Tasmania was the first true test of our camping abilities and what a test it was. It's not like we haven't camped ever (I do know some of those people) but doing it in free camping spots, during autumn and basically almost without any proper gear outside of the tent and sleeping bags did set us up for an interesting journey.
In my previous life (and if you ask Richie, in my current life) I was one of those shoppers who'd look at the price of things as a sign of the best quality. And oh boy was I always after the best quality. When I set to spend two months in the Alps, the gear shopping list included only Black Diamond, Peak Performance etcetera quality (read: as expensive as possible) brands.
So naturally when we realised we need a lot of stuff beyond the tent and sleeping bags, the part of my brain that gets excited about expensive brands and functional gear shopping thought the prince has arrived with the kiss to wake it up from the 100 years of beauty sleep. Just to have its dreams crushed by the new, reasonable voice in my head that really thinks the $20 gas burner does the job for a 12-day trip as well as a super-extra-light $100 burner.
Where do you buy cheap stuff then? In Tasmania and Hobart, we headed to Anaconda Store. As listed earlier, we needed all the cooking gear and at the end got it quite cheaply. Little did we know that the comfort of camping cooking requires much more than a burner and a bowl...
Lesson 1: Get a table and chairs
A table would be nice. Maybe a chair as well. Oh well camping wasn't meant to be luxury so surely kneeling down to cook sausages for 40minutes is just how it is.
Suddenly all the other campers around us looked so comfortable, so professional with their camping tables and chairs, sipping their VB or something that resembled red wine when we stuffed our face as quickly as possible to avoid standing up any longer.
Lesson 2: Or better – use the public BBQ’s!
After getting tired of trying to scrape of grease and food from the pans with cold water and a fork we saw the light. Why use any of your own gear when Australia is full or public barbeques and tables, usually sheltered and with running water? After this realization, we have cooked with the pan once.
Lesson 3: If you think it will be cold, it will most likely be colder.
We kinda knew that it’ll be cold in Tassie but I was still expecting pleasant nights without feeling the White Walkers surrounding our tent. Our sleeping bags are not the -40 degrees’ Finnish quality and a $15 duvet from Target can only warm you up so much. Wearing layers, scarf, hat and one piece of Finnish quality – woolen socks (thanks Dad and Grandma!) – did get us through the nights without turning into Frozen-characters. And I was still warmer than in Yosemite in May 2010 so I’d call this a success!
Lesson 4: Do check that you can actually drive to that free camping spot you selected from WikiCamps.
This would again seem like an obvious one but not to us before trying to figure out how to get to the other end of Wineglass Bay beach. Only after a lot of googling we knew we would have a 1,5 hours’ hike (run) carrying our backbags to reach this secluded camping spot. The time showed 5.15pm when we set off, sun would start setting at 5.32pm and we had a long way up, down, across the beach in soft sand and finding the camping area in the woods.
We did make it down to the beach before it was pitch-black dark and the tent was up at 7pm. After all this I think the bigger challenge for my travel companion was to sleep without our beloved Target pillows as I had refused to carry those
– what would the professional hikers think of us! (Duvet was inside my backbag and only disassembled in the darkness and cover of the tent so no-one got to witness that).
Lesson 5: Packing
I learned quickly that the contents of my bag were not optimized at all. It resembled an irrational feng-shui arrangement more than a convenient, quick-to-reach, most useful stuff at the surface – type of philosophy (I wonder if Marie Kondo could come up with a camping edition anytime soon?). After just two nights I shuffled everything around to “useful” and “not useful” editions and further to tops, bottoms, stuff that will be needed quickly. I’m sure it’s not anywhere close to whatever method Marie would come up with but I am less stressed when there’s no need to spend 10 minutes turning the car inside out trying to find my woolen socks.
I can also sense a lesson of not needing six bikinis for a trip around the world but I am not ready to admit this fully yet. Maybe in the next camping n00bs edition..
Any lessons you have learned and wanted to share with us? And to some of my friends, a lesson of “Do not camp, book a $200 night hotel and thank me later” won’t do now but thanks for the suggestion!