Outback Camping Tips

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Outback Camping Tips

What is outback camping?

The Outback is the vast heartland or backcountry, embodying much that’s most distinctive about the country. To put it simply, outback camping is just like camping but with the added dimension of preparation to deal with what’s in the back-country.    

Outback camping tips

As with any other journey, planning and preparation are key. There are many things to consider, but to be able to travel and camp in the bush safely, you should keep in mind a few things:

First, you should think about whether you’re traveling alone or with a group and if there are children with you. Consider this early as you plan your supply checklist. 

Second, expect a lot of walking, especially when you’re in the vast outdoors. You may experience extreme environments in the wild that range from heat in the day and cold temperatures at night, and this may not go well with people with medical conditions. 

Next, always allow for setbacks in the schedule. For instance, a sudden downpour or thunderstorm may cause flooding along the way that can block roads, keeping you from traveling for a day or so. Hence, always have a plan B. Again, preparation is key.

Lastly, plan your finances accordingly and expect that most of your expenses would be for food and gas.  

Here are some more things to consider:

Know where you are going 

In the outback, if you wander without a fixed destination or if you don’t know where you’re going, you could easily become lost. Before starting a journey, be sure to have a map or compass. Digital maps on your phone are great but if you’re ever without means of powering your devices, a physical map is a lifesaver.

Understand driving times 

While driving times are straightforward, distance perception can play tricks on you, especially when you are dehydrated. Additionally, even if you are in the wild, keep within speed limits and avoid driving at night. A lot of unexpected things can still happen even when you’re not driving in the city.

Check weather conditions 

Always check the weather before heading out as this may affect or impact travel times. A terrible weather may ruin your trip.   

Get a permit (if applicable) 

Whenever applicable, obtain the required camping permits (available online) and pay the fees especially for protected areas like parks, forests and reserves. It would be a bummer to travel to a location only to know that a permit is needed.

Get a checklist 

As the day of your trip draws closer, a checklist or two will keep you from forgetting anything. It’s important to consider making a checklist to keep track of the important things you need to bring during your trip.       

Phone signal 

Phone signal is available in most populated areas but for extended camping trips in the vast outdoors, it is recommend to lease or buy a satellite phone, especially for urgent communications. You may also purchase emergency beacons that let rescuers know where you are during an emergency. 

Inform others

Let your family and trusted friends know where you are, where you’re headed, and what your itinerary will be. Then make arrangements for calling them each day or every other day at regular intervals. That way, if they don’t hear from you, they can alert the authorities to start a search. 

What to pack for outback camping?

When packing for an Outback trip, you’ll need to balance necessity with practicality. Considering all the physical exertion and activity involved, it is recommended to travel light, and maximize the space you have in your vehicle, but definitely not at the expense of the following essential items:   

Water 

Dehydration is deadly. Bring more water than you think you need as you can quickly get dehydrated in the outdoors. As much as you can adequately store or pack, it is recommended to bring 4-5 liters of water or more, for each person, every day. 

Repair tools 

Your car must have some adequate repair tools. Because most of your time will be spent behind the wheel, the last thing you want is to have a vehicle emergency like a flat tire that would delay and derail the entire trip. Additionally, a bladeless multitool with folding pliers or a standard Swiss army knife would also be good to have. 

First aid 

First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. Bring a kit that’s meant specifically for the wild outdoors–with supplies to deal with snake and insect bites, scorpion stings, and sunburn as well.     

Food and cooking gear 

Choose foods that do not perish quickly in the heat. Ensure that you have the needed cooking gear such as pans, fire source, and utensils needed for your meals. 

Toiletries 

Adequate supplies for washing, sanitation, general hygiene, feminine products and baby nappies should never be forgotten. Also, don’t forget the sunblock and bug spray. These come in handy almost all the time.

Sleeping gear 

Depending on the time of year and where you are, it can get extremely cold or uncomfortably hot. Choose your sleeping gear accordingly. Most experienced Outback campers swear by the Swag, which is essentially a sleeping bag with a mattress inside. 

Lighting

It is recommended to bring some camp lights, headlamps and some torches. These are helpful especially during the night. 

Extra batteries 

As you will no doubt be bringing cameras, phones, lights and other devices, always have some batteries or power packs ready. You might also want to consider solar chargers as options.   

Clothes 

As mentioned, the climate can be extreme. As with all camping trips, the best advice is to wear clothes in layers. When it gets warm you can remove some layers or add more if it gets too cold. Don’t forget to bring rugged footwear meant for hikes.       

Personal items

Make sure you have a hat with a wide brim for walks in the sun, as well as a fly net to keep those pesky insects at bay.

Is outback camping safe?

As with all things use common sense, careful planning, and preparation is needed to make your journey a memorable one. Do your research ahead of time. 

There’s also safety in numbers: If it’s your first time, it is highly recommended to be part of a group with people who have done the journey or camping trip before, rather than going about the trip solo.  

Remember, as long as you know what you are doing, you have essential things needed, you have general knowledge about safety tips, you are safe to go. 

Advantages of outback camping

Australia is a beautiful place and nowhere else can your experience better than by experiencing and adventure on the Outback, offering vast and varied opportunities to: 

Explore

Visit Uluru Rock and marvel at the inscription left by indigenous people hundreds of years ago. Ride a 4×4 for an unforgettable Gibb River road trip or step into Mungo National Park for an outback experience that leaves you feeling like you are on cloud nine.

Connect with nature

Discover the wonders of flora and fauna. See the kangaroos, koalas, and more in their native habitat or watch the sunset on the back of a camel. 

Take in fresh air and sunshine

Refresh your mind and spirit as you breathe the clean air and sunshine and revel in the solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of cities and populated areas   

Enjoy the wilderness

Enjoy the feeling of freedom and adventure you can only find in the wild Outback. This is the best time to enjoy yourselves–and probably the only time where you’re free from work constraints and other responsibilities, so make the most out of it.