Monday, August 15

What to consider when choosing a campsite - Camping in Australia.

The following article was was written by Alex the director of Tentworld. He draws upon his own experiences from camping in Australia and sheds some helpful tips he's learnt along the way. Enjoy.

Things to consider when choosing a camp site.

Australia has some unique considerations when you are camping. We have heat, occasional floods, sneaky gumtrees and nasty wildlife.

Choosing a good site will eliminate a lot of the problems associated with the above. To give yourself the best chance to choose a good site, look when there is plenty of light. A good example of this applies to me when we found this great site to set up in the back of the campground. The site was beautifully nestled into the trees and a lovely view out across the countryside. We thought it odd that other campers hadn’t gone there and we perhaps thought that others campers had vacated and nobody could be bothered moving. The answer came at about 10pm when the first of the triple header coal trains started coming through every half hour. They were fully loaded large coal trains and they were working hard climbing the range. The ground vibrated under the incredible power being exerted in climbing that range. It would have been a magnificent sight to see such machines working so impressively but it did nothing for sleep that night. Unknowingly, we had chosen to camp within 10 metres of these rail tracks.

A desirable campsite will have a nice flat area with no burrs, no rocks, sheltered among trees (not under them) with a lovely aspect to view. Creek beds are flat and can be very inviting for a campsite but over the years there have been many instances of people being caught by flash flooding even when it hasn’t rained where they are camping. Deaths have even resulted from that event.

High exposed campsites are great for views but they are subject to strong winds and storms which make it difficult to keep tents stable and upright.

Probably the biggest killer in Australia is the gum tree. The problem is that they continuously shed limbs as they renew themselves and grow. When they shed limbs, they do not give any warning at all. In my own case, we were camping at Girraween National Park and it was an early winter night. We were sitting around a fire on a very still evening when a massive limb just hit the ground. There was no indication it was falling and the only sound was when it hit the ground. This limb was 10 metres long and the timber was 15 cm thick at the biggest section with leaves. The limb did not look dead and it still had leaves on most of it. If somebody had been tenting there, they would certainly have been killed or at the least severely injured. Luckily it fell to open ground but it was on the edge of the tenting section and only 50 metres away. There have been many instances of death from gumtrees shedding limbs.

Fortunately, we do not have aggressive animals like lions, tigers or bears but we do have dingoes and snakes. Dingoes are a real presence in established campsites (Fraser Island is well known for this problem). The problem is created by well-meaning people handfeeding wild animals. Generally, dingoes try to isolate children off from the group and then attack. However, a pack can cause an adult to be put under real pressure and it is not unusual for the dingoes to push people out into the ocean with their pack herding techniques. Leaving food in tents is very foolish and even traces of food has resulted in people coming back to site and finding their tent slashed by dingoes searching for food.

Snakes are generally a rare sighting when camping in Australia. The best practice with snakes is to leave them alone and they will go their own way. They are not aggressive generally and would rather flee than fight.


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