Sunday 6 December 2015

Illegal Campgrounds

On a recent camping trip with friends, I found myself at an illegal campground. This was unbeknown to me until after check-in. I classify illegal as being a campground that has not taken the time to obtain any form of council licenses or approvals. Therefore, have not been able to obtain appropriate insurance cover.

Illegal campgrounds are more likely to not complete safety plans, nor emergency management or evacuation plans. On top of this, they are likely a cash business and not declaring any income or paying any taxes on that income. Legal campgrounds and caravan parks incur huge costs when establishing their businesses, not to mention their ongoing maintenance and compliance costs so I'm pretty sure this is not fair play.

All of these things are definitely serious matters but the single one thing that concerned me above all else about this campground, was its potential to create a possible negative environmental impact and health concern. Their latrine was a very deep hole only a few metres from a beautiful creek. It was perched on the creeks terrace. After giving this a bit of thought and being unsure what to do, I decided to write them. I asked if they would at a minimum seek an alternative location for their latrine. Possibly a portaloo up on the plateau closer to the campers. I received no response from them. A week later I wrote again and asked if they had any luck with an alternative. I got a short one line response from them, asking if I had I reported them to council?

One of the minimum requirements of most bush campgrounds is that they provide suitable toilets of some kind. That might vary depending on local council and the campgrounds proximity to a waterway. Some council might insist a campground build a septic system. Others may approve a composting toilet. Many of the free council campgrounds popping up have no facilities at all and require all campers be 100% self-contained, which means they must have a toilet in their caravan.

Council would unlikely allow a campground to dig a deep hole, right next to a creek which will be used by multiple campers over an extended period. Not without first assessing potential risk of sewage seeping and contaminating the water table or the waterway. They will also likely assess risk of flooding and the sewage pouring directly into the waterway. Council may advise on a better location or that there are no environmentally satisfactory solutions other than portaloos. Hooking a rural campground up to mains sewage may also be an option but less likely the more rural a campground.

All of this involves much paperwork, survey, cost and time.

Regardless of all the paperwork, survey, cost and time, there are very good reasons for these things. Mostly they are so our environment stays pristine and that the choices of a few do not affect the health and safety of many. It allows for us to know we can safely jump in a creek for swim on a hot day, without becoming ill. Legal businesses comply. Illegal businesses don’t.

Please be wary of these types of operators. Not only could the sewage seep into our fabulous waterways. These types of operators could pollute our camping community by making it harder for those campgrounds that do comply to be competitive and survive. Those that comply care about the safety of our families, their neighbours and communities. They care about us. These illegal operators don’t. They care about themselves.

NB: If you are truly remote bush camping and there are no toilets, please ensure you dig your latrine a minimum of 20 metres from any waterway. Dig your hole deep enough so that it will not be dug up by wild animals or trod on by the unwary. Ensure it is filled in properly before you break camp and please don’t forget to carry off your toilet paper for appropriate disposal in the campfire or a rubbish bin.

Hygiene at Camping Made Simple

Getting a little grubby at camping is par for the course but hygiene is still important; especially when prepping and cooking food. Hands are always the most important thing.
A few small inexpensive hand basins full of warm soapy water will do the trick nicely. They pack easily, they are light and you can place other things inside of them. Tie cake of soap to the handle of the hand basin using a cut off panty hose. This will stop soap falling in the dirt, being left in the hand basin and going soggy or having to look for it in the dark.

Place a hand basin near the latrine and another one near the kitchen area. Only put about a litre of water in each basin and change the water a few times a day depending on usage. Especially the one in the kitchen. Nothing beats soap and water to cleans under the finger nails, which is where most bacteria will be hiding. A packet of baby wipes on the kitchen table is also a fabulous alternative if water is sparse. A piece of string holding a bottle of hand sanitizer hung from a branch near the latrine and kitchen will also work.

A bush shower will give you the comforts of home but if you aren’t camping for long or you don’t want to carry that much water, there are simpler ways. Having a swim will freshen you up but won’t really get you feeling clean. We are often covered in insect repellent and sunscreens at camping so nothing is nicer than a quick wash down just before bed. A little warm soapy water and a face washer in a small tub will do the trick. Remember to start at the top and work your way down for the most hygienic outcome.

Please remember to NEVER TAKE SOAPS OR SHAMPOOS INTO WATER WAYS and never throw your dish washing water in either. Please keep our water ways healthy habitats!

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Selecting UHF Channels

UHF is a critical piece of equipment in the 4WD world. They are a handy little tool for communicating with a spotter. Can be used to inform the convoy of up and coming hazards. Used to call for help in an emergency or breakdown. They can also make for a great deal of fun whilst travelling in convoy. I have even seen parents give walkabouts to children so they can stay in communication whilst they are off playing. If you find the channel you normally use has chatter, simply try another simplex channel near that number, until you find one that is clear.

Here’s a little information for you on selecting the correct UHF channel.

There are some channels that have been set aside strictly for certain purposes but any of the non-allocated simplex channels are generally fine to use.

  • Channel 10 – 4WD – convoys, clubs and national parks (12 - 16 are also good)
  • Channel 18 – Caravans & campers in convoy (19-21 are also good)
  • Channel 40 - Highway
  • Channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 - Repeater Channels Press the DUPLEX button on your radio to use any available repeaters
  • Channels 22 & 23 - Data transmissions only (Excluding Packet)
  • Channels 31 to 38 and 71 to 78 - Repeater inputs - Do not use these channels for simplex transmissions as you will interfere with conversations on channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48
  • Channel 5 & 35 - Emergency use only - Monitored by Volunteers, No general conversations are to take place on this channel

The Australian Government has legislated that channels 5 & 35 on the UHF CB Band are reserved for emergency use only
As at January 2007 the maximum penalties for the misuse of the legally allocated CB emergency channels are:
  • For general misuse - if an individual 2 years imprisonment, otherwise $165,000 (a $220 on-the-spot fine can be issued in minor cases); or
  • For interference to an Emergency call - if an individual 5 years imprisonment, otherwise $550,000
Licenses for Repeater Channels 44 & 45 will not be licensed for an additional 6 to 12 months to allow extra time for owners of Channel 5 Emergency repeaters to upgrade equipment to meet the new standards

Monday 30 November 2015

Campfire Safety

There is really NO EXCUSE for leaving campfires unattended or still burning when you break camp. It is mostly avoidable.  

Here's a couple of tips:

  1. When  you're loading up a campfire with wood at night... Try not putting anymore wood on it as it gets closer to bedtime. This will allow it burn down and out before you go to sleep. Wind can rise during the night and embers can easily start a grass fire or set a fellow campers tent alight.
  2. You don't need a roaring fire in the morning to cook brekky. A few coals will do the trick nicely. Coals can easily be awakened with a little bit of kindling.

Once brekky is finished... PUT IT OUT PROPERLY.

USE WATER, a little MORE WATER and a bit MORE WATER just in case.

If you cannot access enough water to extinguish your campfire for some reason... Add a little water, then MIX the coals with a shovel full of dirt or sand. Then repeat this process again and again and again. KEEP adding and mixing until coals are coated and appear SMOTHERED and extinguished.

FIRE PITS also help keep fires contained and prevent children from walking on hot coals. Lay rocks around your campfire if there is no existing fire pit. Please do not simply let your fire/coals fall as they may. Please don't add long pieces of wood that extend out past the fire pit edge if avoidable.  Especially if you aren't watching it. Try not to leave these burning when you have gone to bed.

Think about your campfire and pack and plan for it the same way you do everything else ie EXTRA WATER, AXE, SHOVEL.

DO NOT SIMPLY COVER A CAMPFIRE WITH DIRT OR SAND. It is still hot and well alight under the dirt or sand. Children may walk on this ground. Please think about the after affects of your campfire.

Enjoy your campfire in safety.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Fried Rice - Camping Style

This is my favourite super fast, healthy and inexpensive camping dish. I freeze rice when I cook it. Have even been known to buy extra when I have had takeaway Thai and froze it. Can't imagine anything worse than cooking rice at camping.
Tip# Fried rice seems to be less gluey if pre-cooked and chilled.
Serves: 2
Preparation time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins

  • 1 takeaway tub of pre-cooked rice
  • 1 can of peas & corn
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-4 tablespoon of sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • 1-2 teaspoon of chopped garlic (or garlic flakes)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Soy Sauce
  • Heat pan. Add oil, chopped onion, garlic.
  • Then add rice, peas & corn, salt and pepper.
  • Stir occasionally until all is heated through.
  • Crack egg into rice mix and fold through.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce or to your taste

Monday 2 November 2015

Camping at Lennox Head, NSW

I headed to Lennox Head, NSW on the weekend.   Lennox is only 2 hours south of Brisbane and 1 hour from the Gold Coast. Lennox Head is surrounded by some of the most beautiful national parks and rainforests you will ever see if you ever want to explore this coastal region further.
We booked into the North Coast Holiday Park.  The park staff was both friendly and helpful.  There is a choice of cabins, tent or caravan sites.  The park is immaculate and has all the basic tourist park necessities i.e.  BBQ’s, camp kitchen, dump point.  It does lack a playground and swimming pool though and sadly, it is not pet friendly.
Cabins available
Lake Ainsworth in the background
Nice big sites

My favourite thing about this park is how perfectly situated it is to everything.  It is only a short walk to the main street of Lennox Head.  Ideal if you fancy brunch in one of the busy coffee shops.  The surf club is directly across the road.  I’m also told the bowls club is a great feed, if you need a night away from the kitchen.  All within easy walking distance.
I didn’t see a lot of children in the park but maybe they were all at Lake Ainsworth recreation area, which is a tea-tree stained dunal lake right beside the holiday park.   This lovely, well grassed recreation area has barbecues, picnic tables and a couple of blocks of toilets very close by.  It is perfect for swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.  Ideal for children as there are lots of shallow areas and no motorised water sport is allowed in this protected lagoon.
To the front of the holiday park is Seven Mile Beach which is a renowned surf beach.   It was super busy on the beach with all the little surfers having a club day and many bigger surfers enjoying some waves.
A lovely weekend was had by all and both this holiday park and region come with glowing recommendations from me.  Definitely one of my favourite spots as it is just that little bit away from the hustle and bustle of Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.

Driving to Ballina

Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, NSW

Busy day at the beach for little ones club day

About to have boogy board lesson

Lake Ainsworth

Lake Ainsworth

Saturday 24 October 2015

Never Fail Scones


  • 4 cups self raising flour
  • 300 ml cream
  • 1 can of Lemonade


  1. Add SR flour to a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add cream and lemonade.
  2. Mix well and make a dough. Roll out dough (add flour to surface beforehand) until no more than 2 cm thick.
  3. Cut out with scone cutter and brush with milk once settled in pan.
  4. Bake approx 20 mins in moderate oven (180 approx) or until golden colored.
  5. Serve with cream and jam.

Honey BBQ Bacon, Chicken and Sweet Potato Packets

(serves 4)

  • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

  1. Cook on a grill, in the camp oven or on the coals. 
  2. Lay out (4) 12×12 square of aluminum foil. (I usually like to double these to make sure they are sturdy- so four sets of two).
  3. In each aluminum foil square, divide the diced sweet potatoes and top with fresh rosemary.
  4. Place one chicken breast wrapped in bacon on each square and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the barbecue sauce and honey. Pour the sauce over each chicken breast. (I usually add 1-2 Tbls. water to prevent burning).
  6. Close each aluminum foil square around the chicken to create a “packet.”

Cook for 30-40 minutes.

Hobo Stew in Foil Jacket

  • 2 kg stew meat, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 fingerling potatoes (any variety), cubed
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces button or baby bella mushrooms, cut in thirds
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 pats butter (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons water (optional)


  1. If you're taking this to eat while camping, do all your chopping before you leave (vegetables should be about a third the size of the meat cubes for optimal cooking) and store the veggies and meats in individual containers in an ice-packed cooler. Make sure the potatoes are kept in water (to keep them from browning) and that the mushrooms are kept away from water (to keep them from getting waterlogged. Marinate the meat in the Worcestershire sauce and store it in a separate container to keep it from contaminating the other ingredients.
  2. When you're ready to eat, divide the aluminum foil into four foot-long strips and spray with cooking spray if desired. Each family member can pack on whatever amount of veggies and meat they'd like, but each layer should be salted lightly. Don't over-pack the foil for a bigger portion, but make two packets instead.
  3. Top each pile of raw food with a pat of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of herbs de Provence, a little pepper and a little water if desired (or if you don't have butter).
  4. Bring the longer edges of the foil together in the middle to form a tent over the food and fold them together three or four times, creasing it well each time (like you're closing up a chip bag). Scrunch the ends in well to ensure there's no leakage.
  5. Place the packet over heat (inside a preheated 350 degree F oven, on the campfire grate or on the grill). Cook for 15 minutes to half an hour or until the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender. Cooking times will vary with the method you use and the size of your food chunks.
  6. Serve right in the foil pack (when cooled) or transfer to a plate or bowl to eat.

Monday 19 October 2015

Coleman Gold Series Instant Up Review

Coleman Gold Series Instant Up - Fully erected

I took my new COLEMAN GOLD SERIES INSTANT UP for its maiden journey on the weekend. 
Heavy Duty Canvas Carry Bag
Step 1.  Lay tent out and fold the legs out to a semi-erect position.

Very impressed with the new heavy duty polyoxford PVC flooring.  Feels nice underfoot. There was a fair amount of dew around this morning.  I was expecting it to need some sun.  Alas, not so much as drop of condensation inside or moisture underneath at pack up.  I usually find drying off tents the most time consuming part of packing up after camping.  It was a breeze this morning.  

With all the new features, my very favourite is the thicker and heavier fabric used in the fly.  It was so much darker inside. So much so, I slept till 7.30 am.  I could get used to that.

The instructions say it requires 2 people to erect.  I disagree.  I always put my old model up by myself. This model is fundamentally same design.  But in saying that, the thicker, heavier fly fabric makes it a little harder to use the wind to pull the fly over the top. The Instant Ups are quite tall and dragging a fly over the peak is a chore if you don’t have someone to hold the far side in place. I struggled with this for about 3 mins.  Walked around it twice, then decided to drop the 4 corners back down and put the fly on whilst it was down.  I then erected it again and it was easy as.  Done.  You can easily have this tent up in 2 mins by yourself, if you remember this tip.  

The only complaint I ever had with the old model was no lower level ventilation.  The new model has 2 extra air flows, plus the front door.  Perfect for those sultry summer nights when every bit of air is precious.

The other bonus is the heavy duty carry bag.  It is huge.  I was able to lay the fly on the ground, place the inner on top of that.  Roll it all up and throw it in the bag.  I didn't even have to push little bits into corners; whilst attempting to pull the zipper.  Nothing worse than taking longer to put a tent back in a bag, then it took to erect and pull down combined.
Step 2 - Raise legs to fully erect

Drove away from camping feeling pretty pleased with my new purchase.

Step 3 - Drop it back down and pull the fly over the peak

  • Coleman Gold Series Instant Up design - sets up in under two minutes
  • Front door can be pitched out as front awning with two poles (included)
  • Detachable over-sized 3 pole (included) awning which can be attached to both left and right sides (so you can follow the shade)
  • Coleman Circle Ventilation for added air flow
  • Integrated internal storage hammock and organisers
  • Power cord management system
  • Convenient welcome mat to help keep tent clean and dry inside
  • Heavy duty carry bag
  • Frame: Steel (includes 5 awning poles)
  • Weight: 12.7kg
  • Size: 240w x 240l x 190h cm


  • 75D/ 185D Polyester rip-stop inner
  • 3000 mm PU fly
  • Heavy Duty Polyoxford PVC flooring
Step 4 - erect again & peg out
Side View - No # 1 air flow

Side and rear view - No 2 # air flow

Friday 4 September 2015

Delicate subject of Overtaking

Overtaking manoeuvres involve risk and require extreme care.  If you have any doubts it is best not to overtake and to wait until it is safer.

The overtaker must assess their options - be able to visually check their path, assess power of their vehicle, their confidence level, condition of the road, wind, speed/distance of the other vehicles. Then they make a judgement call and take the risk or don't take the risk.

The vehicle being overtaken must by law allow space between themselves and other vehicles so the overtaker can pull back into the lane safely. Thus, give them room if they need it!  
The overtaken must stay in their lane and not increase speed.  All the vehicle being overtaken needs to do is not change the situation and never put themselves or the overtaking vehicle in a predicament that could end badly for all.

It is not advisable that a slow vehicle drop wheels off the road shoulder to allow a vehicle to overtake, especially in a caravan or towing trailers unless they truly believe there is no risk.  Gravel road shoulders and deteriorating bitumen edges can be exceptionally dangerous to any vehicle but even more so to someone towing a trailer.  Please don't move over because you feel pressured, only do so because you feel safe to do so. All the risk of overtaking lays with the overtaking vehicle and maybe they simply need to wait until the road straightens or widens or you come upon an overtaking lane, at which time you could slow down and allow all those following you a chance to get past you.

It should never be a problem if all road users respect each other and remember that every person has a right to go about their business and do so
 safely. Even slow caravans, even truck drivers, even other passenger vehicles driving to/for work, or to pick up children or going on holidays.


Saturday 11 July 2015

Poverty Creek Campground, Bribie Island

Poverty Creek Campground, Bribie Island is a fabulous spot to camp. Don't forget your Bushman's or dettol & baby oil if you are heading here in summer. This fabulous spot is only an hour north of Brisbane CBD. You do not need to drive on the beach to get to it if you don't want but this is a pretty special spot to visit also. You can have a campfire in the fire rings as long as there isn't a fire ban. No campfires on the beach.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Captain Logan Campground, Wivenhoe Dam, Queensland

I didn't pick the greatest weather to go camping at this lovely campground.  But then again, there is never a bad time to go camping is there.  Captain Logan is a very pretty campground. Shady, well laid out. Great parking, especially if you have a trailer or jet ski. Fabulous for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding or just not doing anything.  It is a very peaceful campground.

Clean toilets, hot showers within easy walk of all campsites.  Each site has a wood fired BBQ area and is handy to a water tap. Sites are big but very sloped.  Each site has a levelled sandy loam camping pad. It is only just big enough for one large tent and gazebo type set up or maybe three smaller tents and gazebo. If you were going with a big group you would definitely need a couple of sites. They are well spread out though, so your neighbours should not bother you at all.

There is a designated camper van/caravan section so if camping with a group of mixed tents, campers and van's you may need to head to this area.  All camps are on the water so you will not miss the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Cars must remain behind the bollards on driveway in the tent camping area.  This makes it a bit of an effort to cart your gear back and forth. Means you can't utilise your car awning for shade so ensure you take an alternative.

Perfect for the kids as there is a notable lack of jet-ski's and powerboats due to the boat restrictions.   Heaps of friendly roo's, birds and the odd penny turtle to discover.    Kids can explore all day long.

For the average family this is an ideal spot and only one hour from Brisbane.  Definitely worth the visit.

$25 for 2 adults so not cheap but most certainly not over-priced either.