Tag Archives: camping

Camping in Freycinet National Park

Rocks at the north end of Friendly Beaches, AustraliaIt’s only after a half-hearted dip and slip down some slimy rocks at the northern end of Friendly Beaches that I read in a guidebook:

Tempting as it may be, it is advised that people do not swim. The water is perishing for much of the year and there are rips.

Water droplets sit on top of goosebumps. I haven’t even wet my hair.

D-man goes for the full submerge. ‘You’ll feel good. It’s not too cold once you’re in,’ he says. I try to recall that sticky heat feeling of our Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach walk, but it’s no good. I can’t do it. I scoop up handfuls of chilly water and shriek and shiver with every torrent that I pour over myself.

It’s done. I’m not convinced that I’m clean, but I’m refreshed. I’m also a little envious of D-man’s submerge; I’d love to feel fresh-haired but I just can’t bring myself to jump in.

Back at camp, wrapped in down jackets, we set up the camping chairs in a sunny spot at the back of our van, and we sip local Pinot Noir and slip lemon juiced oysters out of their shells. A wallaby nibbles on the bush some three metres away, occasionally looking up at us.

Other than the wallaby, we’re alone. Anyone staying the night at this part of the Freycinet National Park has pitched up and retreated to their own little camping coves.

The wind blows my towel off its makeshift hanger for the second time, earlier warnings of an impending storm showing signs of an imminent arrival in a sky top heavy with grey.

Time, then, for one last beach stroll before retreating to the comforts of a camper van.

And time to put away the guidebook. Too late to start caring about warnings at this stage.


What’s your experience of camping in Tasmania? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. 

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Solo glamping(ish)

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Kinda camping

The campsite owner was just shutting up the office when I arrived.

You’re in the red tipi. You’re here’, she said, circling a spot on a map, ‘here’s the kitchen, the bathrooms, the pool. And there’s your tipi. Is it just you?’

‘Yep, just me’.

I wished I’d said ‘No, a friend is coming later’, but the words had jumped out of my mouth and she’d written a bold, black 1 on the form that I was to hang outside the tipi.

Too late. Don’t overthink the safety implications.

At the tipi I went in to explore.  There was a double bed, a sofa, a single bed, a table. Stand-up space. Electrics. Call this camping? Pah! But maybe there is something to this new craze of glamping it up. Keep an open mind.

I tried the light. It didn’t work.

‘Do you have a spare bulb?’ I asked, back at reception, now barred closed. She brought out a new light.

Back at camp I plugged it in. It didn’t work. I scouted around outside for cables leading to plug points and, you know, I managed to sort it out. By myself.

I settled on down to an evening of thoughts and writing, of cooking instant noodles in the base of a perculator because I’d not brought any pots or pans, of perching a chair on a rotting wooden platform outside of my tipi and looking past the red glow of my tent, up through the bare branches at a waxing moon whilst I sipped on a camping cup of wine and ate mi goring.  And I was content.

$55, apparently, can buy you such a moment.

Tomorrow I’d get back on the ferry, cross back over the Richmond River, head back to Ballina. For now, though, I was taking a break from share house headspins and expat aches and busy-ness. It was back to just me and upgraded basics, for a moment.

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Queensland goodbyes and mischief making

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Queensland Roadtrip Day 10: Isla Gorge National Park – Ballina (693km)

There was no sign of the boys when I awoke.

The sun was shining light on another blue sky day and I saw that we’d pitched the tents on dusty, rocky road, the route into the Isla Gorge lookout. As with many of the Queensland National Parks that we’d stopped off at in the last two weeks there was an undercover area and a seated long drop, fairly recently completed, it would seem.

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Camp wake-up

I heard voices. The boys had returned.

‘The views are amazing’, said D-man, pointing me in the direction of the lookout. Breath hung in the still morning air.

I took the camera and went for an early morning wander, past the lookout, along a pathway that seemed to lead to a forever that was tempting me on and on.  I didn’t have any water. I was wearing flip-flops. I had no phone (and no reception had I even had a phone in my possession). In Australia, a land full of snakes and spiders and sun that can kill, I disappointingly had to be measured. Boring and responsible. I headed back to camp, away from a precipice walk and vast views across a gaping gorge.

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Isla Gorge

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And the path goes on…

Back on the road we cut through rocky hillsides and rolling landscapes dotted with tall, lightly canopied trees and past trucks pulling trailers of oversized tires until we arrived in Taroom, where we pleasantly breakfasted at BJ Coffee Shop before starting the journey reenergised and suitably caffeinated.

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Heavy load

But I was drained, and whilst I hate to admit that I missed out on moments of Australian countryside splendour, I happily spent the next section of the journey dropping in and out of a light sleep. Maybe I was sensing the end of this trip – this travel adventure – and my mind was digesting the sights and sounds of the last ten days? Chinchilla and Dalby, with their farm machinery and posh utes did little to deter me from dozing some more, and my response to the sign stating Watch for 36 metre road trains was simply (and unusually) a shrug of fate acceptance.

It was unfortunate timing, but by the time I was awake and chatty and ready to observe the changing scenery we seemed to have arrived into a monotony of recently flooded farm land and continuous roadworks. So far, this inland route through Queensland had been full of well-maintained roads cutting across a quiet and striking isolation, but between Waru and Dalby we inched along past yet more empty fields to the tune of road repair trucks and the whir of a struggling air conditioning system. It wasn’t a moment for travel awe.

Thank goodness, then, for walkie talkies, a boy gadget that D-man had gleefully bought for our Eclipse 2012 festival excursion which now proved to have other purposes: to provide entertainment and speed on our journey. At a stop sign we looked towards another sign and then switched our walkie talkies to Channel 78.

‘We’ve got a white Mazda at the north end, happy to authorise access? Over.’ We tested.

‘Come on through. Over.’

It worked, which was somewhat unfortunate for those labourers because for the next few hours we probably caused all sorts of innocent chaos and confusion.  We immersed ourselves in local road building culture. We asked questions about progress and demanded timescales. We waved at the authorising workmen and thanked them, via walkie talkie, as we drove on by. We should have (maybe) known better and behaved far more maturely but time on the road can do funny things to your attitude and behaviour so that you end up doing things you might never do back when you had a responsible job and a mortgage and were functioning in a society of consideration.

Ah, cut us some slack. No one was hurt.

And so, with some mischief and a raft of memories from our Queensland road trip, we arrived back to New South Wales, homeward bound for Ballina. Just like that, it was over.

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Going big

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Queensland Roadtrip Day 4: Cape Hillsborough National Park, Nr. Seaforth – Cairns (715km)

It all started with a giant mango. Sorry, a big mango. By all accounts, it was giant. It’s all relative. Or a matter of lexis. Or something.

Actually, the day started with a relaxed breakfast. Problems, of course, came later. But for now the three of us sat down to a fluffy banana and blueberry pancake feast and a mug of percolated coffee. Bursts of tastebud bliss.

Day 4 was about completing the bulk of our journey north and getting to the provincial city of Cairns. We knew it would be a long day but it had to be done: we were meeting people there that night.

Significant stops started with the Big Mango. Yep.

I’d heard and read about Australia’s quirky obsession with all things big – pineapples, prawns, and mangos (evidently) – so now was the time to immerse myself in some big stuff culture.

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Me and the giant… err… mango (but I’m thinking James and the Giant Peach…)

Ironically, we couldn’t buy any real size, real life mangos but hey, let’s not complain: I got a photo (ah, just get stuck into the silliness) and had a breather from cramped car time.

Across the road from a beach that without sunshine looked dull and grey, The Big Mango enjoyed a constant trickle of tourists taking two second photos before continuing on their journeys. We were now not too far from the town of Bowen whose role in Baz Lurhmann’s recent Australia film (starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman) had pushed up the profile of this small coastal hub.

But we had no time for film buff stuff, only Big Mangos and big cities. So onwards, to Cairns.

And then a bit of a  clearer run, just us and a lot of truckers, it seemed, cruising alongside train tracks and cane tracks, past coverings of yellow-brown grassy tufts and spindly trees, some of which boasted an attempt at a green-brown canopy explosion.

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Cane tracks or train tracks?

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Cane train crossing

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Not too welcoming

Leaving my wallet in the bathroom in Townsville service station marked midday, although quietly because it wasn’t until we were 2 ½ hours on, right up by Cardwell, that I realised my loss. Or my stupidity. Well, both. Dammit. My improved health high had obviously impacted on my ability to stay switched on. It could have been worse. I could have, for example left my Eclipse festival tickets at home (yes, at the same time of my wallet realisation, someone, somewhere in Cairns – no names – had the horrible realisation that their tickets were tucked up in their bedside table draw some 1,800km away. It’s all relative).

Late afternoon we drove on towards mist covered mountains, through Euromo and Tully and still further on through plateaued valleys, Cairns feeling as far away as on any other day.

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The skies get ready to pour

Dark and damp kicked in until finally we were there: through winding roads and ineffective windscreen wipers we saw the approach to the relative calm of Cairns.

Parking down at the esplanade, we stepped out of the car. I felt too grubby to be in the city, somewhat unkempt after four days and nights camping and road tripping up the north coast of Australia, yet a little giddy shiver shot up my body as my feet touched down on the pavement. The Far North Coast. We’d made it.

I took in a deep lungful of Cairns’ warm breath and went to get lost in amongst sparkling lights and people spilling out of cafes and bars.

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Fluid definitions of friendliness

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Queensland Roadtrip Day 2: Brooyar State Forest -Byfield State Forest (563km)

I have a hunch that should I ever get the chance to converse with wallabies, I’d find them to be quite friendly creatures. Gentle, but friendly. I just get that vibe.

But on this Thursday morning me and the boys were on a mileage mission so chit-chat stop-offs with mobs of these macropods had to be forgone, and instead I stuck my feet up on the dashboard and settled down for a long day on the road, watching the occasional wallaby roadside bop as we bounced back along the mud tracks of Brooyar State Forest, back onto the Bruce Highway.

Read on! (+more pics)

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Two dogs and a snake stick

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Morning has broken

‘Here,’ she said, ‘take my snake stick. I’ve got a few. Be careful and beat the ground like this…’ She lifted the stick and brought its stout tip to the ground –thud thud – then rustled the grasses of her camp set up.

A little earlier I’d zipped back the tent doors to reveal a rolling hill clearing in the forest, three other tents dotted in undefined camp spots, some sleepy souls emerging into the gentle morning sunlight.

Read on! (+more pics)

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The issue of not being on time

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Queensland Roadtrip Day 1: Ballina, NSW – Brooyar, Queensland (381km)

Our race to beat the setting sun was a lost cause.

If only we’d set off earlier, as planned then we might have got pitched in daylight. If only we’d not taken a diversion to put our pennies into the honesty boxes of roadside stalls in exchange for avocados and potatoes and tomatoes, if only the calamari at Brunswick Fish Co-Op hadn’t called out to stomachs that lightly rumbled barely thirty minutes into the journey, if only the super supermarket conveniently positioned right on the highway at Gympie hadn’t reminded us of forgotten necessities, well, maybe then we would have gotten to Brooyar State Forest on time.

But, hang on! This is holiday time, time off from being on time. 

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Queensland Roadtrip Day 1: Still a long way to go… what adventures are up ahead?

We could have stopped off somewhere sooner, somewhere closer to the road. Brooyar was an en-route decision, a decision that took us away from concrete and the last light of day, down a long, pitted dirt track into an expanse of rain forest and a scattering of gum trees. Glastonbury Creek Camp. Arrived.

And realistically  setting up camp and cooking in the dark was more of an adventure than a problem, three concentrated explorers equipped with head torches, hammers, high spirits and unspoken coordination.

Tents up, kick back, eat easy food, say goodnight to the glow of neighbouring fires, switch off the lights and lie beneath a light sheet.

Listen to the darkness.

And fall into a fresh air sleep full of dreams about what this place might look like by day.

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