I wanted to do a blog purely on camping out. Mainly because we usually use the freecamps, National Parks and Forestry’s when we can and this is the true and traditional Aussie camping out experience. This is a choice of ours and a clear preference of many, although we do have a holiday every now and then in a holiday park… or caravan park, like everyone else who uses occasionally or actually prefer these ‘plug in’ settings every now and then.
Caravan parks get mighterly offended that there are options other than their establishments for travellers and in some area’s the Councils even ban and dismantle, or severely restrict any other options, particularly freecamps and rest stops… usually because the CP proprietor is on, or associated with, the Council. Such behaviour of those in any position of authority should be illegal but this practice operates under the guidelines Councils themselves make. Sorta like a ‘Little Caesar’ mentality. The arguments are many and varied but most offensive are those that infringe on civil liberty and freedom of choice, particularly when they impact adversely on other businesses in the many towns and cities across Aus’.
There is a thriving and healthy industry of international visitors and travellers who almost totally depend on accommodation at National Parks, Forestry Areas and Freecamps when travelling outside our main cities, this with the occasional Caravan Park stop. They are here to experience our wilderness, they are not here for 3 days or a week, but often a few months or a year or more. Travelling as they do, in tents, trailers and rooftop tents we have met hundreds of them in the last month or more… it has truly amazed me. It is the season for tourists up in the Top End and the international travellers abound. There are also quite a few ‘Caesar rules’ types who support exclusively, and often legislate purely in the interest of their local caravan parks (usually with a personal fiscal interest involved) and can quite potentially destroy our wonderful international reputation of hospitality and welcome and ‘ease with choice’ of accommodation for the traveller, both international and national.
The Northern Territory has some truly premier tropical savannah National Parks and visiting them has been a wonderful experience. We have met some lovely like-minded people and couple of bloody minded twats, but you find this lot everywhere. We chose not to venture into Kakadu, which is another premier Park of tropical savannah, with magnificent features and plenty of wildlife. Having spent a month there some years ago and having come away with some glorious experiences, we simply don’t want to have such memories despoiled I think. Katherine Gorge is also on the agenda in the up coming weeks, but that will be purely a ‘tourist’ experience this time, for us, and it will be in the company of some special people in our lives.
We did meet up with a feral group of DD (double D/double dipping) campers. In Aus, the feral is indicative of a group of people who, in general, have broken away from the conventions of society, ie work, reward, responsibility, however they still expect the support and legacy of this same society they so easily criticize. ie they still expect monies, services and other privileges, which most work hard to support and provide. In general this lot also have an inflated concept of their privilege and rights. DD or the Double Dipping is a term ‘The Man’ uses for the generation of kids, raised on Social Security benefits and who are now also supported as adults by these same benefits. They generally prefer to live in the remoter regions where work is harder to find, it is easier to grow or access all manner of illegal substances and plants, and it is easy to make excuses for your laziness and lack of ingenuity or initiative. It is a ‘sucker/succouring’ lifestyle about which they feel entirely entitled.
This was a group of seven, who had left it until around dusk to arrive, only to find all the campsites occupied. Their complaints were long and loud and they were met with advice to set up quietly and wait for a camper to leave the next morning where by they could secure a campsite. Their complaints were still long and loud, they extended to a lack of communications, a lack of convenience and a lack of other peoples organization and consideration (particularly in regard to when it affected them in any way) along with a disrespect for others and a distaste at the requirement to pay the meagre $6.60 pp per day for a camping site… legal or illegal… strange that.
The next morning they did secure a campsite… actually two (of the only seven available). They were hoping for more friends to arrive even though it didn’t look likely. They occupied both these limited sites with bedrolls and tarps and sundry items and I must add that it looked more like a garage sale than a campsite. They totally ignored that there were other campers seeking the limited sites. Their reasoning was their inflated sense of entitlement and disregard for others needs. They simply spread themselves out rather inconveniently for conversation and companionship I thought.
As irritated as most of us were by not only their excessive noise but by their privileged attitude, rational arrived with the Ranger… you gotta love these guys and girls! They sorted them out, moved them to one site and made sure they registered their occupation. Their friends never did arrive btw.
These Rangers work hard, working often in remote locations and they have my greatest respect. They also note registrations of cars and trailers and if the appropriate fees are not paid with registrations noted, you (the driver/owner) will get a healthy fine in the mail. The group who had expressed a want to stay for an extended period, left the next day. I guess it was that the Ranger actually expected them to pay for the site, which had them moving on quicker than their want.
The tourists and travellers, though, are usually a lovely group to deal with, even if some of them have strange ways. There was the ‘wicked camper’ that got stuck at the end stream or a river crossing with his little baby forbie and required a ‘snap strap’ to get him out. Petrol motors are not quite as hardy as the trusty diesel off-road vehicle, nor as good at river crossings and I seriously doubted this Pommy knew what constituted an off road vehicle and what constituted a toy, one with ‘Jurassic Park’ scribbled all over the side of it. This all comes down the lack of experience, particularly in judging what your vehicle is capable of and an inflated desire for adventure.
Amazing to me are those who ignore the ‘No Caravan’ signs, thinking that well… it doesn’t apply to them and their caravan. Or those in the campervans who think that their baby is a 4×4 vehicle capable of off road driving just because it has RV written on it somewhere. RV means Recreational Vehicle! It is NOT a 4×4, nor an aeroplane or aquaduck. They often believe that it isn’t really a small-wheeled, low set van at all, despite appearances. These RV’ers can be actually quite dangerous and we came across one who thought they were in an all-terrain vehicle and also had decided to forgo the meagre cost of the strictly regulated camping arrangements, those designed to preserve the wilderness and wildlife. I guess they felt they were special too. Once again those wonderful Rangers where left to sort them out… and tow their very bogged vehicle out of the sand… not far from the ‘Strictly no off road driving allowed’ sign. These blokes and girls really have to love their job.
It has been an education in venturing into the parts of the Park that accommodate the masses. Much quieter are the places where fewer vehicles go such as Tjaynera Falls where we ended up staying for an entire week and then some, well away from the full onslaught of the maddening crowd. Yes… it has been a very interesting experience and one very much enjoyed all around.
Carry on Travelling
Jan is an author and traveller, you can follow her blogs here by pressing the ‘follow’ tab at the top of the page.