win a Discovery space evolution of f roaD roof top tent valueD at $ 3900.00
June – July 2012 Issue 79 Aus $6.95 NZ $8.95
TesT Lab CAmPEr TrAiLEr
+ TENT rEviEWS
All About the outbAck Top Outback events Top 10 Outback camps WA’s five ancient formations Drive the red heart, NT Charleville’s star shine, QLD Gundabooka National Park, NSW Opera in Undara, QLD Ormiston Gorge, NT Arkaroola, SA Fish Exmouth, WA
4wd techniques top take off tips
3 Quick Getaways
need to know
Remote aRea suRvival
WinteR WaRmeR pies
gear to go What’s hot
The first Engel with the patented Sawafuji swing motor with only one moving part, specially designed for off road use.
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PACKED FULL OF FEATURES: FINGERPRINT RESISTANT STAINLESS STEEL WIRELESS REMOTE TEMPERATURE READ OUT INBUILT 240v AC + 12/24v DC POWER SUPPLY ADJUSTABLE BATTERY CUT OUT QUIET OPERATION DOOR OPEN ALARM ENERGY EFFICIENT POLAR COMPRESSOR INTERNAL LED LIGHT AVAILABLE IN: 40L - 60L - 80L CAPACITY
The Smart Choice.
46 Shout It!
Send your letters in and WIN!
What’s on Meet the locals at these Outback events. By Lee Mylne
Outdoor news from around Australia. By Kerry Heaney
Short breaks Only got a weekend spare? Here’s where to go. By Lee Mylne
Through My Eyes
An endless horizon This is a land where cattle and kangaroos outnumber the humans. Out here people are addicted to wide open spaces, not merely coping with the remote landscape but thriving on it. By Ewen Bell
4 | Go Camping Australia
Cornered in the Outback Explore where NSW, SA and Queensland collide in a jumble of wire fences. By Briar Jensen
Through the red heart If taking a road trip is a great Australian dream, then driving from Darwin to Alice Springs through some of the nation’s most spectacular country in a camper, complete with all the mod-cons, is the ideal way to make it come true. By Ingrid Sanders
Hitting a high note Two weekends per year, visitors to Undara Volcanic National Park experience an eruption of song for Opera in the Outback. By Kara Murphy
Carved by time WA’s top five ancient rock formations. By Emma George
Oasis in the centre Ormiston Gorge is a quiet oasis in NT’s Red Centre. By Heidrun Rodach
Back o’ Bourke History strewn riverside camping in NSW. By Lee Atkinson
Outback beauty A cheeky Willie Wagtail hopped around us as we set up camp, while a redcapped robin watched from a branch, a more respectable distance away in the stunning landscape of Arkaroola, SA. By Barbara and Kevin Weimer
More stars on the horizon Stars shine at Charleville, in Queensland’s mulga-rich south west Outback region, day and night. By Kara Murphy
Top Outback camps Outback icons you won’t want to miss. By Lee Atkinson
Need to Know
Outback meets the sea Spinifex and red sand meet turquoise bays and white beaches in the Nullarbor, WA. By Martin Auldist
Small on size, big on options Ever looked longingly at a camper trailer but thought it would be all too much for your soft roader to cope with? Conqueror Australia’s new UEV-310 could be the answer. By Kerry Heaney
Winter warmer pies Avoid fiddling and fussing as the sun is setting the bugs are biting, just pull out a pie! By Julie Bishop and Regina Jones
Gear to Go
Top new gear Just what you need for your next outdoor adventure. By Kerry Heaney
Chemistry of colour Make your images pop with colour. By Danielle Lancaster
Holidays and Horror Days
Just deserts While every environment has the potential to harm the innocent traveller, deserts are the setting where the threat is barely veiled behind stark beauty. By David McGonigal
Camper Trailer Review
Remote area survival kit 10 things you need when heading off the beaten track. By Lee Atkinson
Pitch pronto Rapid pitch touring tents, such as the new Companion Exo Lite 300, are a great option for those with a 4WD who want a comfortable tent with a minimum of fuss. By Lee Atkinson
Top take off tips Travelling light or taking the tribe, choose your kit carefully for a top trip. By Mark Allen
Outback critters Small creatures in a big land. By Lee Mylne and Len Zell Go Camping Australia | 5
HANDS-FREE LIGHTING. FIND MORE HOURS IN EACH DAY.
Tikka 2 Plus
Tikka 2 XP
NEW PETZL CORE CORE
USB rechargeable and programmable battery
www.petzl.com.au www.spelean.com.au for stockists
Publisher Michael Vink
Editor Kerry Heaney E: email@example.com
Advertising Manager Georgina Chapman T: (07) 3334 8007 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic Designers Richard Locke, Wendy Deng, Matt Limmer
Proofreader Karen Belik
Contributors Mark Allen Lee Atkinson Martin Auldist Ewen Bell Emma George Briar Jensen
Regina Jones & Julie Bishop Danielle Lancaster David McGonigal Kara Murphy Lee Mylne & Len Zell
Published By VINK Publishing ABN 3107 478 5676 Bi-Monthly Head Office: 38-40 Fisher St, East Brisbane Q 4169 Postal: PO Box 8369, Woolloongabba Q 4102 T: (07) 3334 8000 F: (07) 3391 5118
6 | Go Camping Australia
Heidrun Rodach Ingrid Sanders Barbara & Kevin Weimer
Go Camping Australia 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. PP437181/10. Front Cover: Home Valley Station, The Kimberley, Western Australia. Photo courtesy of Home Valley Station.
IntroducIng the AquAcube 速 Logic cAmp Shower.
Wildflowers, Wooleen Station. Just one of the many extraordinary experiences you can enjoy in WA. For detailed itineraries, wildflower locations and to plan your trip, visit westernaustralia.com/wildflowers
Now opeN. The largesT collecTioN of wildflowers oN earTh.
Viewpoint Your Say From the Editor Pack your bags and brace for the bull dust, we’re going Outback with this edition.
After ten years editing Go Camping Australia it’s time for me to move on. It’s been a blast travelling with you around Australia and a privilege to share the many wonderful destinations this country offers. Thank you for the many letters sharing your opinions, interests, compliments and comments, which I have received over the years. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and I hope your passion for the great outdoors continues. Enjoy, Kerry Heaney Editor email@example.com
Returning to camp from a morning scuba diving trip I found my wife sitting alone. Where’s Sarah (our 6 month-old baby) I enquired? Oh that woman camping over there asked if she could take her for a walk. Do you think I did the right thing? Thankfully she returned with our precious first born plus her husband gave us a feed of whiting as well. Experiences like this can only happen when camping. Graeme Galvin, Warabrook, NSW
Congratulations Graeme Galvin has won a recipe book and a range of Super Sprout fruit and vegetable powders in 150g tubs valued at $150 for his letter.
Write in and win Share your camping experience and you could win an Outdoor Connection Weekender tent valued at $299. The Weekender tent finished with the highest score in the ‘What to buy’ section of the CHOICE 2011 tent comparison and is perfect for those weekend getaways! It CONNECTION boasts large front and rear doors, floor to ceiling inner windows plus Ventraflow panels on both sides to allow cross-flow of air low down where you sleep, keeping you comfortable on those hot summer nights. The front and rear awnings can be erected with three adjustable poles and the unique Hornet Pole system gives exceptional headroom and internal space. A simple addition of Optional Awning side walls gives a proper all weather awning area not found on other dome tents. The Weekender is part of Outdoor Connection’s Resort Range of tents which also includes the Bedarra and Heron (two room tents) and the three room Brampton tent. Be the envy of the camping ground in your Weekender tent! RRP $299. Further information at www.outdoorconnection.com.au or call 07 3715 8400. Send your letters in to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30 for a chance to win the tent.
10 | Go Camping Australia
HENLEY ON TODD REGATTA, NT Enjoy the fun from under the shade of gum trees on the edge of the dry Todd River bed – or ‘float’ your own ‘boat’ in the race itself – at the world’s first and only waterless regatta with a load of fun events. Held on August 19 in Alice Springs. www.henleyontodd.com.au
We’ve scoured Australia for the best Outback options, the hidden secrets and the must-does. Use this edition as your guide for exploring Australia’s Outback and you won’t be sorry.
Have your say and WIN!
Words: Lee Mylne
Courtesy of Tourism NT
What’s on Share fun with the locals at these Outback events
BOULIA CAMEL RACES, QLD
All aboard for the world’s most unusual regatta
The Outback town of Boulia almost bursts at the seams as about 3000 people arrive for the Boulia Camel Races (July 13-15). Camel rides, skydiving, belly dancers, market stalls and children’s entertainment make it a family affair with silver and gold cup races on Sunday. www.outbacknow.com.au
Camels are just one of the attractions at the Boulia Camel Races
LIGHTNING RIDGE OPAL FESTIVAL, NSW Held over four days (July 26-29), events include the Opal Queen Black Ball, Opal & Gem Festival, trade shows, entertainment and a jewellery competition all in the Outback mining town of Lightning Ridge. www.lightningridgeopalfestival.com.au
PICHI RICHI RAILWAY, SA
WALHALLA VINTER LJUSFEST, VIC For the whole of August, Walhalla Historic Township is transformed by the Vinter Ljusfest, the Swedish tradition of celebrating winter with lights, sound and images. Light shows run every night from 6.30pm until 9.30pm, and other special events are held. www.visitwalhalla.com
Leave your car and tent behind for the day and take a trip on the historic Pichi Richi Railway, which operates regular heritage train journeys on the oldest remaining section of the famous narrow-gauge old Ghan railway. Trains run between Quorn, in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, and Port Augusta. www.prr.org.au Photo: © SATC
Walhalla is transformed by light and sound during Ljusfest
MOWANJUM FESTIVAL, WA
Corroboree at the Mowanjum Festival
Experience the art and culture of the Western Kimberley’s Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal people at the Mowanjum art and culture centre, outside Derby, on July 12. See more than 100 Indigenous performers, boab nut carving, didgeridoo workshops and corroborees plus the region’s unique Wandjina art. www.mowanjumarts.com
Pichi Richi Railway
Go Camping Australia | 11
Show goes on Showcasing the latest for holidaymakers and road travellers, the Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Holiday Show will set up camp between June 6 and 12 at Brisbane’s iconic RNA Showgrounds in areas unaffected by the current redevelopment. The show will feature nearly 300 exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations, services and destinations, along with informative and entertaining seminars and displays. Visitors to this year’s show will also have the opportunity to win a caravan, complete with a tinnie and outboard motor.
Tag along to Corner Country
Seeking cloud forest wildlife
Explore Corner Country where three states meet in safety and with company on a Travel West’s new 4WD Tag Along tours. Personally guided by Travel West’s owners Graham and Debbie Reid, the seven-night tag along tours depart Charleville in the south west Queensland Outback for a week-long adventure taking in Birdsville, the Channel Country, Simpson Desert, Innamincka and the Corner Country – where South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland meet. The tour finishes with two nights based at Tibooburra – “the capital of the Corner Country” – a tiny Outback town which has long attracted artists fascinated by the desert, including Clifton Pugh, Russell Drysdale and Rick Amor.
Earthwatch Australia’s new research project ‘Wildlife of the Cloud Forests’ is calling for volunteers to work with scientists to understand the impacts of climate change on the wildlife inhabiting Australia’s World Heritage rainforest in North Queensland.
According to Graham, the tag along tours are ideal for relatively new 4WD owners – or those who would like to get off the beaten track, with the back-up of experienced guides in an escort vehicle. Tours are scheduled for May 24, June 29, July 19 and August 19. For more information call 1800 654 541, (07) 4654 3155 or email email@example.com
12 | Go Camping Australia
news from around Australia Words: Kerry Heaney
Richard Gilmore, Executive Director, Earthwatch Australia says volunteers are needed to conduct surveys at different altitudes from sea level to 1,400 metres and help spot and sometimes catch birds, reptiles, frogs and mammals. “It’s a rare opportunity to escape to this beautiful, remote area to observe native animals in their natural environment and make a difference,” says Gilmore. The first Wildlife of the Cloud Forests team kicks off on August 5 and runs through until August 19, with a second team to follow on October 28. To sign up call Earthwatch on (03) 9682 6828 or visit earthwatch.org.au
Make your mark Koomurri Aboriginal Centre has opened at Echo Point in the Blue Mountains. Guests to the centre are invited to make their mark with ochre paint on the centre’s welcoming wall and participate in interactive didgeridoo performances. Cultural talks by local indigenous presenters teach visitors about the use of tools and bush materials by Aboriginal tribal groups from across Australia and traditional dances are performed every hour on the hour. The centre’s art gallery also showcases a rich diversity of art. More information at www.koomurriaboriginalcentre.com.au
Save a tree They provide us with shade, shelter and scenic views so it makes sense to get involved in National Tree Day on Sunday 29 July to help inspire a healthy, happy, green community. Planet Ark spokesperson Rebecca Gilling says that National Tree Day is a great day to get outside and have fun while doing something good for the local environment. Find out more at www. treeday.planetark.org or call 1300 88 5000
What you need to consider when choosing your next set of 4WD tyres
Tyres play such an important role in your car safety, when heading out on a trip, as they bear the entire weight of your vehicle and its contents. You need the right peace of mind that you’re getting the right traction on the road so your car can steer, brake and accelerate.
here will your next camping trip take you - weekend getaway or a once in a lifetime adventure? Tyres are usually the last thing you think about when planning your trip but can be the first thing you worry about when you head off. Will you get a puncture, flat tyre or blow out at speed? So what should you consider when choosing your next set of tyres for your four-wheel drive or SUV?
performance and life as they can be more easily damaged. Light truck constructed tyres are stronger and offer more puncture resistance, load carrying capacity, extra tread and wear and off-road grip. When considering tyres you need to consider what construction is going to best suit where you are going to drive. How to choose your Coopers A/T3 - The new Cooper Discoverer A/T3 offers a direct original equipment replacement, in a light truck construction, for some of the most popular four-wheel drive vehicles on the market today. The A/T3 utilises a balanced combination of technology, compounding and design to
Choose an aftermarket tyre Original tyres fitted to new vehicles are made to the vehicle manufacturers specifications and generally built with a passenger construction. The result could be a compromise on the tyres 3 MAXX
70% road & sand 30% dirt & mud ^1
50% road & sand 50% dirt & mud
20% road & sand 80% dirt & mud
produce a quality tyre that will perform well in nearly all types of terrain. S/TMAXX - The new S/TMAXX arrives after three years of testing in Australia’s outback and introducing for the first time in an all-terrain tyre, Cooper’s proven Armor-Tek3 carcass construction. There is now a tyre specifically constructed and designed to thrive in the harshest conditions Australia has to offer while still offering great on-road characteristics.
A/T3 - designed for the occasional off road use but more time on road.
STT - The STT is for the driver who wants a serious tyre with the grip and puncture resistance to drive the most serious off-road conditions. Featuring Cooper’s Armor-Tek3 carcass construction, the STT is now even 25% stronger in the sidewall and still 2.5 times more resistant to tearing.
S/TMAXX - designed for more demanding off-road use but great on-road characteristics.
Australia’s largest range of 4WD tyres
It doesn’t matter where you’re driving, highway to the harsh off-road, Cooper Tires has your 4WD or SUV covered.
Cooper Tires are only available from authorised Cooper Tire dealers. To find the dealer closest to you visit the locator on the website.
For your FREE tyre guide and more information about the Cooper Tires range visit www.coopertires.com.au or call 1300 COOPER ^1 Australia Registered Design No. 334293 ^2 Australia Registered Design No. 334885
STT - designed for the serious off-roader with all the protection.
Courtesy of Tourism NT
Breaks Words: Lee Mylne
DARWIN GETAWAY The picturesque Douglas River, rejuvenating thermal springs and abundant wildlife are some of the things that make the Tjuwaliyn (Douglas) Hot Springs Park a great getaway. The park is owned by the Wagiman people who jointly manage it with the Parks and Wildlife Commission. It is an important place for women’s business ceremonies and may sometimes be closed for ceremonies. The Park is 200km south of Darwin on the Old Stuart Highway scenic route from Adelaide River (the last 7km into Tjuwaliyn is a gravel road). Swimming is best in the cooler pools about 200m either side of the camp ground; be aware that some parts of the river are very hot. The camping area – which has areas for caravans, but no power – is large, with pit toilets, barbecues, firewood, picnic tables and water. Camping fees are $6.60 for adults, $3.30 for children 5-15 years or $15.40 for a family. www.nretas.nt.gov.au
Soaking it up at Tjuwaliyn Hot Springs Park
Dryandra Woodland, near Narrogin and Williams, 165km south east of Perth in the Golden Outback region, is home to Western Australia’s state mammal emblem, the numbat, as well as other animals such as red-tailed phascogales, woylies, tammar wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas and brushtail possums. Take a walk through the eucalypt woodland and watch for birds, including tawny frogmouths and the mound-building mallee fowl. Barna Mia, an animal sanctuary inside Dryandra Woodland, runs guided nocturnal tours at sunset. There are walking and cycling trails from 1km to 27km, for all fitness levels. One of the most interesting is the Ochre Trail, which describes the Nyoongar culture of the area. The Congelin campground has toilets, picnic tables and wood barbecues – but you need to take your own wood and drinking water. No dogs allowed. The campground operates on a first come–first served basis. Fees are $7 per night for adults, $5 concession and $2 for children under 16.
Camping in the snow without having to pitch your own tent makes for a great getaway in Victoria’s High Country. Mt Stirling’s Alpine Winter Camp, at 1500m elevation, has a central tepee for dining and socialising around the pot belly stove, seven four-man tents on raised, insulated platforms and kitchen facilities. Mt Stirling is 230km from Melbourne, and in ski season (June to October) has 60km of cross country trails. You will need to walk or ski your supplies (including sleeping bag) and personal equipment in (or you can pre-order food supplies). The camp is available for individual and group hire and weekend back country ski tours are also available. Tents are tall enough to stand up in and have an area for equipment storage, together with stretchers, insulated underlay and warm fibre-pile blankets. The cost is $120 per night with a two day minimum on weekends (Friday–Sunday).
www.stirling.au.com Courtesy of Department of Environment & Conservation, WA
Only got a weekend spare? Here’s where to go
Walking and cycling trails for all levels of fitness.
14 | Go Camping Australia
Camping in the snow at Mt Stirling Alpine Winter Camp.
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Horizon Words and photos: Ewen Bell
16 | Go Camping Australia
This is a land where cattle and kangaroos outnumber the humans. Out here people are addicted to wide open spaces, not merely coping with the remote landscape but thriving on it. That sense of an endless horizon, an unpolluted sky and the oldest rocks on the planet. A few miles outside of Coober Pedy the locals gather to watch the sunset, to watch the ochre
and pink hues of the earth get drenched in a sea of yellow. This is a powerful landscape yet richly subtle, possessing just enough people to give a voice to its beauty. Sometimes these are the voices of Indigenous artists, sometimes they are cattle ranchers, sometimes they are bush pilots. This photo essay shares their voice from the air and the land.
Go Camping Australia | 17
18 | Go Camping Australia
Main Photo: Escarpment above Baines River (NT) 1: Desert flora in the Red Centre (NT) 2: Mt Sonders at Dawn (NT) 3: Stockmen at Home Valley (WA) 4: The Junk Yard at Marree Station (SA) 5: Last light at Parachilna (SA)
Go Camping Australia | 19
Cornered in the Outback T
ibooburra – At the Edge of the Big Effin Desert says the bumper sticker for the Tibooburra Hotel, aka the Two Storey Hotel. At 335km from Broken Hill in far north west NSW, Tibooburra is a welcome relief from its desert surrounds. Meaning ‘Heap of Rocks’ in the local Aboriginal language, the huge, round granite boulders that define the town stand out like the proverbial dog’s balls from the vast flat plains that encircle them. The boulders provide a stunning natural backdrop to Granites Motel and Caravan Park where guests gather for happy hour around a barbeque. With a population of about 150, two pubs and a National Parks Office, Tibooburra is a great place to re-provision or leave the caravan for a jaunt to Cameron Corner. John and Mavis Jackson, owners of Granites, also run TJ’s Roadhouse, which sells everything from petrol and provisions to clothes and books. (A quick peruse of the titles reveals The Australian Motorcycle Atlas, The Grey Nomads Guidebook and Sex in your Seventies.) Mavis was born in Tibooburra but John arrived in 1968. “You’re not a local until you’ve got 16 relatives buried in the cemetery,” he says, before showing us his talking Corella, which shakes hands and rolls in a tin can. We’ve arrived in Tibooburra from Broken Hill, along the Silver City Highway. But don’t be fooled by the name – the road is a patchwork of black bitumen, white stone, grey gravel and red dust. I’m glad I’m not driving. I’ve left that to Geoff Spangler, guide of our Tri State Safaris 4WD adventure, which means I can sit back and enjoy the scenery. (Tri State Safaris offer tag-along options. See Fact Box for details.) Substantial recent rain has transformed the landscape from barren rocky desert into bourgeoning scrubland. Gnarled bushes and stunted trees cover the ground like a knobbly astrakhan carpet in shades of olive-grey and bluegreen. Ephemeral lakes, no longer mirages, glisten in the distance. Families of wild goats graze in fenceless paddocks, kangaroos bound across the road in front of us and emus race comically beside our vehicle, tails bouncing like huge fluffy dusters. We stayed overnight at Packsaddle Roadhouse, about halfway between Broken Hill and Tibooburra, which offers caravan and camping facilities along with a welcome beer. The corrugated iron restaurant, housing an enormous fireplace rescued from an old shearing shed, drips with pastoral memorabilia. Enroute from Packsaddle to Tibooburra we stopped at Milparinka, once a thriving gold mining town with stately municipal buildings and four 20 | Go Camping Australia
Words and photos: Briar Jensen
pubs. When the gold ran out it was all but abandoned and remained a ghost town until rescued by a group of local volunteers. The remaining sandstone buildings of the courthouse, police station and gaol cells have been restored and turned into a heritage precinct. A visitor centre operates between March and October, manned by volunteers who live-in on a three-week roster. They’re a wealth of local knowledge and history, and always good for a chat. Nearby is Depot Glen, where Charles Sturt’s expedition was trapped by drought for six months in 1845. A hot breeze rustling through ancient gums mimics the sound of trickling water, but the riverbed is parched. James Poole’s grave, Sturt’s second-in-command, lies under a tree bearing his initials, testament to the harsh conditions. We quench our thirsts on arrival in Tibooburra at the Family Hotel, which despite its name has more naked butts than a buck’s party. But don’t be put off, they’re just part of the hotel’s famous murals, painted by artists including Clifton Pugh and Russel Drysdale.
Where NSW, SA and Queensland collide in a jumble of wire fences
1: Passing through the dingo fence. 2: Driving across a clay pan. 3: Roadside art in Corner Country. 4: Ruins at Milparinka. 5: The sand is a vibrant terracotta. 6: Granites Caravan Park. 7: Flying Doctor mural in the Family Hotel, Tibooburra.
Go Camping Australia | 21
Along with the nudes are humorous works by Broken Hill artist Howard William Steer depicting the ‘Flying Doctor’. A rendition of the dog fence is being painted as we drink, by Roxanne Minchin, whose late husband Eric Minchin’s work also adorns the walls. Roxanne’s painting comes to life the next day as we strike out for Cameron Corner through Sturt National Park. Crossing a red clay pan dust billows in our wake, coating roadside plants – and our nostrils – in fine pink dust. The 5000km dingo fence, originally built to control rabbits, stretches to the horizon like a line scratched across a wet ochre canvas. The dirt is such a vibrant shade of burnt orange that Eric Minchin had to bottle it to prove to his US exhibitors it was actually the colour he depicted it in his paintings. The approach to Cameron Corner is a jumble of wire fences and we duck through South Australia before veering right into Queensland. A metal plaque atop a white post marks the exact intersection of NSW, SA and Queensland, and our destination – the middle of nowhere. Fenn Miller, owner of Cameron Corner Store and pub, says people come here for all sorts of 22 | Go Camping Australia
Families of wild goats graze in fenceless paddocks, kangaroos bound across the road in front of us and emus race comically beside our vehicle, tails bouncing like huge fluffy dusters
reasons. Some just pass through enroute between Birdsville and Innamincka, while others, like the group of dirt-bikers we meet from Coffs Harbour, come specifically to ‘slap the post’. It’s a popular spot for New Year’s Eve too, says Fenn, when visitors can celebrate in three time zones and four states – the fourth being inebriation. Returning to Tibooburra takes us past Olive Downs Lookout, with a view across the Jump Ups, flat-topped ridges that protrude starkly from the jibber plains. At South Myers Tank, an isolated dam, flocks of birds, from galahs to pelicans, titter in the trees and wade in the water – an Outback oasis teeming with life. We head back towards Broken Hill the next day, stopping in with Matt and Zanna Gale at Pincally Station to watch their three daughters do a School of the Air lesson. They offer gorgeous B&B rooms in the 100-year-old homestead and a self contained cottage, but we push on, visiting Ruth Sandow, a passionate promoter of Outback tourism, at Pimpara Lake, a 44,000ha property
that offers lakeside camping when there is sufficient water in their ephemeral creeks. At Mount Gipps Station owners John and Kym Cramp dish up lashings of country hospitality after a tour of their property, which includes old mine shafts, Aboriginal engravings, a gorgeous display of Sturt Desert Peas and, atop Sunset Hill, a 360 degree view of the country we’ve just covered.
1: Roxanne Minchin paints at the Family Hotel, Tibooburra. 2: The dingo fence. 3: Emus dash across the track. 4: Coffs Harbour dirt bikers ‘slapping the post’ at Cameron Corner.
Go Caravan & Camping Guide – Vol 2 aVailable now To obtain a copy via mail order please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cheque for $14.95, made payable to Vink Publishing, PO Box 8369, Woolloongabba QLD 4102. Price includes postage within Australia.
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Go Camping Australia | 23
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Cameron Corner is located about 500km from Broken Hill and 140km fromBilp Tibooburra, a Morea through Sturt National Park. Unless you want to stay at Cameron Corner, leave your van in Tibooburra and take a day trip to Cameron Corner, Clay pan doing a loop back through Middle Road and Jump Up Currawilla Galway Downs Loop Road (both 4WD only). Even light rain can affect some roads so check for road closures on (08) 8082 6660 or via the NSW RTA Live S I M P S O N Three Traffic Sis ters D E S E R T A website http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au 300 N
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© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2012
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24 | Go Camping Australia Lagoon
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Outback NSW Tourism – www.visitoutbacknsw.com.au Lyndhurst Andamooka Olympic Corner Country – www.outbacknsw.com.au Dam Roxby Sturt National ParkDowns – Leigh Creek www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks
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Clayton Pincally Station has bush camping sites, B&B rooms in the Lake Blanche Lake Eyre8091 3571 homestead and a self contained cottage Sout – Ph (08) h
Theldarpa Station has bush camping sites and power for caravans – Ph (08) 8091 3576
Nappa Merrie Innamincka
C o er Pineview Station has a self-contained cottage, shearers’ op Lake Etadunna Cadibarrawirrac quarters and bushanna camping sites – Ph (08) 8091 2513
Marresites, e Mount Gipps Station has caravan and camping shearers’ quarters and two cottages – www.mountgippsstation.com.au Millers Creek
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Lak Pimpara Lake Station has shearers’ quarters and lakeside EYRE bush camping sites – Ph (08) 8091 2524 NORT H
Milparinka township has caravan and camping sites. Call into the Heritage Visitor Information Centre for details. TIRARI DESERT
River and camping sites and Cameron Corner Store has caravan rooms with shared facilities – Ph (08) 8091 3872 Cowarie
Packsaddle Roadhouse has caravan and camping sites and rooms with shared facilities – www.packsaddleroadhouse.com.au
Where to camp
Lake Etamunbanie Lake Yamma Yamma (Mackillop) Cordillo Downs Arrabury
Tibooburra often records the hottest temperature in NSW, so it’s best to visit in autumn, winter or spring, from March to October.
Granites Motel and Caravan Park has caravan and camping sites and motel rooms – Ph (08) 8091 3305
Moon da Lake Haddon Corner
When to go
Windorah A This is a great idea if you’ve never driven in the Tri State Safaris offer tag-along options, where you drive in convoy with their coach or 4WD. IAMguide. www.tristate.com.au Betoota Durrie Outback before or just want the support of fellow travellers and a knowledgeableDlocal
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Carved by time
Itâ€™s taken millions of centuries to create the unusual beauty of Western Australiaâ€™s unique rock formations, some of which have only been discovered in recent decades. Seeing the beauty and hearing the acoustics of Cathedral Gorge, feeling the rough sandstone beehives, viewing the changing colours of the Pinnacles at sunset, discovering crystals beneath the surface and exploring ancient aboriginal rock art are Outback experiences you will treasure.
26 | Go Camping Australia
Words: Emma George
The Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park One of Western Australia’s most fascinating landmarks and the ultimate place for an Outback adventure is the Bungle Bungle Range, in the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park. The 4WD trip in is just the start of the journey, as once you arrive, a hidden world of gorges and pools, surrounded rocks and fan palms lie waiting to be explored. If you are saving your dollars for a helicopter flight, then this is the place to splurge as it’s only from the air that you can truly appreciate the size of the 350 million-year-old national park, covering nearly 240,000 hectares. The orange and black stripes of the massive sandstone formations (which took us so long to navigate by foot), looked tiny from the air and it was only then we could appreciate the true vastness and extraordinary nature of the landscape. Although there are many unique formations in the Bungle Bungle Range, Cathedral Gorge’s natural amphitheatre is a standout with its astonishing geological formations and amazing acoustics. The Gorge is accessed via a moderate 4km return trail through the sandstone beehive formations.
WA’s top five ancient formations
Fact Box: Location: Purnululu National Park is located in the north east of the Kimberly Region, approximately 300km from Kununurra. Access: 4WD access only and the national park is open during the dry season (April– October). Accommodation: Bungle Bungle Bush Camp (operated by East Kimberley Tours). APT’s Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge, Walardi and Kurrajong campgrounds.
The Bungle Bungles are one of Western Australia’s most fascinating landmarks Go Camping Australia | 27
Wave Rock is the natural replica of an almost perfect wave
Wave Rock, Hyden The towering granite breaker of Wave Rock is one of Western Australia’s most recognisable attractions. The natural replica of an almost perfect wave immortalised in stone, stretches 100m and stands 15m high. It’s believed this amazing formation of multicoloured granite is more than 2,700 million years in the making.
Venture further into the surrounding landscape and you’ll discover a huge variety of geological features, many which are also the subject of fascinating indigenous dreamtime stories and the site of beautiful indigenous rock art.
Access: All year with premium wildflower viewing from August– November.
A bushwalk around wave rock will reveal many native flowers and birds. During the spring, nature transforms the area into
Mount Augustus, Mount Augustus National Park As you drive along the red, spinifex laden, iron-rich country, Mt Augustus dominates the arid shrubland providing an amazing sight from over 100km away. It’s no wonder you can see this geological marvel from afar as it’s twice the size of Uluru and takes the title of the world’s largest rock monolith. Indigenous rock art decorates the caves at the mountain’s base with the rock estimated to be 1,750 million years old. If you’re an experienced hiker, the summit is a 12km return journey but for an ideal photo opportunity, Emu Hill Lookout (5km west of the park boundary) is spectacular at sunset.
Courtesy of Tourism WA
Mt Augustus has many changing faces and the best way to view them is by taking the 49km circuit along Burringurrah Drive. From here you can access rocky creek gorges, caves, Aboriginal rock engravings, picnic sites, walk trails and view a variety of wildlife.
Lake Cave is a stunning crystal wonderland
28 | Go Camping Australia
a dazzling show of wildflowers, the most famous being a brilliant carpet of everlastings, which cover the land in pinks, whites and yellows.
Location: 3km from Hyden, a 4½ hour drive east from Perth.
Accommodation: Wave Rock Caravan Park, local motels, farm stays and historic pubs.
Fact Box: Location: 850km from Perth, midway between the Great Northern and North West Coastal highways. Access: 2WD vehicles permitted. Best visited in cooler months April– November. Accommodation: Camping is not permitted at the national park. Visitors can stay at Mount Augustus Outback Tourist Park or Cobra Bangemall Inn.
Mount Augustus is the world’s largest rock monolith
Courtesy of Tourism WA
The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park
For further information about holidaying in Western Australia visit www.westernaustralia.com
Easily accessible from Perth, the Pinnacles are one of Australia’s most unique landscapes. Thousands of incredible limestone pillars rise eerily out of the yellow quartz sand at Nambung National Park.
Camping in Western Australia’s natural areas is a special experience. Selected campgrounds from across the state can now be booked online – visit www.dec.wa.gov.au/campgrounds
Location: 245km north of Perth (near Cervantes).
Driving around and wandering through the Pinnacles is a surreal experience. The formations vary in size from about 10cm to almost 4m tall and you can’t help but touch and feel your way around the wondrous spires.
Access: Year-round, with spectacular wildflowers blooming from August– October. Accommodation: Caravan parks, motels, units.
Courtesy of Tourism WA
The Pinnacles Desert is best seen at dawn or dusk when they cast long, strange shadows over the rippling yellow sand dunes. Although the desert teems with wildlife, most of the animals are nocturnal. You may see western grey kangaroos, emus and many sorts of reptiles and birds like blackshouldered kites hanging around the peculiar stones.
Caves, Margaret River Although renowned for its fine wines and natural produce, the Margaret River region houses some of Australia’s most unique and stunning caves. The sheer size and beauty of the caves, which are adorned with dazzling crystals, stalactites, stalagmites and underground lakes, will take your breath away. Although there are over 150 caves in the area, only a few are open to the public. Three of the best caves, Lake, Mammoth and Jewel are easily accessible but be prepared to tackle a few stairs if you want to explore the depths of the caves. Mammoth Cave is an impressive, gothic-like cave, which is often visited by paleontologists who come to unlock its secrets about the
The Pinnacles Desert is best seen at dawn or dusk
region’s ancient past. The cave reveals a fascinating amount about local flora, fauna and climate. There are even fossilised remains of a Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) and a Zygomaturas (a huge wombat-like creature). Originally named the ‘Dawn of Creation’, and at 500m long and 30m deep, Mammoth Cave is truly spectacular especially in winter when the natural light bounces off the winter stream and cave formations. Lake Cave is a stunning crystal wonderland, with a reflective lake inside the cave that mirrors the delicate formations above. The cave is renowned for its treasured ‘Suspended Table’, a massive column of calcite weighing in excess of five tonne, which hovers a few centimetres above the lake. Jewel Cave is Western Australia’s largest show cave and one of its most spectacular.
It’s home to one of the longest straw stalactites in any tourist cave in the world, which hangs 5.4m from the ceiling. The caverns of Jewel Cave sink to a depth of 42m and stretch 1.9km.
Fact Box: Location: 275km south of Perth. Access: Any time of the year. A Grand Tour Pass is available, allowing visitors access to all three caves for $48 per adult and $22 per child. Accommodation: Caravan parks to five star lodgings.
Go Camping Australia | 29
1: Gosse Bluff, West MacDonnell Ranges, NT 2: Burley Rock Hole, Litchfield National Park, NT 3: Katherine Gorge, Katherine, NT 4: Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles), NT 30 | Go Camping Australia
f taking a road trip is a great Australian dream, then driving from Darwin to Alice Springs through some of the nation’s most spectacular country in a camper, complete with all the mod-cons, is the ideal way to make it come true. We decided to take a week off, chill out and explore the heart of our vast brown land. It was a holiday unlike any other – jam packed with amazing experiences, breathtaking landscapes and colourful characters. Our home for the next six days would be a beloved Maui motor home. For a couple of 30-somethings, it was perhaps an unusual choice for a holiday, but we were free, independent and able to go wherever the wind took us. Our only restriction was off-road driving as we had the luxury model camper complete with toilet, shower and mini-bar style fridge, rather than the go-anywhere model. And we had a plan. We’d tackle the 1,500km of highway from Darwin to Alice, also known as the Explorer’s Way, and visit some of the lesserknown attractions along the way. Devils Marbles, Daly Waters Pub, Barrow Creek and the Devils Pebbles were all on the agenda. The Explorer’s Way follows the route of John McDouall Stuart, a famous Australian explorer who was the first to traverse the continent in 1862 from Adelaide to Darwin. After a quick orientation at the Darwin depot, we were both instantly amazed at how much the good folk at Maui had packed into our van. It even had air-conditioning, a godsend for the 30-plus degree nights we were sure to encounter during our visit to the red heart of Australia.
On the road in the Aussie Outback
Red Heart Words: Ingrid Sanders Photos: Tourism NT
Go Camping Australia | 31
32 | Go Camping Australia
One of our first stops on the road was at Daly Waters Pub. It’s a famous landmark in the NT. Located about 3km off the track, otherwise known as the Stuart Highway, it is a sight to see. If you are on a mission to get to your destination, it would be easy to forgo a stop here. This detour is one that many don’t bother with, but my advice is to take the turn off – it’s a fabulous place to visit. If you’ve been to Birdsville or Barrow Creek, you’ll have a good idea of what to find here, but this little Outback pub is an icon in the Territory and for good reason. Built in 1893 by early pioneers, life here would have been tough, but today the quirky collection of bank notes, coins, thongs, T-shirts and other memorabilia takes pride of place, well, all over this historic stone pub. Even with the layers of dust, the collections provide plenty to look at and chat about with fellow travellers. I’m sure there have been many visitors who have popped in for a quiet beer, only to find themselves immersed in conversation with one or two of the locals and fellow travellers, and end up staying the night.
The rivers and waterholes are filled to the brim after recent rains and the barren eucalyptus trees have a full head of hair again after a long dry season
Daly Waters Pub has a certain Outback charm, a welcoming aura. Whether it is the array of passport photos on the wall or the enchanting lilt of the friendly Irish barman ready for a yarn, I’m sure you’ll find yourself staying for more than one beer at this pub. A little further south at Dunmurra, we fuelled up with diesel – at $1.75 a litre, our large and rather empty fuel tank was replenished. But even getting fuel in the Territory is an experience. Where else would you see a full-grown Brahman bull watching you wash the car windscreen? There’s not much else at Dunmurra, other than a servo and fast food top up, but we’re told that the local wildlife do often pop in for a look at the customers. The change in scenery heading south on the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Highway) is quite dramatic. It starts in the tropical north of Darwin, where leafy palms and lush green grass, soft like a cushioning mattress, contrast with the white and yellow frangipani flowers the size of small saucers that line the streets.
1: Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park, NT 2: Standley Chasm, NT 3: Chambers Pillar, NT
Go Camping Australia | 33
Fact File Getting there The Explorer’s Way joins Darwin to Adelaide. You can start your trip at either end.
When to go The Northern Territory is so large it covers two very distinct climate zones. The Red Centre has a semiarid climate and experiences the rest of Australia’s four typical seasons. In the Tropical North, there is an average year-round temperature of 32 degrees celsius, with greater levels of humidity over the traditional summer months of November to February.
Where to camp
1 The grass remains as vibrant heading down the track, but rich red ochre-coloured termite mounds begin to dot the landscape. The rivers and waterholes are filled to the brim after recent rains and the barren eucalyptus trees have a full head of hair again after a long dry season. Heading further south, around Elliott and Three Ways, the landscape changes again and the road becomes flat and straight. Road trains become few and far between and there is the occasional herd of Brahman cattle meandering beside the road, while up above, Whistling Kites circle in the thermals, searching for their next meal. The dense leafy bush becomes more and more sparse and the trees increasingly shorter. Several sections of bush are reminiscent of the southern coastline but others remain iconically NT. By far the tallest landmarks on the horizon are the repeater stations that stand tall and contrast starkly with their natural surrounds. By day three, we make it to Tenant Creek. The trusty Maui purrs away, clicking up the miles as we slip in another travelling CD. We feel we’ve left the confines of everyday hum-drum and the sun is beginning to set, casting a soft yellow hue on the landscape of small, white trunked gums and oddly shaped termite mounds. It really feels like we are at the heart of what historically
helped shape Australia’s pioneering past. Many people forget, or don’t even know, the history of John McDouall Stuart, one of the country’s early explorers. Without him, the telegraph line built in 1872 from Adelaide to Darwin, revolutionising communication between England to Australia, would never have been possible. Tennant Creek isn’t perhaps a town where you would consider spending your entire holiday, but the sights around here are definitely worth stopping for. We leave Tennant Creek behind and begin the final leg of our journey to Alice Springs. The Maui van has been our home away from home for the past five days. We’ve had a taste of the breadth and expanse of the Northern Territory and are a little sad to see the back of our trusty van. The Explorer’s Way continues down to Adelaide, but that’s for another time.
The main centres to stock up on provisions are Adelaide, Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin, but there are a number of roadhouses and petrol stations interspersed along the route. Most campsites have camping fees which help pay for the upkeep of the area and these are often payable via the honesty system upon entry to the park. Idyllic locations to set up your tent or roll out the swag along the Explorer’s Way track include Karlu Karlu Conservation Park, Edith Falls, Umbrawarra Gorge and Rainbow Valley Conservation Park.
More information www.adventurealltheway.com.au
1: Red Bank Gorge, NT 2: Alice Springs, NT 36 | Go Camping Australia
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Hitting a high note Words and photos: Kara Murphy
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wo weekends per year, visitors to Undara Volcanic National Park experience an eruption of song that flows through part of the landscape, mixing with the solos of blue-winged kookaburras, magpies and singing honeyeaters. A pied currawong exits from a curtain of illuminated eucalypt leaves, singing and flying over stage left just as the pianist strikes her first keys. The time is 5:45pm, just on sunset, and the few dozen other eucalypts in the audience share the spotlight, wearing similarly goldenhued costumes. The trees aren’t the only ones present for Sydney-based company Opera Bites’ performance of The Fairy Queen, an anonymous libretto loosely based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The 300-seat amphitheatre is currently holding 200+ human patrons – some opera aficionados and others wholly unversed in this art form but here for the ambience, novelty and excuse to dress up like a nymph or fairy. Aside from the fairy costume, which I forgot to bring along, I definitely fall within the latter category. I’ve heard ‘Nessun dorma’ plenty of times (and always love it), but I’m pretty sure the last time I attended an opera was 20 years ago, when my London study abroad program syllabus demanded my presence at a performance of Bizet’s Carmen. Too exhausted, perhaps, from a full day of classes
4 to make sense of the French dialogue and singing, my main impressions were thus: some of the music was fun, and a lady in red died at the end. (Good thing I didn’t have to write an essay about it!) Last night’s performance, while lacking this evening’s sun-kissed ambience due to rain and a subsequent late start, proved a treat. Opera Bites’ entree piece was an abridged adaptation of Carmen ...in English. At last, I understood the plot. And its brief duration (of about an hour) significantly enhanced my appreciation. Of course, the outdoor venue, surrounded by Undara Volcanic National Park and a short walk from one’s campsite, is what makes attending these performances particularly enticing. I don’t often have a reason to bring – let alone actually wear – anything even slightly fancy when I go camping, so donning a long skirt and dabbling with make-up after a full day exploring the national park’s walking trails and lava tubes feels decadent and rather thrilling. Most guests make an effort to spruce up, but since we’re in a sometimes muddy environment, no one appears to heed anyone’s shoe selection, thank goodness. Afterwards, guests can return to their campsites for some self-catered tucker or delay the inevitable transformation back into camping attire by sitting down to a three-course meal at Fettler’s Iron Pot Bistro.
Opera in the Outback
My husband and I try both postopera dining options but retire early to our two-berth Apollo Euro Tourer campervan each evening so we can rise with the relentless North Queensland sun and make tracks along a few of the park’s eight self-guided bushwalks during the day’s cooler hours. On our first morning, we visit the information carriage near campground reception, the point of departure for several walks, including the 2.3km Bluff Circuit, which climbs a small granite knoll south west of the lodge and seems a perfect pre-brekkie endeavour. The silence of the still sleepy track is broken only by birdsong, the rustle of a rock-wallaby crouching in the scrub, and the hum of a helicopter on a scenic flight. From the bluff’s sizeable boulders, we peer over the campground and lodge, both nestled within the patchy shade the extensive, wooded lava plains provide. We know that somewhere out there, beyond camp and hidden from our current vantage, is the Undara lava tube, one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. Approximately 190,000 years ago, an active shield volcano bellowed, erupting and spewing molten lava that flowed more than 90km to the north and 160km to the north west. Rivers of lava confined to a valley cooled and
1: An opera performance begins as the sun sets over Undara Volcanic National Park. 2: Hungry visitors to Undara Experience enjoy fried eggs and more at a bush brekkie. 3: Rock-wallabies are often sighted in Undara Volcanic National Park. 4: An Undara Experience guest relaxes next to his rental campervan (a two-berth Apollo Euro Tourer) in one of the campground’s powered sites. Go Camping Australia | 39
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Three Sis ters 300 Windorah 40 | Go Camping Australia Betoota
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(from $30 per night). Permanent ‘swag’Yatents per night for two people) with lights lleroi (from $32 Durrandella and beds are also available. Phone 1800 990 992 or visit www.undara.com.au oo
Oasis in the Centre S
heer orange cliff faces tower over a near permanent waterhole at Ormiston Gorgeâ€™s most spectacular feature, a deep passage carved through a quartzite range by the floodwaters of Ormiston Creek. These strong colours and rock formations have inspired countless artists since the area opened to tourists in the 1940s. Each time we visit the Red Centre, we go back to this quiet oasis located west of Alice Springs in the West MacDonnell Ranges. The best way to appreciate the scenery is to follow one of the marked trails. A 20 minute walk to the Ghost Gum Lookout starts behind the visitor centre. It is a steep climb to a gum perched precariously on a ledge overlooking the gorge. A 1.5 hour loop continues along the rugged rock walls further into the gorge before a climb down to the water level for the return to the campground. At the time of our visit the gorge was filled with water and a family was stranded on the other side of the gorge. The cliffs were too steep to climb and it was too far to retrace their steps back through the pound that late in the afternoon. They had to cross the icy water reaching their necks to make it back to the campground during daylight. The same walk was on our agenda for the next day. The 7km Ormiston Pound Track starts near the campground, crossing the river before it leads up to the steep cliffs. A colony of black footed rock wallabies can be seen early in the morning. They are quite timid and are only too happy to pose. Sure footed they chase each other on the overhanging rocks where there is a sheer drop to the river below. We continued to cross the slopes of the ancient limestone range. The heavy rains had not only filled the gorge but brought new life to the terrain. Spiky spinifex grass filled the canvas in a subtle green, 42 | Go Camping Australia
Words: Heidrun Rodach Photos: Heidrun Rodach and Michael Duffy
intermingled with desert blooms in purple, red, yellow and pink. On various short detours you can appreciate the views before you arrive at the floor of the Pound, a large level area enclosed by the mountain ranges. Numerous waterholes remained of what must have been a raging river only a short while back. Massive river gums stood defiant of the torrential water which obviously washed out the gorge and deposited tons of sand in the riverbed. Debris was still hanging on the trees indicating the height of the water during the recent rains. We stopped for a picnic and a short dip in the rather cold water while admiring the colourful walls of the gorge. The range is believed to be between 310 and 340 million years old and emerged as a result of a massive earth movement. It once stood over 3,000m high before erosion formed many of the famous gaps, waterholes, gorges and chasms over time. We ventured on to the mouth of the gorge. Normally we could complete the circle by walking through the gorge and return via the main
Ormiston Gorge is a quiet oasis in the Red Centre
1: Views to Mt Sonder from Hilltop Lookout. 2: Wildflowers in full bloom after the rains. 3: Black footed rock wallabies are happy to pose early in the morning. 4: The track to Glen Helen Gorge is lined with tufted spinifex grass. 5: A dingo sneaking around the perimeter of the campground.
Go Camping Australia | 43
The waterhole at Ormiston Gorge is ideal for swimming in the warmer months – it is also a favourite spot for birds
3 waterhole close to the visitor centre. But having observed the predicament of the family the day before, we decided to retrace our steps. The waterhole at Ormiston Gorge is ideal for swimming in the warmer months. It is also a favourite spot for birds. Spinifex pigeons hurried through the camp looking for seeds. The Port Lincoln parrot devoured the melons found along the riverbed and the grey crowned babblers squawked like monkeys in the bushes. A whistling kite circled over the waterhole in search of prey. Ormiston Gorge is an important refuge for the central rock-rat and the long-tailed dunnart, a small carnivorous marsupial active at night. Dingoes are frequent visitors to the waterhole and sneak around the perimeter of the campground. ‘At night put everything away,’ warns the camp manager Kerry. ‘The dingoes take shoes, towels and are particularly interested in your rubbish.’ Park rangers conduct regular information evenings where you sit around the campfire and listen to the ranger talk about the fauna, flora and the history of the area while dingo howls echo through the gorge. The barbecue area at the campground is a real meeting place. While you cook you can exchange 44 | Go Camping Australia
tips and hints with fellow travellers, some who came to Ormiston Gorge for a day and stayed for a week. Ormiston Gorge is also a stop on the Larapinta Trail, a 223km walking track along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges. It starts at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and ends at Mt Sonder. The trail is divided into 12 sections. We decided to do section 10, a 9.9km walk to Glen Helen Gorge. It is a windy and undulating walk through a carpet of red soil dotted with neatly arranged tufts of silver green spinifex grass. On Hilltop Lookout we got a view of Mt Zeil, Mt Sonder and Mt Razorback, the highest peaks in the surrounding area. From there we descended and crossed a number of creeks before crossing the Finke River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. It can turn into a raging torrent of water after rains, its water disappearing again underground into the artesian basin which keeps the Outback supplied with water. At the Trailhead Camping Area we pushed on for another 3.5km to Glen Helen Resort and a welcome cool drink. Glen Helen is only one of six more or less permanent waterholes along the 600km Finke
River system. The waterhole was first used as a watering point for horses and cattle in the 1880s. Today it is a popular waterhole for visitors, especially the hikers on the Larapinta Trail. We had done our day’s walking and took the offer for a shuttle back to our camp at Ormiston Gorge. The golden orb of the sun slowly sank illuminating the cliffs of the gorge in bright orange. Across the sky, clouds glowed with pinks and oranges providing us with another spectacular Outback sunset.
1: Orange Cliffs at Ormiston Gorge. 2: Old International Truck on the way to Glen Helen Gorge. 3: Spinifex pigeons sitting still for a change. 4: Ormiston Pound with views to the cliffs of the gorge. 5: A young family had to cross the icy waters at Ormiston Gorge.
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ERT I D E Sthere T A N A M Getting
T E R R I T O R Y
Ormiston Gorge is located 135km west of Alice Springs. Access is via Larapinta and Namatjira Drives. The campground is located 8km from the Ormiston Gorge turn-off on Namatjira Drive. The road is sealed but can be impassable after heavy rains. The park is accessible all year round but the cooler months (April–October) are more pleasant. McLaren Creek
Mt Davidson N 457 Swimming is allowed in the waterhole, but the water is extremely cold. DAV RA The Granites Wauchope
Where to camp
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Willowra Fees: $6.60 per person. Caretakers on site.
Park & Wildlife Services of NT, Alice Springs: Ph: 08 8951 8211 Anningie Ri
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46 | Go Camping Australia
History strewn riverside camping
enry Lawson once said that to “know Bourke is to know Australia”. But sheltering in the shade of a rocky overhang at Gundabooka National Park 50km south of Bourke, all I know is that this is a pretty important place for the Ngemba and Paakandji people, who came here in groups for a millennia or more to dance up a storm, in this place they called ‘stone country’. You can almost hear the beat of the clapping sticks and the gravelly sounds of the didgeridoo reverberate and echo around the shallow cave as you gaze at the dancing figures painted in white on the red rock wall. Wakakirri is the Ngemba word for dance, and the ‘shake-a-leg’ was performed whenever people gathered together in the rust-red Gunderbooka Ranges for ceremony. But this rock art gallery has more than just depictions of dancing; the walls hold a record of all that was important to the people who once roamed western NSW. Tools such as boomerangs and spears, and stencils of stone axes decorate the wall of the cave, along with white emus, hand stencils, and mysteriously swirling circular paintings, the symbolic meanings left unexplained, perhaps lost in time. The Mulareenya Creek rock art site is one of the best in outback NSW, the ochre and pipeclay paintings vibrant and clear, and protected against the blazing sun and driving rain by a large rock awning. To get there it’s a 20-minute walk across a pretty stone-strewn valley, rock-hopping across dry creek beds and skirting small waterholes. It’s these waterholes and creeks that brought the Ngemba and Paakandji to the ranges, according to information supplied by National Parks, who say that “the mountain and
MAIN IMAGE: Red dust highway, on the road to Gundabooka. 1: Darling River, Bourke. Go Camping Australia | 47
nearby Yanda Creek form part of an extensive travel network that linked the mountain with other waterholes, creeks and the Darling River”. The Darling was part of the white people’s travel network as well. Once lauded as a second Mississippi, Bourke was a major river port back in the 1870s when more than 100 paddle steamers laden with bales of wool and other goods rode the river all the way to the sea in South Australia. There’s just one on this section of the river these days, the PV Jandra, which takes tourists on a short river cruise, but follow the track through the Maritime Heritage Park on the north side of the river and you’ll pass by the rusting ruins of paddle steamers such as the PS Wave, left to decay high on the river bank where it was stranded by floods back in 1929 when water levels dropped overnight. The 24km round trip, which includes a number of historic sites marked by interpretive storyboards dealing with the history of the river, explorers and trade, is detailed in the excellent guide to the area called Back o’Bourke Mud Map Tours. The brochure is free at the visitor centre and has detailed driving (or walking) routes and is packed with interesting snippets of history. 48 | Go Camping Australia
For more tales of Bourke’s glory days we head to Back O’Bourke museum. Less a collection of historical artefacts and more a gallery of stories and legends, we learn where the phrase ‘Back O’Bourke’ comes from (a poem by Will Ogilvie) and look at the town and outback though the eyes and words of writers such as Breaker Morant and Henry Lawson. The $20 entry fee is a bit steep considering some of the video installations were not working during our visit and the cafe was closed, but if you are a fan of Australian literature and like discovering unsung outback heroes, you’ll enjoy the exhibits. Our mud map tour points us in the direction of May’s Bend, which is described as “a lovely
spot next to the river for camping” and sounds too good to miss. To get there, we cross North Bourke Bridge, one of the oldest lift bridges in NSW. Despite the local legend that the bridge was bent to skirt around the North Bourke Pub (sadly since burnt down), the long sweeping approach was curved because the bullock teams carting loads of wool could not execute a sharp turn. Half an hour later, after a rather bumpy crosscountry drive on a barely-defined track, we pull up at May’s Bend beside the river, which is indeed a ‘lovely spot’. We set up camp on the bank in a clearing beside majestic river gums, throw in a fishing line, and as the sun sets, we clamber down the steep-sided bank to a small sandy beach and
1: Bourke Lift Bridge. 2: Mulareenya Creek Art Site, Gundabooka National Park. 3: Henry Lawson reckoned that “If you know Bourke, you know Australia”. 4: PV Jandra. 5: Lose yourself in the legends of the outback at the Back o’Bourke Centre. 6: Lookout over the Gunderbooka Range.
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2 50 | Go Camping Australia
Words and photos: Barbara and Kevin Weimer
cheeky willie wagtail hopped around us as we set up camp, while a red-capped robin watched from a branch, a more respectable distance away. We were at Arkaroola in South Australia’s North Flinders Ranges and our plans included a flight over Lake Eyre. Water from monsoonal rains in Queensland and Northern Territory was again flowing south into the lake. Several years earlier we had camped beside a dry salt-encrusted Lake Eyre at Halligan Bay. Now we wanted to see this huge lake covered with water. We were also on a return visit to Arkaroola to check out the benefit of several years of good local rainfall in this normally dry and remote area of Australia. Arkaroola, a privately-owned and operated wilderness sanctuary, has a stunning landscape, rich in flora and fauna. Its beauty is compelling. It was established in 1968 after Reg Sprigg and his wife Griselda purchased Arkaroola Sheep Station and commenced a programme of reintroducing native flora and fauna. The sanctuary has since won many sustainable tourism and ecotourism awards.
Arkaroola – stunning landscape, rich in flora and fauna
The current Arkaroola custodians are Marg and Doug Sprigg. Accommodation includes motel rooms, cabins, a caravan park and bush camping along Wywhyana Creek. A number of excellent walking tracks allow you to explore on foot, while 130 kilometres of 4-wheel-drive and 2-wheeldrive tracks take you to tranquil waterholes with fascinating names like Nooldoonooldoona, Bararranna and Bolla Bollana or to towering outcrops of quartz and feldspar, such as The Needles, The Pinnacles and Sitting Bull. Three telescopes are also available for viewing the wonders of the night sky. The weather had looked doubtful when we left Copley with 130 kilometres of dirt road ahead of us to Arkaroola. There had been showers the night before. However, a road restrictions sign indicated
1: Overlooking the rugged Arkaroola mountains from the Acacia Ridge track. 2: Arkaroola Station and the road to the village from the air. 3: Cliffs on Lake Eyre shoreline. 4: Walking through the curly mallee bushes. 5: Arkaroola Village from the Acacia Ridge track. Go Camping Australia | 51
A number of excellent walking tracks allow you to explore on foot
3 all roads were open, so we drove on. There were several muddy sections, but for the most part the road was quite good and very picturesque. Arriving at Arkaroola, we confirmed our Lake Eyre flights at the very welcoming reception desk and picked up walking track and selfguided driving trail leaflets. Not to be missed is the famous Ridgetop Tour. As we had taken the Ridgetop Tour previously, and, as the access roads to the waterholes had not been graded since the recent rainfalls, we decided to leave them for another trip and spend time on the walking tracks. Next morning we set out on the MawsonSpriggina track. The track, starting at Arkaroola Village, follows the Mawson Valley, named after Sir Douglas Mawson, who studied the sequence and relationship of rock layers in the Flinders Ranges in the early 1900s. It returns along the Spriggina Ridge, named after Reg Sprigg, who had first visited this area as a geology student of Mawson’s as early as 1937 and had discovered 600-million-year-old fossils in the rocks of the Flinders – the earliest forms of worms and jelly fish fossils to have been found. It was Mawson who urged Sprigg to preserve this geological wonderland for future generations. 52 | Go Camping Australia
This well-marked track meandered across a creek and around hillsides with beautiful views. Wildflowers such as elegant wattle, curly mallee, senna and rock fuchsia were in bloom. Small finches and wrens darted amongst the bushes. We passed the pink nose of Sitting Bull and other imposing rock formations including outcrops of granitic rock known as The Pinnacles. We looked for the endangered yellow-footed rock wallabies, often seen at dusk or early morning, but as it was mid-morning we were out of luck. The next day we walked the popular Acacia Ridge track. A young American named Mike drove us to the trailhead near Arkaroola Station. No longer a working sheep station, Arkaroola Station is maintained in good condition and often houses groups of geologists or astronomy students who come here to study this amazing landscape and its clear unpolluted skies. Mike said we were in for a treat walking along Acacia Ridge – and he wasn’t wrong! Whereas yesterday we walked through a valley, today we were high on a ridge top looking down both sides into the valleys and across mountaintops. At the ridge summit, the view across the many majestic mountains was breathtaking. At Mt. Elva Dam, just
before we reached the village, flocks of little birds were diving into and out of the water. From there it was a short walk back to the village through “Ark Henge”, a collection of large boulders of different rock types with labels identifying each. Clear skies greeted us the following day for the highlight of our stay – the flight over Lake Eyre. Doug Sprigg was our pilot for the 3 ½ hour flight. After briefing us on the geology of Arkaroola, he drove us to the airport, where we boarded the high-winged Cessna. All six passengers had a window seat, ear phones (which doubled as ear muffs) and a microphone so that we could talk to the pilot. The flight took us over Arkaroola and across the Strzelecki and Birdsville tracks. We then tracked down Cooper Creek into Lake Eyre. We spent about an hour criss-crossing the lake, flying low enough to fully appreciate this huge expanse of water. The extent of the water in the lake visible from the plane was awe inspiring. Doug had a wealth of knowledge and provided a running commentary throughout the flight. He pointed out pelican rookeries, one on the banks of the Cooper and one on an island in Lake Eyre. We saw the wreck of a tourist plane that had
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When to go
STURT STONY D ESE
Arkaroola is 600km north of Adelaide, 400km north of Port Augusta, 130km east of Copley and 300km north-west of Yunta. All roads have dirt sections and can be impassable after rain. Regular coach tours operate between Adelaide and Arkaroola.
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Summer is a photographer’s paradise, with fiery dawns and brilliant sunsets. In autumn and Oodnadatta winter birdlife is more evident while spring is best for brilliant displays of wildflowers. River
Where to camp
Arkaroola has 50 powered sites, unpowered sites and 300 hectares of bush camping.
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3: Settled in at Arkaroola caravan park.
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when the pilot got too close to the water, while apparently trying to demonstrate Mulgathing the fact that it was possible to fly below sea level. Wynbring Reluctantly, we left Arkaroola the next Tarcoola day rueing the fact that we couldn’t visit the professionally-equipped observatories at night, as the moon was either full or nearLake Harris full each evening of our stay. That will have to wait for our next visit! The South Australian Government Lake to has recently announced that it intends Everard submit Arkaroola for both National and Lake Everard Bookabie World Heritage listing. Penong
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horizon Words and photos: Kara Murphy
54 | Go Camping Australia
he historic town of Charleville, in Queensland’s mulga-rich south west Outback region, is steadily growing its tourism offerings. But regardless of which attractions capture your attention during daylight hours, by night, your focus will surely turn towards the sky. I’ve been in Charleville just over an hour and already I’ve manhandled a shooting star, stared long and hard at the sun, and destroyed a perfectly well-intentioned celestial object. Yet, thankfully, I haven’t acquired burn marks, eye damage, or any enemies at NASA. No, I’ve just been exploring the Cosmos Centre, which doubles as Charleville’s Visitor Information Centre. Offering night observatory sessions, the centre keeps visitors busy during daylight hours, too, with a daily sun viewing session (through a filtered telescope) from May–September and displays that tell you, among other things, your age on other planets (forget delusions of youth on Venus... Mars is far kinder). Centre guides also give brief talks, explaining Pluto’s recent demotion from planet to dwarf planet and assuring dreamy
Stars shine at Charleville day and night
1 sorts such as myself that stars do not, in fact, ‘shoot’ around our atmosphere: spotting one is more a matter of patience than luck. These fleeting trails of light are actually meteoroids – often pebble-size particles of debris with shining trails of gases and melted particles; the bit that impacts Earth without being destroyed is a meteorite. My extremely knowledgeable guide, Jane Morgan (also the Centre Manager), handed me a stony iron meteorite, remarkably heavy for its size – I wouldn’t want to be plonked in the head with it, that’s for sure. Squashing any potential agoraphobia, Jane noted that only 21 people worldwide have died as a result of being hit by meteorites in the last 100 years. You’d have to be really unlucky... Having (regrettably) resisted the onsite Cosmic Cafe’s cheesecake, made with ‘cheese from the moon’, I finish my Cosmic Cappuccino, wiping the remaining star-decorated froth from my upper lip as I follow my guide out the door. Jane and other area stakeholders have been introducing new tourism products each year, and
3 the guided convoy tour on which we’re embarking now is one recent initiative. Interpretive signs educate visitors on remnants of the American Air Force’s 3500-strong presence on the 25 sq km airport reserve during WWII; however, Jane and her fellow guides are constantly finding new information (sometimes thanks to tour participants who witnessed this chapter of history), and the $6 per person tour helps bring the sites and closely guarded military secrets to life. To maintain an aura of suspense, I’ll keep Charleville’s military secrets under wrap. But I will tell you that the current Royal Flying Doctor Service hangar, built during the American occupation, didn’t repeat its 1990 flood activities (providing shelter for 2300 citizens and 800 relief workers) during the area’s most recent watery disaster. No, during the March 2010 floods, the community based its evacuation centre in another location. And, in 2011, as floods ravaged much of the rest of the state, Charleville remained above water. The now infamous rains left a visible
1: Cosmos Centre Manager Jane Morgan checks out sunspots using one of the centre observatory’s three telescopes. 2: If you gaze up at the night sky without the aid of a telescope, the Jewel Box cluster looks like one faint star near the easternmost star in the Southern Cross. However, this cluster, one of several objects you might see during one of the Cosmos Centre’s night sessions, actually consists of 200 stars located 7600 light years from Earth. 3: Saturn. Go Camping Australia | 55
4 souvenir, though, carpeting the brilliantly redfloored area surrounding the town with eerily dry, olive-coloured grasses. The Charleville Mulgalands Environmental Park, due to open in 2012, will give visitors an opportunity to explore the landscape via a series of walking tracks through mulga forests and tussock grass plains. Another potential project could involve brolga and emu spotting on a property 35km from town. Eager to tread along vegetated trails and view a broader range of area wildlife, I’m sorry to miss these adventures. I’m grateful to learn, though, via the town’s Bilby Experience, that the greater bilby, a long-eared endangered marsupial, has enjoyed a boost in population in Currawinya National Park (about five hours south of Charleville), which is fitted with a 25 sq km electrified, predator-proof bilby fence. The fence was constructed in 2003 with monies from Charleville’s Save the Bilby Fund, with the help of conservation volunteers. Leaving the Bilby Experience’s bilby enclosure, Jane and I set off for the Cosmos Centre’s evening 56 | Go Camping Australia
session. However, the sky’s revelations begin before we’ve pulled out of the parking area. Suspended low in the sky, gracefully bloated and utterly exposed, is an almost new moon, its bountiful ghosted orb fringed with the slimmest illuminated crescent I’ve ever seen. ‘That’s earthshine,’ says Jane. ‘It’s the amount of light from our sun that the Earth reflects back to the moon.’ The phenomenon is most visible immediately before or after a new moon, but, in spite of all the times I’ve raised my eyes towards the heavens, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It’s as if our beloved satellite has altered its orbit, travelling closer to Charleville than anywhere else, just so it can spend a few stolen moments basking in memories of the Outback’s red glow – and perhaps dropping a few precious morsels of moon cheese – above the silent watch of a few sleepy streetlights. By the time we’ve finished our two kilometre drive to the centre, the moon has disappeared, once again giving millions of stars centre stage.
1: Campers congregate around an open campfire at the Evening Star Tourist Park every evening. 2: Charleville’s National Parks and Wildlife office keeps approximately 15 yellow-footed rock wallabies in an onsite enclosure as part of a breeding program. 3: Happy camper Marion shows off one of the ‘marriage friendly’ drive through sites at the Evening Star Tourist Park. 4: The entrance to Charleville’s Bailey Bar Caravan Park, located in town. The park offers regular lamb on spit dinners and yabby races. 5: A weather balloon release (and subsequent examination of balloon data) is part of Charleville’s Weather Balloon Station tour.
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Outback camps Words and photos: Lee Atkinson
Thinking about an Outback experience? Here are 10 destinations that tick all the boxes every time.
Home Valley Station
Outback icons you won’t want to miss
You can be forgiven for feeling as if the scenery looks familiar when you drive up to the entrance of Home Valley Station in the Kimberley; especially if you’ve seen the Baz Luhrmann movie, Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. It’s these ranges that form the backdrop to the dramatic cattle muster scenes movie. Besides horse riding trails and cattle musters there are guided barramundi fishing tours of the billabongs and rivers, canoeing and birdwatching tours, boat cruises, a range of 4WD tours and, of course, an Australia movie tour, where you can visit all the sites on the station that inspired Luhrmann, including Jackman’s Jump-up and Kidman’s Krossing. You can set up your own camp at one of the powered sites near the main resort complex, or if you prefer a bit more of a wilderness experience, and don’t want to mix it with the other guests at the homestead’s Dusty Bar and Grill at night, you can roll out your swag beside the Pentecost River, 4km from the homestead, where crocodiles sun themselves on the banks and sharks cruise the water. Home Valley Station is on the Gibb River Road approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Kununurra (120km). Tip: Home Valley’s cattle brand has become the station’s nickname – roadside signs will point you to HV8, not Home Valley. www.homevalley.com.au
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Uluru As far as iconic Outback locations go, it doesn’t get any bigger or better than Uluru. It doesn’t matter how many photos you’ve seen of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the red centre, your first glimpse of Uluru will remain in your memory forever. Join the throng of awestruck travellers who gather like religious pilgrims to watch the rock turn red, then purple, then blue and finally black in the setting sun on any given evening, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll hear a disappointed complaint among them. Australia’s most identifiable icon is a massive red rounded monolith rising 348m above the surrounding plains that reaches 6km below the earth’s surface. The circumference measures more than 9km. Its sister rock formation, Kata Tjuta, (The Olgas) which means ‘many heads’, is made up of 36 huge, weathered domes spread over 35 square kilometres and is just as impressive. You cannot camp in the national park, but the Ayers Rock Campground has powered caravan sites, shaded grassy tent sites and great amenities. At $36 for a non-powered site ($41 for power) it’s not the cheapest campground, but watching the sun rise or set over the rock is priceless. You’ll need to book well in advance. Ph: 1300 134 044 www.ayersrockresort.com.au/arrcamp/ Ayers Rock Resort is 445km by sealed road from Alice Springs. The resort is 18km from Uluru.
Undara Volcanic National Park
Undara Volcanic National Park The Undara Lava Tubes in the heart of the Savannah Gulf Country are part of the longest lava flow from a single volcanic crater on Earth. These lava tubes, which extend more than 160km, were formed around 190,000 years ago, when a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava, which has been estimated at 233 cubic kilometres or enough to fill Sydney Harbour in just six days, flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top outer layer cooled and formed a crust while the molten lava below drained outwards leaving behind a series of hollow tubes. There are 68 separate sections of lava tube that have been identified from more than 300 lava tube roof collapses, and more than 164 volcanoes in the area. Undara Volcanic National Park is a ‘closed’ national park, which means you can only explore the lava tubes on a guided tour (high carbon dioxide levels make the lava tube area dangerous for visitors without an experienced guide) and no camping is allowed. Undara Experience has several guided tours available. Undara Experience, set on what was originally Rosella Plains Station, a cattle station owned and run by the Collins family (the first white settlers in the district) since 1862, has a large campground with powered drivethrough caravan sites and good amenities, including a pool and licensed restaurant. Bookings essential: call 1800 990 992. www.undara.com.au Home Valley Station
Undara is 275km west of Cairns on sealed roads.
Cameron Corner If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could be in three places at once then you’re in luck. At Cameron Corner in far western NSW you can put one foot in NSW, the other in Queensland and wave your arms around in South Australia, all at the same time. Visit in summer and you can travel back and forth through time. Thanks to daylight saving, the three states are all on different time zones. Time your trip for New Year’s Eve and you can get three new year countdowns for the price of one: party in Queensland, step across to SA half an hour later for a second cheer and 30 minutes later you can do it all again in NSW. The point where the three states meet is marked with a post, and has become a favourite photo stop for most Outback travellers. While there’s not much at Cameron Corner, just the Corner Store on the Queensland side, like all good corner shops it sells everything. It does have powered and unpowered caravan sites and a golf course. Play all nine holes in three states through and you’ll earn a certificate. The real reason to head out this way is the red desert scenery of the surrounding Strzelecki Desert. If you are lucky enough to be here after the rain has been and gone, the dunes are carpeted in wildflowers. Cameron Corner is 140km north west of Tibooburra. You’ll need a 4WD. www.outbacknsw.com.au/cameron_corner_store.htm
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Finke Gorge National Park
Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
Finke Gorge National Park
The western end of the George Gill Ranges rises sharply from the surrounding flat desert plains, producing a rugged landscape of ranges, rockholes and gorges, the best known of all being Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park. Rising up 100m to a plateau of rocky domes, Kings Canyon is home to one of the most dramatic short walks in the Outback – the Rim Walk – where you can look down over the rim into the chasm formed by the sheer-sided red sandstone walls of the canyon. The best time to tackle the 6km walk is either early in the morning, before the heat and flies begin to fray tempers, or late in the afternoon, when the setting sun lights up the sheer sandstone walls of the canyon to their best advantage. The first half-hour or so is a lung-busting, muscle-destroying climb up the side of the canyon, but if you can make it that far, the remainder of the two to threehour walk is an easy stroll around the rim of the canyon. You cannot camp in the national park, but Kings Canyon Resort, which is just 7km from the park entrance, has powered caravan and camping sites. Bookings are essential, call 1300 134 044; www.kingscanyonresort.com.au. You can also stay at Kings Creek Station (the largest exporter of wild camels in Australia), 36km from the national park entrance. Powered and unpowered sites are available as well as safari-style cabins. Ph: (08) 8956 7474 www.kingscreekstation.com.au
The Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) are a collection of gigantic (some are four metres high and 13-33 metres wide) rounded precariously balanced granite boulders that make for some great photo opportunities. The area is an important meeting place and rich in ‘dreaming’ sites for local Aboriginal people; in the Aboriginal mythology the marbles are the eggs of the rainbow serpent and are regarded as having extraordinary powers, and many dreamtime stories and traditions of the Warumungu, Kaytetye and Alyawarre Aboriginal people are linked with this area. Ownership was officially handed back to the traditional owners in late 2008. There are some great self-guided walks around the reserve, beyond the famous two boulders that appear in all the photos, and the area is well worth exploring. There is a basic bush camping area with fire places and pit toilets at the southern end of the Reserve. No water or firewood is provided, and you should come well equipped. The campground has good views of the eastern side of the marbles, so try and wake up early to see the marbles glow at sunrise.
This beautiful but remote national park west of Alice Springs is home to Palm Valley, a beautiful oasis-like pocket of around 3000 red cabbage palm trees. It’s 4WD access only and the last 16km follows the sandy bed of the usually dry Finke River, which means it may be inaccessible after heavy rains. It can be hard going and is for experienced four-wheel-drivers only with high clearance vehicles. The campground has hot showers, gas barbecues and there are a range of good walking trails with information about the mythology of Western Arrernte Aboriginal culture. A favourite is the 20-minute climb to Kalaranga Lookout which has spectacular views of the rock amphitheatre encircled by rugged cliffs. In Palm Valley itself, the two-hour Mpulungkinya Walk winds through the palms and across the plateau.
The Devils Marbles are 110km south of Tennant Creek on the Stuart Highway; approximately 393km north of Alice Springs.
Finke Gorge National Park is 138km west of Alice Springs via Hermannsburg.
Kings Canyon is 330km west of Alice Springs via the unsealed Mereenie Loop Road, which is not suitable for caravans. Sealed road access is via Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort), 305km to the south west. 60 | Go Camping Australia
Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
Goongarrie National Park
A former pastoral station set amongst arid plains and mulga north of Kalgoorlie, Goongarrie offers a fascinating glimpse into remote station life. You can camp at the old homestead or shearers’ quarters – neither has power but both have wood chip heaters for hot showers and well equipped kitchens; the homestead is particularly ideal for groups. Explore the park by car, or take a day trip to nearby Menzies and Lake Ballard, a large white salt lake in an otherwise featureless semi-desert 55km west of the tiny township that is home to one of the country’s most intriguing and otherworldly art installations. Called “Inside Australia”, the work is by internationally renowned artist, Antony Gormley. Gormley made laser body scans of 51 of the Menzies locals and then made casts that are life-size in height but are shrunk by two-thirds in the width. The resulting stick-like statues, cast in a mixture of iron, molybdenum, iridium, vanadium and titanium, now rusty and pocked from the surrounding harsh salt environment, are scattered over 10 square kilometres of the salt lake, each one standing alone around about 750 metres apart from its neighbour, so wherever you turn, there’s another on the horizon. It’s the last place you expect to find world famous art, but the WA goldfields have always been about finding unexpected troves of treasure. Goongarrie National Park is 90km north of Kalgoorlie.
Lake Ballard Statues
Coongie Lakes National Park
Big Desert Wilderness More famous for its dramatic coastline, snow-capped mountains and fertile river valleys, Victoria’s not often associated with Outback and desert wilderness, but the Big Desert Wilderness Park (Victoria’s first declared wilderness area) is a large area of inhospitable terrain that has been left largely untouched by Europeans. More than 50 species of lizards and snakes and 93 species of birds have been recorded in the park including the extremely rare western whipbird. There are campsites at Big Billy Bore, the Springs, Moonlight Tank and Broken Bucket Reserve along the Nhill-Murrayville Road. You must carry your own drinking water and the park is best avoided during the middle of summer when high temperatures make bushwalking unsafe. There are no tracks into the park and you must walk in from the Nhill-Murrayville Road (a rough, dry weather road only), separated from the park by a 5km strip of public land. Big Desert Wilderness is around 200km south of Mildura.
Coongie Lakes National Park Coongie Lakes National Park is listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, comprising of channels, waterholes, lakes, shallow floodplains and swamps which attract an enormous amount of waterbirds. Unlike most Outback lakes, Coongie Lakes contain water most of the time, although the surrounding ephemeral wetlands fill only after rain, which can mean that access to the park is often cut. The area is an important spiritual site for the Aboriginal people who inhabited the area. There are a number of superb lakeside camping areas, although facilities are limited to pit toilets, but be warned, it’s such a beautiful place that you’ll probably end up staying twice as long as you planned, especially if you like birdwatching, swimming or canoeing (BYO canoe or kayak). No generators or campfires are permitted, so carry a fuel stove. It’s four-wheel-drive access only and you will need to have a valid Desert Parks Pass to visit this park. These cost $125 per vehicle and include a useful information pack and detailed maps and are valid for 12 months. Call 1800 816 078 or visit www.parks.sa.gov.au Coongie Lakes National Park is located 100km north-west of Innamincka. Access is along the Strzelecki Track, via Leigh Creek.
Big Desert Wilderness
Lee Atkinson is the author of the Australian Road Trips Smartphone and iPad app (available on iTunes and Android Market). Download it from www.ozyroadtripper.com.au Go Camping Australia | 61
Outback meets the sea Words and photos: Martin Auldist
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ourism pamphlets universally proclaim that Exmouth, Western Australia, is where “the Outback meets the sea”. Despite this somewhat corny catchcry, the eclectic mix of desert landscapes and ocean vistas is admittedly alluring. This is a place where spinifex, red sand and rugged rocky outcrops tumble down to meet turquoise bays and glaringly white beaches, where Sturt’s Desert Pea grows in the table drains near the boat ramp, and where kangaroos graze amongst giant anthills only metres from the crashing surf. All in all, Exmouth is a terrific holiday spot for any number of reasons, including the camping, the wildlife, the weather and the breathtaking scenery. Personally, however, I have been drawn across the Nullarbor on more than one occasion for a different reason. Fishing! Initially established to support a nearby US Naval Base, Exmouth is a small, friendly, holiday town on the northcentral coast of Western Australia. It has a permanent population of less than 3,000, but the area has nearly 200,000 visitors a year, many of them anglers – and for good reason. Quite simply, the area offers some of the best, most accessible fishing in the country. The focus of the marine waters to the west of the small peninsula on which Exmouth sits is the Ningaloo Marine Park, which encompasses the pristine Ningaloo coral reef. This reef, stretching some 300km down the coast and at times within swimming distance of the sand, is home to a remarkable diversity of marine life. Humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks all occur in great numbers. The fishing, too, is as diverse as it is spectacular. Whether you’re into ocean trolling for big game, inshore light tackle game fishing, saltwater fly fishing, bottom-bouncing for reef fish, or shore-based rock and beach fishing, you will find something you like at Exmouth.
4 Getting there Let’s not beat around the bush, Exmouth is a long way from just about everywhere. In fact if you were to mark an “x” on a map of Australia that was as far away from the major centres of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as you could get, you would end up marking a spot pretty close to Exmouth. This angler’s El Dorado is around 1300km north of Perth, but there is a good, flat and fairly straight bitumen highway all the way from the WA capital though, so the distance is not as bad as it sounds. There are daily flights from the eastern states to Perth, where you could get a connecting flight to Exmouth or hire a car. I got the feeling, though, that many visitors to Exmouth are on their way around Australia.
Stepping outside Surveys show that 90 per cent of fish caught in the region are landed from a boat. In particular, there is blue ribbon ocean fishing available on the outer side of the reef – which being a fringing reef is usually not very far from shore. Access to the Indian Ocean is easiest and safest via the North Passage. This is a break in the reef just north of Tantabiddy boat ramp, and the safe route is marked by a combination of buoys and markers on shore. You should get local information on current conditions, however this passage is navigable in most tides. En route to the ocean outside, you’ll get spectacular views of the waves breaking over the outer reef. It’s an awesome display of power and a reminder not to get too close. Outside the reef, the open ocean provides virtually endless trolling opportunities. Towing bibbed lures is likely to turn up barracuda, Spanish and shark mackerel, yellowfin tuna and, if you’re lucky, some big wahoo. Cobia and dolphin fish are also possibilities. My fishing companions and I have
Spinifex and red sand meet turquoise bays and white beaches in the Nullarbor
had best success with red and white Magnum Rapalas, as well as pink and chrome Halco Laser Pro 190s, in both deep and shallow running varieties. We fished three lures from the transome at varying distances behind the boat. Trolling at around 6 knots in a zig-zag pattern across the drop-off from a depth of 25m out to 40m and back again usually delivered results. Mostly you will get away with 10 or 15kg trolling outfits. We used Penn and Abu overhead reels combined with suitably partnered off-the-shelf rods. We tied a short double in the monofilament mainline, and connected that to either a wind-on trace or a length of Jinkai trace of 60 to 80lb breaking strain. Finally, a wire trace of 80lb breaking strain linked the trace to the lure. We learned the hard way to pay attention to detail: these are powerful fish that don’t give you a second chance – so make sure you rig up properly. For those with the billfish bug, sailfish and marlin are common captures when the water temperature rises. This would probably be one of the easiest places for everyday anglers to catch one because you won’t necessarily have to travel too far offshore. When playing fish it pays to get them into the boat quickly. This place can be Shark City! We lost several great fish to the Razor Gang and it’s an awful feeling to wind in just a head. You’re better off taking your chances, cranking down the drag and getting your fish in as quickly as you dare. If it gets off, so be it, at least it will survive to fight again another day.
1: Wahoo provided some spectacular action on 10kg outfits outside Ningaloo reef. This one is displayed by Melbourne-based angler Steve Pettenon. 2: There are several good boat ramps in the Exmouth area. This one is at Tantabiddy. 3: The waters off Exmouth are Shark City. This is a small bronze whaler that was released unharmed. Bigger specimens exist here too, so it’s wise to get your fish on board quickly, before the Razor Gang arrives. 4: There is beach access at many points along the west coast. Double check local regulations to make sure fishing is permitted. Go Camping Australia | 63
2 Bottom fishing is also popular outside the reef. Spangled emperor (known locally as ‘nor-west snapper’) and the highly prized red emperor are the primary targets. There are also many other reef species that can be caught, including pink snapper, coral trout, Robinson’s sea bream and the peculiar long-spined snapper. The best technique for the reef species is to drift while bouncing baits of cut pilchard or fresh fillet. On most days a sea anchor will be required to slow the drift. We fished between 40 and 80m of water, using paternoster rigs tied in heavy Jinkai trace. Heavy sinkers ensured the baits stayed on the bottom, while main lines of gelspun or braid increased the sensitivity of bite detection.
Inside the reef The sheltered waters inside the reef are ideal for fishing from small to medium-sized boats or even kayaks. We had some great sessions anchored only a few metres from the coral, fishing light gear for gold-spotted trevally. A small berley trail of pilchard pieces really fired up these hard-fighting fish and produced some of the hottest action of the trip. Fish to 3kg were caught by floating unweighted pilchard baits down the berley trail, but this soon became too easy. We also caught them on small metal slices, soft plastics (100mm Squidgie fish proved very effective), and on fly gear by working a weighted Clouser minnow erratically up the berley trail. Don’t overdo the berley though, or sharks will again crash the party. The waters inside the reef also hold large numbers of queenfish that can be taken using 64 | Go Camping Australia
lures, flies or on small live baits (such as hardy heads) suspended below a float. Trolling inside the reef is a reliable way to hook a wide variety of other pelagic hooligans, while baits are the way to go to target table fish like spangled emperor and bluebone.
The Gulf East of the peninsula is Exmouth Gulf, which also provides some awesome angling opportunities. Most pelagic species – including some monstrous golden and giant trevally – are regular visitors to the gulf. Boaties target them around shoals and sections of reef, but local knowledge is required to find these spots. The gulf waters offer some advantages, including better ramps and considerably safer boating. No reef crossings are necessary, and the gulf is often sheltered from the westerly winds that play havoc with boating on the Ningaloo side of the peninsula.
Land-based Anglers who favour land-based fishing won’t be disappointed: several locations offer peerless beach and rock fishing. In particular, the area near Mildura Wreck is renowned for some fantastic captures of giant trevally. Make sure you have serious gear though: the pros use heavy Saltiga or Shimano Stella threadline reels loaded up with 24 to 37kg braid. Powerful 9 to 11 foot heavyduty rods are used to cast surface poppers the size of coke cans and steer these crazy fish away from the reef.
4 Those fishing with lighter gear can target smaller varieties of trevally, queenfish and mangrove jack with both hard and soft lures, while bread and butter species like spangled emperor, bluebone, whiting, bream and garfish are taken with baits. Hotspots include Learmonth Jetty to the south of Exmouth, the outer wall of the Exmouth Marina, and many of the west side accesses in the Cape Range National Park. I also saw a visiting Englishman catch a nice queeny from the Tantabiddy boat ramp using a small silver Rapala lure.
Boat hire A convenient option for anglers visiting Exmouth is to hire a boat. Even Perth-based anglers often do this to save towing their own boats for 15 gruelling hours. Boats are available from a number of outlets, and you can get a range of sizes to tackle whatever type of fishing you like. We hired a 6.5 metre Barrington complete with a 225 hp 4-stroke Yamaha – which cost $1400 for 6 days – but smaller versions are also available. There are good concrete boat ramps at Tantabiddy on the west coast of the peninsula and Bundegi on the gulf side north of Exmouth. Boats can also be launched at Exmouth Marina. A word of warning though – know your limits in terms of your own experience with boats. Fishing outside the reef requires good boatmanship and experience with ocean-going vessels. If you don’t have boating experience there are many charter boats that cater for all types of fishing.
When to go
There is great fishing all year round at Exmouth, though some times are better than others. It’s best to find a compromise between angler comfort and fish activity. Summer is a productive time for fishing but the temperatures soar to an unbearable 40ºC almost every day and the heat can be associated with dangerous winds. In winter, the conditions are ideal for boating, but the water temperature is lower than optimal for game fish. Thus the best time to schedule a trip is either in The regulations governing angling in the Ningaloo Marine spring or autumn (as food Park and surrounding areas are complex. Species bag limits for thought, the annual and possession limits apply, plus there are a number of Gamex game fishing sanctuary zones in which angling is prohibited. The WA tournament at Exmouth government has recently increased the extent of these has recently been changed from August to March). sanctuaries such that angling is now prohibited in more
than 25 per cent of the park, much to the understandable frustration of Western Australian anglers. A detailed brochure detailing the applicable regulations is available from many local outlets.
The Exmouth area provides some great campsites. For those in need of frequent supplies or simply craving some convenience, there are commercial caravan parks located in Exmouth, beneath Vlamingh Head and near Tantabiddy. Perhaps the best spot to while away a few idyllic days though, is in the Cape Range National Park on the western shore of the peninsula. At several places there are well-managed camping sites within metres of the water, although facilities are limited. So, get to it! Whether you’re passing through on the big lap around Australia, or hankering for an extended trip to a remote location, if you’re an angler I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with Exmouth. Sure, getting there can be an adventure in itself, but the travel will be well worthwhile. Exmouth offers a wide variety of awesome angling opportunities, with great weather and spectacular scenery thrown into the deal.
1: The Exmouth region offers great saltwater fly fishing from both boat and shore. This gold-spotted trevally took a weighted Clouser minnow. 2: Exmouth is probably one of the easiest places to catch billfish, including marlin. 3: Evening beach fishing around Exmouth can be both peaceful and productive. 4: The lighthouse at Vlamingh Head provides an interesting distraction, not to mention a great view.
Be safe, Be sure.
Carry a registered 406 MHz Distress Beacon if you are venturing into remote areas. Remember the following points: • Leave details of your trek with family and friends. • A registered 406 MHz GPS equipped distress beacon enables a faster response in an emergency. • Distress beacons should only be used in life-threatening situations. • In the event of an emergency, you should first signal other people in your area using radios or other methods of attracting attention. • Mobile phones can be used but don’t rely on them, they may be out of range, have limited battery power, or become water-damaged.
www.amsa.gov.au/beacons phone 1800 406 406
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Small on size
Words and photos: Kerry Heaney
Ever looked longingly at a camper trailer but thought it would be all too much for your soft roader to cope with? Well your days of daydreaming are over with the arrival of Conqueror Australia’s new UEV-310, designed to match many soft roaders like Toyota’s RAV4, Suzuki’s Vitara or Nissan’s X-TRAil and taking you places you’d never thought you’d see. it may be small compared to the five bigger UEVs in Conqueror Australia’s range but the UEV-310 still has the famous Conqueror military-quality construction, two decades of R&D and tow anywhere ability.
Features At 3.7m long and 1.83m wide, and weighing 490kg (dry weight), the UEV-310 is the smallest camper trailer in the six-strong Conqueror Australia UEV range, but you know what they say, all good things come in small packages. let’s get technical and talk about the hot-dip galvanised chassis beams, the electro galvanised, stainless steel and powder coated parts and the body strength that comes from the skeletal construction and cladding-minimised weight. There’s also a 90l, low centre of gravity water tank and designated mountings for two jerry can holders and a massive 330 litre nose box.
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Camper Trailer Review
3 So where can you take this camper trailer? Well anywhere your adventurous side and your soft roader will go and more, where you’ll appreciate the trailer’s excellent departure angle for off road adventures.
Setting up & packing up No need to set aside time to set up, it will only take about two minutes; it is a simple matter of opening the compartments up and stretching out the contents. Everything is conveniently contained inside the trailer and for those organised few among us you can even travel with your double bed fully made. It’s easy to access the ample storage areas from both inside and outside the tent which is made from heavy duty Ripstop canvas and has plenty of head height. Allocate a storage box to each happy camper and you’ve got set up and pack up organised in a blink. Did someone say time for a beverage? Handy stabilisers on the side of the trailer also mean there’s no sleeping on a slope. The left hand side of the camp spot looked the best position when we started setting the camper trailer up, but as the morning progressed we decided it would be better over to the right. No problem! No groans as we packed up poles because there aren’t any and we didn’t need to pull out
pegs either. Moving the trailer was as simple as picking it up and pulling it into place. There’s plenty of room inside the trailer tent for at least four people to sleep if necessary but I’d rather option up with some awnings and extend the living and sleeping areas, keeping the roomy double bed for myself.
What we love You’ve got to love a set up that takes around two minutes to complete. It took us a bit longer on our first try with the help of a curious toddler but it was certainly an easy ask. It’s
Compact and go anywhere – that’s the UEV-310.
2/3: Setting up takes just minutes even with a toddler’s help. 4:
More time to relax – that’s what we like.
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Camper Trailer Review
2 Conqueror Australia Crafted and fine-tuned over two decades of research and development, Conqueror Australia’s Urban Escape Vehicles are perfect for off-road camping. Tailor-made in Australia with the products sourced from all over the world, the Conqueror Australia’s fleet of seven Urban Escape Vehicles have been built to handle tough Australian conditions. All Conqueror UEVs comply with the Australia Design Rules (ADR) and each unit receives an engineer’s certification before leaving the Brisbane-based workshop. Conqueror Australia’s Urban Escape Vehicles are built to travel anywhere, have top-grade amenities like hot water systems, storage and queen-sized beds and virtually zero set up time. For more information visit the Conqueror Australia website: www.ConquerorAustralia.com.au or www.youtube.com/user/UrbanEscapeVehicles
4 also hard not to love the double bed and dressing room, the lack of complicated poles, and the midge mesh over doors and window to reduce sand fly bites. The breeze control points and curtains over the windows outside and inside are other practical inclusions that add to your comfort level. I also like Conqueror’s offer to build the trailer to match your car and travelling aspirations and the opportunity to have upgrades retrofitted if you decide there’s something you just can’t live without.
What we didn’t like so much
Set up, sit back and read the latest edition of Go Camping.
For the softies amongst us, yes that includes me, apart from the comfortable, longer than standard double bed and swing out kitchen, this is a basic model without bells and whistles. The good thing about that is that this is reflected in the price and you can pick and choose what extras, like internal and external LED lights, hot water system or a fridge freezer, are going to make your life complete on the road, and add them with ease.
Plenty of room in the extra long comfy double bed.
Who should buy it?
Allocate a black box for each camper and camp is organised.
This is a great all-rounder offering minimal set up time and the opportunity to sleep off the ground, features which will appeal to everyone. With more than two cubic metres of
1/2: The slide out fridge/freezer and kitchen bench make a handy work area. 3:
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5 lockable storage, you’ve got the added advantage of a rig where you can lock up and leave everything from camping essentials to valuables such as trade tools. Even the jerry cans can be secured. Think about it – working trailer during the week and camper on the weekend, or perfect for those working off the beaten track who need to provide their own accommodation. You could also lock and leave the trailer and take off on extremely rough tracks, secure in the knowledge that your gear is safely locked. With the UEV-310 you’re getting many of the benefits of a larger off-road trailer in a unit that can be towed by a soft roader and at an entry level price.
How much and where to get it The standard UEV-310 is priced at $16,200. It’s one of a range of six Conqueror Australia UEVs available – 490, 440, 390, 330, 360 – each named after their length. Find out more at www.ConquerorAustralia.com.au
Pitch Pronto Words and photos: Lee Atkinson
Rapid pitch touring tents are a great option for those with a 4WD who want a comfortable tent with a minimum of fuss. If you love camping, but hate fighting with poles and ropes and erecting complicated tents that make you wish you had an engineering degree, you’ll love the Exo Tent. Simply drop the tent in the middle of your chosen site, stretch out the floor, pull up the top, and hey presto, apart from a little bit of adjusting here and there, you’re ready to roll out the swag. We tried out the new Exo Lite 300, and were pretty happy with the results.
Features Weighing in at 22kg, this is not a light-weight tent, although it’s not the heaviest five-person touring tent on the market. It’s also long, one-and-a-half metres when packed in the bag, so unless you’ve got a roof rack it’s not something that’s going to fit in the boot of the family sedan or in the back of your average SUV; even in a large 4WD you’ll most likely have to fold down the back seats to get it in.
Lee Atkinson tries out the new Companion Exo Lite 300 70 | Go Camping Australia
While it may not be light, it is roomy: three metres square with 210cm of head space, plenty for even the six-footer in our family.
2 1: The framework, which is integrated into the design, has an auto-locking system so there’s no need to connect poles together and thread them through fabric sleeves. 2: Quick and easy – stretch it out, pull up the top and you’re almost done.
3 Made from ripstop polyester with an integrated alloy frame, it comes with a waterproof silver-coated fly and awning, built-in door mat, zip-up guy rope pouches and a zip-up power cord inlet as well as two three-compartment wall storage pockets. The mesh is ultra-fine no-see-um mesh, so as long as you keep it zipped up it’s bug free. The tub floor is polyethylene. There are two side windows and a rear window, each with a gusset so you can open them up for ventilation while still maintaining complete privacy – or protection from the weather. If the sun is shining you can roll them up for maximum air flow. A carry bag with handles completes the package.
3: Simply drop the tent in the middle of your chosen site, stretch out the floor and pull up the top, and apart from a little bit of adjusting here and there, you’re ready to roll out the swag. Straight out of the box we had the basic tent up in just a couple of minutes. 4: Easy to use tension adjusters.
in good weather and the fly is secured with velcro loops and plastic snap-lock buckles – it really is as easy to put up as they say it is. Packing up is a little more complicated, and unlike setting up, which was pretty intuitive, we had to refer to the instructions. Even then, the process was accompanied by some less-than-elegant cursing, but it was our first time and practice will make perfect. Like all tents, the finished bundle looked way too big to fit in the carry bag, but the bag is quite generous and easy to close, even with the inexpertly rolled and rather damp tent inside.
Setting up and packing up The flyer promises that the Exo Tent has been ‘designed without compromise to deliver unrivalled speed when pitching your tent’, and it lives up to the claim. Straight out of the box we had the basic tent up in just a couple of minutes: five minutes more and the tent was pegged out, the fly was in place, the awning set up. The framework, which is integrated into the design, has an auto-locking system so there’s no need to connect poles together and thread them through fabric sleeves. The two awning poles are twist and lock, you need just eight pegs
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1 2 1: The Exo comes with a waterproof silver-coated fly and awning and built-in door mat. 2: The Exo Lite 300 is long; even in a large 4WD you’ll most likely have to fold down the back seats to get it in. 3: Plastic snap-lock buckles make attaching the fly a breeze. 4: This is a very comfortable tent, with plenty of room to stand upright and walk around.
What we love This is a very comfortable tent, with plenty of room to stand upright and walk around. The two compartmentalised wall pockets are handy, and the integrated door mat is a great idea – although I’d still use a cheap door mat to scrape off mud, sand and soil to help keep the inside tidy. But the real joy of this tent is all about how quick and easy it is to put up.
What we didn’t like so much There’s nothing light about the Exo Lite; it’s so heavy that I couldn’t haul it out of the back of the 4WD without some help and its length when packed up means it’s not the most easily portable tent around. The polyester fabric is not as flame resistant as canvas, nor as breathable, so condensation is an issue.
Who should buy it The Exo Lite 300 officially sleeps five, but they would have to be close friends. It works best for a couple who like to have some room to move and store bags. Two people could survive a couple of days of wet weather in the Exo Lite 300 without going crazy. It’s ideal for those who want the luxury of space and almost instant set up, without the hassle of towing a camper trailer or van.
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4 How much and where to get it The Exo Tent range is available at Anaconda and all good camping stores. Prices range from $595 for the Exo Lite 210 up to $1795 for the monster-sized Exo Pro 610, sleeping 10. Our tent, the Exo Lite 300, costs $799. For more information and stockists, visit www.companionleisure.com.au
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NOTHING SLOWS DOWN THE EXO TENT.
The new Exo range of tents by Companion have been designed without compromise to deliver unrivalled speed when pitching your tent. The unique alloy exoskeletal framework features a precision engineered auto-locking system so you can set up in minutes without the need to connect poles together and thread them through fabric sleeves. The durable alloy feet also provide maximum contact with the ground, providing unparalleled stability to ensure your Exo tent remains standing in all weather conditions.
EXO CROWN MECHANISM
• • • • • • • • •
All alloy frame and components 100% waterproof tent and fly Large awning area Built-in door mats Large D Doors Zip up guy rope pouches Zip up power cord inlet Wall storage pockets Carry bag
AUTO LOCKING FRAME SYSTEM
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10 things you need when heading off the beaten track
Words and photos: Lee Atkinson
1: As long as there is a clear line of sight between the satellite phone’s antenna and the sky you can make phone calls on a sat phone. 2: Always carry a spare spare. 3: Chatting with other travellers can also be a lot of fun, just make sure you don’t clog up an emergency channel. 4: Use a radio to alert oncoming vehicles of your presence when driving in dunes. 5: When driving through drifts of sand, lower your tyre pressure to around 15 psi to help avoid getting bogged. 6: Emergency position-indicating radio beacons send out a distress signal, which means rescue parties are able to track your location. 7: A PLB could save your life. 8: Desert country ‘snatch straps’ are the best option. 9: Desert dunes. 10: An EPIRB could save your life. 74 | Go Camping Australia
If you’re travelling into remote areas of the Outback you’ll need to be self-sufficient, particularly when it comes to water, food and fuel. Store your water in a number of containers so if you spring a leak in one, you haven’t lost the lot. Allow five litres, per person, per day. Carry more fuel than you think you might need: your fuel consumption will increase by up to 50 per cent if driving in low range over sand dunes and fuel and supply outlets in remote areas are not always open after hours or at weekends and often don’t take credit cards. But beyond these basics, there are some other things you really should never leave home without.
EPIRB Often also called at PLB (personal locator beacon), an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) could save your life in the event of a serious emergency. When activated, the beacon sends out a distress signal. The number one rule of Outback survival is to never, ever leave your vehicle if you get into trouble. Most people who have perished in the Outback have died while trying to walk to help. Wait until help comes to you. Having an EPIRB means people will be able to find you, quickly. If you don’t want to buy one (they cost several hundred dollars) many police stations and national park offices will hire you one, or check out www.epirbhire.com.au
4 Satellite phone Mobile phone access is non-existent in the Outback. Hire a satellite phone so you can stay in touch – or call for help if needed. They receive their signal from satellites that are orbiting the Earth, and as long as there is a clear line of sight between the satellite phone’s antenna and the sky you can make phone calls. Some tourist information centres in remote areas have sat phones you can hire, or visit www.satellitehire. com.au; www.rentasatphone.com.au
UHF radio A hand-held, short range (up to 10km, usually less) radio is another must if heading off the beaten track, especially in desert dune country. Use the radio to alert oncoming vehicles of your presence, or to warn other travellers of hazards and problems. Chatting with other travellers can also be a lot of fun, just make sure you don’t clog up an emergency channel. You can find a handy list of channels and what they are used for at http://www.exploroz.com/ Vehicle/Accessories/UHFRadio.aspx
First aid kit and fire extinguisher Carry a good basic first aid kit with bandages and sterile dressings, band aids, antiseptic cream, tweezers, scissors, saline eye wash or drops and headache tablets. You should also make sure you have an easy-to-reach fire extinguisher.
Need to Know
8 Basic tools and spares
A basic tool kit should include engine oil, coolant, jumper leads, fuel filter, spare radiator hoses and engine drive belts, and the tools you’ll need to replace them. Wheel replacement tools are essential, including a jacking plate: finding hard level ground can be difficult in sandy terrain. An exhaust lift jack can be very helpful: plug the hose into your exhaust pipe, position the balloon under the frame of the car and let the exhaust lift the car up so you can change the tyre.
Outback tracks can be tricky, and you’ll need to have the right gear if you find yourself bogged or stuck. A winch is handy in mountainous and heavily forested terrain, but for desert country, ‘snatch straps’ (vehicle recovery straps) are the best option. Made from heavyduty nylon or polyester webbing, you can attach the strap to another vehicle to pull the stuck one free. A long handle shovel is also essential for digging the sand out from under your car when you get stuck.
A spare spare The Outback is notoriously hard on tyres. Razor-edged rocks and sharp sticks can stake or pierce tyres, and bulldust patches can appear without warning: the end of the dust patch will often have a hard edge that can damage your tyres or even the wheel rims. Always carry a second spare tyre.
Air compressor When driving over sand hills or through drifts of sand, lower your tyre pressure to around 15 psi to help avoid getting bogged. You’ll need an air compressor to reinflate tyres when back on hard ground. You’ll need to spend $100 or more to get a reliable one that takes less than a week to reinflate each tyre. Buy yourself a quality tyre pressure gauge as well. The one on the compressor may not be accurate.
Useful Tips If you’ve never been Outback before, consider signing up for a 4WD training course before you leave. It will teach you how to use the vehicle to its full potential, how to get yourself out of tight spots and, most importantly, how to use recovery gear. Courses are available in all states and most regional centres. Search the internet or phone book under ‘4WD driver training’.
Fuel stove Never rely on being able to have an open fire. Wood may not be available, or it may be wet. In some national parks collecting firewood is prohibited, as is the use of open fires, particularly during times of high fire danger. Always carry a fuel stove.
Desert Parks Pass If heading into the South Australian Outback you will need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass for access and camping (where permitted) for a period of 12 months. Areas covered include Simpson Desert, Innamincka, Coongie Lakes, Lake Eyre, Witjira National Park, Tallaringa Conservation Park, Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park (camping not permitted) and Strzelecki Regional Reserve. These cost $125 ($75 to renew) but are good value as they include a useful information pack and excellent detailed maps. You can buy passes at various Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) and National Parks Offices through the state. For Desert Parks Passes call the Desert Parks hotline 1800 816 078 or visit www.parks.sa.gov.au Go Camping Australia | 75
Avoid fiddling and fussing as the sun is setting the bugs are biting, just pull out a pie!
Winter warmer pies
Words and photos: Julie Bishop and Regina Jones Our philosophy with camp cooking is to keep it simple and tasty with the equipment and the method. Plan your meals well. Whatever can be cooked at home and frozen to take away gives the camp chef more holiday time.
Chicken Corn Pie The savoury flavour of the corn and bacon together in a creamy sauce will be popular with the family. This is an easy to remember recipe to whip up at the last minute for toasted jaffles or just spoon on toast. Serves 4 adults.
Ingredients: 500gm diced chicken 2 strips of bacon 1 onion, diced 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Corn Soup ¼ cup cheese 250gm sour cream 1 frozen sheet of shortcrust pastry 1 frozen sheet of puff pastry 1 egg, beaten
Method: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Brown chicken, bacon and onion in a fry pan. Drain any excess
Shepherd’s Pie fat. Reduce heat to add soup, cheese and sour cream, stirring while pouring into pan. This mixture can be made in advance and frozen. Line a greased pie dish with short crust pastry, trim excess. Cook in oven for 5 minutes. Add the chicken mixture. Place a sheet of puff pastry on top and trim excess. Make a little design on top with left over pastry. Brush with egg. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes. Handy Hint: Pre-heat camp oven with trivet for 10 minutes. Puff pastry sheets can be a bother to keep frozen in the camp fridge and safely packaged. What you can do at home is slightly thaw the puff pastry for a couple of minutes and then cut them in half, fold the cardboard packet around pastry, put in a Décor 1.75L oblong container and refreeze. Now they will travel safely at the bottom of the camp fridge or small caravan freezer.
Ingredients: 4 medium potatoes, peeled 2 tbl butter 500gm mince 1 diced onion 500gm of frozen mixed veggies, thawed ½ cup water 3 tbl tomato sauce 2 tbl worcestershire sauce 1 beef stock cube 2 tbl cornflour blended with water Salt & pepper Option: 1 cup grated cheese to sprinkle on top
Method: Boil potatoes. Fry mince and onions in a deep pan. Add remaining ingredients except flour. Bring to boil. Lower heat and gently boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Stir in cornflour to thicken while still on gentle boil for further 5 minutes. Mash potato with butter, spoon onto top of pie. Sprinkle cheese on top, place the frypan under the grill until golden.
DreamPot method Put the potatoes into the large inner pot. Cover with hot water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then transfer into DreamPot. Combine remaining ingredients into the small inner pot except flour. Bring to boil on stove top. Stir intermittently. Reduce heat; simmer for 8 minutes with lid on. Stir in flour, cook for 3 minutes. Transfer into DreamPot over the potatoes for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from large inner pot, mash with butter (no milk). Spoon over the mince mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Place back into DreamPot to keep hot until served.
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Mango Pie Ingredients: 1 tetra pack 250ml juice popper Âź cup sugar 5 heaped tbl custard powder 450gm can mango slices, chopped 1 sheet of shortcrust pastry cut into 4 4 individual pie tins
Method: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Drain mango and save juice. Combine juices (500ml), sugar and custard powder in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and keep stirring until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Line the greased pie dishes with short crust pastry, trim excess. Cook in oven for 5 minutes. Remove pastry cases from oven and place 2 large spoonfuls of mango on base. Pour custard filling over top. Make a little design on top with left over pastry. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with long life cream.
The amazing portable DreamPot; enjoy brilliant thermal cooking - without the need for constant power or supervision. Cooks anywhere at anytime! Excellent for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Thermal cooking keeps your meals hot for hours and hours. Incredible! This 6 in 1 non-electrical appliance cooks an amazing variety of healthy nutritious and delicious meals from roasts, casseroles, yoghurts, rice, bread and desserts! Perfect for home or away. Essential for caravanning, camping and motor homing. Discover the DreamPot difference! Comprehensive recipe book included. Optional accessories available.
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Steak and Kidney with Parsley Dumplings An oldie and a goodie to warm a winter’s heart. We used diced rump steak with lamb kidneys for a milder flavour. Thumbs up from the Hunter Gatherers! Serves 4 adults.
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700gm diced steak & kidney 2 onions, sliced ¼ tsp black pepper 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 1½ cups hot water 3 tbl Gravox Salt to taste Oil for frying
(Parsley Dumplings) 2 cups SR Flour pinch salt 60gm butter 1 tsp dried parsley ½ to ¾ cup water
Method: In a large pot, brown the meat and onions. Add the pepper and beef stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1hr 15 minutes. Prepare dumplings – mix flour and salt. Rub butter through with fingertips to resemble breadcrumbs. Mix in parsley. Add water gradually until you achieve a soft dough. Make into small balls. Stir Gravox into steak and kidney mixture. Place dumpling balls on top and cook for a further 15 minutes covered.
DreamPot method We used a 3ltr DreamPot for this recipe. Brown the meat and onions on stovetop. Add the pepper and beef stock and gently boil for 20 minutes. Stir in Gravox. Place dumplings on top and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer into DreamPot and cook for a minimum 2 hours.
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Top take off
Words and photos: Mark Allen
Travelling light or taking the tribe, choose your kit carefully for a top trip Hands up who has sat around the dining room table, the backyard swimming pool or even on the phone discussing and arguing about the best way to take off into the bush for a great camping holiday.
Going solo Let’s take the single person wanting to head away for a weekend or slightly longer. He or she is happy to ‘rough it’, wants to be quickly set up and packed away each day. A canvas swag or a small tent may be perfect for sleeping. Add a single butane cooker, two burner LPG cooker or even a BBQ along with the basic cooking utensils. An esky is a cheap alternative to a two or three-way fridge, but do keep in mind that you’ll need to be replacing the ice periodically. Chairs and table are often left behind for those roughing it, but if you’ve got them they’ll make life so much more comfortable.
out for your shadows from the 12-volt light at night time! You’ll have to purchase and carry the mattress and all other sleeping gear separately but you’ll have respite from the weather if needed. Having a few tarps, poles and pegs would be a great idea, regardless of which solo camping gear you use. There’s nothing worse than trying to camp in the pouring rain or blazing heat without any form of cover.
A swag is a great option provided you don’t want to sit up in bed and read at night, and you’ll need extra tarps if you want shade
While a swag may be the quickest and easiest way to hit the sack each night (remember, it’s got your sleeping bag, sheet and pillow all rolled into one) as well as quickest to pack away in the morning, a general rule is that the swag is for sleeping in – not living in! You’ll have no room to sit up in bed to read, to get changed or do anything other than sleep. With a small tent, which may take a little longer to erect, you can have all the privacy you want. Just make sure you watch
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3 The family Okay, now we step into the small group camping – we’ve got mum, dad and a handful of kids to keep happy. You’ll need a family tent large enough to sleep everyone with enough space left over to store luggage bags and general camping gear. Remember, for every piece of camp gear you take, there will be a cover, bag or box that has to be stored until it’s time to pack it all away. Dome tents, touring tents, cabin tents, roof top tents or even tents on wheels, the list is endless when it come to choice of design. Choose one that can be easily set up without every single group member taking part – there’s plenty of other things to get ready at campsite other than the setting of a tent. If you intend on hitting some pretty hard 4WD tracks or looking at doing tracks where trailers are prohibited, you could have a problem with your camper trailer. Then not only will you have to carry all the people, the food, the games in your 4WD, but you’ll have to squeeze all that camping gear in as well. Perhaps it’s time to think about a roof rack and storage system! If you can afford the luxury of taking a sturdy box trailer, just think of all the added ‘comfort’ you can bring. You will not want to be sitting on the ground trying to cook and eat like the single fella who’s ‘roughing it’. You’ll want tables, chairs, a decent cooking station and plenty of light for night time. There’s a plethora of barbecues to suit cooking up your favourite food, a million and one types
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4 of folding chairs to slouch in, numerous styles of 12-volt and LPG lights to turn night into day, but always take into consideration what will best suit your needs. No point taking a solid or grated barbecue plate if you intend heating up soup – take a gas ring burner as well. No point taking a slouch chair if you intend using it at the table to eat – use a chair that sits upright. No point taking power sapping 12-volt lights if you don’t have the battery power to run them – consider gas lights, extra battery power and longer lasting LEDs. While on the subject of lights, make sure you have a few hand held flash lights for midnight walks to the toilets. It’s no fun feeling your way in unfamiliar territory!
The tent on wheels This is the serious end of camping. Being able to tow a camper trailer provides a luxurious accommodation package with huge amounts of sleeping area, covered standing room, protection from the weather, built in cooking equipment and so much more storage room for all those ‘must have’ pieces of camping gear. Just be sure the unit you choose is quick and easy to set up and dismantle. There’s no point having an acre of covered area under that huge awning if it takes an hour to set it all up. A basic rule is, if it’s too hard and too timely to set up, it won’t get used. Don’t waste your time and money taking it along. If you’re contemplating purchasing a camper trailer, be sure that both you and your vehicle are capable of towing
TOP 11 TIPS FOR OUTBACK TRAVEL 01. Take plenty of tarps – they make great protection from both sun and rain or as ground sheets. 02. Take plenty of poles, spreader bars and ropes to rig up your tarps.
03. Take meshed sheets to put under your tent – they make packing up easier and cleaner and won’t hold water like a tarp. They are also perfect for using as a mat to walk on. 04. Take a variety of pegs – small metal pegs won’t hold in the sand and plastic sand pegs can’t be hammered into very hard ground. 05. Take replacement batteries for torches – the dark makes campsites seem oh so large. 06. Pack light – too much weight will kill even the best 4WD. 07. Heed signs and information about where and when you can camp. 08. Keep it simple; it’s amazing how much you can do without and still enjoy your camping. 09. Take your time and experience all camping has to offer.
10. Take plenty of food and water for each member of your camping party. 11. Relax in front of a camp fire – it beats TV hands down.
it where you intend camping (you may well need extra recovery equipment) and that you are actually allowed to take trailers to your chosen destination (some places have banned trailers). Towing anything will add to your fuel consumption figures, so will cost you more on the road, but the advantages will probably far outweigh the disadvantages. You’ll also have an extra vehicle to look after while on the road. Wheel bearings, brakes, lights and general electrics need to be cared for and need regular maintenance when back in civilisation.
Who wins? There’s no doubt there are countless numbers of ‘perfect setups’ for the many battle-hardened campers who ‘know all’, but that’s not to say they have got it right for your own individual needs. There also may be newer and better products available since those ‘oldies’ first started going bush. My advice is to look, listen and learn from all those who have gone before you, pick out the best parts that suit you, wrap them all into one kit and add or change where necessary after your first time out. Make that first camp a short one to sort everything out. Take a note pad along and jot down the things you didn’t use, the things you forgot and the things you want included next time you get out into the great unknown world of camping under the stars… and enjoy every second of it.
1: Don’t forget you’ll need to charge your batteries if you’re camping in the one spot for a number a days. 2: There’s more than one use for a billy and bucket – you can get away with anything when you’re only 6 months old! 3: Here it all is, packed into a 4WD. 4: Forget the telly – a sunset can provide more inspiration than any soapie. 5: No one around for miles to annoy you – that’s one of the best things about camping. 6: Roof top tents are quick and easy for people on the move.
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Critters Words and photos: Lee Mylne and Len Zell
amping in Outback and desert areas gives us the chance to see some of Australia’s most bizarre and unique creatures up close. While we may think of Outback animals as those we see while driving – large, agile animals such as kangaroos, wallabies or emus – spending time in red dust country can reveal many small creatures that are just as unusual and interesting. While camping, especially if you are bush camping and spend some quiet time just observing what is around you, there is the chance to see some amazing critters. Scorpions, spiders, skinks, geckos, dragons, snakes and goannas are just some of them. Sadly, many smaller mammals have been lost or removed due to loss of habitat or because of feral predators. Whenever you travel or camp in desert country, look for tracks and scats that will tell you what is around. A good reference book to work out what’s what is Tracks, Scats and Other Traces, by Barbara Trigg. There are more than 840 species of reptiles in Australia and among the more common ones you may see are the lizards and dragons. Reptiles thrive in deserts and Outback areas because of their protective skins. The Ningaloo Coast region of northern Western Australia has the highest density of lizards of any arid land in the world. It is common to see monitor lizards, dragons and shinglebacks on or near the roads. All are more active during the cooler times of the day, but they need the warmth of the sun to 82 | Go Camping Australia
Small creatures in a big land
allow them to hunt effectively. Some species feed only at night. If you are looking for them, check out clumps of spinifex where animals may be hiding in cracks and crevices in the soil, or in rocks and trees. Termite colonies are a feature of landscape right across northern Australia and you don’t even have to get off the beaten track to check them out. The distinctive ‘cathedral’ mounds of spinifex termites have large buttresses and are the most striking but there are various different kinds of mounds built by other species of termites. The mounds are built by colonies of termites which mix together mud and saliva that hardens into a cement-like substance. The mounds can reach up to six metres in height, take more than 50 years to complete and can contain up to several million inhabitants. Inside, the mound is a maze of chambers and underground tunnels that regulate the temperature. Nests are usually maintained at a temperature between 25°C and 36°C. A good place to see magnetic termite mounds is Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory. A large group is located about 17km from the eastern boundary of the park, and there is a formal viewing area off Litchfield Park Road in the northern area of the park, where boardwalks allow you to get close to two-metre-high magnetic mounds, which are aligned north-south, and fourmetre-high cathedral mounds. As well as being homes for insects that build them, termite mounds are often used as a nesting
Courtesy of Tourism NT
place for migratory birds, such as the buff-breasted paradisekingfisher which build nests between November and April, before returning to Papua New Guinea. Another animal that makes use of termite mounds is the lace monitor, the largest lizard found in Wet Tropics and the second largest lizard in Australia. Lace monitors also deposit their eggs in termite nests, often those built in trees. The lizard makes a hole to gain entry, which is later sealed by termites, enclosing the eggs. The stable temperature inside the nest helps incubate the eggs, and female lizards are believed to return to the termite nest when their eggs are ready to hatch to open it up with her claws to release the young. Lace monitors lay between six and 12 eggs each year. Lace monitors can grow to more than two metres in length and are commonly seen around picnic areas and campsites, scavenging for scraps. They are a great sight, but please do not feed them. Patience and quiet time around the campsite, especially around dusk, can bring with it some wonderful encounters with wildlife. And don’t forget to have your camera handy!
1: Termite mounds, Litchfield National Park. 2: Shingleback lizard. 3: Termite mounds, Litchfield National Park. 4: Lace monitor.
Courtesy of Tourism NT
4 Lee Mylne and Len Zell run the Wild Discovery Guides website www.wilddiscoveryguides.com
Fulfil an experience thatâ€™s over the top! Enjoy an exclusive journey sailing on board Australiaâ€™s last remaining passenger-carrying cargo ship
One-way trips available either north or southbound. You can sail with your vehicle and complete the journey overland in the other direction. Freight charges apply.
return travel, including all meals Thursday Island Horn Island
Enjoy a journey of discovery as the MV Trinity Bay cruises its way through the protected waters inside the Great Barrier Reef of Far North Queensland. Viewing the wild inaccessible coastline and National Park areas with rocky headlands, rainforests and sweeping bays.
The MV Trinity Bay departs Cairns every Friday. A round-trip takes 5 nights with the vessel calling in at Horn Island, Thursday Island and Seisia Wharf (Bamaga). There is the opportunity to partake in optional tours to complete your experience of this remarkable and remote region.** With only 15 passenger cabins, ensuite or shared facilities, you are advised to book early to secure a place on this unique and popular voyage.
For more information visit our website: www.seaswift.com.au To request an Information Booklet or make a booking call 1800 424 422 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org *Fare based on triple share cabin, shared facilities, for travel between November 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012. Rates between April 1, 2012 and October 31, 2012 start at $1075 per person triple share. Prices include GST and are subject to change. All departures and schedules are subject to cargo and weather considerations. For Terms & Conditions, see our website or request an Information Booklet. **Optional tours are operated by outside companies. Extra charges apply and their operation is subject to weather conditions.
Go Camping Australia | 83
Just what you need for your next outdoor adventure
Words: Kerry Heaney
Easy cook New Wave Kitchen Appliances’ Induction Cooker is light weight, compact and portable. With no flame, no smoke and no radiant heat, it’s a very safe and environmentally friendly way to cook. Induction cooking is much faster than other cooking methods. You can slow cook on 60ºC or make fantastic stir fries on the maximum 240ºC. It is also very easy to clean, as the surface is made from a high quality heatproof black micro-crystal glass plate and stainless steel surround – simply use a wet cloth with some mild detergent. RRP $129.95. More information at www.newwavekitchenappliances.com.au or 1800 337 211
Small, but it’s big on performance, VibebOx is one of the world’s most compact amplifiers. Specially designed for small and compact spaces, VibebOx amplifies sound with clarity. Place VibebOx on any hollow surface and you’ll be amazed at the sound! Ideal for iPods, iPhones, MP3 players, it can even be used as a television speaker. VibebOx also takes mini SD cards, so now you can enjoy listening to all your favourites wherever you go. With an output power of just 7watts, VibebOx incorporates a rechargeable lithium battery via any USb port. VibebOx sells for RRP $95. Visit www.vibebox.com.au
Breakfast sorted More than just oats, brookfarm’s new gourmet Power Porrij and Gluten Free Porrij include organic supergrains such as quinoa, amaranth and golden flaxseed. Add in some South Australian almonds and macadamia nuts from byron bay and you’ve got a rich nutty texture. Add milk or water and cook for a short time, top with a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and you’ve got a great tasting breakfast that’s also good for you. Find it for RRP $9.50. More information at www.brookfarm.com.au
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Shockproof phone The Huawei Discovery Expedition is the perfect mobile phone for weekend warriors after a tough and durable device that will stand up to the rigours of outdoor adventures. Shockproof, waterproof and dustproof, the Discovery Expedition is as sophisticated as it is tough, and packed with outdoor functionality features, such as GPS, digital compass, G-sensor and SOS. Equipped with Facebook and Twitter social networking capabilities, users can not only experience their weekend adventures to the max without the fear of breaking their mobile, but also share the experience with friends and family. The Discovery Expedition is available exclusively at Vodafone on a great range of postpaid plans and prepaid, starting at $0 upfront on Vodafone’s $19 Plan over 24-months, or $199 to use with Vodafone Prepaid. For more info visit www.huaweimobile.com.au
Avocado on the go New Fressure Avocado Spread contains the goodness of two fresh avocados – and with no additives or preservatives, it’s 100 per cent pure. It is the ultimate convenience food that’s good for you too! Delicious on toast, as a healthy alternative to your regular spread, or served in salads, wraps or as a base for homemade dips. Find it at Coles supermarkets nationwide RRP $3.99. Find out more at www.fressurefoods.co.nz
New gen sports footwear Zori Pump is a sports-orientated, ergonomic soled slip-on with a strong but ultra comfortable upper, keeping the foot in place. It’s good for lower back pain sufferers and people who suffer from sore joints, healthy for your feet, lightweight, stylish and inexpensive. The Neat Zori Thong has a built-in heel cup, significant arch support and built-in metatarsal pad which makes for a foot bed of comfort. Available in black and tan and black, sizes 6-12, Neat Zori are available through leading pharmacies and retail for RRP $59.95.
Safe pack The new Venturesafe 32L anti-theft travel backpack is an essential travel companion, perfect for long weekends or short trips, and meets international carry-on standards. For those who can’t bear to be disconnected from the world for too long, it even fits a laptop or iPad. The padded air mesh back support, waistbelt, sternum strap and padded shoulder straps, also make this backpack exceptionally comfortable. Features include slashproof straps, hidden pockets, zipper security, two water pockets and a hidden, zippered pocket. Available in black and priced at RRP $239.95. For stockists go to www.osabrands.com
Easy navigation The Magellan eXplorist 110 outdoor GPS offers easy to use quality navigation designed for those who enjoy leisure activities including hiking, cycling and camping but don’t necessarily consider themselves the Bear Grylls type. Features include a coloured transflective screen that is readable in direct sunlight, a Hunt and Fish calendar with useful tidal information for fishermen as well as Sun and Moon calendar that tells users the time the sun sets to help them prepare for when it gets dark. The model is also waterproof, can store 500 waypoints and can be clipped to a lanyard so it sits comfortably around your neck or off your backpack or bike. RRP $149 and available from major outdoor retailers. www.magellan.com.au
Roll over traditional sleeping bag! Ever been camping and wished you could walk around in your cosy sleeping bag without having to do the hop-and-hope-I-don’t-land-onmy-face? The clever selk’bag is designed to fit the wearer and unlike traditional sleeping bags, you won’t get tangled up when you roll over in your sleep. The selk’bag even has durable nylon soles so you can walk around the camp site in it, which will make those cold mornings and nights much more pleasant. Your hands can be easily released so you can eat, drink or even go fishing in it. Air vents can be opened if you get too warm. The selk’bag comes in Classic, Lite and Kids priced from RRP $99 to $199. Find out more at www.selkbag.com.au
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Che mis tr
Words a nd phot os: Dan ielle La nca
Here are five top tips: 1. Strong, bold colours Deep saturated colours give real impact but the key to using them is keep your composition simple and try not to include too many colours. The top tip here is to use a polarising filter. They deepen colour saturation.
Make your images pop with colour
2. Subtle, pastel colours Sometimes less is better and subtle colour can create mood to your image. To achieve this it is best to take your image on an overcast day when the light is diffused and look for objects that will suit this effect such as flowers, chairs, still life. This effect can be achieved in post processing by desaturating colours using hue/saturation.
3. One strong colour against a neutral background This works a charm when used with texture such as bricks, peeling paint or any neutral background such as grey or black. The background will accentuate the colour of your object and really make it stand out.
4. Let one colour dominate Allow one colour to stand out and become the main subject of your photograph. Try and use a primary colour such as red, yellow or blue. This gives the image punch and really catches the viewerâ€™s attention.
5. Colour balance with the colour wheel The colour wheel is a handy tool and knowing how different colours work with each other is a big advantage and the great news itâ€™s so simple to use. Colours close to each other complement each other and give a relaxing and calming feel. A prime example is autumn leaves. Colours opposite each other are high contrast and make your image dramatic and dynamic such as yellow and purple. 86 | Go Camping Australia
Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer who loves sharing her passion with others. Her company Bluedog Photography shoots a range of imagery for corporate and private clients and runs Bluedog Photography Courses, Retreats and Tours. Contact: (07) 5545 4777 www.blue-dog.com.au
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Holidays and Horror Days
Deserts Words and photos: David McGonigal
hile every environment has the potential to harm the innocent traveller, deserts are the setting where the threat is barely veiled behind stark beauty. Many years ago I discovered the danger of deserts is real. It was in Afghanistan, back in the days when that nation attracted foreign visitors not in uniform. We had a map, a dog-eared depiction of the well-trod tracks between Singapore and London. In our hotel in Kabul we saw that there were two routes across Afghanistan: the sealed road south from Kabul to Kandahar and onwards to Herat and a direct dotted line from east to west marked ‘scenic’. Trevor, my touring companion, and I elected to take that one as “the dirt roads will get us away from the crowds and, after all, how bad can it be?” Three days later we were in the middle of Afghanistan, on a featureless plain with the horizon broken only by a smudge of mountains to the far north. Our little blue plastic tent was the only incongruity. As a campsite, it left everything to be desired. It wasn’t of our choosing. The road was impassable, a slick mud bath with a frictional coefficient of zero but even that was irrelevant because my motorcycle clutch had burned out an hour ago after congealed mud locked my back wheel to the (poorly named) mudguard. With the engine no longer linked to the rear wheel I was going nowhere. On the bright side, although Trevor’s bike’s engine had seized when he fell into
88 | Go Camping Australia
the icy mud it appeared to be running again. Our dilemma was enhanced by gossip in the last village that we may be the last vehicles before winter snows closed the passes. We had no food – and little water. We didn’t have any money either but, in the complete absence of shops, buildings or people, that wasn’t an immediate handicap. And it was still raining (we had no way of capturing the water). We were poster people for venturing well out of our depth. It had been a remarkable journey as we’d visited the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the azure blue bathtub lakes of Band-i-Amir and dined with the nomads of central Asia. Ironically, earlier when we’d pushed Trevor’s highly tuned and temperamental Honda over the ultimate summit we considered our troubles over. The skeleton of a camel marked the highest point. We even welcomed the first light rain that settled the allpervasive red dust. But the rain soon turned the dust into slick glue. As the sun set I found I was having a relapse of the hepatitis I’d contracted in Kathmandu. Exhausted, dispirited and hungry, we crawled into our sleeping bags. The next day dawned bright and clear and the road had dried. Unfortunately, my clutch hadn’t miraculously healed itself. Still, with a sense of optimism we set forth, Trevor towing my bike about 20 kilometres to the next tiny village. Fortunately, it once had some oranges delivered in a cardboard case. I laid the bike on its side to
Solutions Desert travel is all about preparation, notification and edification. Have the parts and knowhow to fix vehicles when they go wrong – and enough water and food to survive when you can’t. Tell someone where you are going – and carry a satellite phone to call for help, battery and coverage permitting. But research to know what to expect is the best way to ensure you don’t get into trouble in the desert.
preserve the engine oil, cut the box into several doughnut shapes, and packed the clutch with cardboard. Soon the journey continued. With my clutch permanently engaged I had to push start the bike and couldn’t readily stop it. And hepatitis left me weak so that I couldn’t hold the bike when I stopped. Several hundred deep river crossings lay before Herat. At each, I couldn’t stop so charged in and hoped for the best. It sometimes worked out. The road became a track, then a trail, then entered a narrow defile and became merely a rocky creek bed. It was rough going – one day we rode from dawn to dusk to cover 24 kilometres. A few days later we rejoined the highway and our dusty tyres touched tar again. In Herat we rejoiced, celebrated and rehydrated by buying and devouring a watermelon and honeydew melon. Decades later I continue to seek out deserts, despite their best efforts to stop me. The Sahara? My BMW’s electrical system collapsed in southern Morocco and for 12 months the entire ignition ran through the cigarette lighter socket. The Gobi? In Mongolia I had to use a car shock absorber reverently placed on a Buddhist chorten to hammer my alloy rim back into a shape that resembled round. The Taklamakan Desert, Central Australia, Death Valley, the Atacama have all posed their challenges. Throughout them all I’ve learned that an adventure is simply a disaster you live to tell about.
Quality gear for the best of times Weekender Dome Tent
(Shown with optional side walls)
The Weekender Tent finished with the highest score in the “What to buy” section of CHOICE Tent Comparison. This innovative tent features Outdoor Connection’s Hornet Pole Design which gives excellent internal space and headroom with near vertical side walls. Ventraflow panels and large windows and doors guarantee excellent ventilation for hot summer weather. The unique optional awning side walls help make a truly usable awning area. The Weekender is the one room tent in Outdoor Connection’s Resort Range which all share the Hornet Pole Design, large windows and doors and many other features. Tents in Resort Range:-
Weekender 1 Room
Heron 2 Room
Brampton 3 Room
Bedarra Deluxe 2 Room
Discover the Outback Drive through the Red Heart from Darwin to Alice Springs and see some of the nation's most spectacular country or explo...