Australia is known for many weird and wonderful things like spiders, Vegemite, and Steve Irwin. But for many people, the image that first comes to mind when you mention Australia is the glorious weather. Vast, open skies filled with golden sunlight are often the pictures you imagine when you think of this country, and for good reason – it is hot. (So hot in fact, that spontaneous and devastating bush-fires break out for no apparent reason.) It’s particularly hot when you’re out in the bush with no shade where even copious esky-cold beer fails to cool you down. In January 2017, we spent four days camping at Echuca on the Murray River. The weather was stunning, the water warmed by the steamy sun, and the beers plentiful.
TIME FOR SOME BEER
In the UK and much of Europe, camping is a pursuit for those who enjoy the outdoors and just want a get away from the everyday. Usually though, you pack warm clothes, duvets, and long trousers. In Australia, you’ll spend more time half-naked than in your winter coats, and you certainly won’t need a duvet (or duna as the Aussies call them). When we arrived at our riverside campsite near Echuca-Moama, we were excited to get set up and go for a swim. It was a sweaty job watching my Dad put up the tent, so we cracked open the first Coronas of the day and settled down to watch him set up the barbecue.
It is one of the most peaceful things in the world to sit by a campfire with a drink whilst the stars are out in full force. I don’t think we’ve ever seen stars shine as brightly as they do on a clear night in Australia. It’s a whole different world to that of the polluted skies of Asia and Europe. It wasn’t the kind of camping that inspires singsongs and ghost stories, but there was some marshmallow roasting and good conversation.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAMP IN AUSTRALIA?
Well as far as I can tell, not a whole lot. You drink and you eat, you sit and you burn, and when it cools down in the afternoons (arvo in local terms) you might play some cricket. Oh, and of course you chuck a few snags on the barby…
But that’s the beauty of it really. It’s healthy. You’re disconnected from the neverending scroll of Facebook, you certainly aren’t at work, and you can really appreciate nature and relationships with other people. When it gets too hot, which is often, you jump in the river for a swim.
Our favourite pastime was to climb down the riverbanks a kilometre upriver, jump in with a lifejacket (and a beer) and float downriver until you reach the campsite. We probably did this four or five times a day, and it was immensely enjoyable.
Aside from that though, falling asleep to the chirping nightcalls of the crickets, and waking up to the sounds of cockatoos and kookaburras calling, cawing, and laughing is brilliant. You feel so close to nature, and if you manage to avoid beery hangovers, you feel surprisingly refreshed in the morning having slept under the stars.
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