Five camping hacks for bringing your home comforts with you
Issued: 13 Sep 2018

Camping in a national park, especially for first-time campers, can seem daunting. Why then?

Photo credit: © Queensland Government

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’ to make camping in our parks and forests easier and comfier than perhaps you’d have ever thought possible.

Three tents are set up next to a picnic table in a grassy open camping area fringed by trees. Burtons Well camping area, Bunya Mountains National Park | Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

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 by 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.
In the blackness of night, four friends sit in camp chairs around a camp fire, bathed in the red glow of the fire, with two cars parked nearby and starry skies overhead. Camping by lamp light | © Tourism Events Queensland

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 camping area 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.

A man is cooking bacon and boiling a teapot over a campfire.Campfire cooking, D'Aguilar National Park | © Queensland Government

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!

 A car and tent are separated by two pop-up camping shelters harbouring camp chairs, tables, eskies, plastic bins, water cans, gas bottles and other camping gear, against a forest backdrop. Castle Rock camping area, Girraween National Park | © Hannah Beaumont

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 your 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!

An amenities block with wooden outdoor showers is located in a sandy open area. Facilities at Ocean Beach camping area, Bribie Island National Park | Rose Gray © Queensland Government

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 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!’

Two four-wheel drives are parked near two pop-up shalters with assorted cmaping gear, near the beach with a backdrop of coastal vegetation, all bathed in the golden light of late afternoon. Teewah Beach camping area, Cooloola Recreation Area | © Chris Whitelaw

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.