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why go camping? your why may determine the how and your gear!


  • people have many reasons why they might want to go camping:
    • they need to camp to be at a desired destination such as a beach or river to cool off for summer or a photography / fishing destination without having to continually negotiate holiday traffic on daily commutes or the commutes would be too far
    • they want to challenge themselves in nature without having access to all the comforts of home
    • they want to take challenging themselves to a larger extent by hiking in remote areas on multi-day hikes
    • they want to challenge themselves in their 4WD driving and recovery skills
    • they want to enjoy the comraderie of fellow campers or 4WDers and perhaps have a yarn around a camp fire
    • they just want to escape from their usual world, get in touch with nature and chill out for a bit
    • some want to go for the survivalist experience with minimal gear - perhaps just a tarp, some paracord and basic fire making gear
      • in nice weather this might be fine and fun if there are no bugs or bears around, but when weather turns, whilst it may give a sense of achievement and an adrenaline rush, its not going to be fun, comfortable nor will you get a good night's sleep and in fact you probably will be cold, wet, miserable and hungry most of the time
    • some just want to gaze at the glory of the Milky Way in a remote area without light pollution and count the meteors as they fall and realise how small we all are in the scheme of things

Chilling out with nature

  • the most popular reason to go camping is to escape from the stresses of the normal working world and indulge in time out to connect with nature:
    • exploring new trails and sights on short walks or drives
    • observing wild animal, bird and insect behaviours not to mention the fascinating array of insects that you may find such as stick insects
    • listening to a myriad of different bird songs and trying to identify the species
    • taking in the ambience and smells of nature such as Australia's lemon scented gums and other eucalypts
    • searching for wild flowers such as native orchids
    • read a book
    • “forest bathe” - just enjoy the ambience of laying down in a forest - perhaps inside a 2P mozzie tent if there are insects around
    • watching the sun rise and go down across a lake or over mountainous vistas
    • enjoy the the smell and sound of rain on your tent
      • a tent with clear PVC or TPU doors takes this to the next level as you can watch the rain in comfort while being protected from wind chill and the rain
      • a hot tent with a wood stove adds a further dimension to this experience - and allows you to dry out any wet gear
    • at night, you can:
      • allow yourself to become mesmerized by the dancing of the flames in your camp fire as you chat away with fellow campers
      • taking in the magic of a rural night sky ablaze with a myriad of stars punctuated by fast moving meteors (“falling stars”) and man made satellites drifting across the sky
        • the Milky Way is particularly dramatic in Australia from April to October
        • if you are lucky, you may also be able to photograph aurorae or comets (you may need binoculars to find comets if they are around)
      • observe nocturnal wildlife using night vision cameras
      • catch up on your sleep
  • getting caught in severe wind storms, thunderstorms, floods, or bushfires is NOT chilling out with nature! Change your plans!
  • busy peak periods such as long weekends can adversely impact your ambience - traffic can spread a lot of dust from adjacent gravel roads a long way and you get the very bright lights and noise of many 4WDs even overnight
    • choose your camp ground carefully to take this into consideration if it is important to you - better still, avoid peak periods!

Social activities

  • many go camping to re-connect with family and friends, or meet new acquaintances
  • learn new skills from fellow campers and share experiences and knowledge
  • there are many group games popular at camp grounds such as:
    • card games like Sequence or 500
    • bocce or similar style games
    • camp fire games such as Murder mystery games, shirades, guess the song
  • some just love to crank the music up and have a drink and perhaps dance (be aware that this can be risky around a camp fire)
    • be aware that this may impact others especially if after 10pm - if this is what you like doing, go to a remote camp site with your friends or find like-minded campers

Action activities

  • many go camping with a prime goal of enjoying action activities such as:
    • explore the area - old gold mining relics, remnants of rural life long gone, or just take in the beauty of nature and wildlife
    • hiking
    • rock climbing
    • cycling
    • boating / kayaking / jet skis
    • dirt bike riding or challenging 4WD drives through forest plantation trails
    • fishing
    • surfing
    • swimming

Getting away from civilisation and traveling to a remote area

overnight hiking

  • this obviously requires:
    • a degree of fitness
    • appropriate gear
    • hiking and some bushcraft knowledge
    • backup systems for help
    • transport to get to the start and end points
  • pros:
    • more mobile as less gear to get ready
    • far less cost compared with 4WD adventures
    • no need to worry about vehicle recovery gear or techniques
    • can get to places not even 4WDers can get to and that means getting reliably to solitude and not finding there is already a pack of 4WDers there
  • cons:
    • can't hike to every place a 4WDer can get to
    • very dependent upon weather conditions and integrity of gear
    • much less comfort and amenity than car camping
  • most people will just do overnight hikes:
    • less food and water to carry
    • less risks as not so far to get back to the start if things go wrong
    • can carry heavier and less expensive hiking tents and gear
  • some will want the challenge of multi-day hikes or even long through hikes
    • requires more food and water to carry
    • greater risks as more remote if things go wrong and weather forecasts change
    • need to carry much lighter and thus more expensive gear such as Dyneema cuben fibre tents or tarps
  • others may want to go into survivalist mode:
    • this requires finding unlimited food, water, shelter, fire for the duration often with minimal supplies
    • requires significant fitness and bushcraft

2WD car camping

  • limited to destinations with good road access and in good weather conditions
  • but still can get to many nice destinations such as Tidal River at Wilsons Prom, most of the Grampians camp grounds, etc
  • will struggle and risk getting stuck or damaged on rutted gravel roads specially with their lower clearance and sandy or muddy conditions are definitely out
  • snow might be possible with chains fitted but not really a great option

AWD car camping

  • can get to a lot more places with minimal risk and medium costs
  • as you will only be sticking to bitumen or reasonable gravel roads you need only the basic recovery gear
  • can take larger and heavier tents for much more amenity than hikers have and with better protection from storms
  • cons:
    • AWD vehicles are not really suited to serious off-road conditions and will thus limit access and may cause frustration

Micro-overlanding with short wheelbased 4WDs

  • cheaper fun vehicles and less gear than 4WD makes a nice compromise if you you only doing weekenders and don't need all the gear and you are solo
  • such a small, light vehicle with a 1.5L engine won't be towing a large 4WD out of trouble
  • short wheel base allows better approach and departure angles which can get you to secret spots where large 4WDs can't get there
  • eg. Suzuki Jimny
  • cons:
    • limited space for gear
    • limited distance range on a tank - can get extended range fuel tank
    • not great at 110kph - manual needs a 6th gear
    • fuel economy not great when fully loaded and with better larger offroad tyres
    • probably no room for gas bottles so perhaps a butane gas cooker
    • only one passenger fits
    • tend to have a higher risk of rollover
    • shakes a lot in the wind
    • noisy - no insulation
    • minimal electronics
    • poor rear visibility
    • engine gets very dirty easily as lots of space in there
    • no space for take away foods or other items


  • the ultimate for many adventurers who want to challenge their skills to get to remote places - usually with a convoy to assist in recovery
  • height advantage allows awnings to be more functional height than with most 2WD or AWD cars
  • pros:
    • much more amenity - shade awnings, fridges, more water available, showers, more extensive cooking facilities
    • can get down tracks or onto beaches which are inaccessible to other vehicles
    • can carry heavier, bulkier sleeping options such as swags, rooftop tents or vans
  • cons:
    • VERY expensive hobby!
      • a reasonable set up will be $80,000-200,000
      • very high risk of vehicle damage which may not be coverable by insurance
      • components fail rapidly or at least wear out perhaps 4x faster than normal if you go through mud or water crossings
      • lots of gear needed, in particular, recovery gear, fridges, spare parts, batteries, gas bottles, 50-100L water, cooking gear, etc
      • corrugated roads add to the damage risk to gear and vehicle
      • fuel consumption costs are higher
      • most keen 4WDers will make substantial after-market vehicle modifications
      • many will add a trailer or van
    • more dangerous
      • recoveries are by their nature dangerous - you are playing with lines under very high levels of tension often with vehicles in precarious positions on rocky hillsides
    • you need to have 4WD skills and vehicle repair/recovery knowledge
    • you need to be fairly strong
      • everything is heavier including tyre changes, gear on the roof, etc.
    • you are going to get dirty!
    • you should not be going alone as recovery may not be possible
    • you are leaving very expensive gear exposed to theft if you decide to go on a walk
    • tend to do a lot of driving and sitting which is not good for your health or your back
australia/camping_why.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/10 16:01 by gary1

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