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