By Ian Glover
It’s that time of the year when families start thinking about camping over the Christmas break; thinking about that idyllic campsite, with either the surf pounding on the beach, or the river gurgling over rapids as the evening lullaby. Steaks and seafood on the barbecue plate, sunscreen and salt spray…ah, that’s the life! Here are some tips to make sure the reality matches the dream …
1 – Make sure your campsite is legal. If it’s on private land, you must secure the permission of the owner before setting up the tent and camp chairs. If it’s in a National Park, it’s highly likely there’ll be a fee involved. (Some NPs have an honour box at their entrances – make sure you’re carrying cash, by the way, unless you’ve prepaid.) In State Forest areas, it’ll depend on what part of Australia you’re in as to whether fees are payable or not. Google your possible choices before you set off then there’ll be no surprises. And wherever you are, use recognised campsites/fireplaces.
2 – Inspect the ground you’re intending to set up the tent/swags on, checking for possible nasties. In one section of the Lake Mungo NP camping area for example, huge spiders have made their burrows in most inconvenient spots!
3 – Choose level ground – particularly if you’re in a swag. And if it’s not quite level, have your feet facing downhill.
4 – When collecting firewood, wear a pair of winching gloves; they’ll not only stop you getting any splinters, but are good protection if the wood is being shared with bogeys like scorpions.
5 – Keep your fire small. Bonfires not only waste wood, but are almost impossible to cook on. A couple of extra logs on the fire after dinner when you’re fixing the wrongs of the world is nice though.
6 – Don’t throw empty stubbies or cans on the fire. Cans are never completely consumed, and bottles merely shatter, making the fireplace inhospitable at best and dangerous at worst for the next ‘owners’.
7 – Remember to keep the noise at a reasonable level out of respect for other campers. Loud music can be particularly annoying, especially if you’re playing Slim Dusty and the people next door are classical music freaks. Besides, you’re camping to get away from modern distractions!
8 – If there are toilets, use them! Don’t leave your waste lying around for others to find. Nothing ruins a view more than mounds of human waste, especially disposable nappies. Invest in an enviro-friendly porta-loo … it is money well-spent and the environment (and your wife!) will love you for it.
9 – This one’s really obvious: take your rubbish out with you – there are now some great attachments that hang over the spare wheel/tyre assemblies just for this purpose.
10 – Finally, bring sufficient water for your needs, and if you’re forced into using creek water, remember to give it a really good boil prior to drinking it.
But most of all … have fun!