Remote area camping
By Steven Pike
Preparation is important when considering a camping trip. If that trip means heading into isolated areas then planning becomes crucial.
One of the first things to do is check the weather a week or so before you leave and then try and obtain a forecast for the period you will be visiting the area. Flooding and bushfires are two things that occur frequently enough in some of the remote parks and camping areas in my home State to make an updated weather forecast a must. Extremes in weather conditions are usually seasonal, so plan your trip accordingly.
Next up, you must have a reliable vehicle. It does not have to be state of the art or the latest model, but you need a vehicle that will do the job safely and comfortably. It has to be mechanically sound so have it checked prior to leaving. Have all worn or damaged parts replaced and take spare parts with you. If you are like me and are completely hopeless when it comes to all things mechanical, find a good mechanic and tell him where you intend to go and the hardships your car is likely to face. This will help him make sure everything is in order.
It is a fact though, that nowadays the cars are very technical and gone are the days when it was possible (not for me) to change parts on the side of the road. If you have a modern vehicle then the reliability of the vehicle is very much in the hands of the manufacturer and your mechanic.
Be aware of the country in which you will be travelling. Don't attempt to negotiate 4wd tracks in a conventional vehicle for obvious reasons. The track may be OK on the way in, but if it rains you may be stuck. Conventional vehicles are not good on sand either, so give the beach driving a miss.
It's the same old story here; before you leave, let a family member know where you are going and the day you are due back.
Carry your mobile phone with you. It probably won't work at your intended spot, but it could be helpful whilst travelling there and back if you run into trouble of some sort.
Serious travellers will have a CB radio. This allows them to contact other travellers, emergency services and truck drivers, all three great sources of assistance if you should need it.
If here you are heading is devoid of any natural water, then you need to take enough for drinking, eating, cooking and washing. I don't think you can ever carry too much water. Plastic jerry cans are probably the most popular way to carry water. Just how much you will need per person per day will depend on a number of different things. The weather, availability of water on site, how much you drink, whether water is available on site for washing (some water is OK for washing, but no good for drinking), etc.
There are water bags that can be carried in vehicles which allow you to store lots of water. One brand available sits across the width of the car, in the rear foot wells. It holds about 150 litres (about 40 gallons). It also helps to evenly distribute the weight of the water, which has to be a consideration.
Always take more water than you think you will need.
As with water, take as much as you need, plus a bit more. You can always bring home the excess with you.
Long life foods, such as canned and dried goods, are a sensible inclusion because of the obvious advantages. This type of food is also relatively inexpensive, so it's possible to have a substantial stock pile in case of emergencies.
Equipment is always a touchy subject because everyone has their own opinion. When visiting remote locations, careful consideration needs to given to what gear you take. The weather conditions are often completely different to those areas closer to home. In summer in the more arid regions here, it can be several degrees warmer during the day and a lot colder at night. So it is necessary to consider shelter from the sun during the day using a portable shade of some kind and maybe a tarpaulin to prevent the hot wind from sucking every bit of moisture out of you. During the night you will need a very warm sleeping bag. Summer is fire danger season, so a campfire won't be allowed, so consider warm clothing. It seems silly at the time, packing jumpers and trousers when it's 35 degrees outside, but at night you will need them.
In coastal areas, the range between maximum and minimum temperatures is less, so it is more comfortable, as a general rule. The wind however, can be a problem and trying to find a sheltered location on a remote coast is often not easy. You may have to rely on the trusty tarpaulin again or a similar makeshift shelter. Be certain to tie it down well.
Rapid changes in the weather are also to be expected near the coast and large bodies of inland water. Think about your wet weather gear, even if it is summer.
Be selective when it comes to a location. Don't visit a desert national park in the summer for example. It will be so hot during the day that you will not feel like doing anything except sitting in the shade. Winter and spring are great seasons for the desert areas. The days are comfortable and the landscape is not so devoid of life.
Be wary of winter along the coast. Some of the winter storms can be nasty, blowing gales and relentless rain. Both will dampen your spirits quickly.
Don't forget to take lots of firewood with you. Collection of it is prohibited in the parks and reserves of South Australia to prevent the destruction of the local wildlife habitat. Take kindling as well as the logs; it makes starting the fire easier. You can cook almost anything over a campfire and if you have a camp oven then cooking becomes very easy.
Be aware of you local fire restrictions and stick by them.
First Aid Kit
You will rarely need one of these (hopefully0 but they are a must have. It should be well equipped with bandages, band aids, antiseptic spray and cream, eye washer, safety pins, scissors, tweezers (never forget the tweezers), pain relief tablets, insect repellent and a needle and thread. Most come with all this and more; the more in it the better.
Although I have yet managed to avoid any serious injuries, small niggling things tend to happen when camping that can be uncomfortable. A bee sting, apart from hurting lots even at my age, can be easily fixed by removing the sting with the tweezers. Same with prickles and thorns and, believe it or not, the tiny bits if fish fin that you get stuck in your fingers and thumbs and don't notice till the days end! If you have kids with you, the tweezers will be invaluable, removing the above-mentioned nasties and well as splinters, a favourite among kids.
The old adage "you can fix anything with a band aid" rings true here. Put a band aid on it and the kids, and some adults, are immediately comforted.
Other equipment for visiting remote areas may include a compass, binoculars even a GPS system or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). The list is endless and it will depend on the area and what you intend doing there. It's all about taking what you need for the location and what you will need if things do not go according to plan.
Think ahead and be prepared as best you can and you are sure to have a hassle free trip.
About the Author
Steven Pike spends all of his spare time visiting country areas of his home State, South Australia, taking photographs. His interest in nature extends into the areas of camping and fishing, but his focus is on the magnificence of nature. He hopes to portray some of this beauty in his photographs and encourage people to view their surrounds in a different light.
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