Campfires, hiking, stunning scenery, curious lizards, arguments about how to put up the tent. They are memories of our childhood that we hold dearly, and so want to pass on to our kids.
If you haven’t experienced the peace and quiet of a night or two outdoors, and not sure how to start, then this is the number one guide for you.
The essential gear you need:
- Good quality, water-proof tent
- Thermal sleeping bag, pillow, mattress or a swag
- Fold-out chair and table
- Cooking utensils and equipment
- Quality torch (not your phone torch!)
- Bug/mosquito repellent
- Fire equipment (matches, newspaper,
- Warm clothes
- Waterproof clothes
- Clothesline (zipline or rope)
- Sunscreen, hat
- Plenty of freshwater
- Hygeine kit – toothbrush and toiletries etc
Why Consider Camping?
The one thing that Australia has over any other country is easily accessible wild outback. Australia more than other countries has so many hidden gems of places to discover, connect and adventure in, it’s our playground and one of the things that makes Australia unique. In case that isn’t enough of a reason to try camping, here are some other obvious benefits:
- Camping is exhilarating – you are in touch with nature, it’s a sense of survival and adventure
- Camping is educational: No better way to learn about the outback is to dive right in. This one on one with nature will put textbooks and youtube to shame!
- Camping brings families together: Imagine sitting around the fire swapping stories and reflecting on the activities of the day. Without the conveniences of home, you are naturally brought closer together and connect at a deeper level
- Camping makes you more appreciative: Nature is so innate to the human soul. When you are immersed in nature, you cannot help but appreciate its beauty and reflect on its creation and happenings.
- Camping is affordable: In some cases 100% free! This is the most convincing reason, it’s not only all of the above, but ridiculously cheap (once you have your gear that is!)
Types of camping
Bush camping is usually free and gives you the opportunity to connect with nature. Many times bush camping means staying at a site with no facilities, so it’s roughing it. But there are fewer people, so your camping holiday is peaceful. You can also go on hikes, fish, go backpacking, biking and do other fun outdoor activities. Don’t forget your binoculars — you can get a glimpse of wildlife from a safe distance.
Camping at Caravan Parks
Caravan parks can range from just the basic facilities to extra luxury. They generally have powered and unpowered sites to park your caravan and set up camp. Some caravan parks offer only the basics, like toilets and showers. Others offer full camp kitchens and water parks. The cost of staying at caravan parks can vary but generally range from $15 to $35 AUD per night.
Camping on National Park Sites
If you are looking for a relaxing camping holiday where you can enjoy nature’s beauty, camping at a national park site is for you. It’s not expensive, and usually costs between $5 to $10 AUD a night, sometimes it’s even free. Here you can enjoy nature but still have some facilities like running water and toilets. You can also enjoy relaxing walks, nature watching and other relaxing but enjoyable activities.
Overnight Hiking Camping
This is essentially carrying all of your required gear, food and water in a large backpack and hiking to your destination. This option is more advanced and requires a more specific kit, and is a whole lot more work. As a trade off, you will be treated to the most spectacular experiences in nature and often all to yourself, without other loud campers and noisy motorbikes and cars. It’s just you and nature and a sense of achievement that no other form of camping can provide. Plan this type of camping carefully and seek advice from the national park and guides before embarking
Deciding What Gear You Need
The weather in Australia can vary greatly because of its size, so you can experience below freezing temperatures in southern Australia’s snowy mountains and extremely hot temperatures in the north and west.
The temperate zones have summer, winter, autumn and spring patterns that affect the grasslands and desert climate zones. The tropical north of the continent has wet and dry patterns that affect the tropical and sub-tropical zones. You want to consider what part of the continent you’ll be camping on and when to decide what to bring along.
Here are weather conditions by the months and seasons:
January through February — summer in the temperate zone and the wet season in the tropical zone.
March through May — autumn in the temperate zone, but March is the wet season in the tropical zone.
April through May starts the dry season in the tropical zone.
June through August — winter in the temperate zone and still dry in the tropical zone.
September through October — spring in the temperate zone.
November through December starts the transition from spring to summer in the temperate zone and the wet season in the tropical zone.
One must-have for camping is shelter, unless you’re camping alone in a tropical zone during the hot dry season, in which case a hammock may be all you need. However, if you’re on a family camping trip or staying in an area of the temperate zone during the cooler months, you’ll want to have a shelter. You can choose from a tent or a caravan to keep you warm and dry.
Tips for Choosing a Tent
This is the number one item if none else that you need to get right. Choosing the wrong size or type of tent can ruin your camping adventure, so you want to take tent-buying tips seriously.
Size: Don’t rely on the number of people a tent says it’ll sleep. Instead, use it as a guide only. If a tent says it sleeps four, you can squeeze that many people inside, but you won’t be comfortable or able to put gear in your tent with you. So, go a little larger for a family of four and choose a tent that states it sleeps six to ensure there’s enough room.
Material: Tents are made of different materials for use in colder and warmer climates. If you plan to camp in cold weather, such as in the snowy mountain areas, buy a winter tent made from thicker material. For mild weather camping, a three-season tent works well to protect you from heavy rains, winds and cool weather.
A decent quality tent can be quite expensive. If you are new to camping and not sure it is your cup of tea, you can try to rent one off from reshare.com.au. The easiest way to rent a tent is to download the app and start searching for one in your area. There are other that renting out their camping gears on the platform that you might want to have a look such as fishing gears, cast iron pan, portable gas cooker.
Other material considerations:
- Cotton or canvas tents are waterproof but do get heavy when wet. This material is also more durable than nylon.
- Nylon or polyester tents are waterproof but do check the seams to make sure they are sealed. This material weakens over time, especially when exposed to sunlight.
Flooring: The flooring should be durable enough to withstand traffic while keeping you, your family and your belongings dry. To ensure you have good flooring, you can buy a footprint, which is a piece of fabric or tarp specially made to protect the flooring of your tent. The footprint is placed under the tent.
Ventilation: Good ventilation is essential to reduce the amount of condensation in your tent. Condensation makes everything moist and uncomfortable, especially when an entire family is sleeping inside. Look for tents with well-placed vents and windows to help reduce moisture.
Weight: The tent’s weight is not really an issue unless you plan to carry it with you as you hike. If you’re planning to hike to your destination, find a lightweight but durable tent.
Price: When choosing a tent, try to go for quality and pay a little more if you can. Buying a cheap tent often costs you more in the long run, especially if you plan to use it a lot.
What should I do before I set off on the adventure?
Australia is such a diverse country and has a variety of options to explore, and camping is a great, cost-effective way to take it all in. Before you set off on your adventure however, it is essential to do your research. Some important factors to consider:
Determine your best time to go: Depending on the time of year, you might find some camping grounds either closed or way too busy. Be proactive by calling ahead or booking online so you have peace of mind.
Look up nearby towns and amenities:. Camping where there are nearby shops means you can pack lighter and buy the essentials if you need them. If you’re camping on your own for the first time, having a backup plan will make the experience easier.
Check out the facilities: If you are travelling with children or dogs, it is important to check that the campsite is child- and pet-friendly. Check if your campsite has on-site facilities, as well as access to clean drinking water and shade options – this will greatly influence what you pack, and what you don’t need to.
Read up on natural surroundings and weather conditions: Changing weather conditions at your destination affects what you bring along as well. While light rain is a minor inconvenience, knowing that you’re expecting it means you’ll bring along protective rainwear. Similarly, if the area you’re camping in could have natural elements that affect your holiday (such as poisonous plants or small critters), you may want to pad out your first-aid kit a bit.
What food should I take with me when camping?
Going camping equipped with a basic meal plan and as much of, if not all, the things you need is always a good idea and a great way to ensure you don’t go hungry.
For overnight hiking/camping: Portability is key, and a whole lot easier. Consider boxed or canned food or dehydrated food that requires little to no prep time, so that you can eat as soon as you finish up your hike and arrive at your destination.
For fixed campsite: The same requirements above apply, however, one of the best parts of camping is cooking your food over a fire, its quintessential. If you want to take the effort out of planning a nutritious meal, try portable outdoor meals. You will need a stove or cast-iron pot to cook things like a stew, curry or damper over coals, and the taste is worth it. Remember to pack snacks and drinks. Pack healthy snacks that require small amounts of storage space, such as dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, and muesli bars. In winter and cooler months, you’ll also be glad if you pack tea, coffee, hot chocolate and instant soups.
What clothing should I bring?
If there’s any chance of cool or chilly temperatures, be prepared. Layering is a good way to stay warm in cool weather, so you need to bring the following:
- Thermal underwear
- Wool socks
- Jumper or fleece
- Rain jacket
- Warm hat
- Gloves or mittens
When planning a camping trip, pack clothing suitable for the area where you’ll stay. Here are some suggestions:
- Moisture-wicking T-shirts and underwear
- Quick drying shorts and pants
- Sun hat
- Shoes for hiking
- Long sleeves to protect your skin
What cooking gear do I need?
The cooking gear you bring can vary based on your personal needs and tastes and whether you bring a gas stove or plan to cook over an open fire.
When cooking with a gas stove, consider packing the following items:
- Funnel for fuel
- Cook pots
- Dutch oven
- Pot grabbers
When cooking over an open fire don’t forget these items:
- Grill rack
- Matches and lighter
- Firewood (if allowed)
- Axe to cut wood
- Frying pan – cast iron pan or pot will be the best options
- Roasting sticks for wieners and marshmallows
Setting Up Your Campsite
The process of choosing a campsite and setting it up can vary based on your camping method.
- Start Unpacking:
- Unpack your tent first and start setting it up. A good site for your tent should:
- Be flat
- Be free of vegetation and rocks
- Be wind buffered
- Have good drainage
The process of setting up the tent itself can be tricky. Here are a few tips for setting up your tent.
- Lay a tarp down where you plan to place your tent to help keep the inside dry.
- Once the tent is set up, place a second tarp inside the tent for extra protection.
Camping Safety Tips
To ensure your camping holiday is a safe one, follow these camping safety tips.
Fire Concerns: A campfire can be hazardous if not handled properly. You don’t want the fire to spread or get away from you, so you should have someone watch the fire at all times. Here are some other fire safety tips:
Keep water nearby at all times: Use water when putting the fire out and make sure it is out before leaving the area of going to bed.
Cover the fire with soil to prevent embers from reigniting.
Keep the size of your campfire to a minimum at all times.
Campsite Setup: Make sure there are no rocks, glass or other debris in the area where you set your tent in order to prevent injury. Here are some other safety tips:
You should not place your tent in a low-lying area, but if you do, dig a trench around the area about three or four inches deep to detour water away from your tent.
Try not to place your tent under a tree. Falling limbs can be dangerous. If you must set up your tent under a tree, check the trees and find one that is not dead, decaying or dying.
Beware of animals in the area. Place rubbish, food and other food preparation items about 100 metres from your tent.
Look for animal tracks before setting up your tent. If there are tracks and it looks like a heavily treaded area, you may want to choose another spot.
Always carry a medical kit with you and make sure it has the essentials, like bandages and antibiotic ointments. If you’re going to away for a while, consider bringing some diarrhea medication and antibiotics.