You all would have heard the saying ‘common sense isn’t so common’. Well unfortunately, when it comes to camping, I would have to agree sometimes. You see, I’m in the bush at least a week per month these days. Between product reviews, new vehicle tests and travel articles, my swag has become my best friend. And while the vast majority of campers and four wheel drivers are like-minded folk who understand the privilege of land access, there are a few things a minority of campers do that really grind my gears. Here are nine things to keep doing if you no longer want a spot on my Christmas card list.
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1 DISRESPECTING THE AMENITIES
Toilet, BBQ or picnic amenities are an absolute blessing in the bush. They should be treated in the same way, if not better, than you would treat the facilities in your own house. My theory is to always pay it forward in life. Clean the BBQ plate after you’ve used it, leave a few rolls of toilet paper or some soap in the toilet block and pick up any rubbish you see … yes, even if it’s not yours. Someone has to clean up any mess left behind, and you can bet that any negative information surrounding the conditions of amenities will go straight back to the authorities. The same authorities that might then suddenly decide it would be cheaper and easier to lock up a campsite than to maintain it.
2 LEAVING RUBBISH BEHIND
Here is another old saying for you: ‘If you can bring it out with you, then you can take it home with you too’. Is it really that hard to bring a garbage bag or two away with you, and take your rubbish home? This would have to be my biggest pet peeve. There is no excuse to litter. Also, when you pull into the closest town to the campsite you have been enjoying, have the courtesy to ask before dumping a week’s worth of rubbish at the local service station. In many cases, the garbage man doesn’t come once a week; nope, a private service will collect the skip bin at a cost. Basically, it’s not fair to expect other people to pay for the disposal of your good time garbage.
3 PUTTING CANS IN FIRES
At what point of the evolution process, between caveman dragging their knuckles to the introduction of hybrid vehicles, did we as a society decide it was an acceptable thing to throw cans into a fire? Seriously, who decided this is the right thing to do? Most fires will not melt a can – so what you are left with is the charred remains of a squished piece of aluminium that you will still need to pick up at the end of your stay. Keep the carton the cans came in, squash the cans when you are done consuming the liquid goodness inside, and put them back into said carton for disposal at a later date. Not the fire. This really couldn’t be easier. If you are lucky, you might even find a can recycling station on the way home to dispose of the rubbish and end up with a dollar-or-so back in your pocket for your troubles. Hey, it beats taking cans home for recycling.
4 LOUD MUSIC
Most people love the idea of some nice relaxing music around the campfire, while enjoying the sights and sounds of a picturesque river flowing by (for example). But what sounds good to you could actually be hell to others around you. Nobody needs to hear how awesome you are at singing Cold Chisel songs at 3.00am … or anytime for that matter. Nor does that family next to you on their annual holiday appreciate you and your mates blasting gangster rap at full volume non-stop. Consideration of others will go a long way to ensure everybody has a good time. That isn’t to say you should leave your music at home. In fact I always bring an acoustic guitar and a portable speaker unit on my trips. Just don’t imagine that every person camping secretly wishes they were at a bush-doof instead of relaxing; and that you need to play the role of campsite DJ.
5 CIRCLE WORK
That moment when you get a group of idiots together, then combine said idiots with truckloads of alcohol. Nine out of ten times (okay, that could be an exaggeration) someone will think it is a bright idea to start showing everyone how un-powerful their old HiLux is, and ‘cut some hoops’. Hey, what you do on private property is your own business – but nobody has the right to rip up land that belongs to everybody. Not to mention the possibility that someone could be walking by and easily get injured, or worse. I once camped next to a group who were drinking all day, and then decided to let loose around the campsite at 2.00am (naturally, with their headlights turned off). This was moments after my wife had left the tent to use the amenities. Needless to say, once I found her safely there were some words spoken to this group. Pro tip: Early mornings now become a great time to play your music loudly, if you ever camp next to a mob like this. They tend to get the message after a few minutes of Kenny G blasted at Level 11.
6 INCONSIDERATE USE OF GENERATORS
I understand the need for generators, but I also feel there is a right and a wrong way to operate one. Nobody wants to hear the distant hum of a gennie all night long. If you do need to top up your batteries, think about doing so mid-morning until mid-afternoon. And if possible, try and hide the generator away from other campers (or block it with your vehicle or equipment). Modern generators are becoming quieter and quieter, but that doesn’t mean 10.00pm is an appropriate time to fire yours up so you can watch re-runs of ‘Neighbours’ on the telly someone decided to bring out bush.
7 CAMPING TOO CLOSELY
If littering is a main peeve in my life, people who pull up right next to my established campsite and start setting up as closely as possible would have to be a very close number two on the ‘WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?’ index. Hey, some campsites receive plenty of traffic – and it is a first-in-best-dressed policy. I get that. But when I am in an empty and expansive area miles from anywhere, and someone decides to start setting up their circus tent right in front of me … well I just can’t understand the logic! Feel free to pop over for a beer and a chat, I’m always keen to talk to fellow outdoors people. I just don’t want to feel like I’m camping in a crowded inner city loft … when in reality the reason I head outdoors is to get away from people, work, the electricity bill, and so on.
8 KNOWING IT ALL
A helping hand is always welcome, but nobody wants to be told what they are doing wrong by a stranger while they lean their grubby clothes against your car and eat your snacks. Camping is all about learning, and the experience gained from building a sustainable shelter while duking it out with Mother Nature. Having Mr Know-It-All bark orders about how you are using your hammer wrong, or how you bought the wrong brand of fire-lighters to use with Australian hardwood, just isn’t going to do anything for anyone’s stress levels. My favourite line is: “Don’t tell me, show me.” Feel free to use that one the next time you meet up with Mr Know-It-All. History has proven people like this will either then leave you alone, or elect to make a fool of themselves once asked to prove their actions.
9 LAZY PET OWNERS
I love campgrounds where dogs are welcome. A house isn’t a home without a dog, and the same applies with camping as far as I’m concerned. But for goodness sakes, some pet owners really need to take more responsibility for their pets. If the area you are camped in stipulates that dogs need to remain on leashes, keep your dog on a leash. And if your furry friend makes a mess, clean it up. On the other side, don’t forget to look after your pooch while you are away. Ensure it has enough food, water and shelter. Don’t just tie it to a tree and leave it there. Get the dog involved in your activities, and you will have a pet that will sleep for days while having those hilarious running dreams once back at home (dog owners will know what I’m talking about here).
Words by Evan Spence.