Tuesday, June 7

Tent Buying Guide

Tent Buying Guide

A tent is the most important piece of camping equipment you will ever pack for your adventure.  Whether hiking in the mountains, a weekend at a Big4, 4WDing on Fraser Island or taking the family to a bush campground, you will need a good tent to bunker down in if the weather turns.  A good tent will protect you from the weather, insects and even wild animals.  It can also be used to protect your food and other gear.

There are many types of tents and they have many features.  Some may be relevant to you and others not so much.  Give some thought to what type of camping you will be doing, where and how often.  A good tent when cared for and stored properly will last you 10 plus years easily. It is also important to remember that a sleeping bag is what keeps you warm, not your tent.

We can’t cover all the aspects of tents and their varieties in one feature, so we will only focus on the primary aspects:

  • Ventilation
  • Price
  • Size
  • Fabrics
  • Weight
  • Types of tents
    • Swags
    • Domes
    • Geodesic Domes
    • Cabins
    • Fast Pitching Tents
    • Roof Top Tents
Ventilation is probably the single most important feature of a tent to look at. Ventilation controls a tent's waterproofing, temperature and reduces condensation.  For the last reason, it is important to allow some ventilation in your tent.  Different degrees of ventilation can be achieved through utilising the vents and netted windows.  Closing or opening some, or all of these will result in different ventilation of your tent.  Ensure you have pegged out your tent properly and left a gap between the inner tent and fly, or you can expect to be wet in the morning! 

The degree of ventilation you require will depend on the environment you camp in. If you do adventure camping in cold regions, less ventilation is best as you will be warmer and more waterproof.  However, the average Australian camper will most likely prefer greater levels of ventilation.

The Anatomy Of A Tent
The anatomy of a tent.  Many features often escape the untrained eye!

Price is usually what controls our choice.  Thankfully, there is a great array of good quality, budget tents on the market to suit all types of camping.  It is important to note that some of the less expensive tents are only suitable for nice weather camping.  They'll cope with mild rain and wind, but anything heavier could push them beyond their design.  These tents will suit the average weekend campers or festival goer.

If you are planning extended outback Australia travel or North Queensland trips, where you might need to ride out big winds or heavy rain for a couple of days or more, you may find it better to stretch the budget a little further.  Most of the better quality tents should hold up without any problem at all and are usually well worth the money.

Tents range in price from $50 - $1,200 for a basic tent set-up.

Size is the next thing you will need to consider.  Are you camping solo, with a friend or is it for the family?  If so, how many adults and children?

Double Swags are great for a couple or even a single person traveller looking to have a bit more room.

If you are camping solo in your tent, you will want something lightweight, easy and fast to assemble but strong and durable.  A 2-man will house you and your gear.

2 man dome tent
Many of us start our tenting lives with a simple 2-man dome.

If you are heading into the mountains or snowy regions, you will not want extra space inside your tent. Smaller tents are usually warmer, so remember to keep a vent open so you don't create too much condensation.

Extreme adventure is a pretty involved topic as weight, pack weight, extreme cold and wind, waterproofing, pole construction and many other things come into play.  When carrying a tent on your back, different considerations are relevant, which would not concern most campers.  These aspects may encourage you to spend the extra money to buy a good quality hiking tent This topic is worthy of a feature of its own.

hiking tent design features
Hiking tents are designed to be lightweight and easy to assemble,  often sacrificing in space and features.

If you are simply looking to solo tent in a Queensland bush campground, you can go to a basic 2 -man tent or a  swag.  If camping in an Australian summer, you may even want to go to a 4-Man, simply for the additional air and ventilation, not necessarily for space.

If you are car camping and sharing with a friend or partner, you will want at least a 4-man tent.  When a tent says it is a 4-man tent, it means that when you lay 4 sleeping bags on the floor of the tent, they will cover most of the floor space.  4 people in a 4-man tent will definitely mean climbing over the top of other people to get out and will leave absolutely no room for gear.  I would suggest that a 4-man tent is suitable for 2 adults and their gear.  They will be very comfy.

If you want extra space to keep your esky and kitchen supplies than you'll require a good vestibule or you will want to go to the next size which is a 6-man tent.  This will give you the added storage space.  You could also buy an inexpensive 2-man tent to keep your esky, food and kitchen bits and pieces in.  It would also be a great place to store firewood so it stays dry.

If you are a family, I would highly recommend a tent with rooms.  A 6-man tent will house 2 adults and 2 small children comfortably but your growing family will outgrow your tent quickly.  Rooms also give you added privacy and allow for your family's growth.  Once children are old enough to have their own tents you can create a tent village.  Teenagers will likely prefer and appreciate this independence.

Multiple room family tents are popular with young families in particular.   

Fabric composition of your tent is also worthy of a noting – both the upper portions and the floor tub. The upper portions of most tents are made with either canvas or polyurethane coated fabric. Canvas is much more durable and it allows heat to escape, but it is much heavier and more expensive. Polyurethane coated fabric provides waterproofing and makes them strong, durable and lightweight in comparison to canvas. As a result, most dome tents are made out of this fabric. The quality of the polyurethane is exceptionally good these days and the products are long lasting – maybe not as long lasting as canvas though. The things that really come into play when you choose between the two fabrics is whether you can afford the weight and price. If you can, the investment in canvas is well worth it and will potentially see that you have a resalable product in the future.

The fabric and construction of the floor tub is critical.  Check to see that it is of good quality and that it will keep the moisture out.  Anyone who has been in torrential rain whilst camping will understand - it's the difference between all tent contents being soaked or being able to go inside and read a book in comfort while the storm passes.  Many of the newer models have heavy duty PVC waterproof flooring and come up at least 5 or more centimetres from the ground.  You can’t go wrong!

Weight of a tent should not be overlooked.  If you have someone to help you get your tent up and down from the roof of the 4WD, or help to carry and erect the tent, this may not ever be of concern.  It is also noteworthy, if you’re pushing the weight restriction of your vehicle.  It is safe to say that some of the fixed frame and canvas tents do lean a bit on the heavier side but the quality and durability of these tents is most definitely superior.  In saying that, the quality of the polyurethane flies and aluminium poles in some of the domes are of exceptional quality and it is hard to believe that these lightweight tents can be as strong and long lasting as they are.

Types of tents Swags, Dome tents, Hiking Tents, Cabin Tents, Fast Pitching Tents, Roof Top Tents.  This article only covers a few.  So many choices!

Swags these days range from the traditional canvas bag style to double swags with stretchers underneath them which is why I included it in the tent options.  Some are nearly as big as a tent, with enough room to sit up.  I am a huge fan of the swag for touring. Nothing better after a long day of driving and exploring, than to simply unclip, roll it out, pitch a pole (or clips depending on brand) and lie down.  They are definitely worth checking out.

Dome Tents are by far the most resilient tent.  The design provides for wind to roll straight over and rain to roll off.  Dome tents generally have flexible poles which crossovers at the top and give it strength.  They are easy to pitch, light and durable. Domes come in all shapes and sizes, including single rooms, single room/vestibules, multiple rooms, and awning add-ons, which are great if you don’t want to pitch tarps or other shade structures.  As a result, they are highly suitable for a single person, a couple or a large family and are by far the most versatile tent.

Geodesic Dome Tents (sphere like dome) refers to a tent that has criss-crossing poles, forming triangles in the frame. These tents are even more stable than the standard dome and well suited to extreme weather conditions such as on mountains or windy, exposed areas.

Cabin Tents are another great option for the couple or family.  Cabins are large and spacious, with plenty of room to stand up.  They tend to feel roomier than a dome because the straight walls and the larger windows give the cabin a homier feel.  They are a little more involved to pitch, so more suited for longer stays.  The cabin is often made with heavier fabrics, thus, can take a little longer to dry out than the standard dome.  This also makes the cabin a bit heavier and bulkier so if you are planning on putting it in the car, it is handy to measure the car and note the pack length of these tents.  But if 'home-away-from-home' is what you are looking for, then this could be the answer.

Fast pitching tents are by far my favourite because I am usually pitching them by myself.  The real difference between these tents and other types is the attached frame.  Pull your tent out of the bag and push the legs up or out, depending on the brand.  Presto, it is up!  Due to the ease of assembling these tents, they are often referred to as ’30-second’ or ‘2-minute’ tents.  However, this time does not include adding the fly (if required) and/or pegging the tent down.  Most of these products have numerous awnings and extras you can add if you choose.  Some don’t require any extras to be ready for a quick roadside stop though.  I regularly don’t peg out my tent when camping for the night, which is great if you are touring.  It is free standing as long as the weather is not giving me grief.  Some would say fast-pitching tents are not as strong in strong winds.  I would never say anything could beat a dome but, by geez, I have been in some pretty cyclonic winds and not had any problems.  Once again, it is important you note the pack length of these tents if you are wanting to throw them in the car.  Most will fit fine but some of the larger may struggle and need to go on the roof.  It is at this point you might need to revisit the weight aspect.

The Oztent is one of the traditional fast pitching tents.  Often referred to as the 30 second tent.

Roof Top Tents offer heaps of advantages and especially suit the harsh Australia environment.  If you are chasing that elusive breeze, want up off the wet ground, away from the crocs and snakes; and want to wake to a view as far as the eye can see, this is the option for you.  Not the least, all that extra space in the car.  The basic overnight set up is really easy and your bed is already made.  On the negative side, if you need to move the car, you have to pack it up.  Most folks simply make sure they have done everything before they set up.  They are simple to put down and break camp.

The roof top tent is fast becoming the go to tent for many tourers.

When I did the Cape, I spoke to many folks with rooftop tents and most were very happy with them, especially when others were jumping at things that went bump in the night.  A factor that may be relevant to some, is that you may not want to remove them after your camping weekend.  If you are like me, you will never get that much height in the garage and I would not want to be taking it off regularly.  For those that have the space or are touring, they definitely have their appeal.  Personally I think they are a fantastic touring option but not as good for long-stay camping.

There are lots of other features to look at when deciding on the right tent ie types of poles, guy ropes, zipper construction and many add on features for various tents.  We have only touched on the primary aspects in this article, so keep posted for more.

Please if you need help choosing your next tent, feel free to give us at Tentworld a call, email, live chat or drop into your local Tentworld Camping Store!

Wednesday, May 25

Selecting the right sleeping bag for YOU!

Selecting the right sleeping bag depends on your destination, time of year, likelihood of moisture, whether you are hiking or travelling by car. Luckily for us sleeping bags come with different temperature ratings, many features and add-ons. They come in different shapes, sizes and thankfully in a wide array of prices to suit all budgets. So let’s have a look at some of the different things to consider before purchasing.

Temperature Ratings
Even in the summer, nights can get cold, especially in the mountains. Make sure your sleeping bag is made for the correct night temperature. A sleeping bag with a rating of 5 degrees Celsius should keep you warm when the mercury gets to 5 degrees. I do say 'should' loosely. Use ratings as a guide only. If you camp in winter and night temps get down as low as 2 degrees, you will need at least a zero (0) degree sleeping bag; maybe even a minus 5 or 10. I feel the cold, so I have a minus 15 degree bag for zero (0) degree temperatures. I use the same bag in summer, but I simply unzip it and use it as a doona vs get inside it. If you only use a sheet in summer, you may be fine with a zero (0) degree bag as you sleep hot. Please remember that sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm by insulating you, so zipping it up when it's cold is vital.

If you won’t be camping in the cold very often, a sleeping bag liner may add the extra warmth needed on occasional cold nights. That way you won’t cook on those warmer nights or need different rated bags for different seasons. A bag liner can add up to 25 degrees more warmth. Using a sleeping bag liner will also help keep your sleeping bag dirt and sweat free.

Sleeping Bag Fillings
Sleeping bags come in either synthetic or down fillings. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and your choice would depend on what type of camping you do and when.

Synthetics filled

  • Less expensive than same rated down filled versions
  • Easy to wash and dries quickly
  • Handles moisture better and will still keep you warm if the outside of bag gets damp
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Bulkier and heavier
  • Not as long lasting as down
  • If the bag is stitched from the outside it can create weak points and allow cold in

Down filled

  • Lighter and compresses much better
  • Longer lasting than any synthetic bag when cared for properly
  • Warmer than their synthetic counterpart
  • A little more expensive
  • No insulation once wet
  • Takes a long time to dry properly once wet
  • More difficult to care for
  • Not hypoallergenic

Sleeping bags come in 3 basic shapes – mummy, semi rectangular and rectangular, either hooded or unhooded. The reason for the narrower leg to feet area is they warm up faster. They also take up less pack space. They are highly recommended if you are camping in very cold elevated regions. Most Australian family campers will find a rectangular bag more than satisfactory. Rectangular bags give you more wiggle room and allow you space to place your clothing inside your bag with you. This way your clothes are handy if you need them during the night. They will be dry and warm in the morning.

Some bags come with hoods because heat escapes from the feet and head first.  These will help you stay warm on cold nights.  Pro Tip:  Leaving your beanie on whilst sleeping or using a hooded sleeping bag will help keep you extra warm through the night.

Bags come in all sizes from junior to jumbo and king and queen singles. There are also singles that zip together if you need to make a duo.

Bags that unzip right out are always my preference because they can be used as a light blanket in summer, wrapped around you if you are cold whilst sitting around the campfire or as a spare blanket if you have guests. Sadly, sleeping with another is actually not the best way to stay warm at winter camping. Sleeping bags work best when they fit to your body reasonably well. The less opportunity for air pockets the better.

Additional tips: Please remember that what you wear prior to going to bed is what will maintain your healthy body temperature. Keeping a hat or a beanie on your head and socks and shoes on your feet whilst sitting around the campfire will help a lot. When you get into your sleeping bag you will actually warm up faster and stay warmer if you are wearing less clothing vs more. Maybe just your underwear. Try to avoid sleeping in cotton and try not to get into your sleeping bag with cold or damp clothing on.

Important Note: Sleeping bag ratings assume that you are sleeping on a rated sleeping pad of some form. This will further aid in keeping you warm.

Thursday, April 7

Camp Oven Recipe: Cheese & Bacon Cob Loaf

The Cheese & Bacon Cobb Loaf is a long term favourite of mine.  I enjoy it when camping, and just at home when having friends around.  You really cant go wrong with the Cheese & Bacon Cob Loaf!

Cheese & Bacon Cobb Loaf

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Makes for: 8-10 people

Ingredients needed:  
250g bacon
1 large onion
250g cream cheese
350g cream
300g ricotta cheese
100g tasty cheese
1 white cob loaf

** Preheat oven to 180ÂșC (or camp oven)
Slice off the top of your cob loaf to make a lid. (Don't cut too far down the loaf or you won't be able to fit as much dip inside)
** Pull the soft bread from inside of the loaf. (Be careful not to go all the way to the bottom of the loaf. You can easily make a hole if the bottom isn't really crisp and you don't want that)
** Pop the bread pieces in a zip lock bag until you’re ready to use them again so it stays fresh.
** Dice your onion and bacon and fry until onion is translucent and bacon is very lightly browned.
** Add the bacon and onion to a bowl
** Add other ingredients.
** Mix well
** Fill your cob load with the cheese mixture
** Place the lid of the cob back on top
** Wrap in alfoil
** Bake for 45 minutes
** Remove the alfoil and back into oven for an additional 10 mins

What is your favourite camp recipe!?  Share it with us in the comments below! 

Touring Border Ranges National Park, NSW

Border Loop Lookout
Border Ranges National Park is a World Heritage listed rainforest on the rim of an ancient volcano. It adjoins Queensland’s Lamington National Park. The park is home to rainforest, amazing scenery, views, waterfalls, mountain streams, and some pretty rugged wilderness.

There are 3 picnic areas if you are thinking of doing a day trip.  You would be cheating yourself if you didn’t make a stop at the Border Loop Lookout, which overlooks scenic views of Gradys Creek Valley.  Brindle Creek walking trail is 5km of medium hardness track and ideal if you want to enjoy a picnic, a spectacular waterfall and a shallow swimming hole.  You can access this track from Brindle Creek picnic area.  There are no barbecues allowed at Brindle Creek but one can be found at the others if you desire.  Bar Mountain picnic area looks like the better of them.  This also looks very wheelchair friendly but the website says all are.

Bar Mountain Picnic Area

Tweed Ranges Road

It's a reasonably good gravel road when you follow the Tweed Ranges Road and this leads all the way around the scenic loop which is on the Eastern side of the park close to the Qld – NSW border.   It is approximately 44 km long and will come out about 28 km’s from Kyogle. Both the loop and the campgrounds are 2WD accessible in dry weather.  Caravans should not go through the loop road due to the narrowness and steepness at a few different points but you can very easily access Sheepstation Campground from the Kyogle side.

There are 2 campgrounds in the national park.
Forest Tops Campground
  1.  Forest Tops Campground is about half way around the loop.  There are only 10 campsites at this lovely grassy spot. It is bollarded so and you cannot park your car next to your campsite.  Alas, only suitable for tents and campers who are travelling light. From here you can try a short trip along Booyong walking track or walk the entire track – it finishes at Sheepstation Creek campground.
  2. Sheepstation Campground is on the Kyogle side just at the entry to the park.  There are 40 campsites - tent, camper or caravans are all welcome here.  Be sure to enjoy a walk on one of the three tracks that leave from this campground – the easy Palm Forest walk is a great one for children while the Rosewood loop and the Booyong loop are longer day walks.

Both campgrounds have:
  • Composting toilets
  • Free Barbeques
  • Picnic tables
  • Campfires are permitted in the wood BBQ's provided.  You will need to take your own firewood.
  • NO drinking water, so you will need to take your own (there is non-potable water available only)
  • NO rubbish bins are not provided, so you will need to take your rubbish home

Collecting of firewood in NSW National Parks is prohibited so don’t forget to take your own.

No Domestic Pets are allowed in NSW National Parks

Self Registration
  • Vehicle Fee p/day - $8.00
  • Camping - $6 per adult per night. $3.50 per child per night.

The Kyogle side

Getting there from Brisbane
Via Pacific Highway and Murwillumbah  - 168 km (2 ¼ hours’ drive)
Via Mount Lindesay Highway - 130 km (2 hours’ drive)

Some video's for you to peruse.... 


Monday, February 22

10 Tips on how to care for your new tent.

So you've just bought your brand new tent!  Congratulations!  The purchase of a new tent is often one filled with much consideration, and sometimes deliberation!

Now,   you need to make sure you look after it so you can ensure get the maximum life from your tent!

Here's how to look after your tent, and ensure you get the most satisfaction from it!

1 - Set your tent up before going away.
I cant stress this enough.  Before you drive many hours away from your home check your gear over.  There is nothing worse than arriving at your camp site and having to turn home because you forgot to put the pegs back into your tent after you borrowed for another job that time. 

Setting your tent up prior to heading away is a cheap insurance to ensure your holiday is going to be great!  Make sure you weather your tent.

2 - Weather your tent.  

Prior to using your tent in the field.  Ensure you weather your tent.  The process of weathering your tent is entirely soaking it in your back yard, then letting it dry.   4-5 times.  This process allows the thread to swell into the needle holes.

This process also allows you to identify anywhere on your tent where this process has not worked,  allowing you to correct this using wax stick or seam sealer to fix these issues.  Apply this to the outside of the stitching.

Generally, if a tent is to leak.  It will be through the stitches.  Because of these stitches, no tent can be guaranteed to be 100% waterproof.  It's very uncommon for a tent to leak through the material itself, this is nearly always condensation.

In todays manufacturing processes, there is no other method available to connect two individual pieces of material together aside from stitching.  Stitching is flawed in that it needs a needle to push the thread through.  This needle, needs to be a bit bigger than the thread.  This is where water can get through.

If you follow this weathering process religiously,  and at the end your tent is not leaking.  If you do then find yourself getting wet inside your tent whilst camping you can be nearly 100% certain that your tent is not leaking but you are instead suffering from condensation.  To fix this,  you need to improve ventilation!

3 - Always peg your tent out. You may be able to get away with using only four pegs to set your tent up. However, if you encounter any wind, rain or otherwise which results in damage to your tent. No warranty will apply.

4 - Always use the guy ropes. The fashionable ropes that hang from your tent are also functional.  It's critical, that you use these for your tent to give it the structural support it needs.  Sure, you can probably get away with using just a few pegs and leave the ropes hanging but be warned!

The best way to look at guy ropes on your tent is that they're the foundation of your tent.  All homes have foundations,  your tent needs a good foundation too.  Not using the guy ropes is a recipe for failure.

If a strong breeze comes along in the afternoon when you're out exploring, your tent could potentially fail resulting in a ruined holiday.  So take the few extra minutes, drive in the extra pegs and be satisfied that you've done all you can to ensure your tent has the structural integrity to withstand the elements.

5 - Use a tarp UNDER your tent.
Whilst it is not necessary to use a tarp under your tent.  Doing so will provide the floor of your tent with an extra barrier to the rocks, sticks and sharp objects you've potentially missed.  All of which could potentially pierce the floor of your tent. 

You can read more about why you should use a tarp under your tent by clicking here.

6 - Attend to your tent!!
Keep an eye on your tent.  It is not possible to set and forget a temporary structure.  You will need to adjust the guy ropes and re peg occasionally. 

It's especially important that you do not allow water to pool on your tent.  Water resting on the tent places additional strain along the whole tent and will result in failure in the weakest point.   

Adjust awnings, re peg and reset if necessary to avoid water pooling.  If you allow water to pool and leave it be, you'll likely break your tent.  Worse yet, you wont be covered by warranty.

7 - Keep ventilation ALWAYS!  
Tents are often accused of leaking unfairly.  More often than not, its due to condensation.  Condensation comes from many sources including your breathe,  wet clothing inside the tent combined with high humidity and colder temperatures outside your tent.

To avoid condensation, always have plenty of ventilation.  This is especially important in winter and in tropical climates where high humidity is common.  All tents have been designed to allow for ventilation even when it is raining, make sure you use these. 

This also means that you need plenty of ventilation in winter.  If your tent feels much warmer than outside, you'll definitely suffer from from condensation issues and will get wet!  Wear warm clothes to stay warm inside a tent!

8 - Cleaning your tent
It's extremely important that you do not use any cleaning agents on your tent.  Always try using just water, and avoid scrubbing.  Scrubbing or using any cleaning agents, can potentially remove the waterproof coatings on the tent. 

Dont worry if your tent is a bit dirty, having a dirty tent shows that you're an experienced camper.

9 - Peg Removal  -  Never remove pegs using the peg loops or tabs.  Always use another peg, or a peg puller!  Using your tent is placing unnecessary strain on your tent and will likely tear it at the very least it will damage it.

10 - Storage-  Always store your tent totally dry and as clean as possible.  Being material, tents are prone to mould.    Mould can be identified as black spots on your tents material.  If notice any mould, immediately air your tent and clean the affected area with mild soap and water.

Do you have any tent care tips you wish to add?  Drop them in the comments below!

6 Tips for Choosing a Good Campsite

  1. Permission - Before you set up camp anywhere, ensure you are allowed to. Best to do this before you leave home. Phone ahead and book in. Obtain relevant permits if this is relevant. Check what the rules are for camping at this location. If the rules don’t work for you; please find somewhere else. Never camp on private property without permission.
  2. Safety - Select a site that will not flash-flood i.e. creek beds or close to the river’s edge. Avoid spots where there is erosion as this can be a sign that this spot experiences lots of stormwater runoff. Avoid lone trees and high ridges as they can become lightning targets. Don’t camp near dead trees or trees that have lots of fallen branches nearby; the wind could blow them down on you.
  3. Size - Make sure your site is large enough to set up your tent/s or camper/van, put your out chairs, park the car and cook meals. The average 4 man tent is approx. 2.5 mtr x 2.5 mtr but needs a minimum of 1 mtr surrounding it for guy ropes, pegs and safe walking space. The average car is 5 mtr x 2 mtr. Plus another 4 mtr x 4 mtr for a couple of chairs, esky, food box and cooking space. Always check to see you and your family will have enough space. You may need a second campsite if you want to put up tarps, take the BBQ, the dog or have a second tent for the kids.
  4. Terrain - Make sure your site is slightly elevated and has good drainage in case of rain. A gently sloping campsite is ideal. The perfect surface is grassy, sandy or gravelly, so that it can absorb rainfall. Please don’t build trenches around your tent to drain away water. This causes erosion. Try to select a spot that does not have sharp rocks, especially under your tent area. Select the flattest part of the campsite so that you can sleep level. Check the area carefully to ensure you are not setting up on a bull ant’s nest or under a huge wasp nest. Remember to look up, down and around.
  5. Protection - Hopefully you will be able to select a campsite that catches the morning sun and gives you shade in the afternoon. Remember that Ideal head positioning when you go to bed is west. This means that the sun is not hitting you in the face in the morning. Also be aware of prevailing winds and select tarp and awning orientations to allow for this. Maybe use car and tent as a windbreak if there is no shrubbery to offer some protection from the elements.
  6. Privacy - Respect the privacy of others. Trees, shrubs and the shape of the terrain can screen your camp. Try to select a campsite as far away from others as you can. This doesn’t mean that you can’t walk on over and say Hi later. Just means you will not disturb each other whilst you are getting on with the fun stuff you like to do.
Perfect campsites are rare so you might need to compromise a little on some of the items noted but near-perfect spots do still exist everywhere in Australia.

Tuesday, January 5

Lots of things to do at Wivenhoe Dam, SE Qld.

I spent a few days of the holidays in the beautiful Brisbane Valley and took the opportunity to revisit Wivenhoe Dam.  They call it Lake Wivenhoe these days.  I’m not sure what the difference is between a lake and a dam but it has always been Wivenhoe Dam since I was a girl.  Please forgive me if I continue to refer to it as such.

Wivenhoe Dam is located approximately 45 minute’s drive north-west of Brisbane. Not only does it have great recreational facilities, water activities and fabulous camping; it’s a critical part of the South East Queensland’s bulk drinking water supply.  It is definitely worth a day trip at a minimum. If you get a chance, pop into the information centre and find out all about the dam and its construction.  I highly recommend you make some time to visit the viewing platform and see the spillway from that angle and then take a quick drive to the other side where you’ll find the Spillway Common. This will give you a totally different perspective on it.

There are several fabulous day use areas.  They are situated at Hamon Cove, Logan Inlet, O’Sheas Crossing and the Spillway Common.  All day use areas have toilets, picnic tables, shelters and free BBQ’s.   Logan Inlet and Cormorant Bay have playgrounds.  All areas are open 7 days a week from 6am – 6pm. Truly perfect for a Sunday picnic and cooling swim.

Also a great spot for a bit of fishing or put in some red claw pots.  Have a sail, kayak, canoe, paddle board or swim.  You will need a boat permit if you want to launch a registered/trailered boat and a fishing permit if you want to drop a line into Wivenhoe Dam. There are two boat ramps.  One at Hamon Cove and one at Logan Inlet, as well as a couple of kayak launch points at O’Sheas Crossing and Atkinson’s Crossing.  Unfortunately, water skiing, jet skiing, wake-boarding and tubing are not permitted but you can enjoy these activities nearby at Lake Atkinson and Lake Somerset which also have fantastic day use areas i.e. toilets, picnic tables, shelters, free BBQ’s.

Boats on Wivenhoe….
  • All vessels are not to exceed 6 knots.
  • All fuel powered vessels must only use low emission outboards/engines, (4 strokes or fuel injected 2 strokes)

If you wish to camp for a couple of days, there are two campgrounds to choose from.  They are both privately operated so you need to contact them for bookings, not SEQ Water. Captain Logan Camp and Lumley Hill Campground are both suitable for caravan, camper trailer or tent but when booking ask manager for recommendation on site to suit your setup.  Some sites are steep and vary in usable camping area; depending on the fall of the land.  Lumley Hill is the only one that has a couple of powered and slabbed sites.  If you are tent camping you will be delighted by the ease of access to tap water.  Pretty much a tap between every two campsites.  You can have a campfire but they must be lit in the wood BBQ areas that are provided.  Fines do apply if you light a randomly placed campfire. Both campgrounds have showers but they are now coin operated.  $1 per 3 minutes.   Cost $25 (peak) & $20 (low) p/night for 1-2 persons for unpowered tent site. It is an extra $8 p/additional person.  Under 5’s are free.  These are busy campgrounds, especially in peak season.  I would strongly recommend booking, not just turning up.

The most special thing about camping at Wivenhoe Dam is the beautiful views of the dam from each and every campsite.  There is heaps of bird life and kangaroos to watch. Sunset and sunrise are peak hour for wildlife as they all head down for a drink.  You can swim and kayak safely without worrying about ski boats and jet skis.  I think this is what makes these campgrounds super family friendly spots. Oh… and trees… lots and lots of trees.

Sad but necessary, domestic pets and other animals are not permitted into any of the catchment areas, lake or recreation areas at Wivenhoe Dam.

Thursday, December 31

35 Tips to keep ice longer in your esky, icebox, cooler or chilly bin when camping.

On the 29/12/2015 a member of the Facebook group: Around the Campfire asked this question.

'Hi, Wanting to know the best way to keep ice in the esky for a longer period of time. Many thanks'.

The response from the group of 25,000 odd people was amazing, there were loads of great tips from experienced campers. You will notice that some tips conflict with other tips, and do not agree with the article we've written on 'How to get the most from your icebox! Get the maximum performance!'
Waeco Cool-Ice 55L icebox WCI-55
The Waeco Cool-Ice WCI-55 Icebox is one of the most popular sizes at Tentworld.
** Note:  Many Australians refer to all iceboxes,  chilly bins and coolers as Eskys.

Esky is a brand of cooler, and generally they do not have much, if any insulation inside them.  They are more suited to parties than for camping trips.

For a camping trip, we recommend a good icebox (known as Chilly Bins to those from NZ)
  1. A good icebox will last twice as long as an esky.
  2. From experience: freeze ice cream containers full of water to make block ice. You can also bust up a some block ice to go on top.  Sprinkle with a little salt. Also, make sure everything you put in the esky is cold before hand. Not warm. Lasts much longer.
  3. Put a handful of salt in the blocks. Stay colder and take longer to melt. The day before, put everything thats going in the esky in the fridge or freezer, also put a couple of spare blocks of ice in the esky. Then leave loading the esky up till the last minute. The esky is always the last thing to go in my car.
  4. Sprinkle salt over the ice or try and get hold of some dry ice.
  5. A good quality esky and block ice also pre cool the esky overnight
  6. Freeze 2 litre milk bottles with water and stand them amongst your food They take a lot longer to melt than ice cubes - if you dont put salt in as people are suggesting you can use it for drinking water.
  7. You can always buy a bag of ice somewhere and top it up every couple of days.
  8. Bottles of ice should last 3 days if its kept out of the sun and in a cool spot.
  9. We place one cube of block ice in the middle of the esky with what ever you need placed around it then cover in normal ice, have even gone to the extent of wrapping a blanket around the esky to keep the heat away...good luck
  10. I found that using old wine cask bladders works well. They seem to insulate well and don't melt fast. Then you have nice cold water to drink too...as long as you wash the bladder out first! I used to half fill them and freeze them flat so they sat neatly at the bottom or up the sides of the esky.
  11. Salt
  12. Make sure you keep in a cool spot, dont open it unless necessary. Use block ice on bottom. Make sure fit is a GOOD quality esky not woolworths junk, boat eskies (iceboxes) are usually the best (thick insulation)
  13. Freeze some big blocks like they say and then get crushed ice.
  14. Freeze water bottles. They pack in neatly and you can drink them after. Mine last approx 2-3 days. Milk bottles with salt also.
  15. Use block ice.
  16. Dont open it as often.
  17. Don't use salt, as having this water in an emergency for drinking can be useful.
  18. If you are using crushed ice, I usually buy a couple of days before and freeze them properly at home because half the time they are melting before you put it in the esky.
  19. We use empty milk containers with salt and water and freeze. Then put your item in your esky and add ice. We also take a 25litre water container and top it up with a block of ice so we have plenty of drinking water that isn't in our esky. The salt water in the water containers we have had ice in our esky for 5-7days.
  20. Block ice lasts much longer than crushed. I hate water all through the esky contents so i prefer ice in a bottle or icecream container etc. I also freeze meat etc before hand and have other contents cold before they go in.
  21. We have never used salt but also never had an issue. Certainly get frozen blocks but also a Hessian bag soaked in water is good to put on top of everything in the esky as keeps it cool as well.
  22. Chuck the esky away, and get an old fridge rip the motor and guts out of it. And use that.. Eskys are no good.. not insulated like fridges.. the ice in my fridge esky is good for 4 to 5 days... just do it you wont look back...!
  23. If you're using block ice open the bung enough so that any melted ice/water drips out . Theres no point trying to keep melted water cold unless your going to drink it. Another bonus is your food wont be swimming!
  24. Buy an actual icebox for meat etc and open twice a day, mine lasts 4 days.
  25. We use to freeze the kids popper drinks and line the bottom and sides of the esky and put everything in the middle then put more frozen poppers on top. ..now we have iceboxes. ..best investment ever..
  26. Forget the salt..it makes the scotch taste bad ...put a wet towel on top.... you can also keep the towel wet by placing a bucket of water on top of the towel and either put a small hole in the bucket or place one end of a tea towel in the bucket and let gravity siphon it out...
  27. We used get block dry ice wrap newspaper round it then pour ice lasted over a week
  28. Put the wet towel on top of the esky and keep wet. Air flowing over the wet towel reduces the actual temp. In the old days food was hung in a canvas device, and kept wet for just this reason. Coolgardie safe was the name.
  29. Trust me on that wet towel trick.... I spent a week near Bourke one summer.... 1 bag of servo bought ice.... i use it on my 12v fridge as well...it doesn't turn on as much
  30. I just run an Engel 12v fridge now so no more soggy snags!. I still take an esky occasionally. Just for beer....only beer... nothing else but beer....mmmmm beer!
  31. If you can get a hold of some foam boxes from Butcher or fish shops use these to cover your esky. Especially the lid, this will help.
  32. I place block ice across the whole bottom of the esky then place a wire mesh shelf across the top.  I then put my food etc on this, and then cover in ice again.  I usually use 2 litre ice cream containers for holding the ice.
  33. We freeze up old 2ltr Tomato sauce and cordial bottles and line the ice box walls and bottom with it then a towel on the bottom stock stuff and pour bag ice over it.
  34. We also take an esky for just drinks, one for food and have the Engel on freeze for our meat.
  35. Clip seal sandwich bags, freeze them one week before u go away, mine last up to 6 days, when you buy bag ice dont open it just put the bag in it will last a lot longer.
I hope you enjoyed these tips from the Around the Campfire community group.

 If you're still looking for more tips on how to get ice to last as long as possible. Make sure you check out our article: 'How to get the most from your icebox! Get the maximum performance!'

Do you have more tips on how to keep ice longer whilst camping? Make sure you drop them in the comments below! Happy Camping! :)