This country is a big place, with enough space to go around. When I think of a great camp spot, I picture it next to a cool river, beneath a shady gum tree, or on a hilltop with a great view, but always with no-one else in sight; just the two of us and the countryside. Sounds nice, but not always achievable.
Firstly, at any given time there could be up to 450,000 other rigs scattered around just about every part of the country. And chances are that, of that number, quite a lot will be in the same area as us and, like us, looking for that same idyllic and serene camp site. No matter where we are, there have always been lots of other travellers. Locations quickly become chockers by the afternoon and look more like a caravan park than our envisaged solitary bush paradise.
The odds of sharing with the masses can be lessened, though. A lot of travellers don’t like taking their caravan or motorhome over rough roads. If you have to travel over a dirt road to get there, more so if the road is rough and corrugated, the camp site will be populated by the sub-set who have off-road capability or who take it steady coming in. Further reducing the competition is a lack of amenities – toilet; water; power – as lots of rigs aren’t self-contained. Even more significantly reducing the chances of having neighbours is if the location isn’t listed in any of the camp site reference sources like Camps Australia and WikiCamps. These are obviously hard to find. I know of two and am not having them listed, but sure as eggs, someone in the above-mentioned horde will eventually do so.
So far in our travels, we’ve camped at 81 locations in five states/territories for an average of 4 days each, and in no more than 10 of those locations could it be said that we were on our own without neighbours in sight. Most of the time, we’ve shared camp sites with other travellers and they with us. We always try therefore to be mindful of the etiquette of living within close proximity to strangers and have for the most part found others to be like that too. And generally everyone has an enjoyable experience.
But people are people, whether they are travelling or not, and there are always the few exceptions.
Recently, we were camped next to a lovely running stream and a great view up the river – close to qualifying as an idyllic location, I’d have to admit. We went away for the day and arrived back to find that someone had come in during the day and backed their caravan in very close to ours and in such a way that our great view was blocked. We’d previously seen this same van at another location, and I specifically remembered it because it was unnecessarily parked in such a way as to partly block the access track and impede movement of other vehicles. Not a way to make friends, I thought at the time.
I know we can’t own a view but, with a little consideration, these people could have run their van forward a couple of metres, retaining their view of the river and still allowing us ours. They knew they’d blocked us as the wife mentioned it in passing in a rather unapologetic way. In fact, they’d backed in so close that the tail of their van was actually sitting over our wood pile and portable fire pit!
They’d already set up and unhitched by the time we’d gotten back from our drive, so what could I do? Jumping up and down and whinging seemed a bit childish and petulant. I considered just lighting up the fire pit, but figured their blazing caravan would probably be too close to our van for safety. So I moved the wood pile and fire pit and afforded them no hospitality whatsoever, aside from the evil eye as I fired up my generator. A much more adult solution, I thought. Strike One against them.
We learned later that when they initially pulled in, the wife had taken out a chair, sat down uninvited beneath the awning of the next caravan along and told the somewhat stunned owners that she was going to wait there in the shade while her husband finished setting up their caravan. Strike Two.
Later that evening and again uninvited, they gate-crashed those same people while they were entertaining a group of friends. They were given a very cold-shouldered reception until they left. Strike Three.
Most people get it, but you encounter the occasional ones who seem to have no boundaries when it comes to interacting with others, like the above couple who blissfully travel the country, knowingly or unknowingly leaving a trail of disruption and irritation wherever they set foot. We’ve also come across:
- the “Twanger DJs” who reckon everyone will appreciate their community broadcast of heartfelt ballads about a) knowin’ when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, b) my woman/man left me, c) I have a gun, d) I am going to shoot my woman/man, e) the gov’ment’s trying to take my gun, or f) I’m goin’ to jail ‘cause I shot my woman/man;
- the “Sprawlers” who spread their vehicle, van, awning, generator and the rest of their gear across a couple of camp sites, maximising their own space and precluding anyone else – especially appreciated when there are no other sites available as a result;
- the “Camp Barons” who don’t go for the whole open-range concept and instead fence off a large camp site with pickets and rope (similar to the Sprawlers but neater);
- the “ETs” who have loud “phone home” conversations on speaker outside their van;
- the “Not In My Back Yarders” (aka NIMBYs) who let their little Rat-Dog roam free and think it’s just so cute when it piddles and poops in my camp site. (BTW These dogs make great fishing bait);
- the “Front Row Forwards” who see a gap and just have to take it, setting up in that little bit of space in front of someone’s van, regardless that the space was there because the car was unhitched, and they are now blocking that van from being re-hitched; and
- the “Huddlers” whose flocking instinct compels them set up camp right beside you when there are literally acres of space available.
Boundary n, pl –ries 1. something that indicates the farthest limit, as of an area; border 2. (cricket) the marked limit of the playing area.
Boundaries are necessary to maintain order, establish limits, provide containment, ensure an absence of chaos and mayhem, and result in 4 or 6 runs depending on how the boundary is reached. Most people do get it; every now and then, though…
All I’m saying is, in the laissez-faire environment of a camp site, it’s important to have boundaries to avoid my playing area and your playing area intersecting above my wood pile.
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra