Camping Etiquette

 

I know most people who enjoy camping are naturals when it comes to etiquette.  We all like to get away for various reasons, but when we arrive at our destination, there are a few basic things you should and shouldn't do.  No hard and fast rules exist, and I'm sure this is all commonsense to most. 

If there are no designated camping spots, please don't camp right next to others.  Even if your regular spot is taken, look elsewhere.  Don't try to intimdate people into moving.  It's all about peace, quiet and seclusion.  Try and find a spot well screened and little apart from others if possible.  At times, designated spots will be very close together.  In this case, be as quiet as possible and try not to disturb other campers too much.

If an area has designated spots, use them and don't go off making your own.  This just causes unnecessary damage.  You are not going to gain much by doing so anyway.

Say hello, but don't make a nuisance of yourself.  Play it by ear.  If you strike up a conversation with someone and everyone is happy, then there is no problem in visiting each other's campsites and yapping away 'till the early hours.  Don't assume the person who waves and says hello, but won't stop to chat, is a grumpy old (or not so old) bugger.  He or she probably just wants a couple of days away to relax.  (You never know, his or her partner might be able to talk under water with a mouth full of marbles - it might be the only time he or she has some peace).

Please do not play loud music.  Most of us would have had to put up with the yobos across the road, next door or three streets away that seem to play loud music at the most inappropriate time.  It is very annoying.  It's worse when camping.  Most people go camping to get away from all of that rubbish.  Sound also carries a lot further out there in the bush, even more so across water, so keep it very low, or better yet turn it off.  You will survive without it.  There is nothing worse than waking up at 3.00 a.m. to thumping bass.

Have a modest camp fire.  Enough to sit around and keep warm.  I mean for your family/group to sit around, not the entire campsite.  Try to use areas designated for campfires or areas that have previously been used for that purpose.  When you leave make an attempt to cover up all signs of the fire.  It is a tad unsightly having to pitch a tent amongst small piles of charcoal. 

Always make sure your fire is extinguished properly.  You really need to use water, not just dirt.  Dirt will put it out, but the area will retain heat for hours afterwards, which might cause an injury to anyone, or anything, silly enough to go sticking things into it.  Water will extinguish it and cool it.

Please use your own firewood.  Firewood is a pain to pack and carry, but it has to be done.  Removing it from the surrounding environment is now a no no.  This includes dead wood lying around on the ground.  You may need a bag of kindling as well as wood.  A few years ago I saw a group of three young lads, completely destroy an entire dead tree and burn it.  The tree would have been about three metres tall.  One of them climbed it, broke off the top, and worked his way down.  All three then pushed on the stump until it came out of the ground and they burnt that too.  Whilst they were doing it, I was stupid enough to tell them to stop.  I was threatened with a wheel brace and. because I was miles from anywhere and thought where he was going to stick the wheel brace might have been a bit uncomfortable, I shut up and enjoyed the heat from their "campfire" that was burning 100 metres away.

Don't burn rubbish in your fire.  It amazes me how many people still don't realise tin cans and alfoil won't burn.  Quite often you will find the remnants of both lying amongst the charcoal of a campfire, along with bottle tops. 

Don't bathe in the waterways.  By all means swim if OK to do so, but don't use soap or any other cleansing substances.  Bathe well away from the water.  (You can use soap then).  This may mean you have to cart a few bucket loads back to your shower spot, but it's no big deal really.  The 20 litre shower bags you fill up and leave in the sun to heat up are great.  They are dirt cheap and work well.  Or, you could be like my son, who would be quite happy to spend a few days without a bath or shower if he could get away with it.

If you have a generator, please make sure it goes off early.  9.00 p.m. at the latest I reckon.  I tend to fall asleep hours earlier when camping than I do at home.   

Make sure you know what your kids are up to.  The little devils can be sneaky.  Most of the time, they are great when camping as there is always something to keep them amused and, often, it will be some innocent little thing they have done that will invoke the wrath of someone.  Camping at a secluded spot in Lincoln National Park, I was woken up by an irritating noise.  It was about 6.00 a.m., and I had fallen asleep the night before, being the only camper within miles.  During the night, a family of four had arrived.  They were a nice family, obviously experienced campers, with mum, dad, a teenage boy and a little fella of about 4 yrs.  The 4 year old had wandered away from his camp and found a tin can enroute to my camp.  He had set the can up on a rock and was throwing rocks at it.  All this about 5 metres from the entrance to my tent.  He was hitting the can on a regular basis, and this was what had woken me up.  Mum and dad were very apologetic (and relieved at their son turning up unhurt) - I thought it was quite funny - the 4 year old was very nonchalant about the whole thing.  (Teenage son also got an earbashing for showing his brother how to throw rocks at cans the day before).

If a campground has a rainwater tank, only use it if absolutely necessary.  Water is a precious resource, especially in the drier areas of this State.  So washing the dishes, watering the shrubs, filling water balloons and filling kids wading pools (true) are all bad.

Don't leave any rubbish lying around.  As well as the unsightly mess, it's no good for the fauna.  Most established areas have places to dump rubbish, so utilise them.  This may mean carting your rubbish from your campsite to the entrance of the park or reserve, but it's easy enough to do.

There are probably other issues that I have not addressed, and if I think of anything else I'll add it, but it really is just common sense.