In a move to help support regional communities recover from summer’s devastating bushfires, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is offering 25 per cent off selected camp stays in a NSW national park. Nature-seekers need to book their getaway before the end of March and then take their trip between now and September 24 to get the discount (but it excludes Easter school holidays).
And, while some NSW national parks are still recovering from the fires, plenty weren’t affected. NPWS suggests a quick bush getaway to the Glenbrook area of Blue Mountains National Park, the Euroka campground. It’s ideal for people who don’t mind a short walk to pitch a tent and includes picnic tables, barbeque facilities and toilets.
For a beachfront spot, Little Beach campground in the Bouddi National Park is beautiful. There are just six spots and it’s only a 90-minute drive from Sydney, making it one of the state’s most sought-after spots. Or try the campgrounds of Bittangabee and Saltwater Creek in Ben Boyd National Park on the south coast, a little further afield. They are both in Merimbula, about a five-hour drive south of Sydney, and due to reopen in late March.
What do I pack for my camping trip?
What you pack and take on a camping trip can be the difference between having a good time, and it being a disaster. “Camping takes some effort but the benefits are huge,” says Doran Francis from Homecamp, which stocks quality gear for people who like to explore the great outdoors.
“Getting away from technology, communing with nature, starry nights, camp cooking and waking up with the sound of bird life are all wonderful experiences. There’s also a sense of self-reliance that comes from developing simple skills such as setting up camp, foraging wood and cooking with fire.”
He says it’s important to think about what sort of camping you’re going to be doing: will you need lightweight gear because you’re going to bunker down deep within a national park? Or is it a case of packing everything in the back of the car and driving to the spot. “We advise beginners who are going car camping to just take gear from home or buy second-hand, you don’t need to go out and buy all the ‘proper’ gear straight away – just buy a decent tent. Then once you have your shelter sorted, you can start slowly building your own dedicated kit,” he says.
He offers more tips here.
What should I cook on my adventure?
Camp life doesn’t mean your diet should consist of canned beans and ash-covered toast. The former executive chef of now-closed Sydney Thai institution Longrain got wise to camp-food possibilities and now turns out campground curries, laksas, risottos and steak. He offers us his recipe for Thai red-curry soup. “I made [this recently] while camping down at Jervis Bay,” says Pamment. “It’s a little like a curry, a little like a laksa and dead easy. The beauty of this type of recipe is that the ingredients are easily transported. It’s also a one-pot wonder, so don’t get too hung up on getting the recipe exact. Use it as a guide and make it your own.”
Find the recipe here.
You also shouldn’t be without coffee. Broadsheet sent our resident coffee writer into the wild to trial, test and taste a swag-full of travel-friendly brewing gadgets, including Aeropress and NanoPresso. These are the best contraptions to pack.
Any tips for cooking with fire?
If you don’t know how to start a fire to cook your dinner or heat your coffee, just ask someone, like Lennox Hastie, who only cooks with fire. Hastie is the chef and owner of Sydney’s Firedoor, Australia’s only fully wood-fuelled restaurant. Having learnt how to work with fire in Spain’s Asador Etxebarri, Hastie says the primal act of lighting a fire is a satisfying ritual, and he has a bunch of tips for lighting a fire and keeping it alight.
“There are many ways of lighting a fire depending on your circumstances and the materials at hand. I prefer the ‘log cabin’ method, which promotes significant airflow. Unlike other designs, the structure does not collapse, enabling you to use it for indirect cooking straight away,” he says.
Find out what the log cabin method is and more here.