The words ‘epic adventure’ are like music to any eager camper’s ears! Yep, just the mere mention of an exciting journey is enough to get the blood pumping for most of us. So when we tell you we’ve got the inside word on exactly how you can squeeze every last drop of fun out of your next offroad outing, I bet you’ll either be hanging off the edge of your chair or pacing around in circles like four-month-old pup! Okay, so maybe you’re not quite that excited but you get the point, right? Either way, we reckon that, after reading this article, you’ll not only be raring to go bush, but you’ll be equipped with everything you need to know to make your next trip the best camping adventure you’ve ever had!
It’s a big call, we know, but here’s a question for you – where else can you get exclusive advice from the industry’s top-rated camper touring experts? Whether you’re new to the camping scene or you’re a full-blown adventure junkie, these are the tips, tricks and techniques you’ve been yearning to find out about.
JUSTIN AND SARAH MONTESALVO, PATRIOT CAMPERS
PLAN FOR PERFECTION
Make sure you allow enough time to prepare for the trip. You’ll want enough time to research and plan exactly where you’re going, and pay attention to road closures, weather conditions and ferry crossing times before you leave home.
Where possible, call ahead to book any specific camping spots you want. And you’d be surprised at what a difference it makes to your fun-factor if you research any must-dos like awesome 4WD tracks or swimming holes ahead of time.
An inventory list for your vehicle and trailer’s contents will come in extremely handy. If you run out or break something on the road, you can look at your list and quickly know exactly what needs replacing. It sure beats wasting time racking your brain at the shops, and you can spend that extra time hitting the tracks!
An awesome fire is, hands down, the key to a successful campsite. People will sit talking around a fire for hours. So pack the chainsaw or axe, plan out where you can stock up on good hard wood along the way and put the effort in to get it right. Oh, and you’ll definitely need music back at camp, so don’t forget the tunes and a speaker.
MATHEW CLARINGBOLD, VEHICLE COMPONENTS
SET DEADLINES AND PRIORITISE YOUR TO-DO LIST
Like most campers, I tend to write a comprehensive to-do list, but the trick is to ensure that each task also has a completion date! That way, not everything is left to the last minute, causing stress and delays.
When it comes to planning my route, I usually start by deciding on the end goal or final destination, then I trace out some interesting routes with my finger on a good map. The next step is to plan out my stops. I like to be setting up camp before dusk to avoid driving or setting up at night, so I’ll plan my route based on daylight driving hours.
RESEARCH AT HOME AND ON THE ROAD
I tend to use the Camps Australia Wide guide as it has GPS coordinates and some useful comments. It’s a great tool for finding free campsites. Also, you’ll find most industry magazines have calendars of events which I always check before I leave, too.
It’s hard to beat my old friend Google when it comes to finding out what attractions a town has to offer, but tuning into the local radio station can also be an extremely useful source of accurate info as well.
One lesson we’ve learnt is that the co-pilot always determines the time to change drivers, not the driver, because just about every driver ‘is fine’ when asked for a switch. If travelling in convoy, travel at your own pace and let your touring group know if you are struggling to keep up. And for the sanity and safety of all – stay out of the dust cloud!
Do your assigned tasks without being asked and always be ready to assist anyone at any time. If the terrain is difficult, check in with your group about their levels of comfort and experience. Novices require patience and a calming supportive influence; it has to be fun for all. I tend to focus on the happiness of the group first, before my own.
STEVE ZAMMIT, EZYTRAIL CAMPERS
increase storage. You can save weight and space by sharing the load between several vehicles. Things like having one barbecue plate that’ll cook for the whole group instead of four different ones makes a lot of sense. Plus, heavy items like drag chains, Tirfor winches and hi-lift jacks can also be shared.
MAXIMISE YOUR AVAILABLE SPACE
If your camper is fitted with two 9kg gas cylinders, you may want to remove one and its holder to make way for more creative storage.
A single 9kg cylinder will provide gas for cooking and hot showers for several weeks for two or three people. I have seen this space used for storing an Ozpig, portable toilets, bags of firewood and many other items.
Camper drawers are always square or rectangular and, to maximise their storage efficiency, look for specialised camping gear. There are square dinner plates available, rectangular serving trays and even pots and pans that are stackable square items like those from Smartspace Cookware.
KEEP THE KIDS OCCUPIED
This can be as simple as downloading apps on your smartphone for tracking stars and satellites, or bringing a portable outdoor cinema.
Evenings are a great time to take a peek at the local wildlife so pack a couple of good quality torches and some red cellophane too.
EASY MEAL PREP
Pre-cooking meals and freezing them to be cryovac-packed is great for those long days when you don’t feel like cooking. Stews and casseroles are by far the easiest. Just cook them up, freeze them in single serve size containers then pop them out and vacuum pack them. When you’re ready to eat them, just boil them up in the bag, cut it open and serve.
DANIEL EVERETT, 4X4 AUSTRALIA
KNOW YOUR CAMPSITE
This should be obvious by now but, if you’re planning on heading somewhere, spend 10 minutes studying a map and finding out what is in the area. That left turn into the bush could be a dead-end – or it could lead to one of the best swimming holes you’ll ever find and you’ll kick yourself later if you miss it.
No campsite needs 10 gas cookers. If you’re heading off with a big group of people, plan on doing a bit of communal cooking. It’ll cut down on the amount of gear everyone needs to bring and it will liven up the campsite every night.
While you’re at it, why not make turn it into a bit of a cooking competition?
You’ll never find yourself at camp wishing you had 300mm less rope. A bundle of cheap stuff always comes in handy, ready to be cut into a makeshift clothes line, for holding down an extra tarp or for a DIY wheel alignment… don’t ask!
DON’T RELY ON A CAMPFIRE FOR COOKING
There’s nothing worse than rolling into camp an hour after dusk only to find there’s no wood, and only a cold dinner in your future. You’d pay $100 for a $20 cooker when that happens, so grab one now and keep it stashed in the drawers for when you need it.
Check out the full feature in issue #103 June 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.