TENTS and camping fit together like a horse and buggy, and just like the afore-named mode of transport, the camping tent has been around for a few thousand years in different forms.
Roman soldiers used to use canvas tents back in biblical times while conquering all the (then) known world. Mediaval knights in armor used them on the battlefields of Europe and in the middle east for the Crusades. Soldiers, nomads, pioneers, hunters, explorers and adventurers have been using tent shelters of various designs ever since then, to keep them safe from the elements. So if you go camping outdoors, then you are going to need a camping tent as well.
If you need a tent, please do yourself a real favor and buy a good-quality camping tent. You will be so much more comfortable! Purchasing a really cheap tent might save you some dollars, but I guarantee it will cost you in the long run.
Outdoor tents have been slept in, cooked in, dined in and even made whoopee in for all that time. And while tent designs have improved since then — just like our means of transport have gotten faster and better — our need for shelter from the heat of the day, from the cold of the night and even from rain, wind and snow has remained almost the same.
The camping tent functions as our home away from home while we’re away from our stone, wood or brick home someplace else. Sure, some folks are nomadic anyhow and not everybody has their own place to call a home… but whatever the case, tent camping provides comfort and a good night’s rest where otherwise there would be no shelter. That’s what a tent does. It basically sets the standard for an effective lightweight shelter that can be carried without too much difficulty.
Even canvas wall tents, with their heavy wooden poles, are lighter than the Mongol tribesman’s Yurt (modern dome tents are shaped round) or the American Indian’s Teepee or Wigwam. Those nomadic tribes made their shelter out of available materials — namely animal skins and stick frames. Canvas and man-made fabrics came later.
Since those days, tents have been used by explorers, big game hunters in Africa, fur trappers in Canada and Alaska, gold prospectors and Boy Scouts just about everywhere.
Even in modern times, tents are used as emergency shelters for refugees and storm victims. The military uses them not just to house their personnel but larger tents are also used as field hospitals (remember the TV series M.A.S.H. ?), and big army tents are used as camp kitchens and mobile command posts.
Thankfully, the modern camping tent is very much more compact. Which means we can fit it easily in (or on) a modest vehicle. Some tents are small enough and light enough to be used by hikers, backpackers or cyclists, who are very limited in what they can take with them — both in weight and in packed volume.
Some modern tents are designed to spring open, almost by themselves. These are called pop up tents.
Tents can be small enough for one lone camper, or large enough to accommodate a whole family or two. You can also have a screen tent as a portable dining and kitchen shelter. Basically, these gazebo-like tents have a four legs, a roof on top and sides of insect-proof netting.
And if you go camping anywhere where there are lots of insects, like camping here in Australia, be sure to buy yourself a decent-quality tent with full insect proofing. You’ll so be glad you did because the flies (by day) and mosquitoes (by night) can make camping outdoors a nightmare for the unprepared.
One of the smallest designs of sleeping tent is the little A-tent (sometimes called a pup tent), but thankfully they aren’t being made much any more.
There are also gigantic, specialised party tents; these are called marquees in Britain and Australia. Some are large enough to shelter dozens of champagne-sipping guests at a wedding party, at sports events or any other celebration where you need extra shelter for lots of guests.
The smallest type of tent you’ll come across is the shower tent, which often does double-duty as a toilet tent. Some small pup tents and kids play tents are also diminutive, but since they are for play and not for camping, I won’t cover them here.
Whatever size camping tent you are looking for, I’m sure you’ll find some useful information here on this web site to help you choose the right camp tent or shelter for your needs.
So, what makes a good camping tent a good one?
Tent Camping in Australia is different from camping in the United States or in Europe, and this is mostly because of our extreme climate and vast distances between country towns.
The Aussie Climate
As far as climate goes, you need to remember that Aussie-land is down in the southern hemisphere (just like the continents of South America and southern Africa). That means the further south in Australia you travel, the colder our climate can get, and the further north you go the hotter can be in summer.
I live in New South Wales (where the capital city is Sydney). Most visitors to Australia start or finish their trip here or in Victoria (whose capital city is Melbourne). These two prosperous states have always been rivals, competing to outdo each other for trade and power. Both states have a warm but moderate climate, at least near to the east coast. It is more extreme and much dryer inland.
Queensland, the Aussie state at the northeast corner of our vast continent can be very hot, with climate that ranges from sun-drenched beaches north and south of Brisbane, the state’s capital, up to the ‘Top End’ which includes many areas of hot wet rainforest. The very popular beach areas above and below Brisbane (the capital of Queensland) on the map are called the Sunshine Coast (north) and the Gold Coast (south). I always used to confuse the two until I thought about it this way: sunshine comes from above (the north) and gold is in the ground (so it would be south of Brisbane on a map).
The centre areas of Australia, which are known as the ‘red centre’ by most Aussies is called that because of the predominately red sand and rock in that part of the continent. It is desert and it is hot as hell, as are so many of our inland areas. South Australia, West Australia and the Northern Territory all have vast areas with very long distances between towns.
Tasmania, the island that’s south of Melbourne Victoria and a ferry ride across the Tasman sea, is colder and wetter than most of Australia.
This is all fine and dandy if you are travelling by car, but you won’t want to do much walking or hiking because the distances are too great, and the climate can be especially hostile for people who don’t understand it yet. And if you do go hiking or exploring in remote areas, where cellphones probably won’t work, then you will need to hire or buy an emergency positioning beacon and carry it with you. This UHF emergency beacon needs to be registered to your name before you take it on your journey. Then, if you need to switch it on, you can be located quickly and accurately by satellites, they will know who you are and where you are, and a rescue can be made.
Travelling with Tents, Motor Homes or Caravans
The good news for visitors who want to go camping in tents, is that there are a host of caravan parks all along the east coast of Australia where campers are welcomed. It will cost you, especially during the summer and other popular holiday seasons (such as Easter, Christmas or during the local school holidays.) That is when the prices go right up to match the higher demand for tourist accommodation. These commercial camping sites are used by folks with motor homes, campervans, or caravans (trailers), RVs, or just holidaymakers with a tent to throw up on the grass next to their car.
Wood fires or BBQs are prohibited during fire season (especially when it is hot, tinder dry and windy), so a small portable camping stove is a very good thing to have with you.
It always costs more for a powered camping site, complete with 240v mains electricity; but it is cheaper than using your own propane or bottled gas. Having mains electricity means you can cook with that instead and have a fan heater running if you need it during winter. Your caravan or motor home, will probably have a fridge, an electric stove and/or microwave oven, and even an air-conditioner.
The best times to go camping in Australia are during spring and autumn. Our summers can be punishingly hot, however our winters are mild compared to most other parts of the world. The only places in Australia likely to get snow in winter will be on some mountain areas, such as the Snowy Mountains (between New South Wales and Victoria). There are ski resorts there, and some VERY hardy people choose to go snow camping there sometimes. You can also find very cold and wet conditions on the big island state of Tasmania, which still has some beautiful wilderness areas. These can be especially hazardous in the mountains, but that is like mountains almost anywhere.
These holiday caravan parks (camp grounds) can be almost as expensive as staying in a motel, with all modern conveniences, but at the very least they will have hot showers and laundry facilities. Most will have a small shop selling canned food, washing powder and other necessities. Some have a café with hot meals. You need to check them out before making a decision and handing over your hard-earned cash (or plastic).
However, there are many places right across Australia where you can camp for free, or for a very small fee of just a few dollars a night. These are the national parks and state parks where many camping areas have been set aside for visitors to enjoy. However, the actual facilities available at each location differ considerably. Some have little more than pit toilets, with hand washing facilities if you’re lucky, to camp sites with flush toilets and hot showers. And for the really adventurous, there are hiking areas designated as bush camps what don’t even have crude toilets. See How to Poop in the woods.
The biggest nuisances when you go tent camping (or do any outdoor activity) in Australia are the insects. You will be tormented by the flies during the day and by mosquitoes all the night. So make sure the tent or shelter you use has a built-in waterproof groundsheet (ground cloth) floor and a good insect net build-in. The mesh should zip closed over the door and the tent’s vents or windows.
It is also possible to buy stand-alone insect nets that either erect on a frame (like a tent, but they won’t stop the wind or the rain). Or you can have a mosquito net that hangs from a tree branch and protects you in your sleeping bag or Aussie swag. (The swag itself in waterproof.)
Once you step outside, you will be at the mercy of the flies and mozzies again, so you will need a good insect repellant. These are usually a spray-on or roll-on type, and the best-known Australian one is called Aerogard, and here is a great video about using the stuff when camping here in Australia. The commercial is on Youtube and is set to the tune of Summer Lovin’, from the movie Grease.
Aerogard Summer Lovin’
I received this email a few weeks ago asking me if it was safe to go camping in Australia…
Hi, I’ve done lots of camping here in Canada, in a tent, but am a bit worried about poisonous spiders, bugs, snakes in Australia when sleeping on the ground. Am I over reacting? I really know nothing on this.
We will be camping from Brisbane to Cairns this May and I’m wondering if tenting is ok, or we should get a camper van. In Canada we’d certainly be in a tent.
What’s your opinion re bugs and snakes and tents?
J. Thomas, British Columbia.
I wrote back to J. Thomas as follows:
The infamous Sydney Funnelweb. As the name suggests it builds a funnel-shaped web, but that is a tube that shores up the sides of the hole in the ground where it lives most of the time. There it waits for its prey to walk past the silk lid of its underground lair. The funnelweb spider is similar to the trapdoor spider in this respect, but the funnelweb is especially venomous and can actually kill even a healthy human being. There is usually an anti-venine available at major hospitals, and it is many years since anybody died from a funnel web spider bite. If it has been raining a lot, the funnelweb spiders may get flooded out and seek shelter indoors. Also, the male spiders go looking for females during the mating season.
There is a third spider that is a nasty — this is the White Tail spider, which often used to come into my old home in a different part of Sydney. My ex-wife and I used to find them in one particular downstairs room, and my ex and I would always kill them on sight. This is because the bite won’t kill you but it takes a very long time to heal. It creates a necrosis that eats into your skin and flesh. It resists all medical treatment, and the damaged area will show a permanent scar.
The good news is that most people only get bitten by snakes because they step on them accidentally while walking in the bush. Usually the snake is basking in the sun. Being cold-blooded creatures, just like all reptiles and lizards, snakes need the sun’s warmth so they can get warm and thus move faster. And sometimes people try to pick up a snake or capture it, and that is when they get bitten.
Dangerous Sea Creatures
A couple of weeks ago I went motorcycle camping on a weekend outing with a bunch of older motorcycle riders in Sydney Australia.
It was Springtime over here, and the area chosen was well off the beaten track. In fact it was on a bush track north of Lithgow in the NSW Blue Mountains, and was only reacheable using four-wheel drive vehicles or tough off-road type motorcycles. (My Honda ST-1100 was a road bike and no use in the mud and gravel. So I threw my gear in the back of an old Toyota ‘troopie’ (a Troop Carrier) and joined the winding procession of SUVs and several daring motorcycles.
Our site was on what was once a railway track leading to the Glowworm Caves. We got there by following the bush track from just next to the Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow in New South Wales. One of our motorbikes broke both of its hard panniers bouncing and sliding down that muddy track, so I learned from that that soft panniers are much better for motorcycle camping adventures.
Even one of our 4x4s (4WDs) managed to get bogged in a deep mud hole, and had to be pulled out with a winch on another all-terrain vehicle. It wasn’t an easy journey, that’s for sure.
One of the places we visited on the way to our overnight camp was a much more comfortable campsite at Newnes. It even had proper toilets! Such luxury…
Newnes was a booming little mining town when there was a market for shale oil, and when that ended it became a ghost town. And most of the buildings are now gone. The pub, however, survives. And visitors can buy books, soft drinks and a few camping type food items and souvenirs from the owner. The grassy campsite was much more comfortable than our earlier bush camp, and it was easier to reach. We got there the hard way, but it could have been accessed from the other direction even without an SUV or 4WD car. And the camp site has toilets too. What luxury!
Check it out on Google Maps or Google Earth for it is at S33 10.297, and E150 14.229.
Anyhow, all the guys had a great time. We finally got to our campsite and erected the tents. One of the guys had his tent up on top of his old but highly-modified 4WD truck. I slept out in my Hennessey Hammock, but stupidly I forgot to add extra insulation underneath, and I had a cold and uncomfortable night. I didn’t want to go stumbling around in the dark looking for my gear in someone else’s truck. But I should have. As I was I made-do with my raincoat underneath me.
Another adventurous motorbike rider used a plastic tarp stretched between two trees and, amazingly to me at least, he was not attacked by mosquitoes. Perhaps it was too dry. His biggest problem was pumping up his inflatable air mattress when one of the plugs was lost. Dramas, dramas.
We had plenty of collected wood for a camp fire, which we built underneath a large rock cave. It did get a bit smoky but it sure added to the atmosphere, and we couldn’t help wondering about the native Aborigines who probably made use of the cave hundreds of years before the first white settlers took their land from them.
We had a great time sipping our beverages and chatting together around that smoky wood fire. It is funny how we males need to get out like this once in a while so we can be honest with each other and let our guard down for a few hours.
In the morning we all had a quick breakfast and took turns leaving camp for what the Brit soldiers call a ‘shovel recce‘. Then we broke camp and headed back towards Sydney and the everyday rat-race of modern living. But I highly recommend motorcycle camping as a way of getting out there and enjoying life.
I’ve been divorced for quite some years now, and my new wife, Diane, had never camped out before. So I had to break her in gently.
First I coaxed her into spending the night with me inside a tent in our backyard one night.
She survived that experience unscathed, so a few weeks later I took her camping at a state-managed camping spot where there were public toilets, picnic tables and a safe, approved fireplace. The first few times we camped together there we used a camping tent, but the last time we went there — to the same spot — we tried camping in a swag. A swag is an Australian bedroll with a built-in foam mattress. It is bulky and heavy (because of the canvas) but it is very quick to set up and to pack away.
The park rangers had even laid on a supply of already-chainsawed wood logs for us to use on the fire.
The only thing lacking there were showers, but since this was just an overnight camp, we could live without that luxury. We’d be driving home again after breaking camp after breakfast in the morning.
The magic of that camping site was greatly enhanced by the time of year – our late spring in the southern hemisphere (Australia). In fact we two were the only campers in that part of the park at the time.
We were in a river valley surrounded by natural bushland. Across the other side of the river was a Boy Scout camp. When night fell, the pitch black sky showed the constellations of Orion and the less-obvious Southern Cross with the clear-cut detail you never see while in the city.
I cooked up a simple dinner for her on my 10-year-old Trangia alcohol-fuel stove, and I proceeded to build a log campfire at the same time. Thay way, we could both sit next to it in our folding camp chairs. We ate our hot meal from plastic bowls. I enjoyed my mug of tea (while she had coffee) while we watched the flames of the campfire flickering.
I once heard another camper describe viewing the glowing coals as “watching Caveman TV”. It’s only one channel, but it’s a great show that’s suitable for all ages. What a great way to introduce your girlfriend to camping.
Camping for Seniors is best done in a car. And while there are still plenty of super-fit oldies who enjoy humping a backpack, the rest of us prefer to take it easy these days.
Sure, it’s great to go camping when you’re young. Kids don’t even feel the minor discomforts of camping on a ground cloth (ground sheet) or a tarpaulin. And many young adults think it’s luxury to sleep on a camping air mattress or a foam hip pad.
When I was a kid camping out I didn’t even know these things existed. Well, I did know about the rubber inflatable mattresses, but they were too bulky and heavy those days to put in a backpack.
So I roughed it. And it was fun.
Camping for seniors is different. It is a whole new challenge to make yourself comfortable at camp when you are older and less fit. Those bones may have better padding on the outside, but they want more comfort as well — especially when it’s time to climb into a sleeping bag for a good night’s sleep.
When you’re youthful and enthusiastic, you are quite content to chuck your sleep sack on the ground and drop off to sleep. As long as there’s something waterproof above and below you, then you will be fine.
But we middle-aged campers usually weigh more than we did as kids, unless we are very disciplined (or lucky). And we have been sleeping on comfortable top-quality mattresses at home for years. We have come to expect those little 5-star luxuries like hot running water and nice clean toilets.
If we’re going to camp outdoors ever again, then it will have to be comforable as well… Even in some canvas camping tent.
Now we both know you’re not going to get hotel style room service while you’re out in the wilderness or even at some camping ground. But with a little pre-planning, we can make out outdoor camping experience a pleasant and comfortable event.
Since we are adults and have motor cars, there is little need to hump a backpack unless we really enjoy such exertions. So instead of hiking to our campsite, we go car camping instead.
We senior citizens just need a decent-quality tent to keep out the wind, the sun and inclement weather like rain or snow. And being grown-ups we like to have a nice thick and comfortable mattress between us and that hard cold ground.
A decent-quality sleeping bag or a down feather quilt from home will keep us warm while we snore contentedly. And if we have spouses or partners to share our sleeping space, then a double sleeping bag is great. Otherwise you can zip two single sleeping bags together… as long as they are the same design.
Some single sleeping bags will be marked Left or Right, so check at the store when you buy. A Left-side bag will only attach its zip to a Right-side bag (or vice versa). So you need one of each.
If you intend to cook at camp, be sure to plan your meals beforehand. Keep the menu simple, and only bring the food you need. An Esky or ice-filled cooler will keep the perishables safe for a day or two. And simple meals can be heated on a single burner stove. That’s why camping folk call them one-pot meals.
You can eat simple one-pot meals for a while, but eventually you’re going to crave fancier food and drink to break the monotony. Rather than eating fast food from a burger joint or a greasy spoon, can I suggest you eat something completely different from what you’ve been living on for a while… Some fresh food and vitamins would be good.
Make it a point to pick up some fresh vegetables and fruits and make yourself a decent salad? I like starting with tomato and cucumber; Lebanese cucumber is especially good. Add a boiled egg, a little cheese or canned tuna and you have a pretty-well balanced meal. Other vegetables just add color or interest to the eye.
If your campsite doesn’t have picnic tables available, you will need to bring some folding table with you – for food preparation and for dining at meal times. You can also play cards or write letters on the table. Bring enough folding camp chairs with you as well. They are comfortable, lightweight, and cheap to buy.
A commercially-run camping park should have clean toilets and hot showers. Some forest camping sites may only have cold showers, or just toilets. So check what’s there before you decide. If you’re going to go camping for seniors, you’ll probably prefer a bit more comfort than just the bare bones.
Camping in Australia is very different from camping in Europe or in North America. For starters, our seasons are back to front because we’re in the southern hemisphere… That means that July is our coldest time of the year and our hottest time is December/January. Yup. that’s right on at Christmas.
Unless you are trying to go camping up one of our mountains, such as Mount Kosiosko in NSW or Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, you are unlikely to experience any snow, even in winter. But summer time can be very hot in Aussie-land — with the added annoyance of flies and mosquitoes. So be sure to bring the Aerogard (our iconic insect repellant).
This snap was taken on my cellphone recently when I visited a camping and picnic area north of Hornsby near Sydney. There were a couple of families all set up for a weekend campout, while more families were arriving with their carloads of kids to take part in camping for Scouts and Guides or on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Children love camping. They take to it like ducks to water, but when they’re small you have to keep an eye out for their safety. Keep them safe from fire, sharp tools and supervise them anywhere near water. This group of campers has two canvas tents. The smaller tunnel tent on the left is for the children, while the adults bunk down in the cubical-shaped cottage tent on the right.
During the day, the tent’s awning opens out and provides extra shade. In poor weather the two front poles can be removed and the tent awning zipped up firmly to keep out the rain and the wind. Yes, we have bad weather sometimes here, but most of the time it is warm and pleasant. That’s why camping in Australia is so darned good.
Want to know how to clean a flushable camping toilet? It isn’t hard, so stop grimacing at the thought, roll up your sleeves and read my flushable camping toilet cleaning instructions.
First, you need a clear place to work, without onlookers and a water hose. (If a hosepipe is not available, you may have to make do with a few buckets of water for rinsing.)
You will need:
- A pair of rubber gloves
- A bottle of pine disinfectant (to kill germs)
- A cleaning rag
- A clean toilet brush
- A pair of overalls or a waterproof apron
- A pair of rubber gumboots (Wellington boots)
First, close the trap-door between the upper and lower compartments of your Porta Potti type toilet. Separate the two halves and empty the sewage into the assigned disposal place. This may be to a holding tank (to be pumped out later), down your own flushing toilet at home, or even to be poured slowly and carefully into a pit you have dug yourself in the ground.
Do not dispose of the feces this way in your garden, in a town or city, where it would be illegal to dispose of the sewage this way. Pouring the stuff all into a hole and gently filling in that hole with dirt is only appropriate if you are out in the wilds someplace. It is perfectly appropriate to do this if you are on a farm or other private property where the owner will not mind. The sewage is organic and will break down naturally and actually enrich the soil, unless you have killed all the natural bacteria already by using chemical additives.
Use a water hose or poured water from a bucket or a can to flush away any urine, feces, toilet paper or other matter from the upper part of the toilet. Clean the bowl, the toilet seat and the toilet lid on both sides with the toilet brush or a wet rag. Use water to flush everything clean and spotless. And pay attention to the hinge areas and less obvious places where dirt may adhere.
Finish by wiping with a damp-dry cloth moistened with disinfectant that has been diluted to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Rinse out your portable toilet’s holding tank and flush it with water to ensure that there are no solids left inside the tank. Again, wipe the top, sides and bottom with a damp-dry disinfectant cloth.
Re-assemble the top and bottom halves of the flushable camping toilet once more, and fill up the flushing compartment with clean water or a recommended chemical mix if you prefer to go that way. (The chemical mix will kill germs and therefore odors, but it is actually bad for the environment because good soil is full of living bacteria and micro-organisms.) Ideally, the waste should break down in the soil and become nutrition for the plant life, but that is a bit off-topic for a site about camping!
A portable, flushable camping toilet makes camping most anywhere into a far more civilized experience.
For while established camp sites and camping grounds will almost always have a toilet block you can use, preferably with showers as well… those luxuries won’t be available when you choose to camp for the night at some place remote from civilization and the comforts of home.
A Porta Potti or a Porta John type of portable flushable camping toilet is a plastic toilet that you can sit on comfortably to defecate or urinate into with a minimum of fuss.
Just like the W.C. at home or the “loo” in an interstate bus or on an aircraft, your waste drops into the bowl and can be flushed into a holding tank below. And when you have finished and flushed it by operating a hand pump, you then operate a lever to close a sliding trap door, thus sealing the tank. This prevents unwanted odors from being shared by the next visitor to the toilet. It also prevents leakage when the lower compartment is picked up and carried.
Once the tank is close to full, the two halves (top and bottom) can be separated, and the holding tank is carried away for emptying and cleanout. This can be at a designated campsite waste facility or it can be taken home and flushed down the toilet there.
For more detailed flushable camping toilet cleaning instructions, read How to Clean a Flushable Camping Toilet.
These portable camping toilets are available at any camping store, and from most from K-Mart or Walmart camping departments. At the time of writing this page, prices seem to range from about $150 to $250 new. You may find one a bit cheaper second-hand, but this is one case where I definitely prefer to buy the thing unused.
When camping at a public campground or any paid camping site, you can expect there will be latrines or public toilet facilities. Sanitation when camping is usually provided in the form of a toilet block of some kind with hand washing facilities at the very least.
But if you like to pitch your tent off the beaten track, your nearest toilet — when you gotta go — may be behind the nearest tree. That’s excusable in an emergency, but while doing it in the woods is fine for wild animals, it’s not fine for us humans.
Uncovered human faeces is unsightly. It stinks. It attracts flies and animals. Flies lay their eggs in the stuff and spread disease. And even when the fecal matter has gone, the toilet paper you used will be an eyesore for months or longer into the future. Please don’t leave your cr*p in the open.
If you’re camping or hiking on your own, then a one-time-use toilet hole will be adequate. You dig this with an orange plastic trowel that you can buy at any decent camping store. You dig a small hole first, 6 or 8 inches deep and as wide as a teacup and saucer. Drop your duds and squat. Do what you have to do in the hole, and only in the hole, and make sure the toilet paper and faeces are covered up by several inches of earth or sand. Tread lightly on the mound to tamp it down a bit. See How to Poop In The Woods.
When I was in the Scouts, camping in a farmers’ meadow with his permission, we used to dig a trench toilet. This is basic sanitation 101 as used by the military 100 years ago or more. You dig a trench one foot wide by two or three foot deep. Hessian or other cloth privacy screens are erected around the latrine to provide some privacy, and a bowl of water, soap and a towel are provided just outside so you can do the right thing and wash your hands afterwards.
A small shovel (or army entrenching tool) is kept next to the trench so earth can be scattered over the poop and paper when you’re done. This will discourage the flies and reduce the smell that others have to deal with. For a long standing camp, quicklime can be sprinkled in the trench as well to hasten the natural decomposition of the faeces,
If you’re camping with a car, a camper, RV or a van, you should have room for a Porta Potti or similar portable, flushable camping toilet. This brings a touch of luxury to the otherwise primitive bush toilet experience. These portable camp toilets separate into two parts… The top part includes the toilet seat, the bowl and the water tank used to flush it. The bottom part is the holding tank for the sewage and water.
The Porta Potti holding tank can be sealed shut with a lever-operated sliding trap door and the top part lifted off for cleaning. The sludge tank is then carried to a disposal facility where its contents are emptied out safely.
You will probably want to buy a toilet tent to go with your camping Porta Potti. Toilet tents can also double as a shower tent — as long as you have some means to heat the water, or if the weather is warm enough for cold showers.
An Aussie swag is a bedroll that’s wrapped in canvas to keep the whole thing waterproof, top and bottom, while you sleep out rough without a tent. Depending on the outside temperature, the swag can have one or more blankets inside, or a sleeping bag for extra warmth.
What’s more, the modern Australian swag even includes the luxury of a foam mattress or a sleeping pad underneath you as you sleep. This adds a small amount of comfort against the hardness of the cold ground below you. And it gives you extra insulation from the cold ground below you as you sleep.
Anyone who has slept rough without a camping mattress of some kind will attest that the cold ground sucks your body warmth away from you in the wee small hours of the night. So extra bedding below your body is even more important than the blanket or bedding on top; especially since your weight compresses whatever you are lying on. This reduces the loft or fluffy areas which are needed to trap warm air and keep your body heat from escaping.
A foam camping mattress has cells filled with millions of tiny air pockets which trap your body heat . It also cushions you a bit, depending on its thickness.
A small and lightweight swag designed to be rolled up and carried on a motorcycle, rather like in the classic movie Easy Rider, is narrower than average and also thinner. The motorcycle swag is a compromise all round for portability and minimize its bulk.
At the other end of the scale, I have a two-person swag stored in my garage at home. It takes up a whole heap of space. So much so that it can almost fill the complete back seat of my wife’s Ford Falcon car. And if I put this double bedroll in the trunk (the car boot) the swag alone would occupy most of the storage space by itself. This baby has a fairly thick mattress as well, which all adds to the weight and the bulk. You sure could not fit it onto a motorbike to go camping, and it is somewhat awkward to struggle with this double swag to heft it from our parked car a few hundred yards to where we last slept out in the thing.
The big advantage of an Australian swag is for grabbing a quick night’s sleep overnight without having to spend much time setting up your camp and then packing things up in the morning. With a swag, you just unbuckle the thing, because most designs have two canvas or leather straps that keep it tightly rolled up when not in use. You just throw it out to unroll itself on the ground, and you climb in for the night. And in the morning you climb out, roll up the swag and drive (or ride) away to wherever you have to get to.
And if you’re travelling through any of the country towns in Outback Australia, you will sometimes notice farmers or working mens’ Utes – small utility trucks — with the owner’s swag in the back. The swag is usually pretty big. And if the Ute belongs to a professional shooter (who kills feral pigs or kangaroos for a living) you will see a cage for the pig hunting dogs on the back of the ute as well. The pig meat or kangaroo carcases then get sold and processed to make dog food for people’s pet animals.
The Aussie swag is forever enshrined in Australian culture. The poet Banjo Paterson wrote the poem, Waltzing Matilda, which used to be Australia’s national anthem.
The song describes a “Jolly Swagman”, who’s actually an unemployed, homeless vagrant man who has to wander from town to town looking for work and a feed. (It was the Great Depression) at that time, and here in Australia, just as it was in the United States back then, there were millions of homeless and jobless people just trying to survive during very hard times.