The southern extremities are an awesome yet largely miusunderstood and remote part of Australia. You could even say that Bight country, lashed as it is by regular thrashings of banshee-like Southern Ocean storms, is largely forsaken. It's for this reason, if travelling there, you should probably pack light. Here are ten fundamental items you should have in your inventory when hitting the southern coast.
1. AN ADDITIONAL 72 HOURS OF FOOD AND WATER
The key here is to plan for the worst. Your life — and that of your family — is what could be at risk. Fundamentals are not the things that make you look pretty. For my money, water in three different vessels (in case one or more leak) is a ‘no brainer’. Food is a personal choice – but be practical. An emergency is not the time for champagne and caviar. I carry 1kg of rice, 1kg of flour and an emergency ration from the army disposal store. Not to mention a little salt and sugar to add to a damper or to act as an emergency electrolyte.
2. A REAL MAP NOT AN APP
Batteries are for toys. Even the Army teaches that a GPS is a navigational aid — not the primary source. Looking at your phone or in-built dash device won’t tell you where the nearest water is, what the gradient is like, let alone soil conditions — sand, wetland, forest etc. Only a true topographical map does this , combined with the knowledge on how to read it. Armed with a real map, when the chips are down you can be the wolf — not a sheep.
3. PERSONAL SURVIVAL KIT
The most important bit of kit in the bush would have to be a decent personal survival kit that’s properly thought-out. I make sure mine is adapted to the terrain I’m intending to cover — whether that’s marine or desert, etc — because ‘one size’ will never fit all circumstances. And I try to ensure that whatever I carry has multiple uses. Just think of cordage for example: why use simple nylon cord when parachute cord can be used for heavy tying and can also be stripped down and its inner cords used as tying fibre, fishing line or sewing thread? A good snake bite kit is a part of this.
4. SENSE OF ADVENTURE
If the survival kit didn’t give it away, we’re not what you might call ‘sheep-le’. We love and abide by the tenets of ‘leave no trace’, and we’re committed to really exploring what the outdoors has to offer – both with our eyes and our mind. There’s no point in hitting the roads and heading into the great outdoors if our attitude is jaded and we’ve decided that we know it all before we’ve even left. So it’s important to reach for our inner-child and recover our sense of wonder. Give it a go – you may be surprised at what you’ll find.
5. BUG-OUT BAG
Even James Bond gets into trouble — sometimes. A Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) is an extension of your Personal Survival Kit and could be called a ‘vehicle survival kit’ or a ‘Get out of Dodge bag’. Regardless of what you call it, it’s the portable bag that contains all the gear you would need to survive for up to 72 hours. Imagine if your tow tug caught fire somewhere beyond the Black Stump — what would you grab first? If you’re prepared, the choice is easy. It’s the Bug-Out Bag.
6. PLB / EPIRB (PERSONAL LOCATING BEACON)
We never leave home without one and it’s the only thing on our list that uses an external energy source. After all the money we spend on the tow tug and camper, a PLB is a relatively minor cost to achieve peace of mind. Statistics indicate that you’ll be rescued within 72 hours of authorities becoming aware that you’re missing. Rescue time will be reduced to 24 hours, and usually less than 12 hours, if you activate your PLB which is GPS-equipped and registered. So position yourself in the best situation to be rescued, activate your PLB and wait in-situ (in the shade).
7. SELF SUFFICIENCY
Wild food harvesting, foraging, fishing or hunting — or whatever takes your fancy. The ability to source one’s own food offers a real sense of satisfaction. With a family, it’s a great way to educate kids on where food comes from and it breeds a sense of nurture and protection for the environment upon which we all depend. Based on our judgment about the opportunities for self-sufficiency on our planned trip, we take fishing gear, firearms, crab traps, etc.
8. DRESSING FOR THE CONDITIONS
You remember heading back into the office after a break and greeting the work mate who looks like a cooked lobster? Long sleeves and long pants are the rule-of-thumb for the bush. And similar rules apply to the beach. It also makes sense to pack a good set of boots rather than loafers — and a good broad-brimmed hat rather than a baseball cap. And, always tucked in the back of the rig is a set of gaiters. After all, living on a landmass that hosts more deadly snakes than anywhere else on the planet, a decent set of Snake Guardz makes a lot of sense
9. CANOPY CHAIR
This is a decedent luxury — but with reason. There are all sorts of camp chairs out there. And when we started camping as a kid, it was enough to simply set our bum on the ground. Many of us have chairs with beverage holders, cooler bags, iPad holders and ultra-cushioning. For our money, a chair with a canopy shelters us from the sun, wind and rain. It also reflects the heat of a campfire keeping us toasty when the evening chill sets in. We like the Renetto Canopy Chair with a set of back straps so the whole thing can be thrown over the shoulders leaving hands free for Eskies, fishing gear and little ones — pure genius.
In all of this, the cardinal rule is to be completely sensible, take adequate precautions, avoid unnecessary risky situations, err on the side of caution, and tell people where you’re going. And never fish, 4WDrive, bushwalk, bird watch or hunt alone. After all, it’s always better to share the experience with family and friends. Besides, they can help dig you out of a bog, check the yabby trap and share the view. Enjoy your adventure with your family and you’ll create an ongoing legacy of outdoor enthusiasts.