A very simple Summer
Glamorous camping, or ‘glamping’, might be nice, but we think it’s time to get back to basics, starting with these simple camping tips.
Tucked into the salt-swept scrub of the New South Wales coast, a cluster of safari-style tents are mounted in a clearing of eucalypts. The tents’ wooden frames match the lustrous timber furniture inside, while sunlight filters through the canopy onto king- sized, bamboo bed sheets.
Some of the tents have outback spa baths, others offer wicker daybeds for kicking back with a glass of wine at dusk. Solar power, stone basins, fireplaces – these tents aren’t for camping, they’re for ‘glamping’, or ‘glamorous camping’.
Glamping sites such as Tanja Lagoon Camp in Tathra, NSW, and Nightfall Wilderness Camp in Lamington National Park, QLD, have cropped up all around Australia to supply high-end holiday goers a fancy slice of bush life. But without the gas cooker, the mosquito repellent and the uncooperative air mattress, is it really camping?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that modern society, with its love of creature comforts, has killed the old school road trip and the unique pleasure of ‘roughing it’.
But not just yet, because old- fashioned camping holidays are making a comeback.
Here are some tips to help you have your own very simple summer.
If it doesn’t fit, forget it.
There’s always room in the car for the blow-up deckchairs, volleyball net and collapsible, eco-friendly dishwasher, right? Actually, the mantra for an enjoyable holiday is ‘less is more’.
Not only does it reduce set-up and pack-down time, and the risk of losing something, but simplifying your baggage also encourages you to think creatively. Write a list of what you need and break it into: necessities, multi-purpose and luxuries.
Whatever fits in the necessities column – tents, shelter, lights, food, tools and security items – deserves to come. Things used to create ambiance like candelabras, rugs and cushions, stay at home.
Now this is the creative part: think of the equipment that can be used in more ways than one. For example, a storage tub can be used as a portable camp table and sink, a towel can double as a rug, and one cast iron pot can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The great outdoors.
This minimal packing approach should also be applied to recreational activities.
While you may want to hike, fish, surf, kayak and wakeboard over the one trip, unless you’re sponsored by Red Bull, you probably won’t have the time or resources to do them all.
Instead, assess your camping location and choose three outdoor activities that you are most likely to engage in.
If you’re camping riverside, research the fishing conditions and legislation before packing the rods. Similarly, beach campers should check the swell and weather forecasts before planning to surf, bodyboard or kayak at sea.
Fresh, wild air is the essence of camping, so make the most of it. Explore the camping area by taking daily walks, or set up the portable stovetop at different lookouts for picturesque inners.
The healing power of nature cannot be underestimated. Its soothing properties get a mention in the ancient histories of China, Persia and Greece. In recent times, nature has proven to reduce anxiety, depression and improve our mood.
Deakin University’s Professor Mardie Townsend and Ms Rona Weerasuriya have found that children who experience frequent contact with nature enjoy high levels of self-worth and cognitive function – a great incentive for your next trip.
Cut technology loose.
No wi-fi, no iPads, no laptops. Being present on your trip is essential to making REAL memories – not just those for posting on Instagram.
With the exception of a camera, there’s little point in camping with the technological traps of daily life. Some of us spend all week sitting in front of a computer, so why not ditch the sedentary behaviour and play some beach cricket with the kids?
The idea of a ‘digital detox’ – unplugging from technology for several days – has taken off around the world. Guests at St. Vincent and The Grenadines in the Caribbean are asked to ‘de-tech’ by handing in their devices at check-in, while Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles, California, offers a five per cent discount to diners who leave their phones at reception.
Leaving technology at home enriches the time spent with friends and family members, and creates more opportunities for traditional pastimes like board games, cards, Frisbee, or simple conversation.
Don’t let your work life infiltrate your leisure time. Switch off.
Take the road less travelled.
Instead of choosing the same destination as last time, pull out a map and look for places you’ve never visited but have always wanted to. Your next dream destination could be just one hour’s drive from the last place you stayed.
Also, it’s great to seek recommendations for camping, but be careful, one man’s paradise might be another’s nightmare.
Great family-friendly camping sites
Flat Rock Camping, New South Wales
Located between the famed surf spot Lennox Heads, and Ballina, Flat Rock campgrounds offer spacious, unpowered sites with rentable fire braziers, which are great for cooking.
Here, families can enjoy whale watching, surfing and snorkelling, or sailing and indoor rock climbing at nearby Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre. flatrockcamping.com.au
Camping with wombats is uniquely Australian. At Narawntapu National Park in Tasmania, campers share the Springlawn campgrounds with an abundance of wildlife.
As well as approachable wombats, you can watch pademelons and wallabies appear from surrounding bush at dusk. Springlawn offers fireplaces, horse riding and ranger-led activities. parks.tas.gov.au
Lizard Island, Queensland
Powdery-white sand, cyan water, coral and palms. Lizard Island in Tropical North Queensland is a national park of 24 beaches, a lagoon and stunning camping facilities as well as luxury accommodation. Apart from the walking tracks, fishing and snorkelling, Lizard Island offers very secluded camping that is suitable for families.