the utterly beautiful Freycinet National park, right on the ocean front. Then back to Devonport and the ferry via Launceston.

 

Overall, a wonderful month under canvas. For scenic variety in a relatively small area, for great national parks, for Australian history and a good climate (not in winter though), it is well worth a visit. In a month you will save a lot on fuel costs ... nothing like the distance between destinations found on the Australian mainland. You need to save where you can. National park fees are relatively high and you have the costs of transporting your car across.

 

Today you can take your car on the ferry - or you can fly and hire a vehicle over there. Current costs vary depending on seasons and times but friends of ours who visited there recently said it cost them about $800 for a return fare for a couple, with car and sleeping in a twin cabin.

 

Note: Go to www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'Camping Guide Australia' into the search panel. This will take you straight to Camping Guide Australia.

Travelling Light - the USA on a budget

Some years ago I found myself footloose and fancy free in Los Angeles. The traffic, the motorways, the go-getting bustle ... this kept me fascinated for half a day. Then I had to decide how I was going to spend the next two weeks - maximum pleasure for minimum cost. For me, this kind of ruled out LA.

 

So I shopped around and hired a small, old and very cheap car (which did me proud), a one-man tent and a sleeping bag. At the same time I bought a hiker’s mess kit and a tiny solid fuel stove. On my way out of town I hurriedly filled a carton with groceries and set off to see the great US south-west. This was the real America and these were real Americans, friendly, interested and interesting. But while the whole thing was pretty strange at first, within a couple of days I no longer noticed they had a different accent, ate something called hominy grits, and that I had to drive on the wrong side of the road.

 

 

My Death Valley camp was really quite peaceful, even though Death Valley at that time already seemed to attract a lot of 'comfort campers'. With my gear, however, I was able to get away and enjoy the emptiness.

 

I went into deep snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where I found my way into a ranger station by noting the position of a rooftop flag, and then walking along a narrow path carved through a 3-metre snowdrift. When I asked where the camping ground was, I received a hollow laugh then, after viewing the giant redwoods, made my way back down to just below the snowline.

 

I went to, or through, more places than I can name, bowling along in the car, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel in time with surfing music, and occasionally stopping off for a bite to eat.

 

The Mojave Desert was magic, tough camping on a rocky ridge with stones on the tent corners instead of pegs and sleeping on the ground. One of the great experiences of my life was getting up before dawn and climbing high into the mountains, to sit on a flat rock and watch the sun rise over the desert. There was only one other tent there - I had a glorious time with a young couple called Tom and Sandy - and when I got back to camp Sandy had already prepared a great fried breakfast. Water was scarce and we washed by pouring water over each other from the coffee pot. I kept in touch with them for a few years, but eventually the gaps grew longer.

 

 

Bath time - Mojave Desert style

 

Something that staggered me was the incredibly suburban and efficient layout of the huge campground at Arizona's Grand Canyon - where freezing sleet was falling. It was here I met one of the homeliest looking girls you can imagine and asked the way to the amenities block. She didn't know, in fact she didn't know anything very much - she was Australian too.

 

 

Grand canyon - nice views when the sleet eased off

 

At Zion National Park in Utah,  heavy rain had fallen and the ground was waterlogged. Met some nice people there from Salt Lake City (believe it or not, night club employees, not Church folk) and from there I motored back to LA via Nevada. Every day – new places, new campfire friends, weird hitchhikers (what was I thinking of?) and glorious experiences.

 

This was opportunity camping at its best; inexpensive, lightweight basic equipment which provided me with memories that have lasted a lifetime.

 

Girls ARE different

Some practical advice on camping for women

 

 

By Julie Lake

 

Veteran camper and co-author of Camping Guide Australia

 

 

Peace and quiet in the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania

 

 

In those distant days when we were all hunter-gatherers the men relaxed by the fire after a  hard day’s hunting while the women – after an equally hard day’s gathering   - did the cooking. And for some men, times haven’t changed all that much.  Not long ago we were camping in a popular national park when three big RUVs arrived, filled to bursting with happy campers. I watched with fascination (and some indignation) as the women unloaded the trucks, first pulling out what seemed like an entire toyshop’s worth of toys and bikes and skateboards to appease the horde of yelling children. Then they proceeded to set up the camp – several tents and tarpaulins, food and furniture and just about everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink!  It took them three hours, and then they cooked a meal. And what were their menfolk doing all this time? Well, their priority was to unload a large chiller and open the first of a long succession of beer cans; after which they stood round listening to the races.  “This is the life!” I  heard one of them say.

Small wonder, then, that we often hear the refrain (from men) that “they love camping and the great outdoors but the little woman isn’t nearly so keen”.  The fact is, whether we like it or not, when it comes to camping women ARE different.

 

Of course there are many women out there contentedly camping with their male partners, with their families, on their own or with female friends, or in mixed groups. But there are just as many who, though they would love the freedom offered by camping, are deterred by a range of factors that don’t apply to men. These include a perception - and too often a reality - that camping with the family (or even with a male partner) means the same amount of cooking and household chores for a woman as she would have at home, but under greater difficulty. And while she slaves away, the partner or family are having a wonderful time in the Great Outdoors.

 

Most of us veteran women campers have learned to cope the hard way.  But for those who would to give camping a go but have never dared try, here are a few guidelines.

 

The swift and efficient setting-up of a campsite for more than one person depends on a fair and sensible division of labour.  Typically, men do all the heavy lifting and hammering and “bloke stuff” while women sort out the bedding and the camp kitchen.  This is how my partner and I have always done it and it works well – each knows his or her task, some jobs (such as putting up the tent) are done together and the result is (usually!) a harmonious  partnership in which jobs are assigned according to physical ability and individual skills.

 

BUT – and it’s a big “but”, this situation changes as people get older, or if the male partner is  taken ill or has an accident. So women should be able to tackle every task that setting up and taking down a camp entails. In my own case, I want to be able to continue safely camping in wilderness areas for many years to come, so I make sure I have a tent that I can erect and pull down alone if necessary. Trust me, there are few things worse than struggling to pull down a large, unwieldy tent with lots of poles guy ropes in a howling gale, when your partner is prostrated by a raging tooth abscess!

 

For most of us camping represents a welcome break from home routine, and when you look around the campsite it’s obvious that many men today are only too happy to take on the cooking or the washing up or sometimes both!  Kids, too, should do their share of the work – mine did, and enjoyed the experience.

 

Camping is harder on women!  Bodily functions and how they are performed, the need for discretion in dressing and undressing, even simple vanity – these all demand a degree of privacy.  To ensure it, pitch your tent where there are natural screens between campsites.  If possible site your sleeping tent or (if you have one) shower/toilet tent so it faces away from other campers.  Carry an extra tarp or large sheet/blanket that can be easily erected to form a privacy screen.  Even better is a large rainproof poncho (but not one you can see through!).  Buy a size larger than you would normally wear.  It’s amazing just what you can do under a poncho, even in a camp full of people!  And it keeps the wind and rain off you, too!

 

Women squat to pee!  This fact alone tends to make the female of the species more fastidious about toilet facilities.  They also menstruate, which means carrying and disposing of tampons or sanitary pads, plus an increased need for personal hygiene.  Always take with you moisture-impregnated cleansing tissues or baby wipes (such as Wet Ones) as well as ordinary tissues and toilet paper. Plus a supply of brown paper bags for disposal of soiled items.  These can be burned or even buried (provided any non-biodegradable material is removed first).  Plastic bags CAN be burned in an open fire but should never be buried. These female functions demand a special degree of privacy in camp, as outlined above. 

 

In the past camping gear has been designed BY blokes, FOR blokes – and much of it still is. True, there are women who can wield a hammer and hold up a weight of canvas as well as any man – but many more of us are daunted by the work involved in camping and the strength required for it.  So, particularly if we’re camping alone or with other women, we need to look at working smart and buying easier gear. Here are a few tips:

 

Tents made from light synthetic materials are much easier to handle than heavy canvas.

 

Self-erecting tents that can be put up in one minute or so are comparatively more expensive but don’t require much muscle-power.  They don’t require as much pegging down, either.

 

Pulling out tent pegs from hard ground is hard work.  Make sure you have a really useful tool for doing this, such as a claw hammer (readers of our book Camping Guide Australia know we have a special implement made and designed by a friend), with a sound grip that enables us to wiggle the peg around . Wet the ground first if the pegs are hard to pull.

 

Visit camping stores and read catalogues  to find new gear ideas that make light work of tasks that otherwise require a strong back and a fine set of muscles.

 

Don’t lift if you can drag, push or pull.  Those cheap plastic boxes with clip-down lids and wheels, available from discount and “warehouse”-type stores make excellent storage for  food and kitchen equipment.  Adding straps to these means they can be pulled around – a big boon to those who find bending a challenge!  Old collapsible golf buggies and strollers can be recycled for use around the camp. Use lots of small boxes for packing, rather than a few large ones which are heavy to lift and carry.

 

Select beds that are easy to erect. Camp stretchers with folding aluminium legs are good and so are ordinary folding beds with mattresses.  That’s if you are no longer young enough to sleep on a mattress on the ground.  

 

Women and girls are more vulnerable than men when it comes to camping in isolated places, for all the obvious reasons.   Imagine the scenario when you and maybe a girlfriend are in an isolated camp ground where the only other campers are a bunch of drunken blokes. Or where a carload of the local hoons come visiting  in search of trouble.  If you’re female they’re likely to see you as easy prey – so make sure you’re not!

 

Unless you happen to have a Black Belt in Karate, evasion is the safest course.  Sneak off and hide if you really feel you’re in danger.  It’s undignified (I know, I’ve done it!) but it’s usually the best option.

 

Learn to recognize the warning signs. Men and alcohol are a dangerous combination for women camping alone so a bunch of noisy yobbos drinking nearby might be a good reason to pack up and go. 

 

Be wary, too, of lone men who are obviously eyeing you over or who chat you up.  They are probably just being friendly – but treat all such approaches with caution.  Genuine Mr Nice Guys will understand.

 

Always park your vehicle facing the exit – just in case you have to make a run for it.

 

Be careful about walking around the campsite by yourself at night – even to the toilet. 

 

It’s a good idea to keep your essentials – wallet, mobile phone, lipstick (only joking!) – close to hand when you’re camping, so if danger threatens and you have to make a run for it you’ve got them with you.

 

When  possible, camp near families or other obviously harmless campers.  Yes, I know most of us go camping to get away from it all but unless you can find a truly isolated spot safe from wandering troublemakers, there’s safety in numbers.

 

Have an emergency plan and if there are more than one of you, make sure each knows their role should you find yourselves in danger.  Consider taking along some legal form of protection, like capsicum spray – but only if you are prepared to use it.  That goes for knives, hatpins, barbecue forks or pans of boiling water! Any form of protection can be turned against those who hesitate.

 

The mobile phone has improved safety for all campers, not just women.  Even if you are out of network range you can bluff somebody who is giving you grief into thinking you might have taken their photo and transmitted it.  Or that your 000 call has been received.  We always take the registration numbers and even surreptitious photos of potential troublemakers  – if necessary these can be transmitted to the emergency services or friends/family at home. 

 

Take folding mirrors where the glass is enclosed – it’s all too easy to break a mirror when camping and this is not only a nuisance (what girl wants to be without her mirror?!) but the broken glass can be dangerous.

Keep personal hygiene items in a well-sealed sponge bag or plastic container

 

If water is available, wash your knickers out every night so you don’t accumulate them by the bagful.  Too horrible for words!

 

Take plenty of moisture-impregnated cleansing tissues or baby wipes (Wet Ones).  They are useful for daily face-and-hands cleansing and where water is scarce they’re a good substitute for bathing.  They are also light to carry and easy to dispose of.

 

Go for it girls – and enjoy many years of happy, and safe, camping.

 

Visit: www.amazon.com/kindle and type 'Camping Guide Australia' into the search panel. This will take you straight to Camping Guide Australia.

 

 

 

Blog Stats

  • Total posts(18)
  • Total comments(3)

Forgot your password?