Well, we’re home, and I’m trying to settle in to the work routine again – and playing far too much spider solitaire!!
But as Doc keeps saying : The end of one adventure is just the start of the count down until the next one.
In the meantime, it’s time to reflect on the holiday, what went wrong, what went right and what we’d do differently next time. So here are the top ten things I’ve learned while camping
- Listen to experience, in the big things as well as the small. While shopping for our trip Doc picked up a couple of rolls of paper towels. “We’ll need these” he said “for wiping up spills and things.” He has paper towels in the pantry at home too. They’ve been there since before I moved in because I don’t like them. I’d rather use a cloth that you can rinse out and use again. But it wasn’t something important enough to argue and they don’t take up much room, so we bought them, and brought them along. And they’ve been invaluable. At the other end of the scale I’ve seen people roll their cars because they thought they could pick a better line across the creek than the people who had done it before them. Not a good time to prove yourself!
- At the same time, don’t listen to people who tell you something is not worth seeing. Everybody has different taste and one person’s paradise is another’s purgatory. It’s the things you don’t do or don’t see you regret, so if you’ve come this far you might as well see what you came for. If you don’t like it then turn around and go to the next place. You’ve lost nothing, and as somebody else said “you’ll never, never know if you never, never go”.
- Roughing it doesn’t mean dumbing down. You can still have some luxuries, but be sensible. My must haves are real coffee out of china mugs, and decent wine drunk out of real glass. But when you’re driving over very rough roads and storage space is at a premium, bottled wine is not a good idea, so I’ve found a very drinkable Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc that comes in environmentally friendly containers, sort of like juice or milk containers. Much better than having to go to cask wine or decant my bottled wine into aluminium drink containers, which were Doc’s suggestions.
- If you’re in the tropics and there’s water, there’ll be frogs. Make sure you check the toilet before you sit down, including under the seat. Having a frog jump on your bum is not a pleasant surprise, especially in the middle of doing what you went there for. The same applies to other wildlife, where ever you are. Just because they’re wild doesn’t mean they stick to the bush. Be aware.
- Bush turkeys mate with their humans for life. Everywhere we’ve been on this trip as soon as we pull up to camp, there’s our bush turkey waiting to greet us, and when we’ve packed up again it comes to say goodbye. Or au revoir. It’s been with us since Mackay and travelled up the whole of Cape York and back again.
- Go with the flow. The whole point of holidays is to de-stress, so relax, things will happen regardless of what you do. There’s no point in planning to make up some time on a 4WD track. You might leave early, but you’ll get to the first creek crossing and there’ll be half a dozen cars there in front of you. All walking the track, and discussing it, and walking it again before very cautiously proceeding. They’ll get through ever so slowly, until the car right in front of you gets stuck and you’re there for another hour getting them out. Sometimes taking six hours to drive 25k makes for a good day.
- The elements really are in charge. I’ve seen people do laundry every day and sweep their tents before and after they set them up and before and after they pack them up again in a never ending battle against the dust. It’s one thing to keep clean, but you’re on holidays and you want to relax. You won’t win. Learn to live with it.
- Mel Brooks was right. Beans – which become a staple after a period with no access to fresh food – do make you fart around the camp fire. And it is funny – at least until you get into the tent.
- Modesty is a curse. That nice, quiet spot you found to have a shower will become like Pitt Street as soon as you get undressed.
- Always check the pockets of your roof top tent BEFORE you fold it up and secure it. It won’t matter how many times you check your pockets, your bag and under the car seat, you’ll still have to open the tent again to get the car keys out. This will put you in a bad mood for the rest of the morning, and the people you have laughed at the night before for doing much the same thing will gloat for days.
And something everybody should know but nobody ever tells you – probably because it’s not discussed in polite company. If you’re a bit squeamish, stop reading now. There’s no polite way to put this, so in true Aussie vernacular:
If you shit in the bush you’ll get blowies on your arse, or worse if you’re female. Take something to swat them away with.