The winter of our discount tent

2/24/2016 08:47:00 pm

About 18 months ago I became wholly obsessed with the idea that we should become campers. People who camp. And wake up with the dawn.

The bulk of my prior camping-related experience consisted of being bullied by little bitches on school camps (there's nothing like letting teenaged girls assign themselves into small groups to bring out the best in everyone) and a weekend spent at Glenworth Valley with my friends Lauren and Amy that involved me sleeping on a towel in a  borrowed tent, and a very mean horse called Princess.

Also, numerous school trips to Lake Keepit, which unlike the lake in this picture (Wallis Lake), is rarely full of water and is absolutely awful. Plastic mattresses, square scrambled eggs, and competitive outdoor activities do not make happy memories for a fat 10 year old. Especially since it always seemed to be over 40 degrees, no matter what time of year you were there. 
Also, I don't like being hot, sweaty, or dirty. So I really can't say where this burning desire to camp came from.

I woke with the dawn. Birds cheeped. The sun glowered over the sea. And my feet were this colour within 5 minutes of exiting the tent. 
We started kitting ourselves out: a tent, sleeping mats, bags, liners. We bought a butane stove, although admittedly that was more so we could cook Japanese hotpot on the balcony at home... We got all the gear, and had the best intentions in the world. But Rob also objects to being hot and sweaty, so summer camping was ruled out, and then we went on other holidays, and slowly, slowly more than a year had passed and we found ourselves about to move to Dubai, never having taken the tent from its carry case.

Obvs we're going to take the tent to Dubai and leave it untouched in the cupboard go camping in the desert, but we needed to take it for a spin first. 

Enter my friend Susan who, a number of years ago, bought a tradie van and custom fitted an ikea bed base in the back, two stoves, three camping chairs, a shade tent, scrabble board, an industrial ice box, and many many fairy lights. Susan takes camping to the next level;  one that does not involve sandy sleeping bags and half raw sausages eaten whilst huddled under a tent with a leaky fly sadly giving in to a rising outdoor water level.

For almost 6 years we've been intending to take a weekend trip to somewhere with birds and trees, and water fit for skinny dipping. But those plans went the way of the tent....up on the shelf, getting dusty. 

I'll be honest with you: when every camp site within a 200km radius was fully-booked, when the weather forecast started to look decidedly shady, and when our brakes failed in heavy traffic on the Pacific Highway, I started to feel that we were perhaps doomed.

But we got there eventually (the drive took 7.5 hours, instead of the anticipated 3.5), we set up the tent in the dark and only had the bits back-to-front twice...and the poles in the wrong holes once.

I mean, sure, we had to move the tent the following morning because we were about 6 metres off the actual site, and I got so badly sunburned that even 4 days later it hurts to touch my skin, and we were actually at a religious camp rather than a quiet and isolated bush retreat.....but we got there, and we used the tent..

And it was good. 

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