Camping in a national park, especially for first-time campers, can seem a little daunting. No electricity, no shiny bathroom, no kitchen sink…the ‘home comforts’ you leave behind might make you hesitate.
Why then, do so many of us love camping in Queensland's parks and forests?
Camping adds richness to our lives, according to a recent survey. Camping is all about reconnecting to the real world—yourself, your loved ones and nature. In short, camping makes you happier!
So we’ve come up with five hacks for making happy campers of ‘first-timers’...tips to make camping in our parks and forests easier and more comfy than perhaps you’d have ever thought possible.
1. Swap the power cord for batteries
Fact: Camping areas in parks and forests don’t have power.
This means the hair-dryer stays at home. But that’s fine because everyone else will have ‘camp hair’ too.
You’ll need battery, gas or solar-powered equipment for lighting, such as torches and lanterns. And, for ‘mood lighting’, nothing beats the gentle glow from a camp fire. If you are using inflatable mattresses, we suggest a pump that plugs into the 12-volt car battery. Or invest in a self-inflating mattress…
Tip: Don’t rely on lighting powered from the car battery or you’ll find your stay ‘extended’ when the car won’t start.
Of course, if you simply can’t live without power (for the coffee machine!) make sure you book a site where the use of generators is allowed.
And, if you do plan on using a generator, be considerate of other campers around you by keeping noise to a minimum!
- Check any noise restrictions and hours of use that may apply in your camping area.
- When purchasing a generator look for one with low noise levels.
2. Cooking in a camp kitchen made easy
Fact: No gourmet kitchen facilities here!
But you still have options for cooking up a storm, or even just feeding the troops! Camp with friends who have all the gear and can cook for you! That may sound flippant but it’s helpful to camp with others and share equipment.
If that isn’t an option, search for a camp site that has barbecue and picnic facilities so you’ll have a hotplate for cooking, and a table for preparing meals. Or you can start your own camp kitchen collection, and purchase a fuel or gas stove for cooking and boiling the billy.
To make camp life easier, prepare meals at home before you go. Curries, pasta sauces and casseroles all make perfect ‘camp food’—simply reheat and cook the accompaniment (rice or spaghetti) in your camp kitchen!
No matter which option you choose, you’ll also need to BYO esky, cook set and camping tableware and cutlery. Remember the can opener!
Tip: Don’t rely on a camp fire for cooking—camp fires are not permitted in all camping areas.
3. BYO water on tap
Fact: Water coolers not provided!
While some camping areas have tap water at camp sites or in the amenities, tap water in our parks and forests generally isn’t suitable for drinking (without treating).
So you will usually need to bring your own drinking water with you. Simple. Buy a large refillable water container that has a tap for convenience. Fill it at home before you leave and there you have it—water on tap! Bring along personal water bottles, too, if you plan on getting active away from camp.
You’ll also need one or two buckets for collecting water for the washing up. Buckets are incredibly useful when camping—make sure you’re not caught short of a bucket!
4. Loos with views
Fact: Queensland's parks and forests do have ‘loos’! (Views are optional, but the settings are great!)
Many camping areas have toilets—either the normal flush variety or composting or hybrid systems. It’s only when you really ‘go bush’ that you’ll need your spade and a toilet roll! Even then, you can BYO portable toilet.
And you don’t necessarily have to do without your shower! Some camping areas have showers, or cubicles for portable showers if you want to BYO.
Of course, if you camp near a river or waterhole, a splash in the shallows (only if safe!) will keep you all smelling like roses. Forget the soap and shampoo though—they’ll harm the water quality.
For a touch of luxury, heat water in the billy and fill a bucket. Washing face and hands, as the breeze rustles the tree branches above you, and birds call all around you, is the perfect way to start or end your day. Forget your trendy outdoor shower at home—you get the ‘real deal’ when camping!
5. BYO deck and deckchairs
Fact: Not all camp sites offer shade.
A tent, camper trailer or van is great for sleeping but you need a ‘day shelter’ as well. In short, you’ll want your ‘deck’.
The solution is to bring your own shade. Pack a large tarp with tent poles and guy ropes, or a simple a pop-up gazebo with tie-down pegs. Ground sheets to lay beneath the shelter are also useful for keeping the camp site clean.
Tip: Bring a brush and pan. Remember the ‘deck chairs’ too. Pack a few camp chairs—nice comfy ones with arm rests and drink holders.
Now you are set—sit and watch the sun go down and think, ‘Now this is camping!’
Good to go!
Camping in our parks and forests can be ‘comfy’. With just a little planning, you’ll still enjoy your home comforts—they just come in different (more ‘earthy’) guises!
All you need to do now is decide which camp site facilities you need, then jump online to search for camping areas in your region that fit the bill. When you’re ready, book and pay for your camp site before you go.
Find out more about camping in Queensland National Parks.