Life is busy. Sometimes its stressful and chaotic, and being able to unplug, and leave it all behind for a weekend or even longer is a fantastic way to recharge. Australia has some of the most incredible places in the world where you can camp and done well, you’ll create amazing memories, recharge and feel fantastic.
However, not everyone feels the same way about camping; if you’ve had a bad trip or not done it before, the idea of leaving the creature comforts of home behind and heading into the unknown may not be your idea of a good time. The good news is with the right gear, mindset and location, you can have a super successful camping trip, and want to head out into this fantastic country more often.
There is nothing quite like sitting around a warm campfire on a cold night with your friends and family and having a few laughs, or waking to the sound of the waves crash into a perfectly white, sandy beach only metres from your tent. Spending a day on a pristine, remote beach with your family is about as good as it gets.
Perhaps you’re an avid wildlife fan; Australia has some of the most incredible animals to see, and often when you are camped in a more remote area you’ll see the best of it. Fancy listening to dingo's howl into the evening, or Rainbow bee eaters flutter from tree to tree? Camping in the right location will allow you to do just that!
So, what do you need for a successful camping trip?
The right location
Australia is a big place. A really, really big place. There are more places you can travel to and camp than you would explore in a lifetime on the road, and that’s great for variety, but not always so good for picking the right location.
Weather is a major factor in where you should travel to, and when. If its going to be freezing cold, and pour with rain for a week straight, perhaps heading in that direction is not such a clever idea. I usually try and head where the weather is mild. In WA, that means heading south in summer, and north in winter. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, and you head where you are going to be comfortable.
You want to match the location with the weather. You’d be mad to head into the desert in the middle of summer, as the heat would be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. Likewise, you can’t explore many of the incredible gorges up north in their wet season, as the roads are flooded and you won’t get there.
Go to a location that you are confident you are going to enjoy. Don’t camp on the coast if you can’t stand sand between your toes. Don’t head to a free camp if you want hot showers each night (unless you can provide the gear to do it yourself!). If you want some nice amenities, other people to socialise with, shops nearby and a feeling of safety, then consider the use of caravan parks over national parks and free/low cost camps.
The right gear
Straight up, you won’t have a successful camping trip if you have the wrong gear, or just lack in the gear department full stop. You can camp with limited items, and anyone who’s into hiking will be well aware of this, but you do need some gear, and it needs to suit what you are doing.
Being able to get a good nights sleep, cook tasty food and stay comfortable while camping are the 3 things that will make or break your camping trip.
A good nights sleep means you are warm, dry, safe and out of the weather. Some tents don’t take too well to storms, many mattresses are not very comfortable and sleeping bags are rated to certain temperatures. Go outside of what the gear is designed to do and you’ll have a bad nights sleep and an unpleasant camping experience. I can tell you from past experience that waking in the middle of the night to a wet sleeping bag with water running through your tent is not a very enjoyable experience!
Food preparation and cooking needs to be relatively simple and easy, and the food should be tasty and at least reasonably nutritious. I’m sure food tastes better under the stars than it does at home, but you don’t want to be living off cans of baked beans and tuna for every meal, and there’s no reason why you should be either.
Having access to clean, quality drinking water is super important so you stay hydrated, and don’t get sick. Water can contain some pretty nasty bugs that will make you very sick; the way you carry and collect it needs to be done with some thought.
When it comes to being comfortable, things like a decent chair to sit on, a nice fire to sit around at night time when its cold, clothes that are comfortable and keep you cool or warm and equipment that is easy to use are just a few of the things you’ll want to consider. Some gear takes a very, very long time to set up and use, and that takes away from the enjoyment of a simple camping setup.
You can buy camping gear from thousands of brick and mortar stores, online shops or just borrow it from your neighbours and friends. Every style of camping is different, and your gear should reflect where you are going, how long for, who you are going with and what you plan on doing. Just as you can’t take a 12V fridge with you when you go hiking, don’t expect to have all of the gear under the sun; just buy what will work for your situation.
Anaconda is an outdoor, adventure and sporting retailer found in many locations throughout Australia. They sell everything from 12V fridges to fishing gear, tents, hiking gear and clothing. If you want a great place to start an outdoor lifestyle, you can check them out here - https://www.anacondastores.com/
One of the things that I love about camping is that it opens a whole new world of opportunities up. If you are into fishing, kayaking, bird watching, white water rafting, swimming, snorkeling, hiking or 4wding, camping allows you to spend longer at amazing places, and gives you the opportunity to enjoy it. There’s nothing like staying at a stunning beach, and being able to pick up a fishing rod and walk 10 metres to the waters edge to flick a lure around, any time you feel like it!
The right mindset; a sense of adventure and some flexibility
There’s no denying that camping is very different to being back at home. You won’t have your flushing toilet metres away from your bed, a big comfortable mattress to lay on at night, lights in every corner of your camp site or a big oven, microwave and gas stove right next to each other with a pantry full of food.
Camping is back to basics, and things do take a bit longer than normal and often require a bit more work. The flip side is you get to enjoy some of the most unreal scenery in the world, unplug from your devices and your responsibilities (some of the responsibilities, not all of them!) and swim/hike/relax in some of Australia’s magic spots.
This means you need to accept straight off the bat that its not going to be the same as at home. Enjoy the process and the adventure; don’t get hung up on the fact that you don’t have everything that you would have back at home. Cooking over a fire isn’t as easy as throwing things in the microwave or oven at home, but it is a huge amount of fun, and the end result is usually well and truly worth the effort. Washing the dishes isn’t as simple as throwing it all into a dishwasher and pressing the wash button, but it’s not the end of the world!
Things will not always go to plan when you are camping either, and you’ve got to be prepared to accept that and move on. When you travel with others, there can be tension from time to time. Lucky you have plenty of space to walk it off!
There’s really nothing like spending a few days camped at any of Australia’s stunning camp sites, armed with nothing more than a simple camping setup, a sense of adventure and a few good friends. If you haven’t done much camping before, maybe now is a time to give it a go. If you have, and it didn’t go so well, try again, this time with the right gear, mindset and location!
What have I missed? What else do you need to have a successful camping trip?
Disclaimer: this post was a joint venture between Anaconda and http://www.4wdingaustralia.com