No-one Does Camping Like Australia Does Camping by Lucie Fityus
As beautiful and scenic as the countries of the world are, nobody does camping like Australia does camping. Sure, some countries try, and some do a damn good job; but there’s no place like our sunburnt country.
In my experience, you really can’t beat an afternoon of fire building, setting up the swag, and chucking a can of Campbells’ Chunky Beef and Veg soup on the stove. Meanwhile the boys are under the bonnet with a Tac Torch, fixing some noise on the 89’ Hilux which didn’t like ploughing through that river crossing which was just a tad bit too high for not having a snorkel. But those steel bricks are bloody hard to kill (trust me, I’ve seen plenty try).
At least, this has been a staple of my trips so far as a young Aussie doing things on the cheap-as-possible. But of course, there are plenty of ways to get away, and if you have a little extra in the bank the swag could be a Kings Kwiky rooftop, the Chunky Soup could be a camp oven of veg roasting in the juices of a leg of pork and the ‘89 Lux could be a kitted out ’79. But for now, getting away is the bare basics because who has time to work when the weathers clear and the tank’s full?
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Another one of the best parts about Australia is that there’s something for everyone. You want to swim? Go to any coast anywhere or hit up Pilliga bore baths. You just want to drive endless roads of red dirt with some challenges thrown in? Tanami Track has what you need. Or do you just want to thrash your home-made sway bars and engine-swap job? Cape York has what you covered (just make sure at least one of the crew has a reliable winch).
Every state has its golden feature. Most, if not all, have more than one. Western Australia has amazed me with its sheer vastness, especially its most northern parts. Towns like Broome and South Headland where red dirt meets the sea are still stalled twenty years in the past yet embrace travellers with a warm and friendly welcome. The beaches though, are no more than a flat pool with the occasional jellyfish underfoot. But with a nightly fire going and a swag on the sand, it felt like something you’d pay a million bucks for. It was the easiest sleep of my life laying there and watching the sun set over the ocean (not something you see every day in NSW) and the gradual exposure of the stars.
Or there is the unforgettable – and quite unforgiving Northern Territory. Where extra jerry cans is a do or die. On a trip long past, the Rabbit Flat Roadhouse was the only fuel available for a couple of days (at nearly three bucks a litre) but it was the pies and snacks you be really keen for.
The Tanami track is 1035km of the barest Australia where you will go nearly 600km between fueling stops and runs between Alice Springs NT to Halls Creek WA. I remember how it would just be hours on hours of watching pure nothingness. The road is mostly straight as a pin and would stretch as far as you could see. Occasionally (maybe once an hour) you’d pass another vehicle and give a wave and a small part of you would feel a little better because if the Lux was to break down in the middle of nowhere and you’d be stranded you’d have seen a fellow person before you inevitably died of starvation, and they could tell the police where to retrieve the body.
I feel lucky to have been born here, to have been raised as a camper and traveler ever since I was born, and to have been around the country. Yet for as wide and far as I’ve been, I still feel as if I have so much more to see. Australia is a never-ending place and a lifetime won’t be enough to cover the miles it has to offer. But I promise myself that I’ll give it my best shake.
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