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& 4WD ADVENTURES October – November 2014 Issue 93 Aus $6.95 NZ $8.95

OUTBACK – Painted Desert, SA THRILLS – Skydiving Rainbow Beach, QLD PLAY – Brooyar State Forest, QLD HISTORY – Kurth Kiln, VIC ADVENTURE – Ussher Point, QLD RELAX – Mudgee, NSW EXPLORE – Dunsborough & Busselton, WA SOLO – A winter fishing trip, SA & NSW

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Outback Queensland Travellers’ Guide

Outback Queensland Travellers’ Guide - the must-have holiday companion when visiting the Outback Queensland region. Step into a world full of contrast, colour and awe-inspiring diversity. Queensland’s Outback has it all. Discover the majestic natural landscape of the Channel Country in the south west, the heritage-rich Matilda Country of the central west and the ancient lands of the Dinosaur, Fossil and Mining Country in the north west. And it’s all right here in your own backyard!

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CON TENTS

4 FROM THE EDITOR ‘Avin’ a Go’ By Andrea Ferris

6 NEWS, VIEWS & EVENTS 8 WEEKEND ESCAPES SYDNEY We’ve taken the hassle out of planning a weekend getaway from Sydney. By Siân Edwards, Sanchana Venkatesh and Damian Antonio

22 FEATURE

Seven Days in Somerset Real country, real adventure and really close to Brisbane. By Andrea Ferris

30 Busselton

A jewel hidden beneath the Margaret River cloak. By Therese Sayers

34 Ussher Point

4WDing one of Cape York’s hidden wonders. By Phil Stickley

12 Jump your Campsite

Dropping into a Rainbow Beach campsite – literally! By Cathy Finch

38 Brooyar State Forest Lookouts, rock climbing, 4WD tracks and camping near Gympie, Qld. By Danielle Lancaster

16 Bite Away®

40 Not a Bite

Don’t let bugs and bites ruin your summer fun.

18 Saddling up at Kurth Kiln

Kurth Kiln Regional Park – walks, wildlife and history close to Melbourne. By Miriam Blaker

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A solo winter fishing trip yields nothing but steak for dinner. By Kevin Leslie

44 No Time to Rest Bob Sproston – camper trailer inventor and enthusiast. By Matthew MacDermott 46 TEST

Just hangin' around No ‘banana back’ with the new Maverick Hammock Swag. By Andrea Ferris

48 Paint the Desert South Australia’s palette of desert hues. By Jill Harrison 52 Magnificent Mudgee Just add wine to slip into Mudgee time. By Julie Ihle 56 The Ultimate Journey An expedition to Deua National Park, NSW. By Claudia Bouma


59 HOW TO

74 PROFILE

62 HOW TO

76 BUSHCRAFT

Happy (hire) Campers Try before you buy. The options for camping gear hire. By Carrol Baker Portable Solar Power How to keep your devices on the go off the grid. By Gary Tischer

66 TENT REVIEW

The Aria air pole tent from Outdoor Connection After testing the Aria 1 air pole tent I am no longer a sceptic. By Gary Tischer

70 CAMPER TRAILER REVIEW

Complete Campsite Exodus 14 For civilised living far from civilisation. By Carrol Baker

Blue the Shearer Meet bush poet Blue the Shearer, better known as Col Wilson. By Michele Tydd Practical Knife Skills Make a pot hanger. By Blake Muir

78 GET OFF ROAD WITH PHIL Bogged and how to get free Phil shares his thoughts and tips on how to get out of a sticky situation. By Phil Bianchi

80 DINE

Something different – side dishes By Julie Bishop and Regina Jones

82 GEAR TO GO

Top new gear The pick of new gear, gadgets, guides and gizmos for campers. Compiled by Andrea Ferris

87 PHOTOSMART Fix my Photo By Danielle Lancaster

88 SUBSCRIBE AND WIN

Subscribe or renew your Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures subscription and receive a FREE entry to WIN a portable solar power package worth over $900.

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Words: Andrea Ferris

‘AVIN’ A GO

M

any may envy the life of an editor of a camping magazine. Do you envisage being paid to be on holidays? Tapping away at the keyboard from exotic camping locations? Well I’m here to tell you it ‘aint so. While I certainly do have more than the average fair share of camping experiences, mostly I’m stuck in the office, staring at a paling fence, diligently editing other people’s tales of adventure and losing sleep over deadlines. Like many others, I too hanker after a tree change; a mid-life-crisis-inspired one-eighty change of circumstance; a bright idea and a shot of inspiration to light the dormant flames of enthusiasm. Personally, I’m yet to experience a ‘light bulb moment’, however, since the last issue of Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures I’ve been inspired by many who did and are ‘having a go’. Head to the Gear to Go section in this issue. Jen Daniels wanted a better towel, so she set about sourcing lovely microfibre and founded

wovii. Vince Toonen from Motivating Ideas found the Mealspec Flameless Meal Heater, made in the US, and was so excited about its potential that he’s importing and madly marketing this amazing product throughout Oz. Then there’s Jeff Maverick; motorbike adventure rider and inventor of the innovative Maverick Hammock Swag. Wait, there’s more! On our seven days in Somerset (page 22) TOH and I met Terry, throwing her lot into the Cormorant Bay Café after 30 years in the public service, and Wayne and Wendy, rebuilding the Atkinson Dam Holiday Park basically brick by brick. Then there’s Cam, so passionate about his stone house he’s turned it into a retreat, and Mark and Louise carving a business around their loveable llamas. Even if you’re not ready or willing to ‘ave a go’ yourself, when you’re looking for a gift, or a bit of new kit, or just being a tourist, seek out those that have put their heart (and wallet) on the line and share the love. Happy camping. 

Andrea Ferris, Editor andrea@vinkpub.com www.gocampingaustralia.com.au Image: Megan Willis Photography

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& 4WD ADVENTURES Publisher Michael Vink

Now you don’t have to wait weeks for the next edition of Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures to get the latest camping news, stories and offers from around Australia. Head to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/ GoCampingAustralia and join the camping community.

Contributors Damian Antonio

Julie Ihle

Carrol Baker

Danielle Lancaster

Phil Bianchi

Kevin Leslie

Julie Bishop & Regina Jones

Matthew MacDermott

Advertising Manager

Miriam Blaker

Blake Muir

Georgina Chapman T: (07) 3334 8007 E: georgina@vinkpub.com

Claudia Bouma

Therese Sayers

Siân Edwards

Phil Stickley

Production Team Matt Limmer, Jonathan Nevin and Karen Belik

Andrea Ferris

Gary Tischer

Cathy Finch

Michele Tydd

Jill Harrison

Sanchana Venkatesh

Editor Andrea Ferris E: andrea@vinkpub.com

FRONT COVER: A bit of 4WDing at Landcruiser Mountain Park in the Somerset region, QLD – despite having boats and bikes on board. Photo courtesy of: Andrea Ferris Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures is distributed through newsagents and camping stores across Australia. Recommended retail price A$6.95. Annual subscription A$33 includes postage within Australia and GST. Distribution by Gordon and Gotch. Editorial and photographic contributions welcomed. Disks, transparencies and self-addressed stamped envelopes are required. The publisher takes no responsibility for the views expressed in articles or advertisements herein. The publisher could not possibly ensure that each advertisement published in the magazine complies with the Trade Practices Act. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publisher cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Print Post approval No. 100000936.

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News, Views & Events Congratulations! The lucky winner of our Ultimate Camping Package valued at over $25,584 was Gary Bohmer from Aberfeldie in Victoria who said: ‘It feels like Christmas opening the boxes! It all sure fills up my garage and it’s sped up the plan to buy a four-wheel drive now that I’ve retired.’ Gary won a fabulous package of camping and adventure gear including a Quickboat valued at $5140, a Yeti solar charger from Goal Zero valued at $2200 and a Honda generator valued at $1899. Congratulations Gary, and enjoy your subscription to Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures!

COMMEMORATING IOO YEARS OF ANZAC SPIRIT

Camp Gallipoli Camp Gallipoli will bring families and communities together in celebration the centenary of the landings at ANZAC Cove in April 2015. At camps set up in each major city on sites with links to Gallipoli, WWI and other theatres of war, families can sleep under the stars in swags, like the soldiers did, and pay tribute to the memory of the soldiers with various entertainment. Tickets go on sale on 20 October 2014 via Ticketek. www.campgallipoli.com.au Proceeds go to the RSL and Legacy. New water park for BIG4 South West Rocks BIG4 Sunshine South West Rocks Holiday Park is installing a castaway-themed water park that will feature a wrecked ‘tall ship’ partially submerged in a lagoon-style pool, a rock waterfall, two crows’ nests; one that is a tipping bucket and the other the kids can climb the rigging to get up to, and of course an array of slides.

Roothy now testing for Opposite Lock Well-known four-wheel-drive expert, John ‘Roothy’ Rooth, is Opposite Lock’s new product track tester. As Australia's foremost 4WD authority, Roothy tested Opposite Lock’s new suspension prior to a family trip through Cape York and outback Queensland. After completing a gruelling 6400 km trip through the Cape on corrugated peak season tracks with several excursions into the bush, he came away completely impressed. www.oppositelock.com.au

A former movie set builder was actually consulted on the project to make sure the water park and pirate ship look as real as possible. For more details visit www.big4.com.au

New Cooper Basin Medivac Service For the first time, a night-vision equipped helicopter has begun operating in the Cooper Basin, in the heart of Australia’s outback. The Cooper Medivac 24 helicopter, funded by Senex Energy and Drillsearch Energy, is a vital link that saves time delivering critically-ill patients to the Royal Flying Doctor Service at the nearest available airstrip.

QLD October 9–1 – Opera in the Outback – Undara Experience – Gulf Savannah Opera in the Outback, in the stunningly beautiful outdoor Orramin Place amphitheatre, will give visitors a musical experience they will never forget. The tall eucalypt trees and the exposed granite rocks add to the acoustics where on Thursday night music lovers will enjoy Theatre under the Stars showcasing the best songs from Broadway and The West End. Friday is the Celebration Opera Gala, a compilation of operas over two acts, and Saturday features a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata by Opera Bites. Camping available on site. www.undara.com.au

The service complements the RFDS and was developed in consultation with the aeromedical service. In an emergency, the first call should be made to the RFDS, who can call on the Cooper Medivac 24 if necessary.

NSW 3–27 October – Warrumbungle Festival of the Stars – Coonabarabran A fantastic range of arts and astronomy activities celebrating the uniqueness of the Warrumbungle Community. QLD October 4–5 – Australian Camp Oven Festival – Millmerran A diverse range of heritage-inspired activities such as bush poetry, arts, crafts, shearing demonstrations, damper throwing competitions and of course – camp oven cooking! Camping on site at the showground. www.acof.com.au 6 |

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VIC 24 October–4 November – Mansfield High Country Festival – Mansfield The 30th annual High Country Festival comprises a diverse variety of events ranging from art exhibitions, to unique and quirky community events and of course, horses. www.highcountryfestival.com.au

NSW 10–12 October – Balranald’s 5 Rivers Outback Festival – Balranald Celebrating all that’s wonderful about living in an outback community surrounded by five rivers. Live music, 4WD Muster Outback Adventure, poet’s breakfast, Yanga National Park tour, wood cutting, shearing, exhibitions. www.5riversoutbackfestival.com.au


VIEWS… Searching for SA I recently subscribed to Go Camping Australia & 4WD Adventures. A few reasons; we’ve just had a baby and I’d like to encourage an appreciation of nature, but my family wasn’t big on camping, so was hoping for some inspiration. We recently purchased a caravan, but were also happy tenting it and, like many subscribers, we have a 4WD. There are some fantastic suggestions and articles and I’m looking forward to exploring, but I was wondering why there wasn’t much on South Australia (which is where we live)? Sophia S (A good question Sophia. Our 2013 reader survey showed that by far the majority of readers come from the eastern states with the ranking being QLD, NSW, VIC the top three. We try to have a spread of stories from across the country, but tend to weight the content towards these states. Another reason is a seeming lack of freelance travel writers in SA! So, if you live in SA, are interested in writing about camping in your state, contact the editor. Ed.)

WA 30 October – 2 November – ANZAC Albany Albany is the curtain raiser for the commemorative event program of activities marking the Anzac Centenary. www.anzacalbany.com.au

Fingers Crossed across Australia – Grey Nomad Tales by Lorraine Wise This is a warts and all account of eight years of travel by a couple of grey nomads, Mike and Lorraine Wise. As a result of breast cancer and facing an uncertain future, Lorraine and Mike retired early and became intrepid travellers. Although things went right most of the time, they did have some setbacks that made life more interesting. RRP $30.00 + $4.00 post and packaging. www.milowise.com

Ranger Nick – Boy from the Bush Camp oven cooking expert and all-round entertainer, Ranger Nick, has just released his first book containing a collection of his favourite camp oven recipes, humorous bush tales and real life events that led him to these simple, yummy and hearty meals. Nick dedicated the book to his parents and included his father’s favourite quote on the cover: ‘You should be walking with me when I am walking by myself’. Readers of this unique book will be in for a treat; written in Ranger Nick’s own colloquial style, it’s entertaining, informative and a must-have companion for any camp oven cook. More than just an ordinary cook book ‘Ranger Nick – Boy from the Bush’ is a recipe book with a twist and a great addition to any outdoor kitchen. RRP $29.50 www.rangernick.com.au

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Weekend Camp Bents Basin State Conservation Area

Words: Siân Edwards

A hidden gem within an hour’s drive of Sydney, Bents Basin State Conservation Area has everything you need for a rural weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Saturday 8.00 am – Say farewell to Sydney and take the M4 motorway for 35 km west. Take the Mamre Road exit at St Clair passing the historic Mamre House Homestead before turning right onto Luddenham Road. 9.00 am – Follow the winding road for about 15 km to the small township of Luddenham, which dates back to the 1800s. Here you can stop for brunch at the cosy Luddenham Village Café (the Breakfast of Champions should keep you full for the whole day!) and see the town’s historic church, before continuing on to Sydney’s oldest continuously operating winery, Vicarys Winery (www.vicaryswinery.com.au). 11 am – Operating since 1923, wander the grounds on The Northern Road to view the original farmhouse, circa 1860, before enjoying wine tastings in the cellar door while the kids ride the Thomas the Tank train at The Train Shed (www.thetrainshed.com.au). Tickets are $6.00 each or six for $30.00. Unlimited ride passes are also available for $35 per child per day. A craft market is held here on the second Sunday of every month including free entry and wine tastings if you prefer to drop by on your way home. 12.30 pm – Free picnic tables and BBQs are onsite for lunch or choose to head straight for your final destination, which is just under 30 minutes away. Continue on The Northern Road until you reach Dwyer Road and turn right. Take another right onto Greendale Road and then left onto Wolstenholme Avenue to the southern entrance of Bents Basin State Conservation Area. Follow the signs to the camping grounds. 1 pm – You’ve made it! Take your pick of campsites amongst the many weekend campers (tents, caravans and trailers are welcome). Extremely popular during peak season, bookings are essential. Camping fees ($14.00 per adult, $7.00 per child per night in peak season) plus a $7 per vehicle per day fee apply. You can also hire the full camp kitchen and shelter for $55 each per day. Contact the Nattai Area office on 02 4774 6800 for further information. Once you’re set up, relax by the camp kitchen, enjoy a picnic, go fishing or swim in the deep waterhole. If you’re feeling more adventurous, head for the northern entrance off Bents Basin Road, only a five minute drive away, and walk the Caleys Lookout Track, which is a short (but 8 |

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Bents Basin watering hole is perfect for kayaks, boats and swimming. Photo: OEH

steep) walk to a lookout over the Nepean River and surrounds. Sunday options – Take it easy today, there’s no rush when you’re not far from home. A place not to miss while you’re in the area is the Warragamba Dam in nearby Wallacia. Taken from the Aboriginal words Warra and Gamba, meaning water running over rocks, it is the home of Sydney’s largest water supply dam. Enjoy the interactive exhibitions found inside the new visitors centre while you get your bearings of this major piece of engineering infrastructure, or take a self-guided tour around the dam grounds. Soak in the views from three main lookouts including nearby Eighteenth Street Lookout that provides the best view of the height of the dam wall. For more information visit: www.sca.nsw.gov.au If you feel like a proper feed, head to local favourite Jagerstubn Restaurant a t H u b e r t u s C o u n t r y C l u b ( w w w. huber tuscount r yclub.com). The restaurant opens from midday and serves enormous plates of German staples such as schnitzel and pork knuckle with large steins of beer and has a great grassed area for the children to run about. When you’re ready, say goodbye to the quiet country roads and head back to civilisation via the M4 motorway and home. Alternative route: If you want to get home quicker, follow The Northern Road in the opposite direction towards Campbelltown and join the Hume Highway and then M5 back to Sydney. 

Bents Basin Camping Trip Distance from Sydney: 72 km one-way Travel time (without stops): Just over an hour Things to do: Hiking, walking, nature spotting, swimming, photography, fishing and picnicking Pets: No Camping: Tents, car, trailer, caravan Facilities: BBQ, camp kitchen, picnic tables, flush toilets, water, power, hot showers, playground, swimming hole Mobile phone coverage: Yes Campsite bookings: www.npws.nsw.gov.au or 02 4774 6800 Activity information: Check www.npws.nsw.gov.au for Discovery Tours and camping news. Fishing licences are required. What to bring: Swimmers and towels, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, camera, insect repellent, warm clothes for at night, BYO firewood


ping Guides

Two-day hassle free trip plans to all points out of Sydney.

Jervis Bay: Booderee National Park and surrounds Jervis Bay, on the south coast of New South Wales, is an idyllic location for a weekend getaway, or a longer holiday if you have the time. Only three hours from Sydney along the Princes Highway, the drive itself is quite scenic. To make the most of the weekend, it’s best to make an early start. B o o d e re e N a t i o n a l Pa r k ( w w w. parksaustralia.gov.au) is home to three camping grounds and a fair few beaches. Green Patch and Cave Beach campgrounds are popular with families and small groups, while Bristol Point is the favoured spot if you are in a large group. Fitting into the latter category, we booked a site at Bristol Point because the site is only a few metres from the beach and a 50-metre walk from the car. It is a great spot for those that love the beach. We spent the first afternoon swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and just soaking up the sun. The evening was a lot more relaxed around the campsite enjoying a few drinks, food and the fire. There is a designated fireplace for each site and wood is easily available. Around sunset, it is not uncommon to get a few ‘visitors’ in the form of wallabies and kangaroos, as well as the occasional possum wanting to steal your food! There is a lot to do around Booderee National Park, including short day hikes or a visit to the botanic gardens. We were fortunate to have the time to fit in three hikes and a visit to the gardens over the two days. It is possible to walk from Bristol Point to Green Patch during low tide across rocky platforms, but be prepared to swim if the tide isn’t low. We did and it was a whole lot of fun! Additionally, we completed a loop-walk near Murrays Beach, which took about two hours. Another beautiful walk is near Steamers Beach. Initially, we intended to explore St Georges Headland, which is an 11-kilometre walk. However, we only completed part of it and returned due to a twisted ankle experienced by one of our group. The entire circuit is approximately five hours or about three if you return from St Georges Head. The panoramic views are spectacular with the blue hues of the ocean mesmerising any hiker. While the beaches of Jervis Bay are popular, and therefore crowded, in the warm seasons, you can get away from the crowds on a hike. The Booderee Botanic Gardens are a great place if you want to walk at a leisurely pace and have children along. They are the only Aboriginal-

Words and images: Sanchana Venkatesh

Steamers Beach.

owned botanic gardens in Australia. There are well-formed paths through rainforest and forest areas. In total, it is about a four-kilometre loop walk around the gardens and can take about an hour to complete. If you are in the mood for a picnic, it is certainly a beautiful spot to enjoy some lunch. Guided walks are available, but only on certain days and require bookings. Booderee National Park is not all that Jervis Bay has to offer. It is also home to the beach with the whitest sand in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are visiting the area, you wouldn’t want to miss Hyams Beach and spend time swimming, snorkelling or just walking along the whitest sands you can imagine. It is only a few kilometres from the national park. Personally, I think we are fortunate to have this gem just a few hours outside of Sydney. A

place to rest, relax and recuperate without having to fly or spend a lot of money. Just make sure to book early because in the warmer weather it is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. 

Jervis Bay Camping Trip Distance from Sydney CBD: 3 hours approximately via the Princes Highway and Jervis Bay Road Things to do: Hiking, camping, swimming, bird watching Fees: Yes Mobile phone coverage: Good coverage at campsites Camping: Bristol Point (tent only), Green Patch (tent, caravan, campervan), Cave Beach (tent only) Facilities: Fresh water, toilets, hot showers (Bristol Point and Green Patch), cold showers (Cave Beach), wood fireplaces (Bristol Point and Cave Beach), sheltered BBQ (Green Patch and Cave Beach) Campsite bookings: Sites need to be booked in advance by calling 02 4443 0977 or emailing booderee.mail@environment.gov.au

Booderee Botanic Gardens.

What to bring: Swimmers, sunscreen, camera, binoculars (for birdwatchers), good hiking shoes, sturdy hiking pack, a sense of adventure and fun

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Royal National Park

Words and images: Siân Edwards

Located less than 30 km south of the Sydney CBD, the Royal National Park is the perfect place for young families visiting the beaches and anglers on the hunt for their next catch. 9.00 am – No need for an early start this morning, just load the car and head south on the M1 Motorway. Follow the signs for Wollongong and take the Princes Highway for 30 minutes to Farnell Avenue in Loftus. This is the entry point to the heritage-listed Royal National Park, the second oldest in the world. 10.00 am – Follow the winding road through an Australian bush corridor until the Audley Weir crossing and reach the Royal National Park Visitors Centre on the right. Here you can enjoy brunch at the Weir Cafe, part of the refurbished Audley Dancehall (www. audleydancehall.com.au) or set up your own picnic overlooking the Hacking River. The tourist information office is located in the bottom level of the centre where you can drop in to make a campsite booking, pick up a map or speak to the knowledgeable guides about the best hiking trails, beaches and fishing spots in the 16,000 ha park. The centre is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, except Christmas Day. 11.00 am – If you’re feeling like a bit of fun, don’t miss a visit to the Audley Boatshed (www. audleyboatshed.com) established in 1893 and located just across the river. Join the crowds rowing boats or paddling canoes ($45 day hire or $20 per hour minimum) along Kangaroo Creek. The kids will love racing each other on an aqua bike ($15 per 30 minutes). 12.30 pm – When you’re exhausted, jump back in the car and continue along Lady Carrington Drive towards Sir Bertram Stevens Drive for another 20 km until you reach the Bonnie Vale Campground entrance located on Seabreeze Lane, just off Bundeena Drive. Vehicle entry fees are $11 per vehicle per day. 1.00 pm – Bonnie Vale Campground is the perfect place to set up camp within the Bundeena precinct of the Royal National Park. The largest campground in the park, you’ll find it situated between a large sand spit and the Basin River – a popular choice for families and fishermen alike. It’s suitable for tents, car and caravan camping with flush toilets and hot showers. Sites are unpowered. Note: prepaid bookings are essential and can be made in person at the Royal National Park Visitor Centre, online at www. nationalparks.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300 PARKS (1300 072 757). A site will set you back $28 per night (for two people) and then $14/$7 per additional adult/child respectively. Kids under four are free. 2.00 pm – From here you are free to do as you please; wander the grounds, walk the trails, swim at the beach, hire a paddle board or kayak (www.bundeenakayaks.com.au), fish in the nearby river or just relax in your camping home away from home. 10 |

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Kayak the Bundeena Basin where the sea meets the river.

Sunday – Wake up to native birds singing and the gentle sound of the water lapping at the edge of the beach. Use one on the onsite BBQs to cook up breakfast or walk around the water’s edge to the sleepy town of Bundeena for a relaxing brunch at one of the cafes. You have all day to enjoy before packing up and heading home, an easy hour away. Alternate camping option – If you’re looking for more adventure, why not try the 26 km Coast Track that starts at Beachcomber Avenue and runs from Bundeena to Otford? Keen walkers can make the trail in a single day, but most break it up with an overnight stopover in the camping ground at North Era, which is only accessible by foot. You will need to carry all your supplies or you can drive to Garie Beach and walk 3 km there ($5 for adults/$3 for children per night). The track is one of the most popular walks, particularly during whale watching season (June – November), for its breathtaking views along the coast. For the latest sightings visit www.wildaboutwhales.com.au.  Row a boat at Audley Weir.

Royal National Park Camping Trip Distance from Sydney: 56 km one-way to Bundeena (33 km to entrance of Royal National Park) Travel time (without stops): Just over an hour Things to do: Hiking, walking, nature spotting, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, photography, fishing and picnicking Pets: No Camping: Tents, car, trailer, caravan Facilities: BBQ, picnic tables, flush toilets, water, hot showers, playground, beach, river Mobile phone coverage: Yes Campsite bookings: www.npws.nsw.gov.au or 1300 072 757 Activity information: Check www.npws.nsw.gov.au for Discovery Tours and camping news. Fishing licences are required. Wood fire and fuel BBQs are prohibited. What to bring: Swimmers and towels, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, camera, binoculars, insect repellent, warm clothes for at night


Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains

Words and images: Damian Antonio

Sometimes the simple things in life are the best, and that rule certainly applies to Ingar Campground in the Blue Mountains National Park. Surrounded by the best bushwalking in NSW, this idyllic spot makes for the perfect weekend away. Since Ingar Campground is run on a firstcome-first-served basis, it’s best to get the jump on other campers by starting early. Hop on the M4 at about 7.30 am and you could be setting up camp by 9.00 am. If you want to break the trip up a little, stop for brekkie along the way. Historic Springwood is the easy option with a number of good cafés. Alternatively, be a little more adventurous and take a slight detour to Lindsay’s Café in Faulconbridge. As part of the Norman Lindsay Gallery, situated in a beautiful bushland setting, you can enjoy a coffee as much as the fantastic works of art by one of Australia’s great artists. From Springwood it’s another 40 minutes to Ingar Campground, the last nine kilometres of which includes a fairly bumpy and steep drive along Ingar Fire Trail. This should be fine for normal vehicles in dry conditions, but four-wheel drive may be necessary if it’s wet. At the end of the trail, the dense bushland of scribbly gums give the campground a wild feel, but the magic of the place truly comes alive with the captivating waterhole on Ingar Creek. Complete with a cascading waterfall over a rocky cliff, lush green reeds around the perimeter, and a couple of rope swings for the kids, this oasis is visually stunning. After settling in to your site, whether it’s prime waterfront property or a more private bushland spot up the back, it’s time to decide what to do with the rest of the day. Given the beauty of the place, no one would begrudge you spending the afternoon floating on a Li-lo with drink in hand. If you want to work up a little sweat, however, there are plenty of walks and mountain biking trails nearby. That evening, be sure to take advantage of Ingar’s other jewel: the fire pits located in each of the sites. There aren’t too many places in the mountains where you can still build a fire, so don’t miss this opportunity to roast marshmallows and chat around the flames. It’s BYO firewood and always use safe campfire practices. The next morning, be sure to get the day started right with a revitalising swim and a hearty bush breakfast. Then, once you’ve packed up camp, it’s time to put on your walking shoes. You could explore the various trails around the campground, but with Wentworth Falls – arguably the best bushwalking in the mountains – just around the corner, you’re better off jumping in the car and heading back out to Tableland Road. Turn into Chester Road; at the end is a walking trail that leads to the edge of the Kings Tableland plateau with great viewing areas of the vast Valley of the Waters, the magnificent Wentworth Falls, and the dramatic cliff lines on the opposite side

The magnificent Wentworth Falls and its natural pools.

of the valley. If you haven’t done enough bathing in heavenly waterholes already, trek down to the base of the falls to bask in the natural pools while soaking up the spectacular scenery. By the time you’ve completed the steep hike back up to the car, you’ll probably be famished. Katoomba, the heart of the Blue Mountains, offers a range of great lunch spots and is only ten minutes along the Great Western Highway. It also offers an abundance of post-lunch walks. If you’ve done enough walking, head to the Scenic Skyway at Scenic World – because there’s no better way to end a relaxing weekend than by floating through the sky 270 metres above the earth. 

Wentworth Falls Camping Trip Distance from Parramatta: 83 km Travel time: 1 hr 15 min Things to do: Bushwalking, mountain biking, bird watching, swimming Fees: Nil Pets: Not allowed Camping: Tents. Sites not suitable for large camper trailers or caravans. Mobile phone coverage: No Facilities: Picnic tables, pit toilets, swimming holes, wood fire pits (BYO firewood) Campsite bookings: Not available Activity information: NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au)

A typical campsite at Ingar Campground.

What to bring: Drinking water (alternatively treat/boil water from dam), insect repellent, clothes for all weather, firewood, Li-lo, walking shoes, hat, camera

GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

| 11


Jump

Your Campsite Words and images: Cathy Finch

If you’re looking at ways to keep your teenager keen on camping with the family, head to Rainbow Beach in Queensland and drop into your coastal holiday from white-knuckle heights.

12 | G O

CA MPING AUSTR A LI A


From left to right: Skydive Rainbow Beach.  Mother and daughter prepare to take the plunge.  Inskip Point fishing.

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here are four of us huddled together on the scratchy grey carpet floor of the tiny, canary-yellow aeroplane. We are sitting backwards from the pilot, who doesn’t look old enough to shave. Outside our little windows some of the country’s most spectacular scenery is sprawled below. Inside, we poke tongues and pull silly poses for the camera; images, my second daughter on the ground suggests, that will be used by the media if by chance we don’t return. At one thousand feet I can see the sweeping expanse of coloured sand cliffs along Rainbow Beach extending all the way to Double Island Point. Back the other way, I follow the coastline around to Inskip Point. There’s a light-blue channel of ocean and then the green and white expanse of Fraser Island, running all the way into the misty distance. It feels queasily high. Worse, if you know you are about to jump into that open void of air from the aeroplane floor, dropping like a boulder, before reconnecting with solid ground. I check my instructor’s altimeter glowing large on his wrist to realise incredulously, there’s still another 9000 feet to climb. Loud laughs and jokes continue, a tell-tale sign of an electric mix of adrenalin and nerves within the cockpit.

I start to recite all of life’s lame skydiving jokes in my head. ‘What’s the difference between golf and skydiving?’ an over-excited voice shrieks. ‘In golf, they go WHACK ‘Uh-oh!’, in skydiving, they go ‘Uh-oh!’…WHACK! (Insert evil cackle.) Actually, this did all start out as a joke really. My 14-year-old daughter came home from high school one day and announced she would like to skydive for her fifteenth birthday present. I rolled my eyes in sarcasm and brought to her attention just what a small, ill-fated visit to a mere swing set in the local park has brought upon us on occasion. ‘We’re going camping,’ I announce. Rainbow Beach offers superb camping options for those seeking a coastal adventure. Located east of Gympie on Queensland’s Fraser Coast, the Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area provides a perfect spot to pitch a tent, just eight kilometres north of Rainbow Beach township. Outside campers’ front door is a remarkable stretch of beach lined with towering cliffs of coloured sands, accessed by four-wheel drive, and rated high on the recommended lists for fishermen and beachcombers. It also happens to be a scenic haven to skydivers, paragliders and hang gliders. Secretly

I begin to love the idea of hanging out with my teenage daughter, pitching a tent, frolicking in the sun and sand and throwing ourselves out of an aeroplane. A life experience sounds way more attractive than having to trawl around a shopping centre to purchase birthday clothes that will knowingly be discarded in a month or two. With Inskip Point now open as a skydiving drop zone, I will be the hippest mum around if I can ‘drop’ (so to speak) my daughter into her camping weekend. And so here we are. We have gone through the motions on the ground. Richard, my daughter’s tandem instructor from Quebec, Canada, who comes to Rainbow Beach every year for summer jumping, chats merrily to her in his sexy French accent. ‘In the aeroplane we are gonna get real close. Yeaahhh. I’m gonna clip us up together nice and tight and then move to the edge of the door opening. I stick my leg out first to have a bit of a look and then I will yell “legs out”. That’s your cue. Lean back on me, there’s not much room, put your feet out, one leg at a time, so that you are basically sitting on the edge with your feet dangling in the breeze. I push us forward a little bit, you grab your harness, cross arms, head back and I’ll push us out.’

Jump into your Beach Party or Campsite at:

Inskip Point 07 5448 8877 Web: www.skydiveforfun.com.au Double Island Point Phone: Ph: 0418 218 358 rainbow@skydiveforfun.com.au GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

| 13


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Where to camp Rainbow Beach Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area is opposite Toompine Kingaro Chinchilla Cooroy NOOSA H Jandowae y the southern tipWofyaFraser Island, at the entrance ndra EADS Sky high activities Nanango Co Tartulla Nambour meCan burn Bay. Once in Rainbow Beach, Surat toHu Tin n Ya M rr AROOCH Co am d ndam an Bell ine aam Get your knees in the breeze and get bird’sin Glenm ga turn north into Clarkson Drive and at the first CALOU N YDORE e Kilcoy n Taraviews over eye view of the M amazingorcoastal DRA Bribie Is ea ndarra roundabout turn right into Inskip Avenue. Drive Dalby Crows Bongareeland Fraser Island and Inskip Point with Skydive Nest nevor 10 km before reaching the recreation area Esk Cape M Kum wns Cunnamulla Lake Wiv Cabooltu Rainbow Beach. Choose your altitude, Cecil Plainsbarilla Oa enhoe re Moreto oreton located along 9 km of sealed road. Lake Kajara ke y Bollon Moonie n Island bi e Eulo freefall at 220 kph Moreton Pittsworth Gatton Riverand land on a picturesque Bounded by the Pacific Ocean on its eastern Bay Murra Murra St George piece of beach for the most exhilarating M illmerran side and the sheltered waters of Tin Can Bay BRISBA Leumeah BA ne H OM IPSWJiIC on time of your life. Phone 0418 218 358 O and Great Sandy Strait to the west,Wmost North S NE oolerinaof al W m O bo Ni nd om B O T igully tradbro DARLING ba Bu aleer Caiwarro Clifton Boo ke Islan D Westlea isndmanaged www.skydiverainbowbeach.com ood S O the peninsula for nature-based na outh Str W h lw N a h e a b S d T R adbroke Too Beaudeser i d I in w i recreation. It is predominately a 4WD area, or email: info@skydiverainbowbeach.com Warwick t d n G O o Di L rra nbandi D a o MC P C o a O r Th Ki G r llarney allon H ER SO N e r lg Inglewoo bu TWEED H AST Cu Hebel Riv Yela rbon Stand t ta RA Du E Murwillu Cu Mungindi thorpe Goodooga nta bulla mbah A DS m Enngonia Weilmorin Oce an Sho ar Kyogle Texa s re e AUSTR A LI A s 14 | Go O C A M P I N G gle Mullum sq Yetman Bo m

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| 17


From left: Highway Robbery at the Kurth Kiln Festival. Photo: Friends of Kurth Kiln  Natasha and Merlin preparing to register for the Time Trial event. Photo: Miriam Blaker

Saddling up at

Kurth Kiln Words: Miriam Blaker

T

he air was cool and misty; the fog still lifting when we arrived. More than one hundred horse riders, with big rigs, horse floats and a plethora of camping gear had already arrived, converging on what is normally a quiet and scenic park. Generally this place is an oasis of tranquillity, but the weekend we visited the tracks and trails were buzzing with anticipation, camaraderie and a sense of adventure. We’re at Kurth Kiln Regional Park, about eight kilometres east of Gembrook in the hills about sixty kilometres east of Melbourne, probably the closest bush camping spot near the city and the perfect spot for a micro mid-week break. It’s likely many people who have lived in Melbourne all their lives have never heard of the park, but this place is a real find. Once there, in the midst of native bushland and mountain ash forest, you’ll feel as though you’re a million miles away from city life. Kurth Kiln Regional Park is 4000 hectares of forest with walks, wildlife and historic grounds to enjoy. The first thing you notice on entering the park is the namesake, a ten metre tall brick kiln smack bang in the middle of the bush. It is, quite simply, a remarkable feat of engineering. But just this once we weren’t visiting for the camping or the history. The annual Gembrook Riding Club time trial event was on and our teenage daughter, Natasha, was taking part with

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Merlin, her quarter horse cross Andalusian. Our camper trailer had been swapped for a horse float but, in the process, we discovered one of the most interesting parks and best free camping spots close to Melbourne. For non-horsey people time trials are trail rides open to horse riders of all ages who set out on a pre-determined course which, in this case, was a twenty-kilometre loop through the picturesque Kurth Kiln Regional Park. The winner is not the fastest rider, but the rider who completes the course in the average time taken by all riders within their section. The idea is that everyone rides at a pace that is comfortable for them and their horse and enjoys the company of other riders and the beauty of the surrounding environment. Run by the Gembrook Riding Club and supported by the Friends of Kurth Kiln and Parks Victoria, this event has been going for twenty years and, judging by the hundred plus enthusiastic riders who took part, it shows no sign of slowing. With Natasha registered and safely immersed on her three-hour ride it was time for us to explore. First visit was the kiln, located in a cordoned off area just up from the main campground (which on this particular weekend was taken up by marquees, tents and event organisers). One of the reasons this site was chosen for the kiln was, not only the abundance of timber

in the surrounding area, where trees from the nearby forests were converted to charcoal for this process, but also the sloping land and the natural watercourses in the area. The kiln was named after Professor Earnest Kurth, a CSIRO scientist who, in the early 1940s during wartime petrol rationing, developed a process that could enable cars to run on charcoal. A large charcoal burner, weighing up to two hundred kilograms, was attached to the back of a car. When charcoal was burned it produced carbon monoxide which, when cooled, filtered then mixed with air, would explode thus running the internal combustion engine. The car was started on petrol then switched to charcoal. Around 58,000 cars were converted in this way. One problem was knowing when to refuel – when to tip some more charcoal into the burner. The only way to do this was to open the top of the burner and have a look, a dangerous task as, with the addition of more air, there was frequently a small explosion. It was apparently said that you could always spot the driver of one of these converted vehicles as they usually had no eyebrows or other facial hair! At its peak, the brick kiln produced up to twenty tonnes of coal a week. However, charcoal was never a great success. It was dirty to use, produced forty percent less power and conversion units for cars cost one hundred


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pounds; eighteen times the weekly wage in 1941. Added to this, units had an alarming tendency to catch fire. There are a number of interpretative signs and pictures housed under cover of a nearby large shelter that provide an interesting pictorial history of the area. You can walk around the grounds, which house a big shed originally constructed to store charcoal and still used today to store implements, machinery and cultural heritage artefacts. There is also a small water wheel tucked behind the kiln and the shed. Close by there are four small huts that once housed the workers and their families and, at a later stage, Forestry Commission crews. At one stage there were eighteen cottages that accommodated up to one hundred forestry workers. The plant at Kurth Kiln closed at the end of World War II but the tall kiln with its iron chimney remains as the only one of its type in Australia. This is largely due to the conservation and restoration efforts of the Friends of Kurth Kiln and 20 |

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the support of Parks Victoria. In early 1980, the site was redeveloped as a picnic and camping ground complete with corrals for horses. Ron Thornton was resident caretaker of Kurth Kiln for sixteen years before becoming an active member of Friends of Kurth Kiln in 1999. Following his death in 2000, the Thornton Walking Track and Bridge was erected in recognition of his efforts. Today, the group is active in maintaining the kiln site and keeping its cultural and historic significance alive by promoting awareness of the area through events such as the annual Kurth Kiln Heritage Festival and working with local groups such as the Gembrook Riding Club. Walking is the best way to get to know the park (unless you own a horse). There are some wonderful tracks in the forest with trails ranging from two kilometres to twenty kilometres. There are two short picturesque walking tracks that lead off the picnic ground, including the picturesque Thornton Walking Track. The Tomahawk Creek Track is another walk that starts

not far from the kiln, turning left onto Soldiers Road and then right onto Beenak Road. The track meanders south along the creek with large rocks along the way where you can stop and take in the beautiful surroundings. After about a kilometre there is a small footbridge where the track heads back towards Beenak Road along the northern side of the creek. When you return to Beenak Road cross the road towards the open grassy area overlooking the Monkhouse dam. You can finish your walk here, or have a break before continuing. It is a beautiful spot, ideal for a picnic. Another picturesque walk is to Ship Rock Falls, just three hundred metres from the car park of the Ship Rock picnic area. It’s an easy walk to a small waterfall where water tumbles over the weathered slabs of granite. A twenty-kilometre circuit, which is especially popular for horse riders and mountain bikers, starts from Scout Camp Track and follows Water Channel Track (which crosses Gembrook


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Rochester www.friendsofkurthkiln.org.au Padthaway WODONGA L WIMMERA Wedde rburn St Ar na ud Murtoa Goroke Horsham Inglewood SHE PPAR tta Ovens Beechwo a r a Rushworth TON Myrtle ford Naracoorte ang W BENDIGO Dunolly Benalla Mount Beauty Euroa Edenhope Launching Place Road) Ba to Spencer Track. This train enthusiasts Stawthe Bright elliconic Puffing Billy Railway lmoral Castlemaine H track leads to Tentpole Road and turns left is close by. o th h am Heights Penola Seymour u g in the forest: Rock lanonwards before entering Soldiers Road to Arar There’s an abundance ofowildlife ds M r an at sf o ie ld b Ky y M a r possums, echidnas and neton serv oirthen onto swampR wallabies, Lake Mt B the intersection of TomsRe Track and Kilmore Alexandra Ca Be ste Eildon1805uller Co au rto ler W Da fo n ain illa rt Beenak Road. The last leg returns to Kurth Kiln sugar gliders. If you’re still and quiet you might yl e ur es a ford Millice nt Du nke ld G via Shepherds Creek Road. meet one or of the local species. Not so the R E AT Btwo ALL ount Gamb AR ier DIV T sound SUofNhorses BURY idge For campers thereHa aremi nolto fees onney r n to pay and weekend we visited.BWithAthe b t s r u H ac chI us D through thinkM the Healesville Banks there is no longer a caretaker, although the echoing Lake arsmaller sh Bolacthe park grounds are meticulously maintained. critters went into hibernation for the weekend. W ar bu rt PenshuThere on M De rst ELT rrinallumthat with the last of the ON are llno bins, so what you take in you take out. But I’m sure horses rt Macdonne GEE Heyw Mortlaheading Bairns ood from the kiln there ke Just two hundred metres home the bush lifeLO cameN outG again. P a k e COwhere rangis a Ca n VERY big rigs can park with a fewKoro TeThis h a is anDIS area great place and a real gem, and m PO m RT pe rdown Maf BAY scattered around and further itso easy to get to.W PHILLIP picnic tables The countryside on the way Drouairnragul fra Payne inch y els ea a PortlLoop B is plenty W along the Scout is reminiscent of Devonshire in England with andTrackndthere CraKiln Kurth Park y Cobden nboRegional u ol airtuckedOL its lush rolling ac rn of room for camper trailers hills and, C when you arrive, the tla and tents e Sa F r o M t oe P n i Traralgon le O air is clean andFotherrecanopy st away under a towering forestPoof messmate of tall trees and a Cowes B n ty Y and yellow stringybark, and narrow-leaved you couldve orwell mpbell sites gives the impression Leonga thM AM Port Caspacious ne Lorne ay WA a i OTaway. N peppermint trees. be hundreds of miles N Foster Ya P RRTrack there is Bayweekend At the end of Scout A Loop This is a great place Ap for ol a lo quick rram N Ca pe Otway R W another drop pit toilet. There is no water here so getaway or even an overnighter. Next time TE il l S t campers need to be self-sufficient. Gembrook we’ll be back with the camper trailer. So much Ph WE Corner Inlet o n Inv is not far away with shops and cafes and for history. So close to home.  W WILSO NS P h ROM ta a r a S o Ea21 G O CW A M P I N G A U S T R Au L Ith A | st Point Cape Wickham


Seven Days in

Somerset Words and images: Andrea Ferris

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erhaps if I write really fast I’ll manage to fit seven fabulous days and six nights in Somerset into four pages – or I could make the images really small – but that would serve only to shortchange a tale that deserves words and pictures as charismatic and colourful as the place in which they were conceived. The Somerset region is close to the Sunshine Coast, really close to Brisbane, and even closer to Ipswich; as demonstrated by the bloke that camped next to us at Lake Wivenhoe who arrived with his camper trailer at 8.30 am, unhooked, set up, and drove back home to collect his boat! It’s been largely a ‘drive or ride-by’ destination for the other half (TOH) and I: a coffee stop on a motorbike ride or a quick pie’n’go on the way to other places seemingly more exotic because they are further from our coastal home. It was then, with a sense of curious anticipation, that I happily accepted an invitation from Somerset Regional Council to explore their region to test run their ‘real country real adventure’ brand. 22 |

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In barely enough time for the coffee in the travel mug to cool, we arrived at Captain Logan & Lumley Hill Campgrounds on the southern end of Lake Wivenhoe. The campgrounds, separated by an inlet, accommodate more than 100 campers in peak season, but on a sunny Tuesday in September, there were only a handful of campers gracing the shady gently sloping lakeshore. There are powered sites, but we chose a self-sufficient spot close to the water’s edge for easy kayak launching.

Tackling the Trails A quick sandwich was consumed as TOH unravelled the mountain bikes from the rack (a complex web of Velcro, occy straps and padding) and we were off to ride the Wivenhoe Hill trails, a new 16-kilometre network of multi-use trails by the lake. It’s an easy three-kilometre ride from Lumley Hill to the site where there’s a choice of trails to walk, run, mountain bike or horse ride – joy of joy, no vehicles or motorbikes allowed. The Blue Trail winds around the edge of the

lake. Parts were steep, rocky and challenging, giving rise to the literal interpretation of ‘push bike’! Blue then joined the Black Trail, a bitumen hill – long, steep climb up and exhilarating freewheel down to complete a ten-kilometre loop and a respectable 17-kilometre afternoon’s effort. After a well-earned hot shower, TOH lit the fire and we enjoyed our first Somerset sundowners. (Fires are permitted in designated fire rings or your own fire box and BYO wood.) As a bonus, a full moon rose over the hill in front as the sun set on our back.

Reptiles and Rail Trails Carolling magpies heralded Wednesday’s arrival. A stiff breeze and choppy water meant our adventure of choice was peddling over paddling. It’s a ten-minute drive to the small rural town of Coominya where the old railway station is a fitting place to park the car and ride the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail northwards to Esk. What’s wonderful about rail trails is that the grade is only ever about two percent and there


are no nasty steep surprises. The 24-plus-a-bit kilometres to Esk is mostly upwards; a gentle, but constant, climb. The trail is often rough and rocky (padded bike shorts recommended!) and meanders through bush and farm land. A heartattack moment happened as I cycled over a snake curled up in the sun – I’m not sure who got the biggest fright! There are four magnificent decommissioned trestle bridge crossings to negotiate where the track drops steeply down into the gully and up the other side. Definitely a ‘push’ bike effort unless you’re extremely experienced and fit. After almost three hours we arrived at the old Esk station, restored and part of a lovely recreation area. TOH and I made a beeline for the Esk Bakery in the main street, ravenous and ready to tuck into a country-style chicken salad roll and sample a mouth-watering lemon meringue tart. Enter ‘Alvin’ – a cheeky knitted gnome made locally with the proceeds going to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. (Choose carefully – some more risqué than others …)

Clockwise from far left: Campsite on the shores of Lake Wivenhoe at Lumley Hill.  The first section of the Blue Trail winds along the lake shore.  One of the old trestle bridges on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail between Coominya and Esk.  The old Esk Railway Station on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.  Negotiating the steep downhill track next to an old trestle bridge on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail between Coominya and Esk.

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ESK Town Centre s Deliciou Food ESK Town Centre

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Deliciou Food

LEOPARD TREE LODGE Country Retreat Somerset Valley Queensland

• Delicious Fresh Food • Devonshire Teas • Home Baked Sweet Treats and Cakes • Nash Gallery Jams and Preserves • Home Decor Wares • Award Winning Potter • Flowers Essences • Open 7 days a week 8am - 5pm • Group Bookings available both Day and Evening Meals 212 Ipswich St, Esk Ph: (07) 5424 2424 Email: info@nashgalleryesk.com.au Find us on www.nashgalleryesk.com.au Facebook

Welcome to “Leopard Tree Lodge” Country Retreat. What was once a farm house built around 1896 is now a fully renovated African themed Country Lodge. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Lake, Mountains and Valley where horse, cattle, sheep, buffalo and alpaca graze. Enjoy our amazing Bush, Creek and Lake walks or just relax on the verandah with a complimentary bottle of champagne OR Laze around the Fire Pit and enjoy the serenity “The Bush Camp” has to offer. Stay in our twin share Safari Tents and experience “Glamping” at its finest, comfy beds, fresh linen, hot showers. Ph: 07 5422 0700 Mob: 0427 226 066 Email: desleylaycock@gmail.com www.leopardtreelodge.com

Atkinson Dam Holiday Park Situated in a delightful Australian treecovered environment on the shores of Atkinson Dam. Enjoy excellent rates for our four star, fully self-contained cabins available for long or short time enjoyment. Other features of our holiday park are van and annex sites, camp sites with open fires, pet friendly, camp kitchen, pool, laundry, kids playground, café, general store, fuel and gas. Contact : Wendy, Wayne & Michael Maher

OTTABA LLAMAS Walking with llamas an activity for the whole family

Ph 07 5426 4211 381 Atkinson Dam Road Atkinson Dam 4311

enquiries@atkinsondamholidaypark.com.au

BUSH CAMPING AT ITS BEST! 4 Main Camping Areas with Gas Hot Showers & Toilets 250Km 4WD Tracks BMX Bike Track for the Kids Dogs Allowed Eftpos Available Open 7 Days

Ph: (07) 5497 3164 landcru isermountainpark.com.au 24 |

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Lead friendly llamas on the scenic Brisbane Valley Rail Trail or arrange a time to meet our llamas and other various animals *by appointment P: 0407 165 100 E: ottaba10@gmail.com W: www.ottaballamawalks.com Ottaba Llamas


www.tourism.somerset.qld.gov.au CORMORANT BAY CAFÉ

Experience a 1 Hour Balloon Flight, Restaurant Breakfast & Flight Certificate.

Perched high on the banks of Wivenhoe Dam, the café serves great food and coffee and has spectacular views of the dam and mountains.

Brisbane’s closest balloon company. Over Ipswich & Somerset region.

Just follow the Brisbane Valley Hwy to Cormorant Bay at Wivenhoe Dam, 8 klms past Fernvale.

Bookings recommended

Call or Book online for Flights & Accomm or Gift Vouchers.

Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights T: 07 3294 8770 E: info@floatingimages.com.au W: www.floatingimages.com.au

Open Wednesday to Sunday 8.30am - 3.00pm

(07) 5426 7305

e: cormorantbaycafe@yahoo.com.au Cormorant Bay Cafe

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Escape, Relax & Enjoy. A unique hand built eco-friendly masterpiece of natural stone, raw timbers, recycled materials and polished concrete.

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Kilcoy Auto Essentials Parts & Accessories

Camping and fishing gear.

thestonehouseretreat.com.au For bookings enquiries:

enquiries@thestonehouseretreat.com.au OR phone 0488 759 990

Oil and grease. Hoses and fittings. Tools. 10 William Street, Kilcoy Ph (07) 5422 0777

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Tarts and Tree Tops We certainly hadn’t shirked any ‘real adventure’ up to this point, but it was time to seek some rest and relaxation under the shady trees at the Esk Caravan Park. Before we put our feet up though we grabbed another couple of chicken salad rolls from the Esk Bakery and joined Cam for lunch on the verandah of his stone house, about 20 kilometres up the road at Ravensbourne. The aptly-named StoneHouse Retreat sits on an escarpment amid 165 acres of Australian bush and, quite frankly, is difficult to describe without resorting to cliché superlatives. The view is breathtaking and the house, built with local blue stone and timber, envelopes you with a feeling of serenity – the working world could be thousands of miles away. Cam only recently began letting the house as a getaway retreat and has plans to include a few spots for camping on the property in 2015. Back in Esk, TOH and I felt entitled to a ‘treat’ considering the calories we’d burned lately and where better to find one than at the Nash Gallery & Café in the main street. Sandee creates sweet treats and husband Gary creates beautiful pottery and it all comes together under the roof of the historic Lars Andersen house. We sat on yet another gorgeous verandah surrounded by colourful local arts and crafts and scoffed the best apricot and prune tart I’ve ever tasted! Alas, it was Friday, which in September can only mean one thing – where in a Queensland country town can an AFL match be viewed? Why, at the Club Hotel owned by the step-son of a Hawthorn football great of course. And there’s good value country pub meals on offer to boot.

Clockwise from above: The kayaks gliding by pelicans on the shore of Lake Wivenhoe.  Getting up close and personal with an Ottaba llama.  The stunning StoneHouse Retreat.

Fully sated, it was back on the bike for the, mostly, downhill, reptile-free ride back to Coominya where TOH, fantasising about a beer, headed for the pub and I, fantasising about sugar, headed to the local grocery store for a well-earned ice-cream. Back at Lumley Hill, the trail dust washed away, we enjoyed another fire, some marinated chicken and salad, guiltily followed by chocolate, and an early night.

Perfect Paddling A still Thursday dawn. Not a breath of wind or a ripple on the lake. By 9.00 am we’d packed and parked the van and were paddling southeast to Cormorant Bay. The kayaks glided past kangaroos grazing at the water’s edge and vast flocks of cormorants, darters and pelicans hovering nervously nearby. The timbered hills in the distance provide a green contrast to the mirror-like water and drought-parched grazing land on the opposite shore. We stopped for a muesli bar break on a peninsula, clearly an eagle’s midden, littered with the skeletal remains of creatures great and small. About two and a half hours (roughly 12 km) later we landed at Cormorant Bay, the ‘business’ end of the lake with the dam wall and power station, and the gorgeous Cormorant Bay Café. Enjoying ‘retirement’, although she’s probably 26 |

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never worked so hard, café owner Terry joined us on the sun-drenched verandah overlooking the lake to recount how two years hence she’d sat at the very same table and had an epiphany that led to her present day epicurean existence. The menu is a delightful choice ranging from gourmet sandwiches to Asian cuisine. Terry prides her successful business on fresh food and good service, ‘The view,’ she laughs, ‘is just an added bonus!’ On the paddle back we witnessed the most amazing phenomenon: literally thousands of birds on the lake all taking off as one. The water was glassy and the sound like a thundering waterfall. Truly spectacular. As the sun sank low on the horizon we bid farewell to Lake Wivenhoe and hello to Atkinson Dam, about a 20-minute drive west. The renamed Atkinson Dam Holiday Park is being renovated, regenerated, resurrected and restored by the energetic and enthusiastic new owners, Wayne and Wendy. It’s been a mighty four-month effort with an estimated six months more to go and so far it’s spectacular – the bathroom was better than my own at home! The park, set in a rural area, is a short walk to the dam and some sites have water views. We’re looking forward to returning in 2015 to see the finished product.

Llamas and Lamps Foregoing high fibre and low fat, TOH insisted on a sausage sanga for Saturday brekkie at the Esk markets, held every Saturday morning with a range of stalls offering antiques and old wares, to home-made beanies and bootees. My pocket money went on a circa 1900 kerosene lamp complete with reflector – a gorgeous reminder of the days before electricity. Intending to head north to Jimna, we managed a whole 17 kilometres to Toogoolawah before being sidetracked at the Toogoolawah Railway Markets. Here we met Mark and Louise from Ottaba Llamas who run llama walks on the rail trail near their property. Llamas are, apparently, friendlier than alpacas – less prone to spit when they get cross, which TOH was happy to hear as he headed off on a little llama liaison. We bought local jam, filled up on delicious Asian food and then, feeling decidedly soporific in the spring sunshine, decided to stay the night at the Toogoolawah Showground. Caretakers Bev and Gordon provide a friendly welcome and a ‘park anywhere, love’ attitude. After a cup of coffee, a read of the paper and some entertainment watching the skydivers from nearby Skydive Ramblers gliding precariously back to earth, we took an afternoon drive through cattle station country to the westernmost edge of the region to enjoy some impressive views from atop the Biarra Range.


Somerset Wineries 1 Ocean View Estates Winery & Restaurant

Winya Wines “Winya Wines” is honoured to take its name from the pioneer William Butler, the “Grand Old Man of Kilcoy”, loved and respected in the whole region. The Winya vineyard reflects the vision and innovation that William Butler had for this fertile area. Nestled in the picturesque valley of Sandy Creek, Winya Wines is just 1 hour’s easy drive from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Owners Gary (Snow) and Sue Pratten ventured into grape growing in 1997 as an addition to their successful beef cattle property. Visitors are welcome to visit the cellar door where fine wine tasting can be enjoyed in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere whilst appreciating the breathtaking views of the surrounding district. Visitors are welcome to purchase the on farm quality black angus beef cuts or enjoy a barbeque rib fillet steak lunch with a glass of red.

Ocean View Estates is not just a winery, not just a restaurant - it’s the end of the journey: the destination, offering vineyards, cellar door, accommodation, à la carte dining and Australia’s most intimate and hands-on experience of a fully-operational winery, all in one location just 45 kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD. At Ocean View Estates, guests get closer to the action and, with everything on one beautiful property within the Somerset Valley’s wine region, it’s easy to come and unwind in the vines for an hour, a day, or a weekend. Plenty of room for parking.

Gary & Sue Pratten ~ 145 Sandy Creek Road Kilcoy Q 4515 ~ P/F (07) 5497 1504 M 0408 151 824 www.winyawines.com.au a

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Woongooroo Estate

Springdell Fruit Wines Fernvale

Originally a three generation beef and dairy property - diversified to stone fruit in 1988. In 2001 the idea of using the non marketable fruit for wine began. After two failed years of having wine made elsewhere, Rodney decided to follow the original way of making these traditional Country Wines. In 2004 the first non preservative plum port Toowoomba Ipswich was bottled. Our preservative free wines and ports are available from our two Satellite Cellar Ipswich Motorway Doors - in Kilcoy at Rock ‘N’ Country - 25 Seib Street, and Montville at Fudgyboombahs on Main Street. Phone and Mail Orders are welcome and group bookings by appointment only to Springdell Fruit Wines can be arranged.

Phone Susan or Rodney - 07 5498 1252 or Mobile 0407 765 950 email springdell@bigpond.com www.somersetwinery.com.au

4

a - orchards b - cellar door

Woongooroo Estate is a boutique Vineyard, Cellardoor, Cafe and Wine Operation between Kilcoy and Woodford along Neurum Road.

We cater for motorhomes, caravan groups and individuals looking for fabulous wine, great food and guided fun activities for groups. Woongooroo is famous for its wine and cheese matching experience (minimum four). We are open Wed - Sun 9.00am 4.00pm .. other times by appointment. Winetaste at our Cellardoor or eat in our alfresco area. Your time will certainly be enjoyed at Woongooroo. Visit our Estate when in the fabulous Somerset Region. Come and meet Phil, Gail and Amanda and experience our authentic and genuine hospitality. Who knows, the Kilcoy Yowie may even make a guest appearance ..!!

(07) 5496 3529

woongoorooestate@bigpond.com www.woongoorooestate.com www.winerybustours.com.au 35 Doyles Road (PO BOX 72), Kilcoy 4515 www.mysterycarrallies.com.au 0408 064 134

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Falling and Four-Wheel Drives The old stables and grandstand were shrouded in mist on Sunday morning, bringing back memories of other country showgrounds on the show horse circuit. Today, though, it’s the caravan that gets hitched up as we make our way a couple of kilometres to Ramblers to get a closer look at the skydiving. ‘Have a go at a tandem,’ says Chief Instructor, Macca (Dave McEvoy) as I asked permission to take a few photos. ‘Absolutely no way in hell,’ or words to that effect, was my answer! Happy to leave our feet well and truly planted on terra firma we absorbed the adrenalin-soaked ambience for a while trying (and failing) to capture a really great parachuting image – harder than you’d think without a mega-zoom lens. After all that nervous energy our next stop at the Winya Winery was most welcome. Sue and Gary Pratten’s boutique vineyard is in the picturesque Mt Kilcoy valley and one of six wineries on the Somerset Valleys Wine Trail. (We just didn’t have time to visit all of them so have provided a guide on page 27.) Winya specialises in delicious Angus steak barbeque meals with wine tastings and sales. My recommendation: the Angus Red, a light, fruity wine best served slightly chilled and perfect for summer lunch. Speaking of lunch, the Kilcoy Bakery beckoned where a chicken mornay pie provided nourishment for the hour’s drive north through the Conondale Ranges to Landcruiser Mountain Park – four-wheel-drive heaven for big boys and their toys. Alben Perrett’s been welcoming off-road enthusiasts to his 10,000-acre property for more than 25 years. In fact, he told us that more than 300,000 vehicles had visited the park since it opened. Bush camping anywhere on the property is encouraged, but we chose the Cowah Falls campground, which has a toilet and hot shower. The road in is suitable for two-wheel drives (just) and off-road vans and trailers only. On Sunday night after everyone had gone home the wallabies and deer appeared and all that could be heard was the hoot of an owl. Monday morning was too lovely to do anything but kick back in the quiet and read a good book. Reluctantly, I was persuaded to go for a short drive around one of the less challenging tracks that criss-cross the park. We did have two kayaks and two bikes on board, so no serious off-roading was possible, however I did get a good sense of what’s on offer for those that thrive in low range. A park pass is good for 24 hours so it wasn’t until 2.00 pm that we trekked back to the office to sign out and head home. Doodling in the dusty ute door I reflected on the past week. Did the Somerset region live up to its ‘Real Country Real Adventure’ tag? Indubitably!  28 |

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Clockwise from top: Watching the skydiving at Skydive Ramblers. It’s tricky to get a decent parachuting photo!  A little bit of 4WDing despite having bikes and boats on board.  TOH enjoys a tasting at Winya Winery near Kilcoy.

More information: Lake Wivenhoe – www.seqwater.com.au/recreation or 07 5426 4729 Brisbane Valley Rail Trail – www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/bvrt-homepage.html Cormorant Bay Café – Facebook search ‘Cormorant Bay Café’ Atkinson Dam Holiday Park – www.atkinsondamholidaypark.com.au or 07 5426 4211 The StoneHouse Retreat – www.thestonehouseretreat.com.au or 0488 759 990 Nash Gallery & Café – www.nashgalleryesk.com.au or 07 5424 2424 Esk Market – 07 5424 1805 held every Saturday Toogoolawah Market – Facebook – Toogoolawah Railway Markets held the 2nd Saturday of each month. Toogoolawah Showground camping – 0408 473 843 Skydive Ramblers – www.ramblers.com.au or 1800 999 014 Landcruiser Mountain Park – www.landcruisermountainpark.com.au or 07 5497 3164 Somerset Tourism – www.tourism.somerset.qld.gov.au or 07 5424 4000

Somerset Valley Wine Trail: Winya Wines – www.winyawines.com.au for lunch bookings 07 5497 1504 or 0408 151 824 Ocean View Estates – www.oceanviewestates.com.au or 07 3425 3900 Woongooroo Estate – www.woongoorooestate.com or 07 5496 3529 Springdell Fruit Wines – www.somersetwinery.com.au or 07 5498 1252 or 0407 765 950


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Visitor Information Centres Esk Visitor Information Centre

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Yowie Park, Hope Street Kilcoy Qld. 4515 P: (07) 5424 4000

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Give me Somerset Any Day

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| 29


Busselton

A Jewel Hidden Beneath the Margaret River Cloak! Words: Therese Sayers

Meelup beach. Photo: Therese Sayers

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t’s a tale many camping travellers know: you pitch your tent or park your caravan in a place that so overwhelms you with its beauty and lifestyle that you mull over the idea of packing up the house to move there permanently. Well, I did just that! More than 25 years after finding my Shangri-la on a caravan park holiday in Busselton, south of Perth and in Western Australia’s renowned south-west wine district, named by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten regions in the world to visit. The park still operates with the same owners, who have transformed it into a five-star caravan and camping resort. It’s one of more than a dozen caravan parks in the Busselton region, most of them ideally situated along the shores of Busselton’s long, curving, beautiful Geographe Bay with its pristine Mediterranean-like blue waters, safe lagoons, stunning coves and thirty kilometres of fine, white, sandy beaches. Busselton is one of the earliest European settlements in Western Australia. The Bussell family arrived in 1834. It adjoins the State’s more famous Shire of Augusta-Margaret River – a dazzling jewel somewhat hidden under the Margaret River region’s publicity cloak. Busselton is so endowed with natural splendour and enviable lifestyle that surely magical stardust was once sprinkled here. Okay, perhaps that thought popped up when I was indulging in Busselton’s excellent wines, accompanied with some locally produced olives 30 |

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and cheeses. Or perhaps I’m perpetually drunk on the beauty of the place. The area teems with wildlife, wildflowers and a varied landscape from coastal and bushland through to internationally recognised wetlands. One of the biggest attractions (literally) is the whales and their babies that pass through Geographe Bay in late winter and spring. Dolphins are regulars throughout the year, often surfing the local breaks alongside their human mates! Colonies of seals are less active, lounging around, enjoying the West Australian sunshine. French explorer and naturalist Nicolas Baudin, the first person to map the west coast, named Busselton’s bay after his ship, Géographe. The bay is protected from the Indian Ocean by the Cape Naturaliste headland, also named after another of Baudin’s ships. Baudin gave Busselton’s Vasse River its name after a sailor who was lost overboard. The names and history lend a French flavour to the Busselton region, which has scores of wineries, boutique breweries and up-market restaurants and cafes. It also happens to enjoy a comfortable Mediterranean climate. At the region’s heart is the recently proclaimed Busselton City. However, it doesn’t seem quite right to call it a city with its friendly country town vibe. A ten-minute drive from the city centre is the ancient Tuart Forest National Park, part of the only remaining Tuart forest in the world, and a few minutes’ walk is the newly landscaped town foreshore and the exquisite town beach.

There are barbeque and picnic facilities, sun shelters, filtered water stations, cafes, walkways, a magnificent heritage-listed jetty and plentiful parking, even for large caravans. Watch out for the corellas that regularly ‘bomb’ from above in the grand old fig trees. At 1.8 kilometres, the Busselton Jetty is the longest timber piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere and in 2015 celebrates its 150th birthday. The jetty was heading for demolition after severe damage by a 1978 cyclone, but a massive community effort saved it and today it attracts more than 400,000 visitors a year. At the far end of the jetty is an underwater observatory where, descending eight metres to the seafloor, more than 300 species of fish swim about the pylons. This is not a big artificial Sea World-like fish tank, it’s a window into the colourful treasure chest of sea life that inhabits Geographe Bay. For the more intrepid divers there’s the former HMAS Swan, sunk in the bay as an artificial reef. Twenty minutes’ drive along the bay, still within Busselton, is the smaller holiday town of Dunsborough. A coastal cycle/walk track linking the two passes many of the area’s caravan parks. Dunsborough is one of the few places in the west where the sun rises over the water. The display can be breathtaking, and worth getting up early for. One of my favourite places is the Quindalup Jetty, just north of central Dunsborough. It’s a good place to launch a boat, dangle a line for


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fish or squid, or get out the camera. This has to be one of the most photographed small jetties in Western Australia! Watch out for the Indian takeaway van, Spice Odysee. It rolls up on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings and is one of the area’s delicious secrets! You can also spot the van in Busselton city at other times. Fifteen minutes’ drive from Dunsborough is one of its most famous beaches, Meelup, named by the local Wardandi people and meaning ‘place of the moon rising’, because the full moon appears to rise out of the sea here on a few special nights of the year. It’s located in the Meelup Regional Park, a 577-hectare reserve on the western shore of Geographe Bay, stretching from Dunsborough through to Bunker Bay and joining up with Cape Naturaliste. The beach is packed in summer, but on a beautiful winter’s day, you can be the only person there apart from the local kookaburras and possums! The reserve lies within the Busselton-Augusta ‘biodiversity hotspot’, the only one in Australia that is recognised internationally. The park has 480 native plants, a remarkably diverse flora offering for its size. It provides a bonanza of wildflowers, including rare flora such as the Cape Spider Orchid and Dunsborough Spider Orchid. Meelup Regional Park also features a high diversity of fauna species including common dunnart honey possums, western ringtail and brushtail possums, quenda and western grey 32 |

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Clockwise from below: Busselton’s floral emblem, the one-sided bottlebrush (Calothamnus graniticus var graniticus) is only found in this region. Photo: Therese Sayers  A late afternoon check by Chris Burton for whales off Point Piquet. Photo: Therese Sayers  Point Piquet. Photo: Therese Sayers  A humpback breaches in Geographe Bay. Photo: Chris Burton  Busselton Jetty – the longest timber piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Photo: Therese Sayers

kangaroos. Eight species of frogs have been identified, along with twenty-three species of reptiles and sixty species of birds, including sea birds. Birdlife is prolific throughout the coastal and wetland areas of the Busselton region and if you’re interested to know more about them, the local Cape to Cape chapter of Birding Australia welcomes visitors on its regular birding outings.

Walking tracks run along the coast, by both gentle bays and along ruggedly spectacular cliffs. They also take walkers up to high points for expansive views over Geographe Bay and the Indian Ocean. Every spring, people head to these vantage points to see whale pods breaching in the bay. Whales are regularly seen at Point Piquet; a stunning headland of orange and red granitic


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When to go All year round. Spring and autumn are particularly lovely. Peak whale watching runs from September to December. Summer is excellent, but busy. Bush flies can be pesky around Christmas, so pack a fly net. Wild storms with strong winds are experienced in winter, but the area also enjoys beautiful calm, sunny winter days. Busselton prides itself as the events capital of Western Australia, with a packed calendar of festivals and sports events. So check the Geographe Bay Tourism Association website for high accommodation demand periods. Out of holiday and event times, it’s much quieter and just as enjoyable. Further information Geographe Bay tourism: www.geographebay.com

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Where to camp There’s plenty of caravan parks, but little free camping available in the Busselton region, unless you are tackling the 135-kilometre Cape to Cape walking track between Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin further south. Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) no frills campsites are along the route. The neighbouring Nannup Shire and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River both have some lovely DPaW low-cost bush camps, within an hour’s drive from Busselton. My favourites are the Barrabup and Workers Pool camp in the St John Brook Conservation Park, just out of Nannup township, easy to access en route to Busselton from the south coast.

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Getting there Busselton is an easy two and a half hour drive south west of Perth, on a straight and flat double carriageway – great for towing a caravan or camper trailer. If travelling along WA’s south coast, drive via Walpole, Pemberton and Nannup. It’s a more narrow, winding and demanding route than the highway from Perth, but very picturesque.

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Ussher

Point Words: Phil Stickley

One of Cape York’s hidden wonders.

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his place is remote, can be dangerous and at times hostile but so stunningly beautiful that not one of us wanted to leave. There are few places more uniquely Queensland than the Lions Den Hotel on Cape York – the perfect spot to have a coldie with friends and watch a final State of Origin rugby league match. We’d left Sydney a week before the game: me, my wife Leonie, and the mother-in-law Helen, in our trusty thirteen-year-old Mitsubishi Challenger, travelling in convoy with our good friends Wes, Cheryl and Jarrod in their 100 Series Toyota Landcruiser. The following day, still on a high after another QLD victory, we travelled through the Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park and camped on the magnificent Hann River. We had booked campsite #2 at the Hann River crossing back in Cooktown. The Hann River is just like you see in the tourist brochures; waterlily-lined banks and tea-coloured water, clear blue skies and grassy campsites with plenty of basalt rock pools to explore. Up early the next morning we took the Development Road and the Old Telegraph Track, bush camping all the way, to the top of Australia where we spent a week exploring. But that’s not the story. One day, as we were sitting on the beach in front of our campsite at the Loyalty Beach Campground and Fishing Lodge, Leonie looked over my shoulder at the Bush Tucker Man Cape York Map I was studying to plan the route south. She spotted a small photograph captioned ‘Ussher Point’ and suddenly got all excited, asking that this be our first destination. We all agreed whole-heartedly. As we got online to book the campsite at Ussher point, it became apparent that it was somewhat remote, as nobody had camped there (or booked at least) in the last twelve months and, what’s more, there were no forward bookings. Naturally, we were cautious of being so far from anyone without telephone reception and facing a long walk out if anything did go wrong. As luck would have it, we met a Queensland NPWS Ranger in Bamaga at the local supermarket who told us that he wouldn’t recommend the trip as the track had not been used for a very long time. He also warned us that there are very small waterways with very large crocodiles in them at Ussher Point, due to the local large wild pig 34 |

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population (plenty of good tucker for crocs) and he advised we travel with caution. At this point I was more than a little concerned and we all sat down and decided we would proceed and be very careful around (more like, avoid) all water. From Loyalty Beach we headed south along Bamaga Road with the computer mapping software (OziExplorer GPS Mapping software that I have running on the dashboard mounted Triple E Asus notebook computer utilising Garmin GPS) indicating the Ussher Point track began around twelve kilometres north of the Jardine River ferry crossing. The start of the track was a little disconcerting; only two tyre tracks leading into the bush! Just to be sure, we stopped and double-checked the grid references and also checked the map. The drive started easily enough, but soon turned into soft sand, so we stopped and had a cuppa and let down the tyres. After travelling for about an hour (at a break-neck speed of around 10 km/h), along a wonderful soft and smooth track it all fell apart big time! The track deteriorated to almost nothing except rock steps and shale on a steep descent to an extremely eroded dry creek crossing. After crawling up the other side in low range, the track widened but was washed out and required much angle driving amongst exposed rocks and roots. This is where I highly recommend good quality, real-time, map reading software, as it could have been very easy to lose the track especially as there wasn’t much of one at this point. After about three hours, the track narrowed again and the whole bush erupted with crazy loud squealing and snorting. I stopped abruptly as literally hundreds of wild pigs ran past the car with their little ones following as fast as they could. Then a huge black pig stopped on the track in front of us, lowered his head and started a slow walk towards the grill of the car. However, as soon as all his family had disappeared into the scrub he did as well, phew! The silence was palpable as we all looked at each other, hearts thumping. A couple of the scenes from the movie Razorback came to haunt me; out here there is no chance of a quick getaway. Along with the pigs, the track had vanished; completely dug up and overturned by tonnes of pork trotters and snouts. It was a slow and rough slog on practically deflated tyres, ploughing

through the freshly rooted and ripped-up earth in a vehicle fully loaded with fuel, water and food for weeks of remote camping. The track improved to what it was before the pig damage and, on about the fifth hour of driving, we began to enter what looked a bit like sand dunes completely overgrown with rainforest-like thick vegetation. However, the view soon disappeared as the track once again disappeared into thick tangled scrub. We pushed our way through the foliage for quite a while, taking care not to snag and tear the awning and roof top tent, and then climbed up a steep hill to suddenly emerge into bright sunlight, a campsite and a split in the track, one way snaking along the top of the ridge, the other winding its way towards the coast. We turned right, went around a bend and there it was way below us – the east coast of Australia. We’d reached a cliff and Ussher Point itself was a long way down via a very steep track. As I checked the track on the steepest part of the descent, I discovered it soon turned into very soft sand. Getting down was a bit of slipping and sliding, but it wasn’t long before we pulled up on a small sandy cliff above one of the freshwater creeks right on the beach the ranger had warned us about. After a quick lunch we headed down to the beach to explore before the threatening rain storm hit. Avoiding the possible croc-infested creek, we made our way onto the beach and scrambled around a rock point to discover what can only be described as absolute beauty. Magnificent bauxite cliffs towered above us shimmering bright reds, yellows, blacks, greys


From left: North along the top of the cliffs. Photo: Wes Walker  Erosion along the track. Photo: Cheryl Walker

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| 35


From left: Some angle driving on the track. Photo: Phil Stickley  Our camp at site #2. Photo: Wes Walker

and every colour in between; so bright it was almost glowing. We walked the beaches for hours finding fresh water streams and massive granite outcrops chiselled by the waves and weather into amazing shapes. Everywhere we looked was something awesome. The only reason we returned to set up camp was the large in-coming tide chasing us back. We set up camp behind a sand dune, well away from the creek that had been claimed by the bush and got busy making dinner in the coals of the camp fire. Over the course of three days, we explored the whole area, beaches, cliffs, cliff tops and scrub, always keeping clear of the creek, because the crocodile slide marks on the far

bank indicated one particular reptilian resident was huge. When the time came to leave, we were all reluctant to pack up. The only incentive being that we were heading back to Canal Creek on the Old Telegraph Track for a few days of swimming and relaxing. Thanks to a lot of prior practice on the Stockton Beach dunes, near Newcastle, the climb up the steep soft sand was uneventful for both vehicles and we stopped at the top to enjoy the view for one last time. Apart from the sidewall of one of the rear tyres getting sliced on a sharp rock, the sixty-kilometre trip back to Bamaga Road was a little quicker; also due to the fact we had cleared most of the foliage out of the way on the way in. It was still

more than five hours of the sort of driving urban four-wheel drivers generally only dream about. As the track ended we pulled up, ate lunch and chatted excitedly about the drive while inflating the tyres. Then it was back on Bamaga Road heading south to the Jardine River ferry where we arrived just in time for the ferry driver’s lunch break. So we waited a very peaceful hour on the bank of the river enjoying the sights and sounds of far north Queensland. For me, this trip encapsulated what I believe are the best things in life: peace, adventure, friendship and remoteness. My advice: grab the kids, leave the computer games, pack the car and enjoy life. It was a trip I will never forget and, yes, I will definitely go back in a few years. 

When to go The Australian winter months are the best for temperature and it is classed as their dry season. May to November. Tropical cyclone season is between December and April. Note: If there is even a small amount of rain this track can be impassable.

This is a remote area and there are NO services out here: no drinking water, toilets, showers, rubbish collection or telephone reception.

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How do I book? To obtain an e-permit: ■ Book online at www.qld.gov.au/camping ■ Visit a QPWS business G U L F centre or authorised booking agent ■ Phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68). Mobile phone charges may apply.

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There are four campsites with two offering some protection from the wind and weather. Site 1: Is located above the beach and cliffs offering the best protection but is limited to only one vehicle and up to four people. Marchinbar Island Island Site 2: Is located behind a dune Guluwur just offu the Raragala Island track and above the beach (our choice). Good y a B Wilberfor protection from the wind.ingThis allows two ce ham site Cape Melville ck Bu people. Bay Bremer Island vehicles and up to eight Nhulunbuy Arnhem Site 3: Is just off the beach fullyGOVE open toYirrkala the Bay Cape Arnhem A continuous 30 knot plus tradePENINSUL wind. Only one Port Bradshaw vehicle allowed here and up to four people. Site 4: Is located slightly north of the track on Caledon Bay top of the coastal cliffs. This site is fully exposed to all weather but with awesome views. ah od I Wotonfour Isleup aI Maximum of one vehicle and rto helse people on e k inc ngd allowed at this site. La Milyakburra BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL.

Further information Camping area features: Very remote and isolated. Close to the beach and cliffs and surrounded by coastal heath vegetation. Location: On the eastern boundary of Jardine River Regional Park on the far-northern east coast of Cape York Peninsula. Access: The camping area can only be reached by four-wheel drive. Camper trailers are not recommended. BOOKING ARE ESSENTIAL.

Sai bai I Darnley You will need to carry all your own firewood (Erub) I TORRES as this campsite is part of STR theAIT Jardine River Ma bui ag I National Park and firewood cannot be collected Badu (Mulgrave) I within the park. Moa (Clarke)

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The track is almost 60 km long, but give yourself at least five hours to drive the track. We took longer as the track was severely overgrown in places with many downed trees to negotiate.

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Getting there Ussher Point track starts: 32.3 km south of Bamaga; 14.6 km north of the Jardine River ferry or 968 km north of Cairns. (Direct route.)

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Brooyar

State Forest Words and images: Danielle Lancaster

State forests provide selected, often secluded camping and opportunities and myriad of recreational activities. Danielle Lancaster discovers Brooyar State Forest.

A

cross Australia you’ll discover nume rou s indu s t rie s b e ing undertaken within the borders of state forests. They’re usually shared areas of land used for a variety of recreational and industry purposes. Timber logging, grazing, apiculture, flora production are just a few. Recreational activities are just as diverse: walking and horse riding trails, mountain and off-road bike tracks, abseiling, four-wheel driving, and shooting are only a slice of what’s offered. All entice plenty of enthusiastic outdoors people. To the north-west of Gympie in Queensland, Brooyar State Forest is one such park. Within a short drive of the main campground there is access to another six other state forests and conservation parks and three national parks. This state forest is recognised as having some of Queensland’s best hoop pine plantations and cliff-top lookouts. Brooyar is approximately twenty minutes from the Gympie Information Centre. Or allow two and a half hours’ drive north of Brisbane. Along with drives through the towering hoop plantations and to the edges of sandstone cliffs, you can also walk through fringes of riparian rainforest that edge Glastonbury Creek or enjoy tall, open eucalypt forests, which are popular with walkers, nature lovers and bird watchers. 38 |

GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

It’s early morning and the fog is hanging thickly in the valleys as we depart Gympie to investigate Brooyar and its surrounds. Handily, access to the campground can be by the north or the south. Petersen Road, on the north of the forest, is the best access for those towing caravans and trailers. We chose the second entrance, 1.9 kilometres west and turned left leaving the bitumen for gravel onto Reid Road and into Brooyar State Forest. Eagles Nest lookout is our first stop. On the easy 50-metre walk we meet a group of high school students returning from an early morning abseil outing. There’s much chatter, adrenalin pumping and slaps on backs amongst the teens and we regret not being an hour earlier to see them descend the sheer cliff face. In less than half a kilometre after Eagles Nest is Point Pure lookout. The walk to the lookout is 300 metres return and graded easy. There are no facilities at either lookout and both have abseiling points making them popular locations for abseiling fans. The campground is just under three kilometres on our left and, being early, we seem to have the pick of sites along the creek and within a short walk to the self-composting toilets. The camping area shares a day-use area, dogs are allowed on a leash, and there’s wood barbeques, but bring

your own timber to use in the fire rings. Open fires are allowed in the rings only, except when there is a fire ban or prohibition so it’s recommended to have a fuel stove to ensure you can cook dinner. The grassy, flat campsites are suitable for tent camping, camper trailers, caravans, motor homes, group camping and even rolling out the swag. Sites must be pre-booked as selfregistration is no longer available and numbers are limited to a maximum of 120 people. There are high tension power lines that cross 40 metres above the camping area, though this should not prove a problem for the average camper. Camp’s set up and it’s only mid-morning, the billy is on to boil for a quick cuppa while we check out maps before embarking on a drive south through the state forest. Laughter can be heard coming from the creek where, on investigation, we discover a young family thrilled at their first platypus sighting in the wild: again we are too late. We do though glimpse an eel slithering under a fallen frond and two turtles sunbaking on an isolated log. Glastonbury Creek is also known to have crayfish, long-armed shrimp and some fish species though fishing is not a featured thing to do due to the creek being very shallow and sandy. We have on the wish list to visit an outlook claimed to be one of the best in Queensland just under 17 kilometres south of the campground. Heading south the vegetation changes quickly as we wind up and down through active timber plantations and climb through dry eucalypt forests where cattle wander aimlessly across the road. Don’t expect the mobile phone to work in any other places except the lookouts, depending


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While services are improving Ne wlands gh nn Marian Yarrowmere k in el o Corfield W enya area it is still considered remote. Gle nden MACKAY throughBarthis Walkerston Mount Douglas Mount Coolo NGE Aberfoyle Su n A Ha Lake y R Point t to It is also a place to take your best furry friend! r R Sarina Buch AM anan NH hfillan DE However, there are no dog off-leash areas and Ne Ko bo Moray Do um ala Goonyella wns Lerida Co a NORTHU M BERLA in many areas of Brooyar cattlerind are grazing and Winton ND Moranbah Lake Galilee Co pp ab ella log trucks are active. Carmila Frankfield Getting there When to go Saltbush Pa IS LA N rk DS ttaburr In fact, if youMugo on drives tmere from the BROAD a any Eas DownsGympie, head Sau mar Summer can be hot and Travelling northPeakfrom 10 km ez Reef SO UN SH Sa OA D raj LWATER i camping area your chance of encountering a winter can be cold, especially in the BAY St Lawrturn north along the Bruce Highway then To en Dy w ce sa Morella ns rt hend Isla Blair Athol beast or logging vehicle is high. For both, give nd Ara ma c valley if there is a frost. Spring and autumn are Cleleft rmontonto the Wide Bay Highway. Petersen Port Clinto Ogmore the right of way: pull over and give them the n Cape ideal times Clintonto plan a visit, but be mindful of the Road, 2.8 km on the Mleft, the access for iddlemis Surbiton ount Marlboroug road and with cattle just let them take their time Tie ri Longreach h Ju Gympie Music Muster, held every year in the Ca ne pe e lla those with caravans and trailers. In this Vergemont Byfield Peak Vale to wander across the road.Barcaldine R Ilfracombe itzroykm R Mt Tabletop Ru F1.9 last week in August that attracts thousands ie another Leura byvale we take Reid Road, article z Arrilalah Jerichforest o three ppoon en Emerald 833 Anak Yaamba r Lots of bird species call the Bogantung toYeAmamoor State Forest, just to the south of er ie This road ck Eagles Nest and an west. takes ain ve Great Riv ROCKHAM Alpha is Ri types within Brooyar home. Other fauna MBlackwater Emu Park Keppel Island e R P TO c Brooyar State Forest. N i Lake Pure lookouts Co me Point and is unsuitable for Al t Gr Maraboon acemere el Bay mostly elusive during the Yalday. Wallabies are Kepp Bluff Kinrola Caprico leroi r n Group Durrandella an caravans and trailers unless they are high C Du u Po ar rt ing rt is Alma a I best seen during Heron Is Mount MFurther D Isisford the early morning and late organ information Stonehenge land South AW W ow an clearance.Sprin G L Bla A M ck D ou afternoon while reptiles are predominantly seen wa S nt T ter LarcoQueensland gsure ONE and Wildlife m Blackall Parks Nandowrie rt Curtis o P Castlevale W Arn Ca oo o llio rab pe inda during the heat of the day basking in patches of Tannum Sa www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/ Travelling south from Gympie, Baratake GO nds Jundah laba the Emmet Wflora Rolleston sunlight.YarFor lovers; delicate, minute orchids AN Callide brooyar Bana GE N Gympie-Woolooga Road and turn right A na aka o R R A co Lad y Ellio M r Agne ou O ra a G Tambo Biloela bloom throughout the year withRwattle profusely B tt I Miriam Va s Water RE Collabara Co into Diggins Road and onto Greendale nsuelo le Thangool A Peak Ret reatblooming from mid-winter to W Queensland Holidays late spring. 11 Mt Drummon Follow the signs to the camping and d Road. 74 RA AW ES Dwww.queenslandholidays.com.au Ck C Finally, we reach what our GPS tells us is the 859 Yandaran NA day-useARarea on the right. Theodore Trinidad Monto RV next and last lookout for the day. We still cannot ON San dy C Bargara Gympie Tourism Gi n Gin ape RA Keeroongooloo find any ‘real’ name for this lookout but it’s well BUNDAB Mount Pe Cracow www.cooloola.org.au Where to camp E Waddy R G rry Adavale Eidsvold HERVEY Point Au ga the worth finding! The dramatic views deserve a fully lla Thylungra Ambathala R Childers BAY Glastonbury Creek camping area, featuring N Taroom n Mt Hutton charged camera and lots of images. Please be Howard HERVEY Gis the only official Mundubbera et t 940 Biggende large grassy campsites BAY Injune n E careful of the edges as landslides are common, k FRA t Gayndah M C ar yboroughSER ISLAND place to camp. Sites must be pre-booked at Ch arl evi lle manga pie so Quil supervise carefully. A mere 800 Morven Wandoan Chechildren epie Tiaro Brooyar State Forest www.nprsr.qld.gov.au or by phone la metres is another fantastic lookout with an eeasy We stgate Proston lla Mungallala W a Tin Can Ba ll Mount Margaret Gu u Cooladdi g Mitch13 uba charges billa Mobile phonelug ell QGOV y Ro(13 ma 74 m68). Murgon turn-around area to incorporate the twoAn in an Yuleba Wonda i Gympie Dulacca may apply. easy drive from camp. (Lat/Long 26d 14.953’S, Miles Toompine Kingaroy Tobermory Chinchilla Cooroy 152d 29.892’E) NOOSA H Jandowae For campers, fire rings are provided but Wyandra EADS Nanango Co Tartulla Nambour Heading back toHume camp, the sun starts to burn Su n MAROOC Cond bring your own rat timber. Fuel stoves are Bell Yarraman katunga amine dam H i ne dip behind the ranges to the west. As darkness CALOU N YDORE Kilcoy morgabe n put Tara in recommended. Fire bansGlen can DRA Bribie Is Mea ndarra Dalby Crows Thargomindah descends, we feel an urgency to get back before Bongareeland Nest place quickly. Dynevor Es k C o ape M Kum it’s pitchDowblack. Our aim ns Cunnam Lake Wiv Cabooltu ulla is to revisit maps for llo Cecil Plain barilla Oa enhoe re Moreto oreton s Lake Kajara Bu ke y Bollon n Island bie allowed on a leash.Moonie Dogs are Eulo next day.  Yakara another journey the Moreton Pittsworth Gatton River Bay Murra Murra St George Millmerran A e Leumeah B IPSWIC nn H Lake Wyara lo OOM Woolerina North S Jimboom Nindigully Ba DARLING TOOW ba Bundaleer Caiwarro db Clifton | Is39 roke GBo OonC T Rtr AaL IA d DOWNS Westlea ah A M P I N G ASU ouS land th Strad alwoo Toobeah T R broke I Hungerford Be i au d in de se rt w i W d ar n G w ic O o Dirranbandi k L D a o M C C o a O P r Th Ki G r llarney allon H ER SO N AST e lg Inglewood ur TW Cu Hebel Riv ab Ri


Reader’s Story

Not a

bite.

Words and Images: Kevin Leslie

A solo winter fishing trip across three states yields nothing but steak for dinner…

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or some, camping during winter means a chance to escape to warmer climates. Warm days, balmy nights wearing only t-shirts, shorts or a swimsuit is a great way to experience the northern part of Australia. However, some people can’t travel north easily, so if they want to go camping in the middle of the year, they have to endure the southern winter. This is not necessarily all bad: firstly, there are very few crowds at many popular places, secondly, there is usually a better selection of camp spots, and thirdly, the service from the staff at venues is better because they aren’t rushed off their feet. Recently, I went on a solo trip from Adelaide to Wyong on the central coast of NSW. As a keen fisher, I’d always wanted to try fishing some of the country’s inland waterways. However, I realised there would be a good chance of not catching anything because of the colder weather, but some internet research indicated there were still fish to be had and I might get lucky. After reading a lot of online forums and visiting the local tackle shop, I armed myself with a selection of lures, which included minnows, worms and spinners, and bought some light line for the reel. I also needed to take a lighter rod for casting, so I selected a 1.8 metre rod that belonged to my father and another smaller, collapsible rod as a backup. There was a possibility of catching a Murray cod, large carp, redfin, golden perch (commonly known as yellow

40 |

GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

From top to bottom: The last fishing attempt.  My solo winter journey rig at Medindie, SA.  The rugged Limestone Coast.


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Clockwise from above: Campaspe River from Aysons Reserve.  Yellow quilts adorn the HMAS Otway.  A campfire makes a camp cosy.  The impressive Woakwine Cutting.  Hosts David and Lorraine at the Sandy Hollow Art Gallery in the Hunter Valley.  The boat ramp at Burrendong was a little short!  Lowering tyre pressure is essential for soft sand.  Hay Plains is aptly named in south-west NSW.

belly) and catfish, so I threw in the 2.4 metre rod too. The weather looked promising as I headed out of Adelaide towards the seaside town of Robe on the Limestone Coast. One of the oldest towns in South Australia, it was first settled in 1802 and became the state’s second busiest port. During the Victorian gold rush, around 1867, about 16000 Chinese landed at Robe. The Victorian Government had introduced a ten pound landing tax (more than their fare to Australia) to reduce the number of Chinese immigrants, so to avoid this tax they landed at Robe and walked more than 300 kilometres to the goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo. Robe is also the start of a beach drive known as the Robe to Beachport run. It can be completed in a day, but is better enjoyed in two. Beware the weather and tides though as the beaches are very soft in places and include some steep entry and exit points. After staying at Little Dip National Park overnight, I headed to Nelson just over the Victorian border. A point of interest along the way is the Woakwine Cutting. It was made by a local farmer to drain a swamp on his property so he could turn it into grazing land. He took almost three years and, with the aid of one helper, a D7 bulldozer, a seven-tonne drain ripper and some explosives, removed 276,000 cubic metres of material. I imagined a 42 |

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big ditch and wasn’t prepared for the 34-metre by one kilometre yawning chasm that opened up below the viewing platform. These days it would probably be considered an environmental disaster, but considering how it was built, it’s quite an engineering feat. Nelson sits on the Glenelg River next to the Lower Glenelg National park; my first fishing spot. No bites. Two friendly ladies behind the counter at the boat ramp kiosk gave some directions to a spot called Sapling Creek where I fished for a little over an hour using prawns on a simple running rig and started to get some bites until threatening weather forced me to head back to camp. The trip back was slow and nerve-racking to say the least, very dark and with several kangaroo near misses. When the heavens opened up that night I was grateful for the comfort of my little caravan and glad I wasn’t in a tent! Rocklands Reservoir is about twenty kilometres from the small town of Balmoral. I had planned to stay at Mountain Dam Campground but had to resort to plan ‘B’ when the road in was closed. Luckily, Glendinning Campground wasn’t too far away and turned out to be a very pleasant spot with clean toilets and plenty of space. There were numerous fire pits and some lovely views of the reservoir from almost every campsite. Here, I fished with a fixed line with bait and also threw a spinner in with the hope of

getting a strike. Two hours later I knew I wasn’t having fish that night, so I headed back to make a fire and cook a steak. On a misty, cool morning I set out for Aysons Reserve, a free camping spot next to the Campaspe River about forty-five kilometres from Bendigo. There are flushing toilets, lots of space for tents, vans and motorhomes and a boat ramp. The sun came out and the colour of the trees in the afternoon light was spectacular. A good spot to try my luck at fishing again, I thought. After catching two logs, an overhead branch and losing a spinner, frustration was setting in. The next day was wet and it rained all the way to Wangaratta. Bypassing a stop at Warby-Ovens National Park I opted for a night at a caravan park at Holbrook in NSW; enjoying a hot shower and an electric heater! Holbrook was the last town bypassed by the Hume Freeway and has a unique attraction in the town park – a 90-metre submarine, the HMAS Otway. I was amused to see it ‘yarn bombed’ and covered by bright yellow hand-knitted quilts; an art project in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to Australia. Hundreds of people from all over Australia contributed to the project and the quilts were to be removed and given to animal welfare agencies when the display was over. On to Burrinjuck Waters State Park with powered and unpowered sites as well as cabins,


a playground, shop and boat ramp. Burrinjuck Dam is popular for fishing, swimming and boating. I arrived on a sunny afternoon and asked the woman in the office if there were any fishing reports. She took out a note pad and proceeded to give me the low down on recent catches. I was getting excited – until she said they were all caught from a boat. Apparently, there had been no recorded catches from the shoreline for some time! Undaunted, I went to a small cove and saw movement in the water that had to be fish. I had worms, I had several lures – I caught nothing … Despondent, I cooked dinner by myself only surrounded by kangaroos – an advantage of off-season camping. I took advantage of four days in Canberra with family to play ‘tourist’. Number one on the list was the Australian War Memorial. Catching the WWI exhibit proved as difficult as catching a fish! It was closed for an upgrade. My grandfather was in the Light Horse Brigade and fought in Europe and I really wanted to find out more. However, I did meet someone assisting people to find family war records and was able to find my grandfather’s service records to download at home. I also enjoyed the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex with its historic Apollo displays and information on future projects,

including the exploration of Mars. The complex is part of a network of antennas located in various parts of the world that monitor space craft in orbit. They even have a piece of moon rock. Norah Head on the NSW Central Coast, another family visit and another fishing attempt – this time from the beach. I found a good-looking gutter and tried with the last of my pilchards and prawns. The tide, however, was on the way out and, of course, it was a dismal failure. It was time to turn around and go home. I took some of the lesser-travelled roads through small towns like Yarramalong, Bucketty, and Paynes Crossing heading towards the Hunter Valley and the Central Tablelands. A route to enjoy the scenery and not just get to a destination. I bunkered down to wait out a storm at Lake Burrendong, not far from Wellington. Once again I was glad to be in my van as there was a guy camping in a tent nearby who would have been pretty cold as he cooked his dinner under an awning off the side of his car. Winter camping is much more comfortable in a cosy caravan with a heater, a hot mug of tea and a good book. I spent the next couple of days travelling through West Wyalong then across the Hay Plains to Balranald and Mildura. The last night out was to be at the Murray River National Park about eighteen kilometres from Berri. I managed to find a perfect camp spot

amongst huge river gums next to a wide creek that ran straight to the Murray River. There was only one other camp that was several hundred metres away, otherwise I was alone. As it was now warm and sunny, I took the last opportunity to fish. With both a baited set line and a spinner on the other, I cast and set the lines in different spots. I really don’t know what I did wrong! There was not a nibble. Different lures and spinners yielded zip. After more than two hours I conceded that my inland waters fishing prowess was less than spectacular. It had been in the back of my mind that the cold weather could affect my chances, however, it was enjoyable all the same. Sometimes the pleasure of fishing is simply standing with a rod in hand taking in the pleasant surroundings of this beautiful country that we are so lucky to live in. Eventually I put the fishing gear away and got the campfire going. Because collecting firewood is banned in most national parks, I always carry a bag of wood from home. Overall the weather wasn’t all that bad and I was mostly able to get out and about to have a go at fishing. In fact, there was only once that I decided not to try because of bad weather. On the morrow I would arrive home and my solo winter journey would be over. So, with a glass of red wine and a cosy fire burning, I sat back, cooked my dinner and enjoyed a beautiful spot by a peaceful creek.  GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

| 43


Bob Sproston – a man who likes to think outside the square.

No time

to rest Words and images: Matthew MacDermott

A

s a former bus owner and driver, Bob Sproston has had a lot of practice at listening. His mechanical and engineering background has also taught him to always ‘think outside the square’. Bob, 78 and retired for the past 10 years, has put these skills to good use throughout his relentless research into the design of camper trailers. Specifically, what people want from a 44 |

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camper trailer, what they like, what they don’t like and how, like many things in life, a simple solution may just be the best answer. According to Bob, a regular 6x4 or 7x4 box trailer is commonly in use today, however from talking to people at camper trailer shows over many years, he has a unique insight into how he believes the design of camper trailers can be improved, simplified and made more accessible, convenient and enjoyable for more people.

‘A camper trailer is for camping, it must be portable and everything should be at arm’s length,’ he says. ‘It’s only really for sleeping in so it should be comfortable, but it doesn’t have to have all of life’s luxuries. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. ‘I believe there are a lot of camper designs out there that are over-engineered and customers are getting caught up in the hype and buying on price, not convenience. My design is certainly not over-engineered. It is so simple, but it has never been done before.’ The result of Bob’s research, and many years of listening, problem solving and fine-tuning, is his REST camper research and design project (the REST name stands for Robert E Sproston Trailer, and also points to a good night’s rest and putting the owner’s mind at rest due to its simplicity and ease of use). It is based on an astonishingly simple camper trailer design, built on the foundations of just three main components plus a chassis. The three interchangeable components sit


Some of Bob’s prototype camper trailer models.

on the chassis and can be configured into an impressive 33 different design combinations to meet individual needs. Bob’s alternate design approach can create personalised camper trailers for towing by motorbikes right up to top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive vehicles. He keeps the exact dimensions close to his chest, but he has built models to support his designs and has had a civil engineer and engineer test the strength and weight calculations. The designs comply with speed restrictions and capabilities by towing vehicle manufacturers and government transport requirements, and will be easily accommodated on all Australian motor rail car carriers. Bob displays his models and supporting research at shows such as the recent National Camper Trailer Group held at Glen Innes, where he listens to feedback and suggestions on how he can further enhance his designs. He now has his sights set on seeking out a manufacturer to commercialise his innovative designs so he can finally see his idea become a reality. Bob says the spark for his obsession with camper trailer design came from his insistence that ‘box trailers were only ever made for rubbish’. ‘Retired and with time on my hands, I became inquisitive as to why camper trailers were made from a box trailer that was designed for carting rubbish,’ he says. ‘Visiting camper trailer shows and talking to lots of people, I thought there has to be a way that utilises space better than a box trailer and provides a simple, convenient and affordable solution. ‘When you talk to people, a lot of them have good ideas, but I suppose I have the background and personality to put them together into something that works.’ Originally from Sydney, Bob owned buses in Bangalow in northern New South Wales. In the late 1980s he moved to Queensland’s Gold Coast, where he continued his tours and charter bus business and this is where he still lives today. He bought his first camper trailer in the 1970s and travelled throughout New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland with

his wife and two kids. He now prefers a cabin when travelling, courtesy of a hip replacement (‘a common bus driver’s complaint ... too much time using the clutch’). Years behind the wheel of buses (he still holds a commercial bus licence) taught Bob the art of listening and the problem solving skills required to keep a vast number of passengers and personalities happy. ‘As a bus owner and driver, you talk to lots of people about many different things. You ask lots of questions, you listen and you try and help them out,’ he explains. ‘I have an enquiring mind and can pick up on things that others may not hear or see. ‘I think I have always tried to think outside the square, or upside down, and asked questions about everything. I love being a sticky beak, so when I started visiting camper trailer shows and talking to manufacturers and their salespeople, I frightened the hell out of them!’ Bob believes that many people end up buying a camper trailer that is not really suited to their individual needs. He says people think they want luxury and buy a complete fixed package, but are merely buying for ‘ego’s sake’ and not looking at the overall picture of how much they will use it, in what conditions, and what they really need. He says one of the problems is that the industry needs five clear definitions to differentiate between different products and their uses: Extreme Terrain Camper Trailer (ETCT), Off Track Terrain Camper Trailer (OTTCT), Track Camper Trailer (TCT), Camper Trailer (CT) and Motor Rail (MR). From many years of listening to those who want to buy or make camper trailers, Bob thinks he has a pretty good handle on the needs of the average Camper Trailer (CT) user. Men want an adventurous getaway, no stress, something easy to tow, a strong solid chassis, easy to park, goes anywhere, easy set-up, storage and security and can handle all weather conditions. Women want the comforts of home, a place to change without climbing a ladder to get into bed, privacy and not being closed in, a convenient area so as not to go outside, and to be able to make the bed without having to climb over it.

On the flipside, the manufacturer wants something that is easy to make, easy to transport and gives customers variety without straying from quality and reliability. ‘The REST camper design has been created from both the customers’ and manufacturers’ perspective,’ Bob says. ‘For the customer, a camper trailer should be designed to make a holiday cheaper, easier and more enjoyable and to go anywhere your vehicle will go. For the manufacturer, our design can be used for a small vehicle right up to a large vehicle, all from one single plan to make it easy for any combination required.’ So how are Bob and his thought-provoking designs welcomed at trade shows these days? ‘Some manufacturers won’t talk to me. Others will say “hello Bob” and have a bit of a chat,’ he says. ‘I am not their competitor. I am a designer that wants to improve camper trailers. I am not a manufacturer or in sales. ‘I want manufacturers to look at the idea. It is a different type and style of construction than they are used to. I have a simple idea to put to manufacturers, but whoever does take this up will have a very flexible design for multiple combinations and will make a lot of money out of add-ons.’ Some of the extras that could be fitted to the REST designs include: single beds, double beds, queen size beds, king size beds; wet area for use as portable toilet and/or shower; safe and lockable bin; two to six drawers; slideout bed; easy to make all around bed; fixed or portable kitchen; airconditioning or heater only; 240V outlet and/or 12V; colour to match towing vehicle; with rear floor or without rear floor; ample inside height; easy assembly with counterweight for one person. 

For more information, contact: REST Camper Research and Solutions Designs Bob Sproston Ph: (07) 5563 3623 Mob: 0407 793 739 Skype: restcampers Email: restcampers@gmail.com Web: www.restcampers.com GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

| 45


Maverick Hammock Swag Review

Just

hangin’ around Words: Andrea Ferris

S

ometimes I don’t want to sleep on the ground – it might be rocky, or wet, or sandy, or sloping, or prickly. Not to mention the threat of insects, spiders, snakes, and dingoes. So what’s the solution? A hammock tent. The hammock tent is gaining in popularity as clever designers and modern materials solve some of the down-sides of hammock dwelling. Queensland-based Jeff Mee is one such designer. A keen adventure bike enthusiast, Jeff wanted a hammock tent that didn’t give him ‘banana back’ – so he invented the Maverick Hammock Swag – it’s kind of a tent crossed with a swag crossed with a hammock! The Maverick has an ingenious frame that tensions the surface to create a ‘flat’ sleeping area. This is particularly great for tummy and side sleepers like myself. Intrigued, and a little sceptical regarding the comfort factor, I strapped the Maverick Hammock Swag on the bike and took off for a test ‘hang and snooze’.

Size and weight The Maverick kit weighs in at 4 kg and measures 67 cm. Well-suited for a motorbike, boat or kayak/ canoe trip, but too hefty for comfortable hiking. (Although you can leave the frame at home for a 1.5 kg lighter pack.) Hanging I put the hammock together at home before I left, read and re-read the instructions, and watched Jeff’s YouTube instruction videos a couple of times. Hanging the Maverick is straightforward, 46 |

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Clockwise from left: The Maverick Hammock Swag set up with tarp fly (and dog!). Photo: Andrea Ferris  The webbing support is tree-friendly and strong. Photo: Andrea Ferris  The Maverick Hammock Swag packed easily on my bike. Photo: Andrea Ferris  The Maverick set up in ‘ground mode’. Photo: Jeff Mee

but not simple. Like any new tent, the set up gets quicker the more times you do it. I took 20 minutes to get set up, but Jeff says he’s got it down to just five! The kit comes with all the webbing, buckles, cord, straps, poles and pegs needed as well as a paper-copy and a CD of the instructions. (A PDF is available on the website.) I used trees, but the hammock can be hung between any supporting structure including your bike or bullbar. (It can also be set up on the ground in ground mode.) Then the frame is assembled and tensioned by bending and clipping the fibreglass poles across the bottom. This is tricky and I needed some strong arm help from the other half (TOH) until I perfected the technique. From here it’s a matter of tying a light para-cord between the trees and clipping the bug net to it, and adjusting the straps to get the hammock the right height above the ground to take your weight. The tarp fly, if you need it, is tied between the trees at whatever height necessary. Next time I’ll include another light rope for the tarp to hang over, which I think will help if it’s windy or wet.

Snoozing One can just throw in the sleeping bag and pillow at this point, but I chose to include my inflatable hiking mat for extra comfort and to provide some insulation from below. Another tip is to use a ‘space blanket’ under your sleeping bag if you’re trying to keep the weight down. First impression was how roomy it felt. I could sit up easily and there was acres of space in the storage areas and at my feet (I’m 165 cm).

It wobbled, which would make having a cup of tea in bed tricky, but I soon got used to that and tested the tummy sleeping position – perfect.

Packing up Packing up the Maverick is just the reverse of the hanging set up. I found removing the poles and unclipping the frame difficult, but TOH stepped in to help and I’m sure I’ll improve the technique in the future. The whole thing rolls up and stows into its bag without a struggle. Quality The Maverick Hammock Swag is made from rip-stop nylon reinforced with Dyeema®, which is touted as being the world’s strongest fibre, and is rated to take 150 kg. The bug fly is midgeproof and the hexagonal tarp fly is waterproof rip-stop nylon. Who’d use it? The Maverick Hammock Swag is perfect for anyone that gets adventurous. It’s useful for ‘stealth’ camping because it’s a leave-no-trace footprint and won’t damage the trees. It can be hung anywhere, so no need to find a level, cleared spot. It’s small enough to pack easily on a motorbike and will fit in the kayak hatches with a bit of practical thought. Wrap up The Maverick is a clever, comfortable option for hammock camping and, at $271.00, is an affordable alternative to a tent.  Order online at www.maverickgear.com.au


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Paint the desert

A palette of desert hues

Words and images: Jill Harrison

Mt Arckaringa landscape, a photographer and painter’s delight.

E

volved over 80 million years, the fragile landscape of South Australia’s Painted Desert is slowly eroding to reveal the rich colours beneath the surface in the hues of a desert artist’s palette. It was with relief that we finally pulled up under the shade of the gum trees surrounding the Arckaringa Station homestead around midday. We had had enough of the dust, the heat, and the rocky track. Then, as we piled out of the four-wheel drive, a station truck pulled up next to us and a craggy weather-worn face under a battered Akubra hat greeted us with, ‘G-day’. Hobbsy, the station manager as it turned out, told us to ‘pick a spot’ to set up camp amongst the scrubby trees out the back. We’d been on the road for a few days, so a hot shower was high on the agenda. Housed in a corrugated iron shed, the showers definitely have an Aussie outback feel, but they were clean and the water hot. Bliss. Make sure you have a shower early though as you don’t want to be left in the dark when the diesel power generator cuts out! Arckaringa Station became one of our favourite camps during a trip through South Australia. Although the facilities might be considered basic, this is more than compensated for by the expansive views over the coloured hills and rock formations of the spectacular Painted Desert from camp. Evolved over 80 million years, this fragile landscape, which was once an ancient inland sea bed, is slowly eroding away. As the top layers of soil dry out and fall away, the rich colours beneath the surface are revealed. The leaching of minerals from the soil and the ironstone, shale, sand and gravel create bands in hues of red,

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brown, orange, yellow and white that change colour throughout the day. Mt Arckaringa and the Painted Desert is about eleven kilometres from the homestead out along the Arckaringa to Oodnadatta Road. The area is protected within the Arckaringa Hills state heritage area and much of the land is inaccessible due to its ruggedness and protected cultural sites. A public access track leads to a parking area from where there is a half-hour walking track to the lookout. The views are amazing, so bring a camera. It can get very hot, so make sure to

wear a hat and carry water. The flies were very friendly too, so I recommend wearing a fly net! The station has hosted many groups of painters, photographers and geologists over the years. We chatted to one couple, Martha and Brian, who had travelled up from Adelaide just to photograph the Painted Hills. They were enthusiastic about their day spent taking photos around the base of Mt Arckaringa. The area may look quite barren at first glance, but we saw numerous wildflowers including mulla mulla pushing up through the rocky ground. The wildflower season is dependent on rain and,

The track from Cadney to Arckaringa winds through the Copper Hills.


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according to Hobbsy, winter rains produce different wildflowers to cyclonic rain. A few kilometres further east of Mt Arckaringa is the Mt Batterbee Lookout that you can drive to from the main track for some expansive views. On our first evening we drove out to Mt Arckaringa to watch the sunset lighting up the rock faces and spreading a kaleidoscope of colours across the sky. Be on the lookout for wandering stock and wildlife on the way back to camp. There are several ways to reach Arckaringa; east of Cadney Roadhouse on the Stuart Highway via the Painted Desert Road; west of Oodnadatta along the Oodnadatta-Arckaringa Road; or travel north of Coober Pedy via Kemp Road. These are all gravel roads, but we found them to be in good condition in September. The drive from Cadney Station winds through breakaway country and the visually dramatic Copper Hills, which are named for their copper Desert sunset sky. colours. Road conditions vary and are very stony in parts. Be aware of washaways and sharp dips at the creek-lines, and drive to the conditions. In contrast, the road up from Coober Pedy recommend driving up through the Moon Plain, travels across the flat, rocky and featureless but check at the visitor centre at Coober Pedy lunar-like Moon Plain and through the curiously for current road conditions. named ‘Lollypop Lane’ (apparently for the trees The history of Arckaringa dates back to the that dot this area), before entering Mt Barry cattle early 1940s when it was owned by the McLeod station. About sixteen kilometres from Coober family. The Williams family purchased the Pedy you pass through the world’s longest fence, property in 1989. the State Barrier Fence of Western Australia. Arckaringa Station covers 2745 square The Moon Plain has been the site of kilometres of gibber plains, Ranchcreek systems and Wallara D BLOO S RA Lake breakaway country. The station runs up to 2100 numerous movies Kaltuk including Mad Max, Priscilla atjara deushead of cattle and is watered by seventeen Ama RA ) Stark and Queen of the Desert, Pitch Black, Red er River (Dock WL IN S O P E T E N Planet. RMAbed, it is almost RA Imanpa Originally an ancient sea bores and tanks,Angas twenty dams and numerous Downs NN Erldundaof completely devoid of vegetation andRAmammals, waterholes. With an average annual rainfall S ion Yulara Ebenezer Stat Mount al orologic Rock rs Uluru/Aye but rich in fossil specimens and soTjuta/M of great t Olga 139 mm, Arckaringa relies on sufficient rain to Kata 863 1066 generate Springs native plants and Curtin interest to palaeontologists. the growth of various Stevenson Peak If you are coming up from the south, grasses to graze stock. 1025 I Mt Cockburn 1134

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Peake

The Painted Desert

Further information Facilities at Arckaringa Station: Bunkhouse with double and single beds, flushing toilet and hot 50 |

Arckaringa

Mount Willoughby

Bookings are required for the bunkhouse but not the campground. Lake Meramangye

When to go April to September. Not recommended More Information: October to March as temperatures may reach Wyola Lake Dey-Dey Lake www.thepainteddesert.com.au 45 to 50°C. Phone: 08 8670 7992

Todmorden

Welbourn Hill

BYO supplies, fuel, food and drinking water. Pets: Allowed on lead, but not to be taken into the bunkhouse.

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Oodnadatta

No camping is allowed in the state heritage area.

Serpentine Lakes

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© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2012

4WD recommended. Check road conditions at R Ttake Coober Pedy, Cadney or D Oodnadatta E S E and I A T O R V I C note of road condition signage.

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The Painted Desert is 150 km north of Coober Thomas Mt Sir Pedy via Kemp Road, 100 km805 east of Cadney Roadhouse and the Stuart Highway via the Painted Desert Road, or 90 km south west of Oodnadatta via the Oodnadatta-Arckaringa Road.

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Wildlife includes grey kangaroos, euros, dunnarts, reptiles, dingoes, raptors, cockatoos, emus, wild turkeys, zebra finches, spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and crested pigeons. If camping is not your style, opt for the bunkhouse accommodation. There is a basic covered communal camp kitchen and a campfire area where visitors gather in the evenings to talk about their travels. Titjikala If you’re looking for a station stay in Idracowra spectacular country, I thoroughly recommend Arckaringa. When we were done exploring, we Horseshoe Bendscrubby trees and were content to sit under the watch the changing colours of the Painted Hills from the comfort of Fi our chairs.Andado The worldS I M P nkcamp e Lilla Creek Finke  seemed far, far away. New Crown

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Magnificent Mudgee –

winelands and wilderness With gold rush history, national parks and small town charm, it doesn’t take long to slip into ‘Mudgee time’ – just add wine.

Words: Julie Ihle

W

e’ve broken the law already. ‘Excuse me, have you paid?’ we hear someone calling as we saunter without a care in the world from Mudgee’s large service club. Two wait staff are chasing us and, with a jolt, we realise we haven’t actually paid for our lamb shanks and local wine. Thankfully, it is laughs all round as we go back inside to pay; proof that we have well and truly slipped into ‘Mudgee time’. We are in Mudgee for a reunion with old friends (the best kind of friends!). We were here together more than 20 years ago; way before Mudgee leapt onto the tourist radar. Since then I’ve been back for a few days here and there and seen it come of age over the years. When my friends and I were scouting around for a weekend away destination, it seemed to fit the bill. The criteria? Close to Sydney, but far away enough, a dash of wine, a bit of adventure and most importantly, a place where we can be ourselves. We arrived late afternoon, just in time to slip in a little wine tasting. We headed to Vinifera Wines, which does a nice line in Spanish varietals, as Mudgee’s climate is very similar to that of Spain. The winery was about to close, but the cellar door manager kindly ushered us in and poured us 52 |

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generous tastings of Gran Tinto and Graciano, and we tasted local relishes. Mudgee is like that. It unleashes a charm offensive in quite an understated way. It’s easy to see how Mudgee regularly wins plaudits for being one of Australia’s best small towns. There’s a sense of prosperity, evident as you stroll (don’t rush!) through town. Elegant wine bars sit cheek by jowl with old-school pubs. Mudgee’s parks are well maintained with park benches under lovely old English trees. It offers wide, spacious streets (thank heavens for those colonial town planners), the stately buildings lend an air of dignity to town and the people seem, well, just plain nice. No wonder the tourist information centre proudly calls Mudgee ‘hype-free’. If you are lucky enough to be around on the third Saturday of the month, the farmer’s markets are on. Mudgee has one of country New South Wales’ most picturesque markets, framed by two magnificent churches, St Mary’s and St John’s, diagonally opposite each other. It’s the best place to pick up local olive oils, honey, wine jellies, cheese, sourdough and art or just have fun photographing the hustle and bustle of the market with the towering churches as backdrop. It is not market day the day we are there, but a wander down Market Street is nearly as good.

It is lined with sun-drenched eateries and a row of majestic colonial buildings. Mudgee’s colonial architecture is a legacy of the gold rush days when Mudgee was the administrative centre for the nearby riotous goldfields of Gulgong and Hill End. Settled by Europeans in 1822, it wasn’t until the 1850s, when the gold rush took off, that Mudgee’s grandiose public buildings were erected. The National Trust describes them as ‘one of the finest groups of townscape in a country area’. The area’s history goes back much further, of course. The Wiradjuri people roamed the area making use of the natural cave system in what are now some of the state’s most popular national parks. We plan on tackling the national parks later, but at the moment we want to sample one of Mudgee’s key attractions – wine. There has been a wine industry in Mudgee since the gold rush days and in the 1970s it reestablished itself but was derided as ‘Mudgee Mud’. Today, Mudgee is regarded as a serious winemaking region and produces 14 million bottles a year. Its Mediterranean-style climate produces a range of shiraz and chardonnay, as well as Spanish-style wines and a new kid on the block, zinfandel. Mudgee Tourist Information Centre offers a


Clockwise from far left: Enjoy walking and canoeing at Dunns Swamp Camping Ground. Photo: Evolving Images; Destination NSW  Mudgee’s stately buildings weather the storm. Photo: Julie Ihle  On ya bike – Mudgee is a cycling hub and at Easter hosts the family-friendly Bike Muster. Photo: Julie Ihle  Organic wine tasting at Lowe Wines after taking the new Wine Walk. Photo: Julie Ihle  Historic Rylstone is a stone’s throw from Mudgee. Photo: Julie Ihle

free winery ‘mud map’ and then it’s a matter of choosing a mode of transport: car, tour bus or bicycle to get around. In keeping with its traditional old-fashioned feel, Mudgee is proud to be a bike hub and hosts a family-friendly Bike Muster at Easter. There is a dedicated bike trail from town to the start of wine country and, once you are in the midst of the vineyards, the roads are peaceful and relaxed. Mudgee cellar doors are an altogether different experience from the larger wine regions. Here you are more likely to talk directly with the winemaker and wineries usually allow generous tastings of their wines. It’s interactive and fun, none more so than the lauded small cellar door, Lowe Wines. When we arrive, the cellar door manager greets us cheerily, ‘Do you fancy a wine walk? There’ll be tastings when you finish!’ she enthuses. Furnished with big colour maps of their new Wine Walk & Cycle Trail we are off to follow the well-marked path. We make our way past cork trees to raspberry plantations where we pick fruit straight from the tree (remembering the instructions to leave some raspberries for the kids!), meandering past the stone fruit orchard and the fig plantation. In the interests of allowing enough time for wine tasting, we bypass the olive groves, donkeys and the chook palace and return to enjoy the organic wine back at the rustic cellar door. With more than forty cellar doors in the area, you’re spoilt for choice but, if you’ve packed a picnic, Bunnamagoo has hands-down the best picnic grounds. Di Lusso’s is one of the most popular wineries cum eateries, it feels so Italian that you want to break out in a verse of Amore. If you are a little wined out, there’s alcohol of a different kind at Mudgee Brewing Company, and Baker Williams Distillery, next to Vinifera Wines, is a vodka and spirits distillery. Don’t miss Mudgee Mead & Honey Haven, the premises are a little dated, but the mead and honey products are as lip-smacking as ever and the product range is huge. Once you’re done with the vineyards there’s always the great outdoors. Mudgee delivers on this front too, blessed with elegant town parks and lashings of nature. We mosey through Lawson Park past the well-maintained exercise stations and barbeque facilities and watch a family feeding the ducks. Robertson Park, opposite the tourist office, feels like old England, its band rotunda a legacy of another, more graceful, era. For pure unadulterated nature, a thirty-minute drive north of town is Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve, worth visiting for the name alone. Of course there are other reasons to be there; it is a birdwatcher’s paradise with more than 160 different species recorded, and it has picnic areas and walking trails. If the weather’s good, there are several outstanding national parks nearby. The rugged Gardens of Stone, south of Mudgee is an expansive wilderness with rock pagodas and wraparound views. The granddaddy of them all is Wollemi National Park; the state’s largest wilderness area, which has World Heritage status thanks to the ancient Wollemi Pine tree. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Dunns Swamp (or more lyrically, Ganguddy to the local Aboriginals), east of Rylstone, is the most easily accessed part of the park from Mudgee and a good place to pitch the tent. Set amongst stunning sandstone pagoda rock formations, it’s a haven for canoeing, swimming and walking. But if history is your thing, Mudgee’s satellite towns dish out heritage and good food in equal measure. About a 45-minute drive away is tiny Rylstone, which is like Mudgee in miniature, lined with sandstone buildings and some good eateries. In neighbouring Kandos, limestone, coal and shale were discovered in the late 1800s, forming the basis of the cement industry. At its peak Kandos had the largest cement works in the Southern Hemisphere, and provided cement for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Savour the good life in Mudgee. Photo: Julie Ihle However, the most impressive drawcard is Gulgong. Normally a thirty-minute drive, our trip was slowed down as we stopped and waited The life and works of Australia’s great balladeer As for dinner, The Oriental does a good oldfor an echidna to cross the road; surely one of are displayed at the Henry Lawson Centre fashioned pub meal as does Club Mudgee. If the cutest reasons ever to slow down. Once we and he is further celebrated every June long you want to splurge, Blue Wren, set in a vineyard, arrive, Gulgong is a revelation. The houses with weekend at the Henry Lawson Heritage Festival. offers a courtesy bus service. their wide verandas and ornate facades look If that doesn’t appeal, come in March for the Our Mudgee reunion ends all too soon and like a film set, with more than 130 buildings that Too mp hilla ine Tobermory Rabbit Races! unfortunately it’s time to return to the big smoke. Chinc Jan have National Trust classification. At the heart of Wyandra C Ta Make sureHuyou are back in Mudgee for beer We are already planning a return trip, there’s still rtu the gold rush, 20,000 people flocked to the area lla meburn o Surat Condamine nda Nockatunga B or wine o’clock. The colonial pubs oblige on both more wine to sample and more bushwalking trails min and its narrow streets follow where the original Glenmorga e n Tara fronts or there are two eclectic wine bars in town: to explore. We hightail it back to Sydney, our city tent lines were. Mea ndarra Thargomindah Orientos souls replenished, old friendships renewed and nevor Wineglass Bar and Grill, and Roths. Historic Gulgong’s most famous son is Henry DyThe o Kum Do wn Cu s nnam ulla llo in the area, Roths, on the lesser-trod side of Market Street, feeling twenty years younger – Mudgee will do Cecil Plainsbarilla Lawson, who spent his earlyBudays Lake Kajara Bollon Moonie bi e is my fave for its weekend music. that to you!  Eulo while his goldminer hisarafortune. Pittsw Bulloofather River Downs pursued Yak

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The

Ultimate Journey

Words: Claudia Bouma Images: Chris Bouma

Life is about the journey, not the destination; particularly on an expedition to Deua National Park in NSW.

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t is often said that life is a journey, not a destination, and this simple truth equally applies to four-wheel-drive touring. When you spend a lot of time on the road, it’s crucial to enjoy being en route to yet another magical spot. The journey from Bateman’s Bay to Deua National Park via the King’s Highway in NSW’s Southern Tablelands is relatively short, yet spectacular. The steep five-kilometre climb through the Great Dividing Range up the notorious Clyde Mountain is not for the fainthearted. In fact, casualty crash rates on the King’s Highway are eighty-five percent higher than the state average. Near the top of the mountain we pass ‘Pooh’s Corner’, a rock cave filled with a multitude of soft toys. During World War II the cave was used to store munitions that could be detonated if it was considered necessary to prevent Japanese access to the nation’s capital. After conquering the mountain we reach the historic town of Braidwood; the first complete town to be listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. The main street is dominated by a number of Georgian buildings, the majority dating back to the 19th century. It is a friendly place where you can easily spend a day or two. 56 |

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Our journey continues to Araluen, dubbed the ‘Valley of Peace’ by poet Henry Kendall. Initially, the road meanders through grazing country until we reach the foot of Araluen Mountain – it pays to take it easy along the tight corners of this windy road. Descending into the picturesque Araluen Valley it isn’t hard to imagine why the area is considered a peaceful place. Surrounded by impressive forest-clad mountains on every side, the valley breathes tranquillity. Once known as one of the richest goldfields in Australian history, the region is the perfect place to escape the demands of everyday life, even if it is just for a couple of days. Free camping is available at the Araluen Nature Reserve, five kilometres from the Araluen Valley Hotel, off Majors Creek Road. The large shady camping ground has basic facilities, including non-flush toilets, gas barbeques and bins. You need to bring your own drinking water, but the nearby Araluen Creek usually has enough water for washing dishes and showering. A further twenty-two kilometres down a relatively good dirt road is the Deua River camping ground, which also signals the start of the national park. Baker’s Flat campground is a couple of kilometres along the same road, but if you want to pitch your tent at Dry Creek – a small

camp, set high above the she-oak lined Deua River – you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle. The Dry Creek Fire Trail is a steep and challenging track through this remote wilderness area. Hooking up with the Merricumbene Fire Trail and eventually the Bendethera Fire Trail, it leads to the secluded Bendethera camping area. This remote bush camp in a scenic valley is the perfect location from which to explore the wondrous Bendethera Caves, where public access is allowed. The eight-kilometre return walk takes about two and a half hours and it’s advisable to take a torch. The track crosses Con Creek several times before a steep 350-metre climb to the cave entrance. Bendethera Main Cave features huge caverns up to fifteen metres high with impressive limestone formations. The cave is about 250 metres long and ranges in width from three to twenty metres. The trip to Wyanbene Cave is a lot shorter and easier, especially with young kids in tow. Access is via Krawarree/Cooma Road and it is a quick walk from the car park. A short climb leads to the cave entrance, which is closed off with a barred gate. A metal ladder descends into the narrow cavern where you’ll need a torch and protective head gear before continuing.


Clockwise from left: The spectacular view across Deua National Park.  The Big Hole.  Crossing the Shoalhaven River.  Welcome to Deua National Park.

The Wyanbene Cave system, one of the largest in the state, contains an extensive range of limestone formations, including stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones. It is home to a population of insect-eating bats as well as many other invertebrate species. Public access is allowed 200 metres beyond the cave entrance, but you’ll need to get a permit from the NPWS if you intend to venture in further. A walk of a different kind is the four-kilometre return hike to the Big Hole. First discovered in 1832, and explored in 1862 by a young man called Boxall, this natural phenomenon must be seen to be believed. The relatively easy bushwalk starts from the Berlang car park and the adventure begins when the track crosses the Shoalhaven River. The trail gradually starts to climb, affording spectacular views across the national park. There is a platform built on the edge of an impressive chasm that gives a good view into the Big Hole. If you have a fear of heights you’ll want to stay away from the rail as the 96-metre roofless cave demands respect. It’s said a lyrebird lives in its depths and can be seen early in the morning or late in the afternoon searching for food. If you fancy a longer hike, follow the walking track another four kilometres until

you reach the Marble Arch, a narrow, twentyfive-metre deep canyon that showcases wide bands of limestone in different colours. Be aware that the trail descends steeply the last 150 metres, making it less suitable for families with young children. A must-do is the four-wheel-drive trip from Araluen to Majors Creek, a historic gold mining village. The dirt road up Majors Creek Mountain, the former road to the goldfields, winds its way around the densely forested hills until we reach Clarke’s Lookout. Named after the Clarke brothers who were two notorious local bushrangers, it’s a wonderful location to witness a sunrise. Apparently the spot was the gang’s preferred location to track the progress of the gold convoys on their way to Braidwood and beyond. Thomas and John Clarke, sons of a convicted criminal, grew up in the Braidwood area where they became known for all the wrong reasons. Robbing travellers and holding up mail coaches was all in a day’s work until the murder of four police officers resulted in them being proclaimed outlaws. In January 1867, they were arrested, tried and sentenced to death before they were hanged at Sydney’s Darlinghurst jail on 25 June, 1867.

As we continue past the lookout we reach the historic town of Majors Creek. The town’s history goes as far back as the 1830s when Major Elrington, a retired British army officer, established a successful farm. The first discovery of gold in 1851 set into motion a gold fever that was to dramatically change the town’s appearance as thousands of fortune seekers flocked to Majors Creek, hoping to strike it rich. Rags to riches stories abound, but the most remarkable one is that of a Chinese boy, Mei Quong Tart. Arriving in Australia with his uncle at the age of nine, he was adopted by a local family, the Simpsons, who treated him like a son. He was given a mining lease at the age of fourteen and quickly made his fortune. Quong Tart later moved to Sydney where he became a successful businessman and acted as the de facto Chinese Consul. He died tragically at the hands of a robber at the age of 53. Gold fossicking is allowed in the area without the need for a licence. However, it’s mandatory to seek permission if you enter private property. Also, ensure you stick to the rules – fill in the holes and don’t litter. Driving back down the mountain towards Araluen, the views across the valley are breathtaking. It’s a slow trip with many hairpin

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Myrtleford camping, but it can o Narooma Wyanbene Cave and Bendethera Valley. BerridaleDeua NP Wbe BENDIGO Dunolly 22 28 Be Mo na Jin lla unt Beauty da byne Euroa Edenho Thredb Bermagui Please note thatpebookings are not necessary. La Nimmitabe Further information Mt Bogongke Dartmouth o Village l Stawell Bright Balmoral Ca 19 st 86 lem Wyanbene Cave and Bendethera are free. Hotham Heigh aine NPWS Narooma Office: 02 4476 0800 h E Penola g ts Bega R Seymour u Rocklands Mansfield Ararat M a ry and Tathra NG b o ro Kyneton Facilities are limited Reserv www.environment.nsw.gov.au oir to non-flush toilets Om Co

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Consider hiring a complete package of camping gear as a ‘try before you buy’ option. Photo: Outdoor Connection

Happy (hire) Campers Words: Carrol Baker

I

f you love camping in the great outdoors you’ve probably got your own gear, but for the uninitiated, and those who want to try before they buy – hiring makes good sense. Want to upgrade your camping gear but you’d like to give it a test run first? Maybe you need a piece of camping gear you don’t already own, for a once-only trip? Or you’re a first timer and aren’t sure that camping is for you? If you’re new to camping, hiring allows you to check out different options. Shannon Phipps from Complete Camping Hire says the majority of their customers have never camped before – and hiring first has paid off. ‘Recent customers planned a camping trip with friends and hired all their gear from me, while their friends bought everything brand new,’ she says. ‘Their friends ended up buying a dome tent that they weren’t comfortable in, and a poor quality camp kitchen they weren’t happy with.’ Flying to a holiday destination is another good reason to hire. Sure, you could pack a lightweight tent – but taking all your gear would cost a bundle in excess baggage. These days, with the cost of fuel skyrocketing and cheap flights, it can cost less to fly and hire, than to drive and take your own gear!

There’s also no getting around the fact that camping gear takes up room. If you don’t have the space at your place, you can simply hire what you need. Phipps says hiring can also save ongoing costs of owning camping gear, like camper trailers. ‘People hire from me quite regularly because they don’t have to worry about storage, and pay camper trailer insurance or registration,’ she explained. Even for regular outdoor adventure campers, there are some situations where hiring is a good idea. For example, you might have thought about upgrading to a camper trailer after owning a few tents, but you’re not sure how all the family will go under one roof. It can cost upwards of $6000 to buy and less than a few hundred dollars to hire. Give one a test run with a hire company before parting with your hard earned cash. Or, perhaps you’re planning a once-only week-long trip to a remote location and need a big ticket item like a fridge freezer with a large capacity. It can cost up to $2000 to buy – and only $200 to hire. Once the numbers are crunched, in some situations, the benefits of hiring are obvious.

The right stuff From eskies to extension poles, backpacks to billys, and saucepans to surfboards, a multitude of companies can kit you out with all the practical camping and recreation gear needed for a memorable holiday. Moreover, if you’re worried that by hiring you’ll pay big bucks for a leaky tent or a shoddy sleeping bag, you can rest easy. Kevin Brookhouse from East Coast Camping Hire says with the vast majority of hire companies you’ll get quality gear at very affordable prices. ‘To stay competitive, and in business, hirers stock an extensive range of the latest good quality camping equipment,’ he says. ‘We want people to enjoy the experience and, of course, come back to us.’ When camping equipment becomes a little dated many hirers will sell it on – so that’s another option after the hiring experience. There are also try before you buy rebates on offer. Hire companies offer anything from single day hire for camping gear (usually a 2–3 day minimum for camper trailer or caravan hire) to week-long and extended periods. Generally, the longer the period, the cheaper it works out to be per day. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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equipment and hire others, for example sleeping bags, as they’re multi-purpose. They’re perfect if kids have sleep overs at home, they’re also more of a personal item as you might have a preferred colour or fabric. If you’re on a budget, consider buying items such as cutlery, plates and cooking utensils preloved from a charity shop for a couple of dollars and, when you’re done, just return them. Chris Moss says if you’re thinking of hiring camping gear for your next holiday it pays to get in early. ‘We do book out early, especially during peak periods, and special events,’ he says. At the time of booking, chat to the supplier about any particular needs you might have. For example, you may have difficulty bending down and need a comfy camp stretcher, or camp kitchen, that isn’t too low. They’ll also be able to kit you out with the right gear based on the temperatures, terrain and conditions that apply to your holiday destination.

What can you hire? Anything from a basic set-up to a complete package with all the bells and whistles. Kevin Brookhouse says hire companies can tailormake a camping package to suit specific needs. Whether it’s a romantic beach weekend escape for two, a get together camping with friends at a music festival, or a long bush camping adventure for the whole family; hiring makes for a stress free, relaxing holiday. As for what’s the most popular hire request. Chris Moss from Aussie Camping Hire says the tent is the hands-down winner. And his most unusual hire request? A truckload of camping gear he had to transport to the Aussie outback for the BBC’s Deadliest Creature TV series – focussing on snakes. The good news is that the cast and crew loved the experience – and no snakes ended up in anyone’s tents or sleeping bags! The essentials A roof over your head: be it a swag, a cosy tent for two or one to cater for a crowd ($28 for a 2 person) to ($40 for a 9 person) Beds: sleeping bags ($8), self-inflating mattress ($20) and comfy stretcher beds ($14) Cooking equipment: 2 burner gas stove with gas bottle ($15), cooking package frypan, utensils etc ($10), kitchen package with cups, plates etc ($5) Seating and tables: camp chairs ($5), folding tables ($5) Lighting: LED lantern ($12), gas light with bottle ($12) 60 |

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Portaloo and ensuite: If using a shovel isn’t your thing, rent a portaloo ($30) Eskies and fridges: Keeping your tucker and drinks cold is a must. (52 litre esky $24, medium 3 way fridge $70) But it doesn’t just stop there. For the glampers, there are also heaters to keep you snug, cupboards to keep your camping wardrobe wrinkle free, and hang-up mozzie nets. For offroad campers there are satellite phones to keep you in touch, vehicle recovery systems to get you out of strife if needed, and UHF radios and aerials. The list goes on. Remember, it’s not just camping gear on offer, there are hire bikes, kayaks and other leisure equipment, so you can relax and enjoy your holiday, having fun in the great Aussie outdoors.*

Camper and caravan hire For a two-berth on-road camper trailer (from $170), two-berth off-road (from $190) and for a caravan (can start at around $200). Camper trailers or caravans are usually outfitted with all the basic gear needed, including kitchen equipment, chairs and tables – some companies do offer linen and pillows, with others you’ll need to supply your own.* Budget bundles Hire companies may also offer equipment packages including tents, eskies, chairs and cooking gear, which can be cheaper than hiring individual items. There are also four-wheel-drive and camper hire packages available. And, of course, you don’t need to hire everything. Some campers opt to buy some

A helping hand Hire companies are generally located within capital cities, or within a stone’s throw of popular destinations for backpackers and holiday makers. Some offer delivery of the equipment within a specific geographical area for a fee. Others will even set up camp and pack up for you (for an additional fee). ‘People are time poor and want to enjoy relaxing for the whole weekend – not spend time setting up,’ says Kevin Brookhouse. Another advantage of hiring is that hirers can show you how all the gear works. Hire companies often throw in a booklet with instructions, or have instructions on their websites. And, if you really get stuck, you can call them to talk you through how to set up. Shannon Phipps recalled one customer who called whispering into the phone he couldn’t remember how to put up the camper trailer! ‘Why are you whispering?’ she asked him. ‘Well, I don’t want to get in trouble from the wife – while you were explaining to me how to put it up all I could think about was getting here and cracking open a cold beer!’


Clockwise from left: A sleeping bag is something you might want to purchase as it has plenty of uses at home.  A sleeping mat could be handy for a music festival weekend.  Some companies hire the whole package including a trailer or caravan. Photo: Chris Bouma  Hiring a camping fridge is a good option if there’s extra people or ice isn’t available.  If a shovel is not your thing, rent a portaloo.

Check ahead Before hiring the gear, check what facilities are available at the camping destination. For example, they may have undercover communal cooking areas, so you won’t need a stove. On the flipside, checking ahead covers you for what they don’t have, adds Chris Moss. ‘You might think they have shower and toilet facilities and they don’t, or they might be a long way from your campsite – so you can hire a shower tent and portaloo,’ he says. Read the fine print As with any hire arrangement there will be paperwork to complete. For caravan or camper trailer hire, a security deposit (which may vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand), and upfront payment in full is required before collection. With camping gear hire, including tents and cookers and the like, a deposit is required. Some companies charge a set fee and others a percentage of the total cost of the hire equipment. Once the gear is returned in clean and working order, the deposit is refunded, if not, you may be penalised and charged a cleaning fee. Tip! It’s always a good idea to book with a registered hire business with an ABN – check the Australian Tax Office website as there are people that hire out their own gear on some websites. Make sure there is a legal hire agreement and insurance cover in place or you may have little legal recourse if things go wrong.  * The information provided here is intended as a guide only and is current at the time of writing. Hire rates and security bonds vary depending on location, hire period and the hire company. GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Portable

Solar Power

I

t used to be that you could go bush and not worry about electricity. With the advent of smart phones, digital cameras and GPS devices, all that has changed. How do we keep our devices charged while off the power grid? The good news is that power is available on most days in this sunburnt country. Solar panels are getting cheaper and smaller to harness the sun’s energy whilst battery technology is getting better. First, let’s define what portable means. Does a 30 kg deep cycle lead acid battery in a battery box and 120W solar panels fit into the portable category? Not really. It can be a good solution to power a fridge, but lugging around a 30 kg battery, even if it’s only from the car to the campsite, could be classed more as luggable, rather than portable. For the purpose of this article, we’ll explore battery packs that weigh less than 6 kg and solar panels that weigh less than 5 kg. These should be considered portable by the average camper. There are many different portable solar rechargers available online, but many have no specifications and lack any detail of storage capacity and output. I have chosen to look at products from three companies that have good worldwide reputations and detailed product information available from their websites. Both Goal Zero and Powertraveller products are available from numerous retailers in Australia, while the Voltaic products are available online in Australia and the USA. Before we look at which solar panels and rechargers are required to keep our devices charged, let’s look at what devices we will be taking, how often they will need recharging as this will determine the size and type of recharger or battery required for your needs. Most devices cannot be charged directly off a solar panel, although some panels do offer a 62 |

GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

direct USB outlet and may obviate the need for a recharger or battery.

Devices requiring recharging Now let’s look at what we might need to power and how much power the devices need. Smart phones: An iPhone5 battery will last for 10 hours if watching video or 40 hours if listening to music. This seems quite good as 40 hours of music could last four or five days (less for teenagers!). However, what about using apps and, in particular, mapping apps that use GPS? You may find that 8 hours or so is all you may get out of an iPhone, although it will depend on model, age of battery and the GPS apps that are being used. Android phones seem to get a bit more life out of the battery. Given this, it would be advisable to charge a smartphone every night so as not to run out of battery on a bushwalk where it might be needed to navigate back to camp. GPS: Maybe a dedicated GPS is more your style. Looking at something like the Garmin Oregon 600 series, which has lots of features useful to any adventurer trying to find their way across trackless terrain or that secret fishing spot, it will last about 16 hours on one set of rechargeable batteries. This is fairly standard for this level of GPS. If you are away for a week, batteries will need to be swapped or recharged. Camera: A compact digital camera is most likely going to be in your kit and possibly a digital SLR as well for those awesome photos you can only get when out camping away from the bright city lights. Usage will determine how long the battery will last, but if you review the images in camera, take video and possibly use the inbuilt GPS to geo-tag your images, the battery will likely need

Words: Gary Tischer

charging within a week. You wouldn’t want to be caught out with a flat battery when that once in a lifetime shot comes along! Very few cameras allow charging of their batteries via USB whilst in the camera. Most require the batteries to be removed from the camera. It seems that every camera has a different battery size, so if you take multiple cameras you have to take multiple battery charging cradles. A good solution is a 12V battery charger that fits many different sized batteries by adjusting the charging pins. I have successfully used the UniPalplus from Hahnel and now take it everywhere when I have cameras (4 different sized batteries in 4 different cameras). Tablet: It’s becoming easier to load and review images on digital tablets like an iPad. Tablet devices are great to have camping as they hold a collection of digital books and magazines to read, digital video to watch your favourite TV show, and maybe a few apps to keep you entertained around camp. These devices are the real battery hogs lasting only 9 to 10 hours on a single charge. Laptops will last about the same time. Laptop computer: Of all the electronic devices that you might take camping these are the most varied and complex of all in terms of recharging. The voltage required for specific brands and even models varies greatly, so it pays to look at your model and match a recharging system to it. The detail required is well out of the scope of this article. Miscellaneous devices: There are also a range of other devices, such as satellite phones, SPOT trackers, LED lights, and two-way radios. These all use batteries. It’s easy to see why we are so energy dependent these days, even when in the bush.


From far left: The ultra-portable Sherpa 50 can charge USB, 12V and wall devices and is easy to pack and light to carry. Photo: Goal Zero  Just because we paddled into the wilds doesn’t mean we have to be without our communication, entertainment and navigation devices – just harness the power of the sun. Photo: Gary Tischer  The Yeti 150 kit battery offers an 80W/220V inverter, 12V port and USB port in the one unit. Photo: Goal Zero  The Goal Zero battery pack charged via solar panels powering a head torch via the USB connection. Photo: Goal Zero

Small Solar Chargers A small battery pack with USB outlets will charge smartphones and small devices a couple of times. There are a lot of different models that can be purchased for less than $100 from electronic stores, however most will require a computer or USB outlet themselves to be recharged and cannot be charged by most solar panels. There are a number of good units specifically designed for the outdoors and are perfect for camping whether out of a vehicle or a backpack. Examples of small power rechargers that utilise solar panels and charge devices such as smart phones, Go Pro cameras and some camera batteries are: Brand

Model

Battery

Solar panel

Goal Zero

Switch 10

11Wh 3000mAh at 3.7V

7V 7W

Powertraveller

Solar Monkey Adventurer

9.2Wh 2500mAh at 5V

5V 3W

Voltaic

V15 battery/6W panel

15Wh 4000mAh at 5V

6V 5.85W

Camera batteries will need to be charged internally by the camera as most camera batteries normally charge via a specific 12V cradle. Best to check your own camera before deciding on charge options. Another unit worth mentioning is the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus, which essentially recharges AA and AAA NiMH found in many devices including GPS units. The Guide 10 also has a USB outlet as well as a small LED light, making it particularly useful.

Turn camping trips into long-lasting memories with a Goal Zero Yeti®. The award-winning group has been proven in some of the harshest elements known to man, so we know they’ll work wherever and whenever you need them. From phones to fridges and everything in between, keep it all powered with a no fuel, no fumes, no noise Yeti Solar Generator.

QUIET, PORTABLE POWER

NEW

NEW

HOW IT WORKS

CHARGE YETI

FROM SOLAR

• Power for phones, cameras and lights

• Power lights, CPAP and small appliances

• Charge from wall in 6 hours, *vehicle in 8 hours or from Nomad and Boulder solar panels from 6 hours.

• Charge from wall in 5 hours, *vehicle in 8 hours or by Goal Zero Nomad and Boulder solar panels from 4 hours.

Solar charge times based on maximum solar input of the unit

CHARGE DEVICES

FROM YETI

Goal Zero products are now available at

Solar charge times based on maximum solar input of the unit

* Car chargers sold separately

Learn more at www.goalzero.com.au GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Medium Solar Chargers These are larger units in both the size of the panels and the charge available in the battery. If wanting to recharge devices such as iPads and other tablets, as well as phones and cameras, these are the type of units to look at: Brand

Model

Battery

Solar panel

Goal Zero

Sherpa 50

58Wh 15600mAh at 3.7V

18V 13W

Powertraveller

Power Monkey Extreme

33Wh 9000mAh at 5V

5V 3W

Voltaic

V60 battery/18W panel (3 x 6W)

57Wh 16000mAh at 5V

18V 18W

A great feature of these units is that, as well as having USB outlets, they all can output 12V, which makes them more flexible for charging a larger range of devices. The Goal Zero and Voltaic units can also charge some laptop computers. Battery capacity is the limiting factor as most laptops require more than the capacity of these batteries. The Goal Zero Sherpa 50 comes in a kit with an inverter making it particularly useful for running laptops that require more than a standard 12V output (Apple) and has a specific laptop output as well as the 12V.

Large Solar Chargers This is where the options are slim as Goal Zero is the only company that offer recharger/panels in this range at the time of writing. The Yeti 150 kit battery is unique in this size as it offers an 80W/220V inverter, 12V port and USB port in the one unit. It weighs in at 5.4 kg. There are larger units offered by Waeco and Arkpac, but are more than twice the weight of the Yeti 150 so are not included in this roundup of options. Brand

Model

Battery

Solar panel

Goal Zero

Yeti 150 kit

168Wh 14Ah at 12V

18–22V 20W

Solar Panels The solar panels sold as kits with the above options are light and, in most cases, fold up to a small size for ease of packing. The highest capacity in full sun of any of the panels mentioned is 20W. The charge times stated in the specifications for most battery/panel combinations will be in optimal conditions with full summer sun. In practice, while testing some panels in northern NSW in mid-winter, I found that times for a full charge required in some cases twice the stated times or the higher figure if a range of times was given. Angle of the sun makes a big difference, so take care to set up camp to take full advantage of the sun’s rays. Some of the panels are chainable, which gives good flexibility. I was able to connect to different panels to halve the time of battery charging. Goal Zero panels are particularly user friendly in this regard. Batteries don’t like getting too hot when being charged, so keep the batteries in the shade while the panels are charging. Some units make this difficult as the panels and battery are built into a single unit. Solar panels and batteries make it possible to use electronic devices to the max while off the grid. For me, they make a trip more enjoyable and safer. 

From top: Often there is a different camera battery charger required for each camera. Photo: Goal Zero  The complete portable power kit with waterproof cases for a recent kayaking trip. Photo: Gary Tischer  Device central! Tablet, phone, SPOT tracker, camera, GPS are just a few gadgets that require recharging on a trip. Photo: Gary Tischer

Overview of the camping solar power options Battery Type

Vehicle Dual Battery

Removable Vehicle Battery

Portable Lead Acid Battery

Portable Lithium Iron Battery

Solar powered

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cost

$$$$$

$$

$$$

$$$

Numerous battery brands

Arkpak, DIY battery

Waeco, Goal Zero

Goal Zero, Voltaic, Powertraveller

Flexibility Ease of use for camping Charge capacity Brands

More information: Goal Zero: www.goalzero.com.au Powertraveller: www.powertraveller.com Voltaic: www.voltaicsystems.com Multi-Powered Products: www.multipoweredproducts.com.au 64 |

GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A


facilities played host to the Polocrosse World Cup in 2003 and again in 2007. A place not to be missed is Glengallan Homestead, some 19 kilometres north of

create the garden bed shapes and plants that were present in the glory days of the homestead. The site has a café and tours are conducted – and if you time your visit you can catch the Glengallan Homestead

at Connolly Dam, a short drive south-east of Warwick off the New England Highway. Nearby Leslie Dam is a great picnic and swimming spot and is well stocked for shore and boat fishing.

P: 07 4666 6058 E: relax@goomburraforestretreat.com.au W: goomburraforestretreat.com.au A: 268 Forestry Reserve Road, Goomburra QLD 4362

A secluded haven in the forest, Goomburra Forest Retreat is ideal for your short break or extended holiday.

Power down in your fully appointed eco accredited self contained cottage at this 4 star getaway in the beautiful upper Goomburra Valley. The picturesque 130 acre property borders Heritage Listed Main Range National Park – Goomburra Section. Admire spectacular views over the Scenic Rim towards Brisbane and Lake Moogerah, waterfalls, bountiful flora and fauna when you explore the numerous walking trails. If rest is what you seek, Goomburra Forest Retreat provides tranquility in a relaxing environment. Choose from studio or one bedroom cottages which are spaced well apart for privacy. For the more independent traveller, Goomburra Forest Retreat also features a newly established caravan park. This family-friendly park offers full amenities and grassed, level sites with creek frontage.

57

www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au

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Aria air pole tent

The

from

Outdoor Connection Words and images: Gary Tischer

I jumped at the chance to write this tent review as I had not yet seen an air pole tent in the flesh.

I

admit to being a sceptic prior to the test because, as with most people who have camped over the years, I have woken up in the morning with a sore back after the air mattress I was sleeping on slowly deflated leaving me sleeping on the bare ground. Would a similar thing happen if my tent structure relied on air poles? After testing the Aria 1 air pole tent I am no longer a sceptic. Why? The thought and technology that has gone into the design and manufacture of the air poles that are integral to the Aria’s structure is second to none. There are three layers that make up each air pole. First, there is the bladder, which is oversized to eliminate stress on seams and joins. The 66 |

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bladder is made of the best available material that is more than fit for purpose (Thermoplastic Polyurethane TPU). The bladder is housed in a two-layered puncture resistant sleeve that will prevent anything in the normal use of a tent from coming close to inflicting damage on the inner bladder. The valve that locks the air into the air pole is simple and effective allowing the air pole to be inflated using a double action pump, which is supplied. To let the air out, one simply unscrews the valve. The double action pump is easy to use and has a gauge to indicate when the required 10psi pressure for the air poles is reached. Each air pole is remarkably quick to inflate.

The packed size of the tent is slightly larger than that of a similar sized tent using conventional poles because the air poles aren’t as compact as traditional poles. Weight for the Aria 1 is a bit over 20kg, which is around the same weight as similar sized tents. The tent can be packed away with the fly attached and put into the supplied tent bag quite easily. The ease of pitching this tent is quite amazing. The test tent was supplied with the fly attached, although if you were to purchase the Aria you would need to attach it the first time then leave it attached from then on. The instructions are excellent and easy to follow, although I deliberately didn’t look at them prior to pitching the Aria 1.


Clockwise from left: The Aria 1 is a one-room tent with a fully enclosed porch. The design allows excellent ventilation for hot Aussie summers.  The Aria 1 air pole tent fully set up with awning.  The Hornet Pole System gives plenty of full height standing room throughout the tent.  The Aria 1 air pole tent full set up.  The low level vent covers roll up out of the way.

I pegged out the four main corners then pumped up the two main air poles in a few minutes. It all seemed too easy! Then I pumped up the porch air pole and the two ridge air poles, a few more pegs and the tent was in a fit state for tired campers to head to bed. The time was less than fifteen minutes. There are some webbing guy ropes that should always be pegged down, but the guy ropes half way up the poles only need to be used in strong winds. This tent was the quickest tent of this size that I have ever pitched bar none. The putting together of fibreglass or alloy poles, then working out which pole goes where was of no concern with the Aria as the main air poles were all in place already attached to the tent. The two ridge air poles were easy to place and the structure was up. The quality of the tent fabric is good. It uses 100 denier thread weight, which gives excellent strength, durability and damage resistance. The fabric has been treated to protect it from UV light, which is important for long-term use and durability. Waterproofness of the fabric is very good at 3000mm+ water head, which means you stay dry even in the heaviest of rain. One of the features that particularly caught my eye was the low ventilation panels that allow good cross flow ventilation at sleeping level. These ventilation panels have good awnings so are able to be left open during periods of rain. The other doors and windows are large GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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and numerous allowing plenty of ventilation in our hot Aussie summers. All doors and windows feature no-see-um mesh so even the smallest of bugs can’t get in. The doors are huge and can zip almost all the way around enabling a choice of opening side depending on the setup of your mattress and other gear. So the doors don’t get in the way, they can be folded down into pockets allowing maximum ventilation through the doors. At the bottom of the door on the inside of the tent I noticed some bright green clips that at first had me wondering as I hadn’t seen this on other tents. They are internal clips to connect to the zipper tags giving some security while you’re asleep. A good addition that would help keep a toddler in the tent at night as they could not easily undo the zipper door and wander outside. A small combination lock is also supplied as a deterrent to opportunistic thieves. On the inside walls are mesh pockets to store items such as keys and phones so you always know where they are. There is zippered power cord access so you can use your 240v or 12v equipment. To aid with internal lighting there are some light hooks providing a place to hang LED lights. The Aria tents utilise what is termed the ‘Hornet Pole System’, similar to conventionally poled tents in the Outdoor Connection range. For the camper it means that there is great headroom right across the interior of the tent as the ceiling is nice and high, allowing most adult males to stand without stooping. The near vertical walls of the Hornet Pole System gives this level of headroom to the edges of the tent. There are two sizes in the Aria air pole tent range. The Aria 1 is a one-room tent (2.8x3m floor area) with a fully enclosed porch area (2x3m floor area). The Aria 2 is a two-room tent (2.4x3m + 2.4x3m floor area) with a fully enclosed porch area (2x3m floor area). These tents will fit easily on most campsites providing a great balance of usable internal space and total footprint. Which tent is most suitable depends on the number of occupants and how long you will be spending in it. The longer the stay, the bigger the tent is often a good rule of thumb. The Aria 2 will take only a little longer to pitch because there is one more air pole and a ridge pole to inflate. The amazingly short time to pitch these tents means that there is more time to enjoy your camping experience. To pack up these tents is similarly quick, making for a quick getaway. This relatively new way of setting up a tent is certainly worth checking out. The Aria 1 and Aria 2 will be available in stores from November.  For more information visit www.outdoorconnection.com.au 68 |

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Clockwise from top left: The vents down low assist with ventilation at sleeping level and are rain proof.  The air pole valve is simple and effective allowing the air pole to be inflated using a double action pump.  The double action pump, supplied with the tent, is used to inflate the air poles.  The Aria 1 has excellent full height standing room and all window and door openings fold into pockets to keep them out of the way.


Swags

pms 348 - green pms 1807 - red/brown

and much more


Complete Campsite

Exodus 14 Words: Carrol Baker

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atherine and Alan Zamparutti from North Queensland reckon their latest camping purchase, the Exodus 14, is the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, their off-road luxury camper has so many outstanding features, including a well-appointed outdoor kitchen, you could probably whip up a loaf in it yourself! Alan has his own business, and Catherine works part-time as a learning support teacher with special needs children. Getting away for weekend camps or extended trips is something this family are very passionate about. These selfconfessed, mad keen campers have two boys aged 8 and 12 who have inherited their parents’ love of camping. ‘We’ve been camping since the boys were babies,’ says Alan. ‘We started with a Jayco Eagle, then a Kakadu soft floor, and now they’re getting bigger we’ve moved onto the hard top Exodus 14 – so we can do longer trips in comfort.’ 70 |

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Doing the research While most parents might be hard-pressed to get their kids to do homework, Catherine and Alan were only too willing to do theirs. ‘We enjoy doing the research part of it – we visited camping expos in Brisbane and Mackay, comparing prices, and checking out what you could get for the money,’ says Catherine. They also went to Joy and Grant at Complete Campsite to discover what was on offer in their range. ‘We knew what fantastic products the company produces, having already owned a Kakadu camper trailer, and their after sales service is just fantastic,’ says Catherine. Every year Complete Campsite hold a camping trip, a ‘Complete Campsite Camp-Out’. This year it was in Charleville, so the family made the two-day journey to see what other types of campers were around. ‘We fell in love with the Exodus there and then,’ says Catherine. ‘We spoke to lots of Exodus owners, some in their seventies, and they were in and out of it with ease, it was smaller to tow than a big van, and had everything we could wish for.’

The price tag Price certainly was a factor when making the decision, but the Exodus 14 ticked all the boxes for this well-travelled family. ‘You can get a caravan for that price, but we are bush campers at heart and didn’t want a caravan, we enjoy the outdoor kitchen set up, and the feeling of living outdoors while still having all the comforts,’ said Catherine. ‘It will last us until retirement, until we can’t travel anymore. We’ve found the perfect set up for us – we can stop looking!’ What sealed the deal? The ease of set up and pack up was the clincher for Alan. ‘We do a lot of one night and two night camps with the boys and with the Exodus we can be fully set up within 10 minutes,’ he says. Setting up is so easy; it’s a one person job. If you’re out in the bush and you don’t want to unhitch, you leave it hooked on. ‘It’s magnificent, a showstopper,’ says Alan. ‘Put the steps out, pop the top, slide out the kitchen, pull your deck chair out and you can be having a cuppa in no time at all, while you see other campers struggling to slide poles in and trying to avoid having arguments,’ says Alan. In fact Alan is so happy with the speed of set up he’s cheerfully thrown out a challenge for other campers. ‘I can’t imagine anything being easier, I’d love to race some others with different campers – the Exodus would win hands down,’ he says. By the envious looks the family say they get from fellow campers as they set up in record time, it might be hard to beat.


SPECIFICATIONS *An Exodus 11 model is also available (the numerical element refers to the length)

Clockwise from left: The Zamparutti family and their Exodus 14 – a definite all-rounder for those that enjoy camping and four-wheel driving. Photo: Catherine Zamparutti  Anywhere a fourwheel drive will go, the Exodus will follow. Photo: Complete Campsite  The spacious interior with the bed designed to slide out of without disturbing your partner if you need a comfort break. Photo: Complete Campsite

Catherine is also impressed by the outdoor kitchen. ‘It’s sensational; the pantry is fantastic and right above the large drawers. Hot and cold water to the sink, fully stainless steel kitchen, three-burner stove, you couldn’t want for more. There’s a compartment for the baby Weber as well,’ she says. But it doesn’t stop there! There’s also an internal kitchen. Both have been ergonomically designed so everything is within arm’s length.

Their first adventure This Dolphin Heads family of four enjoy regular camping getaways to the beach, bush and beyond. They picked up their Exodus just a few short weeks ago, eager to give it a test run. They travelled to Yarrawonga Point on the maiden trip, a beautiful private waterside location 114 kilometres south of Mackay. ‘We have the standup paddle boards, the boys like swimming, and there’s plenty of hiking too,’ says Alan. ‘It was so easy, the Exodus handled it well, the quality of the product really is first class.’ Now they’re planning their next extended dream holiday – to the heart of the Australian outback – Uluru, and another family holiday to Cape York. Storage solutions and comfort Another winning feature of the Exodus for Alan was the storage configuration and capacity. ‘Everything on the trailer has a place – I’ve got a four-wheel-drive station wagon and with this set up I’ve got nothing to pack in the back of it!’

There’s also ample storage inside. ‘In our previous camper the boys had to bring duffle bags to keep their gear in, now there’s plenty of space,’ adds Catherine. You probably wouldn’t want to swing the family cat around inside, but there’s so much space, you could. The Exodus has a roomy comfortable interior that is spacious enough for tall and robust campers. And, although it’s not full head height through the door and over the bed, it’s not a problem, says Alan. ‘You have to be cautious initially when you walk through the door as it isn’t a full height door,’ he says. ‘But you quickly get used to it.’ The bed is designed so you can slide down out of it without climbing over and disturbing your partner if you need a comfort break. The family have found the bed so comfy and large, that they can sleep three to the bed, if one of the boys has a friend sleeping over in the bunk beds – which the kids love! ‘They reckon the bunk beds are fantastic. They’re also so long, I reckon you could easily fit a six foot tall bloke in there and he’d be comfortable,’ says Alan. The cleverly designed interior also has external excess if you want to have a port-aloo inside. ‘You can reach in and grab it from the storage compartment, and then remove it externally without carrying it through inside,’ he says. There is also an external shower and toilet or you can have an internal shower and toilet where

Chassis - Hot dipped galvanised steel 75mm x 50mm x 3mm Drawbar - Hot dipped galvanised steel 100mm x 50mm x 3mm Suspension - Cruisemaster coil independent with twin gas shock Brakes - 12” electric off-road brakes Coupling - DO35 offroad coupling fitted with handbrake Water - 130 L baffled water tank. Electric water pump, plumbed to kitchen, external wash tap, 2 x 22 L jerry cans Awning - Easy roll-out awning Annex walls - Annex matting supplied for each awning area Quick Sun Shade Doors - Sealed security door with security screen Windows - 4 double glazed opening windows with privacy screen and mesh. Pop-top canvas includes 2 large windows with mesh, clear PVC and canvas openings. 12 volt air circulation fan – roof vent air vent fitted to roof directly over bed to either fan cool air or to remove hot air. Insulation - Fully insulated fibreglass construction. Ensuite - Rear fitted, fully moulded fibreglass top with PVC ensuite. Warranty - Complete Campsite Trailers are delivered with a 2-year guarantee that covers all of the parts we have manufactured. For a comprehensive list of technical specifications and inclusions visit www. completecampsite.com.au

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the boys have their bunk beds. The external shower and toilet can also do double duty as extra sleeping space if you have a teen who loves their own space. The Exodus can withstand the rigours of anything nature throws at it – cool temperatures, rain, and sweltering heat. There’s good air flow with an over-bed three speed cooling fan, an electric exhaust fan, and a central heating vent to keep you warm, as well as plenty of interior and exterior lighting.

Optional extras Camping-on-the-go couldn’t be easier with a wide range of modifications to suit individual needs and preferences. When the family bought their camper, modifications, which included bunk beds, a second fridge/freezer, and an additional slide to a storage box to carry a generator had already been done. They actually purchased the camper from another family who had owned it for a matter of days before having to sell it for health reasons. Alan and Catherine say the only additional modification they’ll add in future is a bike rack.

Top to bottom: The external kitchen is sensational. Hot and cold water to the sink, fully stainless steel kitchen, three-burner stove, you couldn’t want for more. Photo: Complete Campsite  The Exodus has a roomy comfortable interior that is spacious enough for tall and robust campers. Photo: Complete Campsite  The Complete Campsite Exodus 11 – a definite crowd pleaser. Photo: Catherine Zamparutti

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Built to last and performance to boot The hard top Exodus is a single lightweight fibreglass shell that’s been moulded in one piece. ‘It’s like a big solid egg on wheels,’ says Alan. ‘There are no rivets or seams so no way any dust is going to get into this vehicle, no matter how many times you cross the Nullarbor.’ Alan says hooking it up is simple. ‘The Complete Campsite range have the DO35 Hitchmaster, with a full 360 degree swivel – and a cone-shaped receptacle so when the jockey wheel winds down, it guides its way in, it selflocates and locks off so it’s very easy,’ he says.

The Exodus is built to withstand the rigours of off-road adventures, in fact anywhere you can take your four-wheel drive to, the Exodus will follow. ‘With independent suspension you get a soft ride, it handles with ease – you don’t even know it’s there,’ says Alan. ‘It does use marginally more fuel than a lower trailer because it’s higher than the car, so you push more air, I’d say maybe a litre and a half per hundred, so it’s really negligible,’ he adds. And unlike some off-road caravans, the wheel tracks of the Exodus are the same size as those of a four-wheel drive, so you aren’t going to get stuck or slide.

The final wrap up Catherine and Alan are stoked with their new camper, and are more than happy to recommend it to others. They’ve even convinced a few fellow campers to buy one. ‘We recently spoke to someone who had a similar set up but a different make, and it was top of the range, but it leaked and let dust in, now he’s bought one too!’ says Alan. Catherine says it’s a definite crowd pleaser. ‘It’s suitable for families, older people, couples – it’s a definite all-rounder for those who enjoy travel and four-wheel driving.’ ‘It’s fantastic; don’t even have to top the batteries up before we leave,’ adds Alan. ‘With the standard solar panels on the roof on trickle charge, stow your gear and off you go.’ ‘The only thing missing,’ says Catherine, ‘is my own personal chef!’ ‘You don’t need a chef, you’ve got me,’ quips Alan. ‘Although I do tend to do all the slicing and dicing and get none of the glory,’ he says with a smile. But with dishes like slow cooked Mongolian lamb and hot buttered lemonade scones on Alan’s camping menu, I reckon they’ll be bush camping in their Exodus in style. 


www.completecampsite.com.au

We go Further, So that you can go Further!

For civilised living far from civilisation, you cannot beat Complete Campsite’s Exodus 14 It offers versatility and comfort – go where you want, when you want in style and luxury. Built and designed to the high manufacturing standards Complete Campsite prides itself on using only quality fittings. Put any Complete Campsite off road camper trailer under a microscope and you’ll see we have gone further than any of our competitors to deliver what we call ‘Rugged Refinement’. We make no compromises. You can take it to the harshest terrain and rest secure in the knowledge it isn’t going to let you down. If you’d like to know more about our range, give one of our friendly team a call on 1300 859 084 or visit us at www.completecampsite.com.au


the

Blue Shearer Words: Michele Tydd

Bush poet Col Wilson, better known as Blue the Shearer, was only nine when his father recited a limerick that hooked the youngster on robust rhyme.

It went something like this: There once was a young king called Ed, Who took Mrs Simpson to bed, As they bounced up and down he said bugger the crown, Give it to my brother instead.

‘My Scottish father loathed the British class system so he found this particularly amusing,’ says Wilson, chuckling from the images it conjures. ‘I’ve always been fascinated by the mechanics of rhyme, and the things you can say in rhyme and get away with,’ he says from his NSW Blue Mountains home. ‘In fact, my mother told me later that I had sent her a letter in rhyme when I was only eight, at a time she went on holiday to her sister-inlaw’s house.’ Wilson and his two brothers read widely and he credits Australian poet CJ Dennis for his poetic direction. ‘I loved how Dennis turned his poetry into a yarn, and also how he used punctuation to control the metre.’ Wilson’s verse on ABC radio for the past 26 years, delivered in his distinctive tongue-in74 |

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cheek, flat-toned style, has created a comfortable double identity. His pen name, Blue, originated in the 1970s when a mate, during a sporting event at Mudgee, introduced him to a woman he was trying to impress as Blue the shearer and it stuck. Decades later, many of his fans still believe he is a typical bushie bloke with wrinkly tanned legs sticking out of work shorts – live audiences know better. At 86, Col Wilson is a quietly spoken retired public servant and a father of three who has been married to wife Pat for 65 years. On the night we first met he was holding audience at a private home in Wollongong on the South Coast, where I live. Dressed in neat trousers, a simple blue crew-necked jumper and leather slip-ons, he alternated between verse and dry anecdotes about ordinary life as he sipped a glass of his

favourite tipple – single malt whiskey. Wilson was born on Australia Day in 1928 to working class parents who lived in Wentworthville after they emigrated from Scotland in the early 1920s. He began life as an accountant, to please his father, and moved to a variety of jobs before settling in the public service where he rose to become Regional Director of Children’s Services in western NSW. The job exposed him to a dark side of humanity as he came into contact with a range of badly abused and neglected children, the memories of which still trouble him. He has written on thousands of topics, from backseat drivers to lying politicians, but he likes to explain that what he saw in his ‘day job’ was never used as performance material, either on radio or at festivals. ‘I tend not to write about things that are


THE GRANDKIDS The grandkids are coming. They are? They are? Quick. Hide the computer, and lock up the car. Lift everything breakable onto the shelves. Teach grand folk the art of defending themselves. Take plenty of vitamins, A, B, and C, for strong and resilient, you’ll need to be. Say: “Goodbye!” to harmony. “Goodbye!” to quiet. Your home will resemble an out-of-hand riot. Make sure that you check out your washing machine (Those washing nappies will know what I mean) And don’t let the two year old near the TV, there might be a programme you’re wanting to see.

From left: Blue the Shearer, poet, performer and larrikin, wearing a ‘silly’ hat.  Col Wilson as a boy when a simple limerick sparked his life-long love of poetry. Photos: Col Wilson personal collection

too close to my heart and, anyway, I’m more comfortable with humour, particularly during my career, it was a release,’ he says. Blue’s poetry once played on 58 ABC stations but these days funding cuts have knocked that back to only two stations. Widely tagged as a ‘bush’ poet, Wilson prefers the term ‘investigative poet’ because of his passion for exposing ‘the rogues and ratbags in politics’, as he terms them. But friend and fellow poet Russell Hannah says while Wilson has little connection to the bush, he is still true to the bush poetry genre. ‘It’s a style and it’s about issues and ballads that reflect our way of life and in a way we can all relate to. ‘Blue wouldn’t know one end of a sheep from another, but he has been in the forefront of the “new” bush poetry for the last 30 years. ‘He’s special because he doesn’t go in for the razzle dazzle of performance; he lets the words do the talking. ‘The poem The Grandkids, for example, has been used at funerals I’ve attended, and one he did on mental health (The Mental Elf) went all around the world.’ Col Wilson says some of his biggest fans are politicians – normally those who escape his poetic attention. ‘I’ve had many pollies who have phoned or written to compliment me on certain poems,’ he says. Wilson says he never worries about running out of ideas because there is too much going on in the world for that to happen. ‘The hardest part is to get going on a poem and the rest falls into place. ‘I see myself as a bit of a journeyman carpenter who is commissioned to make a piece of furniture each week. ‘Sometimes the edges might be a little rougher than usual or the polish needs improving, but in the end you come up with something that is saleable.’ 

Hang on to your patience with both of your hands, the dear little darling will not understand If you shout: “Will you stop it. You must not touch that.” Or: “Don’t kick the dog,” and: “Put down the cat.” “Don’t wake the baby by yelling and screaming.” And “Isn’t it time you were in bed and dreaming?” There’s Erin. Two months, and queen of the castle, Food in one end, and waste out the other. How can one baby, so tiny and frail, be so possessed of such ear-splitting wail? And how does she know, when she’s starting to squeal, That the rest of the family are having their meal? But how can you even pretend to be cross, with the Queen of the castle. The Princess. The Boss. When she looks up and smiles, gurgling and gooing. You don’t have a choice. You just stop what you’re doing, And pay her the homage of which she’s deserving. She makes the demands, and you do the serving. Now Matthew. He’s one of the terrible twos, no wonder some grandfathers get on the booze. They christened him Matthew, but I have a notion, he should have been christened Perpetual Motion. They say that it’s cruel to keep them in cages, and that they grow out of it, slowly, in stages. But the question that hovers on everyone’s tongue is: “How long does it take to stop being that young? And tell me, wise counsellor, what guarantee Can you give to grandparents they’re better at three?” If it wasn’t for Play School on the TV, we’d be in a rest home, Grandmother and me. He is ever so charming, ever so sweet. His capture of grandmother’s heart is complete. But I am his grandfather. I am much sterner, or is it, perhaps, that I’m just a slow learner? When he looks up at me and says: “Gamfarver. Cuddle?” All thoughts of discipline melt into muddle. I have to survive, or turn into a rover, if the grandchildren’s holiday, isn’t soon over. And it’s true, they are going, I’m sad to relate, But we’ll sleep for three days, when they go out the gate. And following that, we must build our physique, For the other three grandkids are coming next week. BLUE – the Shearer (copyright Col Wilson)

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The chest leaver grip. Photo: Jayden Muir

The forehand grip. Photo: Jayden Muir

The reinforced grip. Photo: Jayden Muir

Bushcraft

Practical

Knife Skills

Four simple knife skills that will open the door to carving creativity. Words: Blake Muir

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or one of the world’s most simple tools it’s amazing what can be made to make life around camp a bit more comfortable. In the previous article (August 2014), I talked about what constitutes a good bushcraft knife and its care. Continuing with the knife theme, we’ll put that knife to use and create an adjustable pot hanger while demonstrating four of the most useful knife grips and cutting techniques. Knife safety is the most important thing when working with such an indiscriminate tool. It can cut you much worse than it can timber, so the first job is to make sure the knife is sharp. This might sound like a counter intuitive argument, but it is, in fact, quite true. A blunt knife requires much more effort to use and is less likely to bite the timber, which means it’s more difficult to control. Ensure you are working in at least a two-metre clear area and never cut against your leg or directly into your body. Power cuts are best performed standing or against a wooden block at a distance from others, while fine whittling is okay to do seated as long as you observe the abovementioned advice. When passing a knife to another person hold the knife at arm’s length by the spine of the handle with the blade facing up and pointing towards you. Doing this ensures control is given to whomever is receiving the knife while protecting your hands from being cut when the knife is drawn out of your hand. Now that our OH&S is out of the way we can get to work learning some useful cuts and producing something worthwhile for the campsite. An adjustable pot hanger is a simple and very useful project that does 76 |

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away with one item to pack while also demonstrating the most useful cuts and knife grips. The four main grips are: the forehand grip, chest lever grip, reinforced grip and pinch grip.

The Forehand Grip/Straight Arm Cut Grip the knife in your dominant hand as you normally would so the blade is aligned with your second set of knuckles. The back of the blade should align with the length of your arm. Lock the knife hand at full reach with your elbow. In your other hand, hold the branch so that it bites into the branch and pull back on the branch to make your cut. This technique is not only powerful, but it is safe as the knife will not move very far, rather you are moving the material. It can be hard to cut through a seasoned branch in one cut, but you can ‘beaver chew’ the branch by making small cuts while rotating the branch. Then flip the branch and repeat, working into the same end point. The result should look similar to what a beaver does when felling a tree. This can then be easily snapped over the knee with accuracy. Chest Leaver Grip/Leaver Cut Rotate the blade about 90° from the forehand grip or so the blade is pointing to your major set of knuckles and place your thumb on the flat of the handle. Bring both the blade and material to your chest and pull both arms back together to make your cut. This is a very safe, powerful way of making accurate cuts. It eliminates the blade flying out of control and uses the back muscles for power. Both this cut and the straight arm cut are most effective and safe when using the section of the blade closest to the handle. Reinforced Grip/Stop Cut Make a forehand grip and bring the material to the blade. Remove your thumb from the material you are holding and place it on the back of the knife. Now you can use your thumb to push the blade into the timber. This grip allows for very controlled knife work like a stop cut. A stop cut is most commonly used to notch timber without splitting the wood. To make a stop cut, mark the location you would like the cut to terminate by making a side-on cut into the branch (best done against a block). Now choose an appropriate location back from your initial mark and cut down and toward your stop cut mark using the reinforced grip. The knife should stop at the mark. Make the notch deeper by repeating the process.


The pinch grip. Photo: Jayden Muir

Cutting the point of a forked branch. Photo: Aris Dennis

Two stakes work well for anchoring a pot hanger in soft ground. Photo: Blake Muir

The safest way to pass a knife. Photo: Jayden Muir

Pinch Grip/Drill Cut Hold the knife by gripping the flat of the blade close to the tip. This grip allows you to use the point of your knife to drill into material and produce round sockets for bow drills or notches for other projects. This grip is also handy for skinning, fish gutting and other field dressing work. Making a Pot Hanger Step 1: Find some fallen branches to work with that are about 2–3 cm thick. You will need a straight branch around 1 m long, a forked branch and a third that has a secondary stem that you will use for a hook. Step 2: Using a forehand grip, sharpen the base of the fork so that it is sharp and stick the fork into the ground about 50 cm from the fire.

A simple pot hanger without adjustable hook. Photo: Blake Muir

Step 2A: Take the main straight branch and using the chest leaver grip, slice off either side of the branch. The aim is to create a flat platform on the end which the adjustable hook will sit on. Now use a pinch grip and drill a small divot into the end of the platform you just made. This will pair up with our adjustable hook and stop it sliding off. Step 3: Lay your branch from step 2 over the fork. Adjust its position and that of the fork so that the tip of the main branch (the end with the divot) sits approximately 70 cm above the coals. To hold the opposite end down, use a few heavy rocks or alternatively drive two crossed stakes into the ground. Step 4: To make the adjustable hook take the branch with a secondary stem and trim it to length. Trim just below the junction of the stem that will form the hook at the base. The final step is to create a few notches along the branch to make the hanger adjustable. To do this score an ‘X’ into the branch to about two-thirds the branch thickness deep. Using the reinforced grip, trim away the excess leaving a ‘V’-shaped notch with the ‘V’ pointing down towards the hook. It’s worthwhile to undercut the ‘V’ notch a little giving it a point so that it will seat into the divot on the main branch. Repeat as many times as you like along the branch to give the hook height adjustability. You can substitute the forked support branch for rocks or skip the adjustable hook altogether though it does give good control when cooking. With a few of these fundamental techniques in the skill bank it won’t be long before every fallen branch looks like a potential campfire project! Then, with a bit of imagination, it’s amazing what you can create to make time around camp just that little bit more rewarding. 

An adjustable hook makes cooking simple. Photo: Blake Muir

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Bogged Get Off Road with Phil

Words and images: Phil Bianchi

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ou’ve seen the advertisements on television; a four-wheel drive hurtling along a dirt track through creek crossings and muddy patches. However, what they don’t show is being bogged and how to get out of it. No matter how good your driving skills are or how powerful your engine is or what tyres you have or if you have diff locks, you will get bogged at some stage. I detest mud and driving through bogs for many reasons: possible hidden obstacles, deeper mud sections, it gets in everywhere and over everything, tyre treads block up, getting mud inside the vehicle, and so on. But, it’s part of off-road driving and you need to be prepared and know what to do if you do get stuck. Before we tackle how to get out of a bog, let’s look at what equipment you should have onboard and at strategies to prevent being bogged in the first instance.

Essential equipment: n long-handle shovel n rated recovery hooks (have a reputable 4WD shop check them) n snatch strap n two rated shackles to connect the snatch strap to the recovery points 78 |

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a tree protector or bridle to spread the snatch strap load across multiple recovery points n suitable vehicle jack n jacking plate to give the jack a bigger footprint n tyre deflator n quality air compressor.

and extra weight out front of your vehicle, I wouldn’t consider it an essential to have item unless you do regular touring.

n

Non-essential items Although not essential for everyday touring, if you are driving regularly on the beach or planning a trip on the Simpson or the Canning, I strongly suggest you add these items to the kit: n Kangaroo/high-lift jack to quickly lift the vehicle and push sand, rocks, logs and such like into the hole. n Two MAXTRAXS at least. I have been bogged so many times over the years I now travel with four MAXTRAXS. I have tried numerous recovery boards in my time; some were next to useless and others didn’t provide all-round performance. To me, the extra cost in paying for MAXTRAXS is worth every cent. There must be a reason why the Australian army buys them. n A sand flag, so that people can see you when coming over a sand dune. n A vehicle winch is handy, but for the little use it will get, the high maintenance costs,

When approaching a sandy or muddy area: Stop and have a good look at what you are facing. n Seek alternative routes around the risky patch. n Make sure you have the recovery equipment on-board. It may be wise to attach the snatch strap before entering the boggy area, this beats digging down in ooze to find the recovery hook! n Let the tyres down. n If there is another vehicle with you, position it so that it’s ready to spring into action. n

Okay, so you’re bogged! What do you do? Most importantly, make sure you’re not in a dangerous situation, such as the tide roaring in or you’re in the middle of a busy access track. Consider the safety of people first and abandon the vehicle if you can’t get it out of the way of a racing tide or position someone up the track to warn other drivers. If you’re bogged there is no point in spinning the wheels in an effort to get out; you’ll only make matters worse and recovery more difficult:


Clockwise from far left: It’s a pretty landscape, but an ominous weather sign.  Mud bogged – not my favourite situation for many reasons.  Marooned for four days, but determined to rescue ourselves eventually.  This is where it’s good to have a mate along for the drive.  Bogged in the sand – don’t try and spin the wheels to escape.  Some off the beaten track beauty.

n n n n

n

n

n

Don’t panic, stay calm and think the problem through. Reduce the tyre pressures more to give a larger tyre footprint and more flotation. Try to reverse out. If in sand, slowly drive backwards and forwards to compact the sand, remove built up sand in front of the wheels and hopefully you can drive out. Use a shovel to dig out the sand or mud to make a track in the intended direction of travel. Also clear the area underneath the axles and differentials. Place the MAXTRAXS in position. You may also need to line the track with sticks, rocks, or logs to gain some traction. If another vehicle is with you, use a snatch strap. A gentle tug is often enough to extract a vehicle.

If after trying all of the above you’re still bogged, do it all over again! Reduce tyre pressures further (I’ve been down to six psi) and consider changes to the gearing used to drive out previously. If you’re travelling in remote areas and are so seriously bogged that you can’t get yourself out, don’t panic. Some years ago we were travelling with

another couple west of the remote Rudall River National Park in WA. It was a lovely sunny morning as we headed off after breakfast but, within two hours, dark clouds covered the sky and it started to rain. Within half an hour it was a waterfall-like downpour that changed the hard desert soil on an open flat area into a custardlike mush. We were soon bogged down on all four wheels. After spending hours recovering the vehicles and moving only a couple of metres each time we considered the situation to be hopeless. The water level slowly rose and we found ourselves bogged in a large sheet of water with nowhere to go. Soaked to the skin and exhausted from fruitless hours of recovery work we gave up. It didn’t stop raining until the next day and we spent the night trying to sleep in the front seats and ate whatever we could hastily cobble together under an umbrella. We alerted authorities of our plight via the VKS HF radio network and kept in contact with them twice a day. The police wanted to send the Telfer mine helicopter to take us to safety, however we asked to be given the opportunity to drive out when the ground dried out and, if that failed, then we’d accept the helicopter recovery.

We spent three nights sleeping in the vehicle and on the fourth day we were able to drive out and head home like drowned rats. If faced with a similar problem, including a major vehicle breakdown, there are a number of strategies to employ: n Stay with the vehicle, and find a way to make yourself visible by lighting a smoky fire and laying out a visible tarp on the ground. n Keep calm and don’t waste time and effort beating yourself up with ‘if only’ or ‘why did I do that?’ thoughts. n Work through all the options, including determining what supplies you have and how long they will last. n Shelter from the elements and if it’s cold keep warm n As a last resort, if you must leave your vehicle, leave a note telling of the intended destination and the date and time you left. It’s a great country out there; with suitable preparation and precautions you’ll have a safe and enjoyable trip. See you in the bush.  GO CA MPING AUSTR A LI A

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Proudly brought to you by

Something different

side dishes Words and images: Julie Bishop and Regina Jones

®

When we plan a camping trip it’s an escape from our busy lives and the rigorous ‘must do’ routine. Home meals are quick and convenient side dishes of salad or veggies! However, the camping holidays are an opportunity to try new recipes; something different, something nice, like it and love it!

Parmy Polenta

Creamy Bacon Carbonara

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

 750 ml water  2 tbl butter  ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated  1 cup polenta  200 ml long-life cream  Salt & pepper to season

 3 bacon rashers, diced  250 g linguine shelf life egg pasta  Oil for frying

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add polenta. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, and stir until melted. Add cream, stir to blend thoroughly. Mix in the cheese and season to taste. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving. DreamPot: Bring water to boil, add polenta, stir to combine. Put all other ingredients into pot and return to simmer for one minute covered. Sit in DreamPot for at least 20 minutes. Let stand with DreamPot lid open for 5 – 10 minutes.

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 1 x onion, diced  2 x long-life cream (200 ml)

Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Heat oil in a frypan to medium heat. Sauté bacon and onion until translucent. Add cream and let it reduce. Stir in pasta. DreamPot: Bring hot water to boil in large inner pot (3/4 full). Add pasta, cover and boil for 1 minute. Place inner pot into DreamPot for no longer than 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in small inner pot, sauté bacon and onion until translucent, add cream and let reduce. Drain pasta, return to DreamPot, stir in sauce, and close lid again until serving time.


Butter Beans & Baby Spinach Ingredients:  Spray oil  150 g baby spinach leaves  1 garlic clove  2 x 400 g cans butter beans Lightly spray frypan with oil. Cook garlic over medium heat for a minute. Add beans, spinach and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir until spinach has just wilted. Handy Hint: If spinach is not available use cabbage. DreamPot: Cook main dish in large inner pot. In small inner pot, cook garlic and butter beans. Stir through spinach, cover, cook for 1 minute. Place in DreamPot at the same time as main meal has pre-boiled for required time.

Fleisch Salad Ingredients:  250 g Berliner fleischwurst, diced  6 – 8 sweet & sour gherkins  3 boiled eggs, chopped finely  220 g miracle whip mayonnaise First step is to dry the gherkins with paper towel before dicing finely. Keep aside some gherkin and boiled egg for garnishing. Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Garnish. Serve with rye bread. DreamPot: Keep chilled for a BBQ by placing ice cubes in large inner pot and sitting the small pot on top containing the Fleisch Salad. Will keep cold for hours.

The latest AWL Cook Book, featuring spectacular landscape photography highlighting happy hassle free recipes is out now and makes a wonderful gift. Only $29.95 includes postage in Australia, and we will personally wrap, tag and post it to your chosen recipient. Email: AWomansLook@bigpond.com for bank deposit details.

A Woman’s Look at Camping & Cooking

Visit www.gocampingaustralia.com.au for the extra special polenta chips recipe.

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Compiled by Andrea Ferris

Sportz 84000 SUV Tent The Sportz 84000 SUV Tent turns your vehicle into a dry and comfortable camping setup in less than 15 minutes. Or, if you want to sleep on the ground, leave your gear in the car’s cargo area, safe and easily accessible from inside the tent. The tent quickly detaches from the vehicle as needed and instantly converts to a ground tent. RRP: $489.99. www.wayfair.com.au/Napier-Outdoors

Princeton Tec Sync Head Lamp The Princeton Tec Sync has a stable, asymmetrical single arm bracket supporting a Maxbright 90 lumen LED, while a thick, comfortable band keeps the Sync securely strapped to your head. A simple twist of the Sync’s switch flicks between four settings; spot beam, flood beam, dualbeam, and a red LED and has a burn time of up to 200 hours. Available in three colours. RRP $49.95. www.outdooragencies.com.au

TESTED wovii wonderful Occasionally, I find it difficult to express in words how impressed I am by a something. This is one of these occasions and the something is a towel. Yes, a towel – used to dry oneself. The wovii, however, is not an ordinary towel. I would describe it as a rectangle of luxury. I am well aware that this is indeed a camping magazine and not Home Beautiful, but Jen Daniels, the creator of wovii was savvy enough to realise that a lightweight, compact, ultra-soft quick-drying towel is a bonus for campers and travellers of all types. The wovii is created from a special extra-absorbent microfibre material that stays soft and feels fabulous. I was given the wovii ‘Taster Bundle’ to try: the standard wovii (130 cm x 70 cm), the pocket wovii (65 cm x 35 cm) and the wovii washer – in a gorgeous girly hot pink. From the first shower I was hooked and went online immediately to buy another set. wovii drying is a little different to scratchy cotton towel drying in that one has a quick ‘pat down’ first and then a rub over. It feels a little odd to begin with, but you soon get the hang of it. What I love is that the towel is so soft it just feels gorgeous to use. The pocket wovii dried my body easily after a post gym workout shower and dried in the sun in less than 20 minutes. The standard wovii rolls up quite small and even damp is substantially lighter than a normal towel – I’d certainly make room for one in my backpack. The old smelly, rubbery hiking chamois is now relegated to the car wash bucket! What I’ve found as equally impressive as the product is the marketing. Jen Daniels has put together a simple, but functional website with e-commerce. The wovii I ordered arrived in two days with a thank you card. The packaging is stunningly simple, but quirky in a personable way. Their social media is right on target and managed extremely professionally – an excellent example of marketing integration (if you’re interested in that type of thing!). And, they’ve aligned themselves with Act for Kids, a not-for-profit working to prevent and treat child abuse in Australia, by donating one percent of their profits. wovii has it all wrapped up and it’s a product and company I strongly endorse and recommend for your Christmas gift list. Taster Bundle RRP $39.95. www.getwovii.com 82 |

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Solar powered tent pole light and recharger Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Gerber’s Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet has a multitude of functions. A small but powerful full-tang (single piece to prevent structural weakness), high-carbon stainless steel blade is perfect for cutting firewood, from thick branches to feathering kindling. The fine blade serves as a knife to slice fruit, vegetables and meat and is safe and easy to use due to the finger grooves at the base of the hatchet’s head. The back of the Survival Hatchet head is a crosshatched striking surface to hammer in tent pegs. It’s housed in a military grade, mildew resistant sheath to maintain the sharpness. Overall length: 24 cm, weight: 590 g. RRP $74.95. Available at all good outdoor stores and online.

Designed and made for Australia, the Doble Outdoors SCS range includes a telescopic stainless steel tent pole, which will illuminate the entire camp area, awning or tent, with the built-in LEDs and batteries, whilst still maintaining the structural integrity of a sturdy tent pole. It can recharge USB devices and be recharged by the sun through the SCS solar panel. The lights can run for up to 250 hours between charge and the batteries can be recharged up to 4000 times. www.dobleoutdoors.com

Scrubba-washing on the go The 145 g Scrubba wash bag is the world’s first pocket-sized washing machine for camping and travel. The patented Scrubba wash bag is the only bag featuring a flexible internal washboard that allows a machine quality wash in just minutes. Simply add clothes, water and laundry liquid, close the bag and deflate, then rub for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Rinsing can be done in the bag before hanging the clothes to dry. The Scrubba wash bag is available from www.thescrubba.com.au for $64.95 and includes free standard shipping within Australia.

SteriPEN® Adventurer Opti The SteriPEN ® Adventurer Opti uses a revolutionary optical eye along with patentpending UV light technology to purify water, eliminating 99.9% of water-borne bacteria, viruses and protozoa in only 48 seconds (.5l). It has been designed to withstand the harshest outdoor conditions and has been proven safe and effective, earning the Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal amongst many other global awards. The water sensor doubles as a LED flashlight, it’s powered by 2 x CR123 batteries, provides 8000 treatments and weighs only 108 g. RRP $165. Available at all leading outdoor retailers. www.steripen.com

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Roadshower – simple portable hot water The Roadshower mounts to the car’s roof rack and uses solar power to heat the water inside up to above 40°C. It’s pressurised and can be easily pumped with a tyre pump or compressor. The Roadshower features a clip-on nozzle for hands-free washing, a clear, food-grade hose, and rugged matte black aluminium housing. Use the Roadshower as a shower or use it to rinse the surfboard, wash the sand off your feet, clean the fish, or take the mud off your mountain bike – it’s super functional and very handy. RRP $395. Buy online at www.roadshower.com.au

New Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro Shock Absorbers The new Ironman 4x4 Foam Cell Pro range is designed to meet all the demands and challenges faced both on- and off-road, loaded or unloaded while producing a superb ride. It includes a range of features to deliver a larger, stronger and more robust shock absorber that minimises heat build-up and delivers ideal performance. For more information visit www.ironman4X4.com

Cool SunShades Brand new to FieldCandy is a fun-filled collection of SunShades with UV rated protection up to UPF50+ and three easy set-up options. There is a wide range of fabulous designs and colours and the UV fade resistant technology will guarantee the design will not fade in the sun. Available to purchase at www.lussostore.com.au, prices start at just $195 with FREE shipping!

TESTED

HeatPal – My Best Friend I went camping in June … Despite living in South-East Queensland, June is winter and winter is not camping weather for this hot-house flower. I hate being cold. Cold paralyses me into inactivity and misery. However, I was determined to take the new van on a camping trip to celebrate my birthday and it was freezing – particularly during the night. Back at home it was time to search for a van-heating solution. But the only thing I could find that was safe and legal seemed to be a built-in diesel heater worth upwards of $2000. Then, as fate would have it, an email arrived from the marketing people at Dometic about the Origo 5100 HeatPal – the all-in-one, electricity-free solution for heating and cooking without power. This I had to test. The HeatPal is an alcohol stove that operates on methylated spirits. At full capacity, 1.2 L is poured into the unit and absorbed by the non-flammable material inside and then lit. The flame can be adjusted and is protected by a cover. It will burn for about four hours. Even if it’s tipped over, it won’t leak. It’s about the size of a small bucket and weighs 3.2 kg when full. My concern was that it would smell, but there is practically no odour and the heating is extremely effective – even inside the house. And it looks really cosy too. Methylated spirits when burned forms carbon dioxide and water, as opposed to when you use an un-flued gas heater in an enclosed space where the result is carbon monoxide, which is deadly. While breathing too much carbon dioxide is not great for you, it’s completely safe if there is some ventilation. However, it’s still not wise to leave it on when you go to bed. Because the heat rises, the unit needs to be put on the floor of the van (or boat or tent), otherwise it may damage the roof lining. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend using one in a confined space with small children running around where it could be knocked over or little fingers (or other things) poked into the holes. But that’s the only criticism, if it is one. The HeatPal, which can also be used as a stove with the lid off, is going to transform my winter camping experience all for $269.00 (RRP). I was so impressed I bought the test unit! www.dometic.com.au

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New Prado Bullbar Opposite Lock has a new, attractive and extremely durable steel bullbar for the Toyota Prado 150 Series. Weighing under 70 kg it fits closely to the front of the vehicle, is airbag and winch compatible and works with the vehicle’s parking sensors and headlight washers. It comes supplied with all accessories including mounting brackets and three under body, stone protection guards and is available in a matte powder coated finish with a one piece bracket and a left and right alignment template. RRP is $1549, an optional fog light kit costs $100. www.oppositelock.com.au

Yamaha Inverter Generator The Yamaha EF2000iS inverter generator is perfect for the outdoor adventurer and is a fantastic household emergency power supply. This 2kVA unit has revolutionary TwinTech™ technology that enables two units to connect for double the power. Generators now have a 48 month warranty for personal and recreational use. RRP $1899. www.generatoryamaha.com.au

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Rapala Aluma-Pro Gripper

Nalgene On the Fly

Fish grippers help to handle toothy predators safely, and are a must for all serious anglers. Voted as AFTA’s 2014 Best in Show Fishing & Boating Accessory. Built for comfortable one-handed operation, its skeleton-style anodised aluminium body is lightweight and durable. A set of stainless steel jaws enable this product to be used in the harshest environments against the biggest fish in the ocean. Comes with wrist lanyard. RRP from $69.95 for the 6” model. (Available from September 2014.) www.rapala.com.au

Nalgene’s On the Fly 650 ml bottle fits snuggly in a bike bottle cage or a car’s cup holder, and has a single hand operable lid so you won’t need to pull over to take a slurp. This makes it the ideal work out bottle. All Nalgene bottles are BPA free and the OTF is made from the legendary Tritan material, so you taste what goes into your bottle, and nothing else. RRP: $17.95. www.outdooragencies.com.au

XXX-Rap Cast Built for extreme casting distances the XXX-Rap Cast features a heavy-duty construction and inline VMC 7266 single hooks for added strength against big predators. With its extreme rolling and wobbling action this lure is designed for high speed presentations and responds well to twitching with a sinking, fluttering action on the pause. Available in 12 cm & 14 cm lengths; weighing 36 g and 54 g respectively. www.rapala.com.au

TESTED

Flameless Food Heater Now, this is one amazing product! A plastic bag that will heat a meal in 12 minutes. No stove, no flame. All you do is rip off the top of the bag, take the heating pouch out of its cover, put it back in the bag, put in your bag or tin of food, pour in a little bit of water, quickly zip up the bag and ‘hey presto’ in 12 minutes there’s a piping hot meal. Honestly, I didn’t believe it until I tried it. ‘That’ll never take off,’ said the other half as we started the test with a bag of thick rice noodles. Twelve minutes later it was, ‘Where can we buy more of these?’ The noodles were almost too hot to eat, it was like magic. Flameless ration heaters, as they are also known, contain finely powdered iron and magnesium metals and table salt. To activate the reaction, a small amount of water is added. The heater reaches up to 100°C in 12 seconds! Any food or drink can be heated provided it’s in a plastic or metal container. It will even hard boil an egg or cook a fish fillet. This product has unlimited uses for camping, hiking, boating and disaster preparedness. Imagine, you’re in the freezing, pouring rain bunkered down in the tent unable to light a fire or get the stove going. Just whip out a Mealspec™ heater bag and in 12 minutes you’ve got a hot drink or a hot meal. After the 12 minutes, the heater was still very hot – could even warm up the sleeping bag! The Mealspec™ fold up to 20 cm x 7 cm and weigh only 60 g. They’re on my highly recommended camping pack list. RRP $3.30 each. Order from Vince Toonen on 0402 341 059 or email motivatingideas4u@gmail.com

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Photosmart

Fix my

Pix

Danielle Lancaster from Bluedog Photography lends some expert advice on how to improve our holiday snaps.

If you have a camping or 4WD image that you’d like reviewed, email a high resolution version to: andrea@vinkpub.com

Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer with Bluedog Photography. She loves sharing her passion of photography with others. Bluedog Photography runs photography Courses, Retreats and Tours and shoots a range of imagery for corporate and private clients. Contact: 07 5545 4777 or visit www.blue-dog.com.au

Thanks to Fiona Lohrbaecher from Tasmania for volunteering this image. What a magnificent landscape! There is a real feeling of isolation, quietness and a never ending landscape. The placement of the vehicle on a third is a compositional tool that works really well here. It gives it room to move across that wide open space and as it’s facing into the image my eye follows its direction. I think the vehicle closer to the camera – but still shooting wide like you have – would make it a more dynamic element in the image and really add punch to the story the image is telling. Minimalism in an image is very effective and that is what you have here. My eye goes to the sign, then the car and then along the road but not out of the image. The horizon does need straightening. The clouds are fabulous and form a nice frame to the image. I am wondering if a lower viewpoint may have added even more impact to the scene especially with the texture of the soil. I’d also like to know if you use a polarising filter and if you are not then recommend you try one. The image is slightly overexposed so keep an eye on that and it could benefit from a slight vibrancy boost but overall a fabulous image.

Thanks to Joel Sheridan from Queensland for volunteering this image. River scenes can be tricky and in this image there is a feeling of tranquillity and calm. The reflections in the water add a nice balance to the composition. There is a good range of tones from black through to near white with enough light in the shadow areas for us to see details of the scene. I am wondering if you could have taken it from a slightly different angle so the gum trees are not in the middle of the image. Here I feel they almost cut the image in two and if it was taken including a little more of the river we’d see more of that wonderful reflection. The scene is very busy and almost cluttered. It needs a stronger focal point and maybe more could have been made of the reflections. If you try cropping the image you will see what I mean. 

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IN W D L U O C U O Y D N A E IB R C S B SU

E G A K C A P R E W O P R A L O S A PORTABLE valued at over $900

LIGHT-A-LIFE LIGHT YOUR LIFE! RRP $49 Low power draw LED light where a soft lantern type light is desired. String them up via the 3.8m cord around camp, beach or backyard easily with the adjustable carabiner and light up the night! Use as a modular system by chaining up to 8 additional Light-a-Life lights for even more visibility. When chained, the lights work independently of each other, meaning if you switch one off, the rest stay on. The Light-A-Life runs from 12V or any Goal Zero Sherpa or Yeti recharger. ROCK OUT 1 PORTABLE SPEAKER SHARE YOUR MUSIC ANYWHERE RRP $39.99 Whether you’re taking a road-trip this summer, lazing by the beach or pool, or busy entertaining by the BBQ, the Rock Out Speaker is the perfect outdoor accessory. Simply plug the Rock Out into the audio jack of your device, such as iPhone or iPod, zip-up your device within the shock and weatherproof casing of the Rock Out, then let the tunes roll whenever, wherever. The shock and weatherproof design of the Rock Out will play your music whilst also protecting your connected device, whether in the rain or enduring the bumps and bruises of adventuring outdoors.

YETI 400 KIT EXTREME PORTABLE POWER RRP $838 Quiet, portable power for base camps, caravans, RVs and unexpected outages. The Yeti 400 Kit allows you to camp in luxury without the noise and fumes of traditional back-up generators. It’s your rugged, mini power plant! The Yeti’s AC inverter is like taking a wall socket with you anywhere. Power lights, laptops, mobile phones, cameras, tablets, CPAP machines, fridges and TVs! Fuel your Yeti 400 from the wall, car or sun!

www.goalzero.com.au

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otourism Trensailandl ‘Dig the Trjouropneyicalon’ gGe the Tropic of Capricorn, Que A self-drive

You don’t need to have a degree in Palaeontology to experience an unforgettable adventure holiday.

nal Park

bleland Natio

Blackdown Ta

Join a dinosaur dig at Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, explore ancien t limestone caverns at Capricorn Cav es, fossick for gems on the Sapphire Gemfields and more... on the Tropic of Capricorn, Queensland! If you have a taste for adventure, we have the place for you. Dig The Tro pic links fifteen geological wonders alo ng WKHTropic of Capricorn, from Outba ck to the Reef. Turn your next holiday into an unforgettable adventure, start planning online at digthetropic.com.au e

Monsters of ath inland se Theropods were a group of meateating dinosaurs, or carnivores.

www.digthetropic.com.au www.digthetropic.com.au Freecall: 1800 676 701

Capricorn Caves


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Go Camping & 4WD Adventures - Issue 93  

Go Camping & 4WD Adventures has plenty of ideas and inspiration to get you into the great outdoors.

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