"And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling" Shanti
I am certain that when asked the question ‘Why do you camp?’ most people will respond that they simply love it. However, that answer is insufficient, it is the easy way out. Take some time to think it over …why do you camp?
We camp to get away from it all and be close to nature. What can be better than to sit next to the campfire at night and gaze up at the stars? What a privilege to wake up to the sound of birds, to breathe in the cold freshness of the morning air and to see the horizon ever so gently lighten up as the first rays of the sun emerge.
As our family expanded and the kids came along we couldn’t think of a better way to build a family bond. We wanted them to experience and enjoy nature the way we do and for quite some time it seemed to work. Then they became teenagers and the bright lights, noise and rhythm of city life cast a spell over them.
However, I am confident that one day they will return to camping. You see I hear it in their voices when we reminisce about places we visited. And when I listen to what they deemed highlights of various trips, I also realise that while camping we were building memories to last a lifetime.
In addition to memories these camping trips have also helped to shape the kids characters. For example, trying to sleep in a tent at Port Gregory while the wind does its best to rip it to pieces, taught them to stay calm amid a storm – literally and figuratively. Thanks to that and many other similar experiences they know that difficult situations are merely temporary and that those too shall pass.
They have developed a love and respect for all life forms. We encountered a few spiders, snakes, stingers, bull ants, etc. along the way, but because we also came across cute and cuddly animals we know to treat them all with respect, even the ones we don’t like so much. Those ones you just avoid as far as possible and leave them to go their own way. I can see the kids applying these principles to people too and it works a charm.
Climbing the Sterling Ranges taught them that hard work pays off in the end. It also taught them to listen to their mum, that the wind on top of a mountain is really ice cold not matter what time of year!
Oh I can go on and on about the blessings we received and the lessons we learned while camping. But I think is it clear that we camp because we really love it.
Weekends are so short. We try to pack a whole vacation’s worth of fun and relaxation into each one. Of course it takes planning and a great camping spot to accomplish that!
What makes for a great camping spot?
1. It should not be too far away. We do not want to spend the majority of our weekend on the road getting to and from the camp ground. If you live in Brisbane, Benarkin State Forest is about 150km west of the city.
2. The camping spot should be big enough to allow for some privacy. We have been to a few commercial camping grounds where we have been squeezed in like sardines. Benarkin has no separately defined sites, but features large open grassy areas.
3. Packing for a camping weekend is far more relaxed than getting ready for a long stint away. Therefore it is quite understandable (and even anticipated) that something might be left behind. Camping close to a town comes in very handy in these situations. Even if we haven’t forgotten any supplies, we still love venturing into country towns. Quite often there will be a weekend market and the friendliness of country folk certainly does no harm. The little township of Benarkin has a general store – complete with fuel and post office. Do explore a bit further though, as the neighbouring town of Blackbutt will surely delight you with several bakeries and “the best coffee this side of the moon”
4. Water nearby is always a plus. The camping grounds at Benarkin are situated on the banks of Emu Creek. While very dry at the moment, it still is a haven for a huge variety of birds and I can just imagine how refreshing it must be in summer time.
5. Camping and camp fire are almost inseparable in my mind. Benarkin provides fireplaces for this. Please note that you are not allowed to collect firewood from the forest.
6. It should not cost an arm and a leg. Camping at Benarkin is a steal, I mean just look at these prices!
7. While we are all for sitting down for a couple of hours to relax with a book or just enjoying nature, it is simply impossible for us to repeat this for a WHOLE weekend. Therefore, there must be something to see, visit or do close to the campground. Benarkin offers heaps of dirt roads in the forest to explore. A note of warning though, it is a logging area, do take care. The roads are very well maintained. The area is perfect for bird watching and photography. We’ve spotted king parrots, kookaburras, wrens and finches. If you are into horse riding, mountain biking or hiking, you will be happy to hear that the Bicentennial National Trail passes through the park.
8. Facilities are always welcomed. The camping grounds offer flushing toilets and tap water (treat before you drink).
Additional information on camping in Benarkin State Forest
There are two camping grounds: Clancys and Emu Creek. Both are situated on the banks of Emu Creek. Camping permits are required and must be obtained before you set up camp. Dogs are allowed at Clancys provided they are on a leash and under the control of their owners at all time.
Emu Creek has a day use area as well as space for larger groups, e.g. school camps. You need to bring drinking water, rubbish bags and fire wood.
Kilkivan Bushcamp came highly recommended to us by close friends and various caravanning and camping groups. So it is fair to say that we had high expectations of the place.
And we were not disappointed! Even before we arrived, we were impressed. You see we took the wrong exit and were travelling along this country road quite happily until we reached a t-section with no directions and no idea which way to turn. Would you believe along sped this car, pulled up next to us and before we even asked, told us how to reach the campground.
We soon learned that this friendly bloke is co-owner Ralph. At the campground we were met by his partner and wife Antonija. They are both lovely down to earth people – we immediately felt at home. The atmosphere at the campground is very relaxed.
Our spot for the weekend was on the banks of Fat Hen Creek. What a difference to be camping in the country – the sites are VERY generous with lots of trees and grass all round. It is an absolute delight to wake up to the various bird songs.
Fire pits are provided and we made full use of ours! You are transported to another world sitting around the fire and gazing up at a starry sky. In addition, the campground is also pet friendly. All dogs we encountered during the weekend were friendly and well-behaved – their owners weren’t too bad either.
But wait, I am not done yet singing the praises of the place. Saturday mornings from 8am Ralph and Antonia put on a free breakfast for all campers. What a great way to meet your neighbours while enjoying pancakes with a variety of toppings and a warm cuppa.
Another advantage of this place is that there is no mobile coverage. I was quite surprised just how peaceful and relaxing it is to be without a phone and the internet for a while. However, you are not roughing it by no means as there are power and modern amenities.
What can you do here?
Fat Hen Creek is a great spot to cool down. Both children and dogs had a ball swimming and splashing around in the cold water. It is also a great place for birdwatching. We were delighted by the antics of a trusting Apostle bird.
The township of Kilkivan is just a few minutes away where aromatic coffees, delicious food and quaint antique shops await you. Or you could follow the signs in town to Mudlo National Park. It is a lovely winding road (all bitumen after the day use area) to the top of the Mudlo range where there are picnic tables, an open fireplace and toilets.
For some bushwalking head back to the Scrubby Creek day use area. The Scrubby Creek circuit leaves from the carpark. It is a very easy walk crossing the creek twice. Pearson’s Lookout branches off from this circuit and is a 1.4km return walk. However, it is a very steep climb with lots of steps to reach the top.
Kilkivan bushcamp is also a great spot for a base if you like 4 wheel driving. Start by exploring ‘The Chimney’ which is a restored part of the Mount Clara Mine Copper Smelter. The range offers a variety of tracks to explore ranging from very easy to somewhat challenging.
While it takes all kinds to make the world go round, you can save yourself a lot of tribulation by discovering who you really are. You need to know what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Not only will it be of tremendous help in your relationships, be it personal or professional, but it will also enhance and enrich your experiences.
Camping is no different. Once you know who you are and what you want from your camping experience, you can create your perfect environment as well as choose travelling companions that compliments your outlook on being outdoors. Trust me, you will all be happier for it.
You are as relaxed as can be. Your first mission when arriving at the camping grounds is to start a fire. Once that is going, you pull up a few chairs for your mates, kick back and relax.
This laid back attitude weaves it way through everything you do – even preparing food while camping seems to be a breeze. You only ever bring along two pots that miraculously produce delicious stress-free dishes.
Your favourite campsite activities include playing cards, listening to music or yakking with friends. Nothing gets in the way of you having a good time – if it rains you merely retreat to your tent to read a book.
You love the peace and quiet of nature and do not splurge on expensive camping gear. Camping for you is getting back to basics.
The adventurous camper.
You did not come camping to laze around all day. Armed with a map of the area you want to get out there to explore the landscape. Your main criteria for your food is that it should fit into your backpack.
Daylight hours are not to be wasted. You can be found on your bike, kayak or hiking from sunrise to sunset. You are out there come rain, snow or hail. You spare no expense when it comes to your equipment as your very survival might depend on it.
You’ve got style and you are not afraid to flaunt it. Of course you love camping, as long as there is wi-fi. I mean, how else are you going to upload your pictures to social media?
Forget about tents though – they are so prehistoric. Your caravan or RV is equipped with a coffee machine, a Panini press, leather lounges and an entertainment unit.
You love getting away … as long as you can bring the finer things in life with you.
You camp to truly get away from it all. The less you bring with, the happier you are. You do not frequent caravan parks, but rather look for a clearing in the woods or a secluded spot next to river where you can pitch your tent.
You are not afraid of roughing it and are ready for anything nature throws at you. When you camp, you leave technology behind and rely on your common sense and skills to get you through difficult situations.
I will be the first one to admit that we have a slight obsession with campfires. Growing up in Africa, campfires were part and parcel of just about every weekend.
We view campfires as a necessity for social gatherings – it provides atmosphere, warmth and just about anything tastes better when cooked on a fire! Therefore it’s just a natural progression for us to build a fireplace of our own in our backyard.
A dedicated space for the project has been set aside and while we research our options we have made a very rudimentary fire pit. It will do while we sift through the mountains of inspiration.
I mean, do we want to go for something simple like this:
Or do we want to incorporate a bit of fun like this one:
Maybe something more functional?
Or how about incorporating something a bit more artistic?
Source: steampunktendencies.com Source: trendhunter.com
Source: daniellesserendipityblogspot.com Source: etsy.com
Definitely not an easy decision…thank goodness the rules for the fire pit stay the same, whether at home or away camping
There is no doubt in my mind that timing and a bit of preparation are all that is needed to get kids hooked on camping. The younger you introduce them to nature, the more success you will have.
Little ones are inquisitive – they see the world as a big playground that needs to be explored. Tap into this enthusiasm, hype it up and enjoy it with them.
We’ve spent countless hours building sandcastles, catching crabs, bottoms up in shallow rock pools marvelling at anemones and scrambling up sand dunes or rocky outcrops with our daughters. They’ve drifted on currents clinging to their Dad lost in the magical underwater world at Shark Bay. They fed dolphins at Monkey Mia and spent hours searching for illusive dugongs. They have also endured flies and heat trekking through hostile terrain to experience some or other natural wonder.
What an idyllic childhood they had! Aren’t we blessed to have experienced sunshine and happiness all the way – HA, dream on … they got tired, irritable and just plain bored which could very quickly escalate into a stressful and downright ugly situation. However, with a little bit of planning most of these melt-down times can be avoided or turned around.
I learned very quickly to keep snacks and drinks on hand at all times. Hunger and tiredness were the main causes of end of world melt downs for our girls. To this very day our daughters carry water bottles with them where ever they go. For snacks I usually had a fruit and nut mixture on hand or some muesli bars.
Plan your activities for first thing in the morning when the kids are still full of energy. You should also go in armed with a variety of games they can play at the campsite – both indoors and outdoors.
1. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
Provide the kids with a list of things they need to find, e.g.
· Two kinds of seed
· Man-made litter
· Something rough
· Something smooth
· Two kinds of leaves, etc.
2. Bring their pushbikes with. Most camping grounds have ample room for the kids to explore.
3. Water games. Even when you’ve forgotten the water pistols at home, you can still organise a fun game on a hot day with just a few plastic cups. Get the kids to stand in line, fill one cup with water and have them pass on the water from their cup to the cup of the person behind up…over their head. It is even more fun when there are two teams competing against one another.
4. Teach them how to play duck, duck, goose.
6. A game of cricket
7. Bocce – this was a firm favourite for our family. We played it on just about every surface.
8. Hide and seek
9. Tug of war
10. Sack races – of course most of these games are more fun when parents join in.
1. Board games
3. Reading or telling scary stories
4. Card games
5. Balloon tennis
Of course you can always pull out technology when all else fails. We aimed to keep camping trips technology free – you know the idyllic notion to connect not only with nature, but also with one another.
Source: pinterest.com (RV Funny)
Camping is such a happy and care-free activity for us that I have to admit that until recently I have been ill prepared for any illness or mishaps while camping. We are generally a very healthy family and therefore it did not feature very high on the agenda.
However, as we are venturing further and further away from civilisation on our camping expeditions, it just makes sense to be better prepared. Two standard first aid kits later (one for the caravan and one for the vehicle) I felt more at ease.
That was until a very nasty cold/flu bug cut short our camping trip last weekend. The first aid kits are absolutely marvellous for cuts, fractures and to rinse foreign objects from your eyes. However, it has NO medication at all.
Lesson learned. I have now expanded my first aid kit to include the following:
I included a wide spectrum pain relieve tablet that the whole family has been using with no side effects. Just remember to periodically check the expiry date of your medications and throw out any old stuff.
Again a broad spectrum medication that covers a range of symptoms like aching muscles, headache, running nose, etc. I really think it is vital that you only include medication you have used before. The last thing you want when out in the bush is to deal with a reaction to the medication.
Every family is prone to a certain ailment, some get headaches, others sinus, etc. My family’s Achilles’ heel is a sore throat. While lozenges provide huge relieve, it also has a lot of side effects. Due to the frequency we are using it, it leaves our throats feeling raw and our tongues very sore.
Luckily I have a home remedy that works a treat. A tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey in a quarter cup of boiling water. You should drink this as hot as you can and it can be enjoyed as frequently as required. For years I have just used store bought lemon juice, but now I know better.
Slice two or three lemons (depending on the size of your jar) very thinly and stack into a glass jar. Next fill the jar with honey and allow to infuse for a couple of days. Now simply use two tablespoons of this mixture in a quarter cup of boiling water. It seems to be a far more potent concoction.
Isn’t it annoying how the colder night air seems to bring on coughing fits? Annoying not only for the poor person suffering through it, but also for everybody within close vicinity trying to get a good night’s sleep. We have found a rather unusual solution to this problem.
When first a friend told me of this, I was highly sceptical, but let’s face it at 2am and close to my wit’s end, I was willing to try just about anything! The solutions lies in rubbing the soles of your feet with Vicks VapoRub. It works a treat :-)