Beach camping essentials: The dos and don’ts
Don’t look now but summer has arrived and your activities list just doubled in size: Beaches, surfing, fishing, relaxing, stargazing, slipping, slopping AND slapping?! How is a normal person meant to fit all of these things into a holiday?
Beach camping, that’s how.
If all goes to plan, beach camping is the most efficient way to maximise the summer’s top hits into a fun-filled sandy adventure. But if you aren’t prepared, then it’s like being homeless on a beach… not the best.
Don’t stress. These dos and don’ts will make planning your trip easier than getting a tan in January.
Do: Research where you’re going to camp
Is there a potable water source? Is there vehicle access? Can you light a fire? Are there massive reptiles waiting in the surf to rip your face off?
These are questions you need answered before you start unpacking your tent.
The best place to look is on the Department of National Parks website. This site will give you maps, tips and any warnings that are relevant to your trip.
Don’t: Forget about cyclone season
Some campsites are closed during cyclone season. Check the Department of National Parks website, it will let you know if they are.
Do: Test your camping gear before you leave
Nothing is worse than arriving at a campsite, opening up your tent bag and realising your cat, Frank, has urinated in the bag while it was in storage.
Let my smelly camping experience be a lesson to everyone.
Always check your camping supplies.
It can be months between camping trips and it’s never a bad idea to test that flashlight, air out that tent and make sure your waterproofing hasn’t worn out.
Don’t: Assume your stove works
Remember that portable BBQ you brought down to the beach for Australia Day? Just double check it hasn’t kicked the bucket before you end up talking to a volleyball and rubbing two sticks together.
Do: Remember to bring garbage bags
It seems simple but a tidy campsite will make sure when you visit next year it will look the same. The last thing you want to see while snorkeling is someone’s old camping garbage so clean it up and keep it out of the oceans.
Camping super tip: Bring a dustpan and brush. Sand in the tent is the absolute worst.
Don’t have a dustpan and brush? Have a bucket of water near the opening of your tent to dip those sandy hooves in before you ruin your sleeping bag forever.
Don’t: Forget to check the dunny
Is there a drop toilet? Do I need to dig a hole 50 metres away from camp and hope no one walks by? Is there a shower and flushing toilets because my wife would really like that?
These questions MUST be answered. Guess where? Department of National Parks is the best place.
Do: Know how to build a fire
If you can build a fire (check with National Parks online) then you most definitely should.
The best way is to build a little house out of thin sticks known as kindling. Then we stuff this house with tinder (not the dating app). Tinder is a fancy word for paper or something that burns quickly and really hot!
Then light the tinder with the lighter you packed and then watch your little house turn into a sausage roasting, warmth-giving funfest of a fire.
Don’t: Forget what shelter means
Your tent is set up and it’s out of the rain. Awesome!
But every time you open the tent it feels like a jet engine is taking off in front out you and you get a mouthful of sand.
You forgot about WIND!
Best way to stop the wind? Sand dunes.
On some beaches you’ll have the chance to use a sand dune as a natural windbreak. This is a great idea. However, dunes are fragile ecosystems so try not to disturb any vegetation and don’t dig any big holes. Save those for sand castles on the beach.
Do: Bring a pack of cards
Rain happens and it can really dampen your spirits as well as your campsite. Set up a dry area, with a tarp, that you can sit under and play cards to pass the time until that Queensland sunshine comes shining through.
Don’t: Forget to bring sunscreen
You’re going to have a list of supplies to bring and with all of “the essentials” like tents, tarps, mattresses, chairs, eskies, food, mossie spray, TOILET PAPER, it can be easy to forget sunscreen. Just don’t do it.
Do: Bring two lanterns
Never assume you will have a fire. There can be fire bans on, or you might simply not be able to get one going.
If you want to keep the good times rolling long into the night then a lantern is essential and it’s a good idea to have a backup. It also makes you feel like Indiana Jones when you go for a walk with a lantern instead of a lame, but much more practical, flashlight.
Don’t: Forget about the tide
Check for the high tide mark and then assume it will come up another 10 metres. That way if you have the bad luck of being around for a king tide, you’ll still be dry.
Camping super tip: Always pitch your tent on flat ground. The less tree roots or rocks you have digging into your back while you sleep the better.
Do: Eat simple food
Campsites are the home of snags, burgers and salads. These are easy to cook and don’t require a bunch of different ingredients.
If you want something fancy, it’s not against the rules, just plan ahead.
Want to make a flan? You’ll need an oven, which is tricky to pack.
Camping super tip: Make sure your buns stay dry, nothing worse than a soggy snag sanga.
Remember, you might be out and about during the day so sandwiches and muesli bars are a winner too.
Don’t: Assume you can catch your dinner
You’re beside the ocean, right? There are fish in the ocean, right? You’ve read the best fishing guides in the world, right? That guy in the tackle store sold you the best lures ever created by man, right?
Sure, the ocean is there. There quite possibly, might maybe, sometimes, could be fish but that doesn’t mean you can catch them.
Sometimes tackle stores sell lures that are better at catching YOUR eye than a fish’s.
Do: Remember this is fun
If you’ve prepared for the worst then it’s time to enjoy the best!
Beach camping is heaven on earth with the right prep and attitude. So, double check this list, do your research and have fun.
Don’t: Forget to tell us if we missed anything!
Please let us know in the comments section below if you’ve got a camping super tip you want to share!