Whether it’s by choice or necessity, pitching your tent outside the boundaries of an official caravan or camping area can be a liberating adventure.
Yep, you miss out on some of the creature comforts of life, like showers and flushing toilets, but the pleasure of sitting around an embering campfire, glass of red in hand, discussing life and viewing the universe is pretty special.
But there are some simple rules you need to follow to ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of your bush camping experience.
The first rule is do your site selection research. Find out if you are on private property and, if so, seek permission to camp. If you’re on public land, you might have to pay a camping fee.
Crown land belongs to us all, but that doesn’t mean you can camp anywhere. State parks and wildlife services usually publish guides to accessible areas.
Camping in state forests is also a great choice because it is usually free.
Now, once you’re eyeing a site, look for these attributes. Tick them all off and your chances of a great experience are looking good.
Keep well away from roads or towns, it’s quieter and more private further away. It’s also darker out here away from noise pollution … all the better to see the brilliant night sky.
You’re going to need firewood, so either bring some with you or make sure there’s some readily available around the site you select.
Speaking of wood, don’t set up under dead tree limbs. They have a tendency to fall heavily to earth.
You want flat ground clear of rubble and plants. After all, it’s the nicest to sleep on. If you are on a slope, put your head at the top. Also look closely for bull-ant nests!
If there are dingoes about, don’t leave your boots outside your swag or tent when you go to bed… they have been known to make off with them.
Don’t sleep in dry creek beds … they may not stay dry all night if it starts raining on you or upstream.
Keep away from stock water and stock fencing. If you see windmills and troughs move on, you don’t want cows and sheep waking you up in the morning … by poking their heads in your door.
The same applies to animal or vehicle tracks. Don’t set up right next to them.
Wind protection is important. Flapping tents are hard to sleep in, especially when they blow down.
And here’s a couple for the morning after. Check to make sure your tent is clear of shade so the sun cooks off dew nice and early in the morning. There’s few things worse than being ready to hit the road and having to wrap up wet canvas.
And, please, make sure your fire is out before you depart.
So, all packed up and ready to go? Great, on to the next adventure.