Kurt is an Environmental Officer for the NSW Government, and one of those people born with the Wild chromosome. Consultant by day, wildman by weekend, Explorer Challenge #17 is a classic example of his favourite past times – exploring nature with your mates. All you need is your good pal and a great pair of lungs. Here’s Kurt’s story of his man camping challenge…
What do you do when you and your mate have lost that spark? Reignite the bromance with a weekend of Man Camping. Man Camping is very simple – leave the chicks at home, plan a loose location, fill the car with booze and leave. What about food? Fret not, my friends we thought of that – you get to eat what you can catch.
Before setting off, we agreed on a dress code – nothing throws of the work shackles better than Party shirts (my buddy and I have twin Hawaiian shirts with a custom embroided stingray on the chest pocket). We got into ‘uniform’ before hastily packing the Troop carrier to the hilt with gear for every inconceivable adventure. Our destination was Meroo National Park south of Ulladulla – a fantastic part of the NSW South Coast with lots of rocky nooks and crannies spotted with sandy beaches. It is a no brainer for surfing and fishing (the perfect extra curricular activities for Man Camping).
Side note: we might have packed much faster, if my mate Lyndo, who was almost weeing himself with excitement, hadn’t locked his keys in the car a total of three times whilst running to and from the apartment to the garage. As we were just about finished a friendly delivery bloke who had spotted all the interesting bits and pieces getting thrown in (including everything from spear fishing gear to stockwhips) came over “I don’t know where you are going, but I’m coming!” he said with a massive grin on his face. I always feel like you’re onto something good if you can make a total stranger jealous before leaving the driveway.
With a disappointing lack of surf when we arrived, we decided spearing would be a good option. It was also important as it constituted our food supply. Generally going south or north a few hours from Sydney you are rewarded with a plethora of marine life (potential targets). But, this was not one of those days…
Under the surface, it looked like fishmageddon – there was nothing as far as our goggles could see! It looked like we were going to go hungry, until eventually, Lyndo shot a Luderick (Blackfish) so at least we had something. Over the next two days, our meals did get better, with a good knowledge of bush tucker supporting a healthy sea food diet with an array of tasty treats including prawns, luderick, red morwonge, abalone and rocklobster over the weekend. We certainly did not go wanting. For anyone who hasn’t been pawning before it comes highly recommended. All you need is a net, a bucket and a head torch. Trying to catch them by hand is also highly recommended – even just for laughs and to hone your reaction time skills like Daniel Son catching a fly with chopsticks in Karate Kid.
One of the best things about Meroo National Park and its surroundings is meeting the locals! On this trip there were Roo’s and Wallabies just about everywhere. A pesky Sealion that liked stealing pilchards from fisherman kept us entertained. We shared some surf at Mudholes with only two other blokes and a pod of dolphins a meter away. A Perrons Tree Frog that came for a ride in the Troopy and most importantly we saw an amazing array of underwater life (some of which ended up as dinner). There are a few local humans to, all of which are good value and keen for a yarn.
At the end of the day there is nothing like a swinging in your hammock around a fire, knocking back your choice of beverage and cooking up some fresh caught seafood whist discussing the days adventures with your mate. Thankfully the girls were pretty understanding about their lack of invitation, but bringing back a lobster and a few abalone for dinner kept us in their good books.