Do you have a bad reaction when somebody says they’re going camping? You know the one: your nose turns up, the corners of your mouth turn down and you get a slight shiver all over your body, as if a really bad smell has just wafted past.
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Admittedly, I used to have much the same views about camping. It’s uncomfortable, far too close to nature and there's all those stinging insects, snakes and spiders.
But then I met the huntin’, fishin’, shootin’ and camping love of my life.
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He dragged me kicking and screaming into the outback in a swag, one of those rolls of canvas containing a thin strip of foam that you sleep on. Ours is one of the luxurious ones with a mesh cover to keep insects out and a canvas top that you can zip up in case of rain – sort of like sleeping in a coffin.
And I – a former five-stars-all-the-way girl – loved it.
Even as a woman of a certain age (ahem .. 37 .. cough) with a bad back, that thin strip of foam is comfortable.
And there really is nothing to compare with the sheer beauty and romanticism of sleeping under a million stars, with no city lights to dim their beauty. The Milky Way was something I hadn’t seen since I was a kid, but there it was, a long, thick glittering streak in the sky.
I haven’t looked back since.
For our trip up the Old Telegraph Track to Cape York, we swapped the swag for a roof-top tent (to get us up off the ground and away from crocs). This had the added benefit of allowing us to lie in bed of a morning with a cup of coffee, while we watched the sun rise through the gum trees or over the ocean across our ‘balcony’ of the roof of the car.
While on the Old Tele Track, we met a couple on their honeymoon.
The question they most often got was “why?” Apart from Cape York being one of the most romantic places in the world, where you can watch the sunrise over the ocean and then set over a different ocean the same day, or walk on an isolated tropical beach where few have ever set foot, why camping?
Just imagine pulling up at a bush camping site, setting up your camp (even the most elaborate don’t take that long), sitting with a glass of wine and watching the sunset, eating dinner by candlelight, then sitting around an open fire looking for shooting stars among the millions in the sky before retiring to a comfortable bed. Who wouldn’t feel romantic?
For all those who still aren’t convinced, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 romantic things we’ve done while camping.
Some of these you can do without camping, but you often have to pay a premium. It’s hard to top the experience of doing them on a budget and all in one trip. Some of these places you can only stay at if you camp, and often there's nobody else around.
I guess the joys of camping really are in the way you look at it.