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Get the most out of camping
  |  First Published: June 2003



CAMPING in our great North West takes a bit of planning and confronts different challenges from those you’d experience in a cooler climate. However, with some forethought you can make a successful camping trip with either vehicle or vessel.

CAMPING IN THE GULF

First of all, its all about location, location, location. In the North West there are some great camping spots ranging from freshwater streams, such as the Gregory River, to major saltwater estuaries, such as Inkerman Station and Dinah Island on the Staaten river. Whatever the location, make sure it is both legal and a safe place to camp. In this neck of the woods, if an injury is bad enough to require more than first-aid, your holiday is probably over.

Also, be sure to pack a good hat and sunscreen and long pants and long-sleeved shirts. This clothing will protect you both from the sun and from midges.

Power

There are all sorts of power options for camping, and generators are a necessary evil if you want refrigeration on a long-term trip. Any more than a couple of days in Gulf weather and you won’t be able to carry all the ice you need for the duration of your stay. Drinking beer that’s ‘Kimberley Cold’ isn’t my idea of a good camping trip.

If you want to go the generator, let me tell you about a little bloke called the Honda EU10i. This little red rocket is as four-stroke quiet as a mouse generator that has enough grunt to run a couple of big portable fridge-freezers, like the 70L and 90L EvaKools, and a couple of lights. All the power you need. The fuel tank takes about 5L of fuel and lasts up to nine hours. Noise level is whisper quiet, and if it’s behind a tree 30 metres away you can’t hear it. It also has an ECO throttle setting which adjusts the revs according to load, and can recharge a 12-volt battery. Weighing in at 13kg, it’s a great little powerplant.

Refrigeration

When we go on a 2-3 day trip we use the Hinda EU10i to power a 70L EvaKool 12-volt fridge-freezer and a Chescold 40L three-way fridge-freezer. The EvaKool is heaps big enough to house all the food for the family and to cool down enough beers for the night ales. The Chescold is used as a freezer to keep meats and the like frozen until needed. On a bigger trip with three or four blokes needing more beer, all you need is another similar sized unit for just the beer.

The generator has enough grunt to run the two big fridges and the freezer during the day, and when it’s switched off for the night the three-way goes onto gas to keep everything cold.

Sleeping

A good night’s sleep is essential. We take swags on the boat as the protection of the canvas covers help if the boat trip is a bit lumpy.

While some like to swag it out in the middle of the flat, the mozzies can get pretty bad. The mozzie net we use is the Oz Trail Screen Dome. All four walls have Sand Fly mesh which makes it a perfect place to put the swag. Remember, not all mozzie nets keep out all mozzies and I don’t know of any others that keep out sandflies.

A stint under a solar shower left in the sun all day makes for a better sleep as well.

What you don't need

You really don't need to take bottles on camping trips. They are heavy, break easily and are a hassle to take home – and leaving broken glass for the next campers can lead to lynchings and mob justice.

You also don't need to take a 20L drum to cook crabs in and then leave it for the next bloke. This results in a pile of 20L drums thrown over the back because no one wants a blackened drum in their gear on the way home. Instead, take a big cooking pot and clean the crabs before cooking them on the gas stove. Too easy.

To help the environment, please don’t leave litter such as aluminium cans (which don’t burn in the camp fire) and broken crab claws (people can stand on them). Make the effort to look after your camp spot, and perhaps the next person will do the same. Take an extra garbage bag to bring home any unexpected rubbish, and keep our country beautiful.

KARUMBA OPTIONS FOR JUNE

If you plant to visit Karumba in June, try fishing the channels and drop-offs for grunter and blue salmon. A good starter for bait is squid, as long as it is of good quality (the local squid you can purchase in the stores around town is better again). Mullet and prawns are also fine. Live mullet will catch you the blue salmon.

Big queenies should still be around the Sand Island and haunting the local channel drop-offs, and big GTs are also still an option. School jewfish should start to appear around the place this month, and these fish are great eating when they’re around the 5-6kg mark. Fish the deeper holes with flesh baits or whole squid on the smaller tides.

IDIOT OF THE MONTH

I still have no trouble finding candidates for this prestigious award! Picture this – if you caught a massive jewie around the 150cm mark, would you remove it from the water for around 15 minutes onto the beach for photos and then just let it drift away on the tide as part of the release program? Luckily some clued-up bystanders in a boat lip-gaffed the poor fish and dragged it around for a while until it came good.

Thank heavens most of these fools are holidaying idiots. Go home to your village!

Until next month!

1) Darryl Climas with the result of a well planned camping trip: his first ever barra. Icing on the cake!

2) Another good barra for a well-prepared camper. That great hat (called Gilligan) kept the sun off his face the whole time – nearly. It definitely psyched out the fish.

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