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How to prepare for remote camping with a camper trailer or caravan

Practical Motoring logo Practical Motoring 2018-09-11 Robert Pepper

a truck driving down a dirt road © Provided by Practical Motoring Camping is the gateway to remote area travel, so it's a good skill to master. Here's how to prepare for remote camping with a camper trailer or caravan.

THE TOUGHEST TYPE of camping is extended duration, no-facilities remote camping. So like any other complex skill, it's best to build up to it; start with day trips, overnights at caravan parks, overnights in defined campsites, weekends at defined campsites and so on until you're ready for remote camping.  

Remote camping is just a patch of ground far from anywhere, nothing more, nothing less, so here are some of the things you'll need to plan for:

  • Finding a site - a defined campsite is easy, it's literally signposted and marked. In contrast, you'll need to pick a remote site and find somewhere big enough, without hazards such as gum tree branches and flash floods risks.  The ground may not be flat, and you'll need to deal with that, and ensure your toilet sites are a suitably long way away from a watercourse. You may need to brush yourself a flat area, but you can't go around completely remodelling the bush as that's not environmentally friendly. Often where you camp will be rather undefined, so you may need to start looking for a site in the late afternoon and take the first decent one you see.
  • Toilets and facilities - there will be none, so bring a shovel and be prepared to use it. Follow the usual toilet procedures; deep hole, bury it all, toilet paper only.

  • Help - will be a long way off, so in every way, you'll need to be self-sufficient. That includes an emergency plan and communications if needs be. Satphones, distress beacons and the like are all useful.

  • Navigation - you'll need to very much find your own way around, not relying on signs. A selection of offroad topographic maps is what you want, not relying on a potentially non-existent Internet service or your vehicle's in-car satnav.

  • Permits - are you even allowed to be there, let alone camp? Remote areas aren't necessarily signposted with rules and regulations, you have to figure them out before you go. And you may be allowed to pass through but not camp. All this can be found out from the landowner or land authority, usually the relevant state parks agency.

  • Provisions - there will be no ducking back to the shops, so you'll need to bring everything you need and extras, just in case. This is why you need to work up to remote camping, as by the time you try it your camp checklist needs to be second nature. 

  • Ecological - just because there are no signs saying you can't doesn't mean to say you should. You need to become aware of what's responsible and what's not; such as not using fires when appropriate, or re-using fireplaces, use of firewood, off-track driving, the location of campsites.

  • Trailer - not all caravans are designed for off-grid camping, but are reliant on being plugged in to the facilities at a caravan park. 
  • Group size - remote camping generally means a measure of the unknown, and the bigger the group, the harder it is to deal with unknowns such as finding a campsite. A group of 3 to 4 is ideal for company and safety, yet still small enough for flexibility.
  • Fixes - part of self sufficiency is being able to handle failures and fix things; so you're not slowed down by a loss of say a single stove, or a bent tent peg, or a flat tyre. This is all part of the experience.

Remote camping offers experiences you can't hope to achieve anywhere else, but it takes careful preparation. Work up to it, and enjoy what few others will ever achieve!

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