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Words: Andrea Ferris


Photo: Megan Willis Photography.


he ‘Agony’ series of popular television show on the ABC never ceases to make me laugh and gesture wildly in agreement—even if I’m watching the TV alone! For the uninitiated, it’s an interviewstyle show hosted by Adam Zwar where he chats to a number of well-known Australians about their views on all sorts of weird and wonderful topics. What makes it so amusing is that the topics are usually those on which we have an opinion and choose not to air in public for fear of being labelled a ‘grumpy old … ’. A recent episode explored, amongst other things, the etiquette of mobile phones at the dinner table—for or against? General consensus—against (and rightly so). Frankly, if you’re not a surgeon, the prime minister or on an organ transplant waiting list, don’t bring the phone to any dinner table at which I’m seated. It seems that the issue of how much electronic connection we indulge in these days is highly subjective and opinion varies widely between generations. Social media, like Facebook, isn’t just for Gen X and Y; the fastest growing user sector happens to be the ‘oldies’, tweeting, pinning and posting with the best of them. Even I can remember back to when finding out what your friend’s trip was like meant going to their place for dinner and sitting through a slide show or leafing through endless photo albums! Now, we get the GoPro video of the boat trip on YouTube, the iPhone image of the monster fish catch texted before the hook is out of its mouth and a picture of said fish cooked on the plate posted to Facebook before the barbeque is cool enough to lean on! 6 |


Disconnected! Photo: Andrea Ferris.

Personally, I’m over it. (It’s my column and I’m allowed to be personal.) I’m ‘connected’ up to the wazoo with who knows who and I’m not sure why. Well actually, yes, I do know why, because I operate in a modern first-world culture that thrives on communication in business and I’m keeping up with the times. I can’t whinge about some technological progress and not others—would I really like to be writing this column on a manual typewriter? Not jolly likely! As a navigationally-challenged female do I love my GPS? Absolutely. Did I exclaim wildly about the convenience of the Wikicamps app on a recent trip? At least 20 times! Do I prefer to check for emails on my smartphone while standing in a queue? Of course I do. But sometimes I want to stop the world and get off— so I go camping. I go camping in the bush where there is no internet, no phone reception, no television, and no, or few, people and no ambient industrial noise. I’m connecting alright—with nature, with silence, with TOH, with the environment and with my own resourcefulness to provide entertainment. (Or an old-fashioned book made from paper.) Bliss. Apparently the Dutch are discovering ‘natural’ camping too. In 2013, there was

a twelve percent increase in Dutch people using ‘simple campsites’. Simple in that they have no electricity—but they do have solar-powered wi-fi … Canadians, likewise. Parks Canada is installing wi-fi hotspots in fifty of its parks this year and expects to triple that number shortly thereafter. Seriously? Why? (The reason wasn’t stated in the articles that I read.) Surely there’s no need to provide wi-fi in parks to encourage more people to go camping? Are we at a point where we would choose not to go camping or experience the remote wilderness because we can’t wait to check Facebook for two days? Are children having tantrums about going camping unless they can take their iPad? Frankly, I believe it’s essential to keep the remote sacrosanct. We absolutely must be able to ‘step-off’ and disconnect from the world from time to time. Call me grumpy, old fashioned, fuddyduddy—I don’t care. I’m camping sans wi-fi. I intend to lean on a post and laugh out loud with my real friends around a campfire and the only tweets will be those coming from critters with feathers perched in a tree. 

Andrea Ferris, Editor

From the Editor - Go Camping Australia June 2014  
From the Editor - Go Camping Australia June 2014  

Wilderness Wi-Fi - What the?