Re­dis­cover qual­ity time in the out­doors

Tech­nol­ogy free hol­i­days get fam­i­lies talk­ing again

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - BY Letea Ca­van­der

EVEN camp­ing ex­perts can for­get vi­tal equip­ment for a bush hol­i­day. Tony Tan­ner, who has owned or man­aged camp­ing shops for 10 years, said he had that sink­ing feel­ing at a camp site when he re­alised he had re­mem­bered ev­ery­thing – ex­cept the tent.

He said dou­ble-check­ing equip­ment, be­fore leav­ing, was im­por­tant. Mr Tan­ner also said three camp­ing vitals were fresh wa­ter, a stove (the type de­pends on the type of camp­ing) and sun­screen.

“Check that your wa­ter con­tainer is clean and has been ster­ilised, oth­er­wise ev­ery­one gets sick,” he said.

The ex­pert camper said any­one trav­el­ling re­motely, or even over­seas, should also in­vest in a LifeS­traw. It works by ster­il­is­ing the wa­ter at the source with no boil­ing re­quired and could be a life-saver if a ve­hi­cle broke down.

He also said a good sleep­ing bag, a good mat­tress, and a good wa­ter­proof tent was also im­por­tant, along with kits for first-aid and snake bite.

For those who can­not live with­out their de­vices, there are so­lar-power bat­tery charg­ing op­tions.

“I tend to go some­where where there’s no ser­vice,” he said. “Oth­er­wise my other half sits on her phone, and my daugh­ter plays with her iPod. No ser­vice, no phones, no Face­book.”

Many par­ents at­test that an in­abil­ity to turn on de­vices is one of the big­gest pluses of mod­ern-day camp­ing. And the ex­perts agree.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Aus­tralia’s Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity Rec­om­men­da­tions sug­gest that chil­dren aged 5–18 ac­cu­mu­late no more than two hours of screen time per day and chil­dren un­der the age of two do not spend any time view­ing tele­vi­sion or other elec­tronic me­dia.

Child psy­chol­o­gist Ni­cole Pierotti said in a press re­lease that most chil­dren spent many more hours than this in front of screens, some­times up to 12 hours per day. Par­ents some­times strug­gled to limit their child’s screen time be­cause of their own busy sched­ules.

Des­ti­na­tion NSW chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer San­dra Chipchase said a de­vice-free camp­ing trip was the per­fect chance to get the fam­ily talk­ing to each other, and spend­ing qual­ity time to­gether in the great out­doors.

“The sim­plic­ity of a car­a­van and camp­ing hol­i­day is that it gives you the free­dom to en­joy the very best of New South Wales, with our hol­i­day parks lo­cated in stun­ning nat­u­ral sur­round­ings by the beach, in the bush, on a lake or by a river,” she said.

So fam­i­lies ar­rive at their camp site, and the de­vices are off or no longer in ser­vice, but how does one keep the kids en­ter­tained? Al­though hard for a new gen­er­a­tion of lit­tlies to imag­ine, there once was a world with­out the in­ter­net and on­line games.

Mum-of-three Karen Wren said she turned to her own child­hood as in­spi­ra­tion when camp­ing with her chil­dren. She re­vives old favourites like card games, spot­light (played with torches in the dark) and roast­ing marsh­mal­lows over the fire. “Bikes are al­ways a hit,” she said.

“They also love to bust out old school toys like hula hoops, yoyos, sparklers, glow sticks etc.”

Fel­low mum Sabrina Clair said she made her chil­dren a “trea­sure hunt page” be­fore they left.

“When we get up and are set­ting up, if they aren’t be­ing help­ful, they take the page and start dis­cov­er­ing where ev­ery­thing is,” she said.

She also said mini UHF ra­dios of­ten proved a big hit.

And for those with an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit, and older kids not as re­liant on fixed ameni­ties, Queens­land and New South Wales has more na­tional park camp sites to choose from than the al­ways-pop­u­lar-at-Easter Fraser Is­land.

A Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive said there were many lesser-known but beau­ti­ful camp sites through­out the state (see side­bar).

“Some less-used camp­ing ar­eas do have fewer fa­cil­i­ties, but their lower us­age of­ten re­lates more to ac­ces­si­bil­ity – whether you need a four-wheel drive, and how long it takes to get there,” they said.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive said campers should make de­pend­able com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a first-aid kit top of their pri­or­ity list if

trav­el­ling to re­mote places.

“You may need ev­ery­thing to be to­tally self-suf­fi­cient so the list could be long. Wa­ter and a por­ta­ble toi­let might also be needed,” they said.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive also said it was im­por­tant to book camp sites, and check park alerts and the weather fore­cast.

If campers were con­sid­er­ing go­ing to north Queens­land camp sites fol­low­ing Cy­clone Deb­bie, it was im­por­tant to check the lat­est in­for­ma­tion about the ar­eas on­line.

They also said campers needed to re­spect oth­ers in the camp­ing area.

Check Queens­land roads, park alerts and book your camp site at npsr.qld.gov.au. For more in­for­ma­tion and to book a New South Wales camp site go to na­tion­al­parks.nsw.gov.au.

PHOTO: DES­TI­NA­TION NSW

Sunset on Peb­bly Beach, on the New South Wales south coast.

PHOTO: HAMIL­TON LUND/DES­TI­NA­TION NSW

A cou­ple en­joys the view at Thun­der­bolts Look­out at Bar­ring­ton Tops Na­tional Park.

PHOTO: PAUL CUR­TIS/QUEENS­LAND GOV­ERN­MENT

The Hen­ri­etta Creek camp­ing area in Wooroonoor­an Na­tional Park in Palmer­ston.

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