Being fifty-something, I’m up for new challenges.
Last year I found myself in several conversations about the joys of camping. I’ve never been one for camping, caravanning or sleeping in any place other than my own bed or a 3.5-plus-star hotel bed. I’m just not the outdoorsy type. My skin burns easily. I’m a neon-bright magnet for mosquitoes. I love to read by decent lamplight, hide the dinner dishes in the dishwasher and take long, hot showers.
Yet, my friends (bless them) are absolutely certain I’d enjoy camping if I’d just give it a go. Maybe it’s because they know I’ve written the editorial for the Victoria Cabin, Caravan and Camping Guide for the past couple of years. (Ironic, much?) Maybe it’s because they sense me softening on the notion of camping. Maybe they think it would be rib-tickling to see me fidgeting (cluelessly) by a campfire or nervously (freakishly so) zipping myself into a tent for the night. Or maybe they have a death wish for me.
Whatever their rationale, I have surrendered to their relentless urges. Mr P and I have declared 2014 the year of camping. Gulp!
Our existing camping equipment consists of:
- 1 x small 2-man tent that Boy Wonder took on a Year 8 “make me a man” camping experience
- 2 x low-rider, fold-up timber chairs that are perfect for outdoor concerts (these were a gift, we had three but one is v. unstable)
- 1 x 2-hub gas burner which we sometimes use to supplement the big gas BBQ if we have guests.
After weighing up our options (and me admitting that I don’t think sleeping on the ground is for me) we started exploring the possibility of buying a small campervan. Now, I imagined driving off into the sunset in a vintage hippy van, a Kombi, akin to this:
Level-headed Mr P soon kiboshed that idea. Too old mechanically, too unreliable, too fuel-hungry, too expensive.
We agreed on something a little newer (though less character-filled, I lamented) and through the magic of the internet, we are now the owners of this lovely lady, the full-featured little campervan that could …. change our lives:
The bonus is that she is fully set up for travelling and comes with all the accessories we could ever need: awning/tent, doubled bed, fridge, oven, crockery, cutlery and even a couple of camp chairs.
The previous owners were Joel and Melanie, Swiss tourists who had been travelling around Australia and needed to sell their little house on wheels before they flew out to foreign lands. Joel and Melanie are the sweetest couple. They ended up staying with us, sharing their campervan stories and I’m sure we’ll meet up with them again one day.
So far, we have managed just one night away in our campervan – a trial night at the St Leonards caravan park, just 30km from home! We managed to erect the tent/awning (without instructions), sort out BOTH the 12 volt and 240 volt power sources (I did say full-featured) and to cook our evening meal in the van.
We outdid ourselves for breakfast.
We toasted our first night away, and our 34th wedding anniversary in style:
We spent hours on a tiny, quiet beach, not ten metres from our camper, ensconced in our camp chairs in the cool shallows. Mr P got a nasty sunburn. I applied sunscreen, mosquito repellant and a big floppy hat. Turns out I might be outdoorsy. Just a tad.
This little campervan (which is nameless so far, but feel free to make suggestions) is a whole new ball game for us. We’re aiming beyond the caravan park life (if you’re thinking “grey nomad” please go think elsewhere) and imagining ourselves enjoying some “wild camping” in our beautiful National Parks. Getting back to nature. Seeing the stars. Walking the bush. Settling comfortably around a campfire (where permitted, of course) and then climbing sleepily into the little campervan that could …
I’ll keep you posted.