If you’ve got holidays coming up or you’re looking for a family trip why not go camping? Camping can be a fantastic outdoors experience for the whole family. Australia is a big country and a cheap way to see it all is from the inside of a tent. You’ll be closer to nature while still able to avoid things like the rain. This should give you a good rundown on what camping can be and what you’ll want to bring with you when you go.
What is camping?
Camping is kind of like bringing your own hotel while you’re travelling. You pick a spot, set up your own shelter and can come and go as you please. These shelters, usually some form of tent, come in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit the varied needs of the people and the locations where people might camp. It’s a fantastic way to get away from the cities and experience something new in the fresh air. If you do want to go camping, even before you’ve got a tent you’ve got to know where you’re going.
Where should I go?
Camping can be theoretically done anywhere but there are laws and rules about where you can and can’t camp based on tonnes of factors: animal locations, allocated camping grounds, city requirements and many more. These rules are almost always made for safety reasons. Camping on the side of the highway might sound like a good idea on a long trip but accidents can happen.
For your first time, and especially if you’ve got kids to look after, you should find a campground. Campgrounds and caravan parks are pretty common and offer designated spots on clear ground for you to set up. Different places will have different requirements and features (some places will offer powered sites so you don’t have to abandon your phone for a week) so it’s worth doing some research before you dive in.
When should I go?
Camping is a sport best done when the weather is predictable and consistent. Going during autumn or spring when the weather can’t decide between burning heat and torrential rain isn’t a great idea. If you’re camping in the northern half of Australia you’re better off going in winter. The weather will be cooler, you won’t fry in your tent, it might get dark earlier but you can manage that with lights. In the south of Australia you’re better going in summer so that you don’t turn into an icicle. Naturally, if you enjoy camping in the cold with a warm jacket go for it, just make sure you’ve got what you need if the weather starts to get worse. Same goes for summer camping, bring lots of water and sunscreen.
Naturally if you’re camping you’re going to need somewhere to stay and keep the outsides, well, outside. A tent is your best friend and your home while you’re camping. We’ve got a quick guide to check out if you’re not sure which tent will best suit your needs. The even quicker version is that you should get a tent that suits the number of people with you plus two if you’re bringing a lot of gear.
Before you leave on your trip make sure you do a practice set up in your backyard or at the local park to make sure that you aren’t missing any pieces. You’ll also know better for the actual trip so you can spend less time building the tent and more time adventuring or relaxing in it. You can also pick up a tarp to put on the ground under your tent to help increase it’s lifespan and keep the damp ground from soaking through. Only do this on a slope, otherwise the ground tarp can turn your tent into a swimming pool!
After your tent the next essential is a sleeping bag or some other sleeping gear. While you can just sleep on the floor of your tent, it’s not recommended. Between the cold and the rocks underneath you’ll want something with a little more protection from the elements. Be smart about it, don’t grab a sleeping bag designed for freezing temperatures for a summer camping trip.
While these aren’t essential, camping will be made substantially easier with some of the gear below.
Bring a mattress. While the floor is not made of lava it isn’t made to hold up people while they sleep. You might be fine but poor sleep means you won’t be able to enjoy your camping trip to the fullest. Decathlon has a range of camping bed gear that should make your trip more comfortable.
To keep it cheap you’ll want to have some kitchen equipment too. While people typically think of camping involving cooking on a fire it’s not always the safest idea and sometimes illegal with fire bans. Instead you could use a gas stove, they’re smaller and easier to clean up than a big fire and you can get the fuel for them at the supermarket rather than having to gather up all the wood. Our range might not have stoves right now but they’ll be coming soon.
You’ll also want somewhere to keep your food. It’s not practical to bring your meat with you and it might be illegal to do some hunting where you are so grab an esky and at your destination grab some ice and some meat from the shops to set you up for a couple of days. As for the rest of your food you can bring along the dry things like pasta and biscuits to hold you over until your first shopping trip.
Out in the wild it can get dark much earlier than you expected, partially because you’re having fun but mostly because of the lack of lights. Make sure to pack torches or a lamp to make late night travels easier. You could go for walks at night looking for some wildlife too, just make sure to be careful. Setting up your lamp at the tent will make it easier to find your way home.
Make sure you’ve got a first aid kit. No one tries to get hurt but things can happen and it never hurt to be prepared. It’s not worth tempting fate, if you’ve got the kit you won’t need it but if you don’t have it, someone will be unlucky enough to need a bandage.
Something that’s not 100% essential but definitely recommended in the hotter months is insect repellent. Depending on the location of your campsite you might end up having to swim through a swarm of flies, mosquitoes and whatever else. To avoid this itchy, skin-crawling scenario bring along some bug spray or roll on sticks and maybe a candle or two.
There you go, everything you need (and then some) for your first camping trip. Make sure you check out Decathlon’s options for some great quality camping gear, with the list below for each category mentioned.