More people than ever are switching cocktails for campfires and escaping to the woods. Is it the enviable Instagram feeds of wander-lusting weekend warriors? Perhaps Bear Grylls’ “tête-à-tête” with nature is tempting more people to return to their Neanderthal roots? Or maybe in a world increasingly dominated by technology it’s one of the few times we can now truly switch off?
Either way, we’re blessed with thousands of ridiculously incredible campsites across Australia: rivers, caves, islands, mountains, lakes – you name it, there’s a tent site with your name on it somewhere. We’ve compiled 6 essential do’s and don’ts for when you’re planning your next camping adventure to ensure it blows your walking socks clean off:
1) Think outside the box
Camping can be so much more than simply driving to a well-known location and pitching up your temporary accommodation amidst hoards of other frothing weekend escapists. Surely it’s all about finding your own juicy little slice of paradise for a night or two? When you’re planning your trip think about injecting a heavyweight dose of adventure by finding a more remote camp location. Ask yourself: “how can I access it in a unique way?”. Can I trek there? Is it possible to ride in on a mountain bike? Is there a river nearby to paddle along? You can bet your tent-poles that with a bit of research, combining a microadventure with camping will create one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.
2) Don’t be a fool; pack the right tools
What you fill your backpack with will of course depend on where you’re going and how you’ve decided to get there. Using a splash of common sense and splosh of internet research will take you a long way – bringing a ghetto-blaster the size of small child on a trip that requires a 20km trek to camp is an idea you’ll most probably regret (trust me, I’ve tried!). Temperature’s a BIG one. There’s nothing fun about shivering like a junkie with cold turkey all night. Pack a decent head- torch wherever you go and don’t underestimate the benefits of a water filter!
3) Get gourmet
Just because you’re deep in the wilderness doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste when it comes to your food! In fact, celebrating the successful quest to reach your new home is an absolute imperative. Pre-marinated meat is always a winner. Share the ingredients between your troop and plan ahead so that you don’t double up! The time spent under stars with your favourite people eating and drinking like the noblemen of bygone years is a major highlight of any weekend microadventure. (Of course, there’s always a place for de-hydrated meals on multi-day trips, but they tend to give me flashbacks to a forgettable stint spent in a Calcutta drop toilet).
4) Respect Nature
There’s fewer things in the world that irritate me more than seeing rubbish at a campsite: it shows a complete lack of regard for the environment and I hope with all the karma known to mankind that whoever does this perishes in a freak coconut-falling or golf-ball accident. FORE! Don’t be one of them. Leave wherever you pitch up as you found it and take all rubbish away with you (pack 1 or 2 plastic bags). Don’t do your business too near a water supply and dig a hole before you assume the position. I believe that if we all make a concerted effort to regard nature as if it was our own mother, the world will be a very happy place for many generations to come.
Never forget that ‘going out bush’ is wrought with inherent dangers, and taking the necessary precautions is more essential than a flannel shirt at a lumberjack rally. Do your homework and be prepared for the conditions. Let people know where you’re going just in case disaster strikes, pack a decent map, compass, plenty of water and don’t leave unattended fires in the morning – particularly this time of year. Oh, and always bring a first aid kit – would you know how to react if your mate gets bitten by a wriggler?
6) Respect other campers
This is another one that really puts the chafe in my chaps. If there are fellow adventurists in the vicinity, respect that. Say hello, share food, firewood, stories and trail notes. If they want to call it an early night, don’t be a t1t! You could always share your whiskey and knock them out so that they’re none the wiser to your late night campfire party?! Otherwise, make it a silent disco. Of course, follow Step 1 and this shouldn’t ever be a problem anyway!