Verfasst von: rbontour | Oktober 27, 2010

How To Become A „Happy Camper“ In Australia?

We love traveling. There is no doubt, we really do. Nevertheless, there are very few traveling methods, which we cannot truly identify with. As we are currently cruising with a VW Cheapa Camper along Australia’s (= Aussie’s) east coast, camper-vanning became definitely one of the less preferred traveling methods. Quite frankly speaking, our start in Aussie was not necessarily how we envisioned it – and we have developed one of these well-known love/hate relationships towards our camper van.

A cultural shock in Australia… how come?
Before elaborating on some camper stories, we have to admit that it wasn’t too easy for us to arrive in Cairns. Traveling through countries like Belize, the Cook Islands or Fiji we somehow got used to a more isolated way of life as well as to people from remote places with different mindsets and habits. Imagine the following: On one day you share a cup of lemon leaf tea with an indigenous Fijian family on straw mats in front of their simple tin house; their only horse is standing right next to you and you struggle to explain what it is like to work in IT or marketing. Next day you arrive in a world, where life is completely different, commercialized and absolutely everything is readily available. It felt strange and unreal for us, even though we come from a well-developed world. During the first days in Australia we recognized again, that our trip is full of CHANGE. You constantly have to adapt to new circumstances, you have to conform to new cultural rules and you put a lot of effort into coping with CHANGE as quickly as possible. After all, you “only” have a couple of weeks per country. Your purpose is to immerse in your new destination’s culture as good as you can.

What contributed to a less spectacular start for us in Aussie was pouring rain or cloudy skies for the first 1 ½ weeks. Unfortunately, as we learned from locals: the rainy season has come early. So the climate was not usual for this time of the year. Without a doubt this is something we can’t influence, but most likely we belong to the 95% of world travelers, who are sunshine seekers! Your mood (and eventually your ability to acclimate to a new culture or camper van life) is simply better with decent weather.

In addition, we currently face an unfavorable exchange rate – the Aussie Dollar sucks for us. There are no more delicious Indo curries for 3 US$ or hair cuts for 1.50 US$ and we need to plan our activities wisely. Consequently, dining outside our campsite and some other fun things you would usually do are definitely a ‘no go’ and out of any consideration.

Camping defined
Let’s start with a simple definition. What is camping? After some funny, frustrating, happy and anxious moments in and around our camper, we claim the following: Camping is a recreational gathering of people, who voluntarily leave their comfort zones or their beloved homes to experience wildlife, nature and can food cooked on BBQ grills. These people love to engage in extreme situations, such as to passionately learn how life must have been back in the days… living like primeval or stone age men, Neanderthals, nomads or alike. [Note: This is our own interpretation – a joke – and not intended to offend our “happy camper” friends.]

The Camper DMP (= Decision-Making-Process)
Robert has never been on a real camping tour. Thus, the idea of exploring Australia with a camper van was unconditionally exciting and thrilling for him. Speaking of myself, Brigitte… I was always a bit skeptical about it as I still carry some peculiar childhood camping memories in my mind. When I was about 10 years old I ran into a high voltage sheep fence, which was spanned in front of our tent (“no worries”, as the Australian would say, “all is great”). Despite the conflicting feelings between us, we decided to hire a camper. Apparently, as we heard, all Australians are GAGA for camping and the whole nation is set up for camper-vanning. On top of that, we researched and calculated back and forth – camping would also be our cheapest option. And finally, thousands of others did it before– so why should we not be one of them?!

Everyday life of authentic campers… like us (lol)
Once we arrived in Cairns we went straight to our rental company. After some formalities we were brought to our new ‘home’ for the next 4 weeks. Wow, this vehicle was actually huge and very spacious, although we thought we booked something sweet and compact. First thought: OMG, how should we explore all the marvelous back roads with this automobile? Still a bit skeptic we started our journey and to date, back roads or parking were not a problem at all. Great, so no worries!

Although our temporary home is relatively spacious (compared to other campers), it didn’t FEEL spacious at all. After the first 24 hours we realized that it would take us a while to get used to our new, accelerated nomads life! Camping occasionally feels like some kind of an exercise in that you have to engage in tedious reconstruction works before you go to sleep. Other times you impatiently search for wilderness toilets with a low-in-battery flashlight or you take nightly outdoor showers (= cold showers) in picnic areas where the use of soap is actually prohibited and where you fear of being mauled by a laughing kookaburra. (By the way, a kookaburra is a meat-eating bird – their call sounds much more like a monkey in a jungle than a bird – and they scared the hell out of us in the first place. And the reason why we dare to take nightly outdoor showers: the good Aussie campsites with indoor showers [= hot and cozy showers] are pretty costly. Picnic areas and other prairie-like rest areas we occasionally stay overnight are for free if you manage to arrive late and get up early to escape from the rangers.)

Following some tiny excerpts of our life in a camper:

  • Everyday practices: Murdering stingy, colossal bugs while turning them into green, yellow or red smears. Meanwhile, Robert became Aussie’s most notorious vermin killer, whereas Brigitte became widely known as an expert for removing bug intestines from the inside of camper van windows.
  • Romantic campsite cooking: Preparing food in a van often results in a strenuous act of releasing sweat, bumping into each other, running into cabinet doors or getting injured after opening one of these cute little storage cupboards, which resulted in several blue toes. How come? Obviously cans, clothes, plates, books, flashlights or laptops MOVE around while you drive. Things will fall towards your face and your body, although the vehicle has come to a halt.
  • Happy campers, when roads are straight: A lot of highways along the east coast are quite straight, but you must take a turn or go over a bump at some point. Curves or bumps may become a truly memorable experience; especially when you drive with an older camper van and the tricky cabinet doors don’t “click closed” although you thought you have sealed them. When cupboard doors suddenly open while on the road, it usually causes a frantic shock for the driver and a van to be messy: soy sauce on the floor or instant coffee powder on cushions.
  • Tupperware knock-offs: If you know Tupperware, you know that these practical food containers are every housewife’s dream. When you go camping during a world trip, you are on a tight budget and you can’t afford to throw away food. Hence, you buy the cheapest “Tupperware Knock-Off” available. Wrong decision… tasty tomato sauce or balsamic vinaigrette will soon end up spilled in your cute camper fridge.

What a pleasure – we love camping! 🙂 For sure, a lot of these things happened during our first days over here and you learn quickly (although some of these crazy travel interruptions never stop).  Luckily, we brought a lot of helpful travel utensils, which allow us to strike back! Duct tape, a new LED lamp and many other tools make our camper-vanning more and more convenient.

The pro’s of camping
Of course we also experienced a lot of fascinating things since we arrived and there are definitely occasions in which we turn into “happy campers” (= one who is a satisfied, contented person) . Beyond any doubt, you really can explore the country much better with your own camper van. You don’t rely on greyhound bus schedules and can flexibly stop to see and do whatever you are up to. On campsites you meet interesting and sometimes crazy travelers from all over the world, who can teach you unforgettable survival tactics. And finally, you can always pick the best and most scenic spot to enjoy a breakfast by the beach, a lunch in the rainforest, a sunset dinner next to a gorgeous mountain lake or some fireworks on the beach right before midnight.

Nevertheless, we thought to share some other kind of thoughts this time and we wanted to stick to the truth. We are making the best out of it and won’t lose our sense of humor… And if you believe it or not, traveling the world for such a long time can’t be perfect and excellent all the time. There are and there will always be inconveniences or certain tasks for which we need to find a solution. At least now we figured out what traveling methods we prefer and what others we will try to circumvent in the future!

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Responses

  1. …a new experience is a good experience!
    I like the picture in the bed?! Gille.

    xoxoxo

  2. Ahhhhhhhh wie cool.
    Die Camper !!!!
    Des Bild im Camperbett ist echt super 🙂

  3. hey Brigitte, die Socken neben dir machen sich echt gut – süßes Bild. Aber was macht ihr mit dem riesen Gartenschlauch? Bussi

  4. jaja I loved this article, so camping a hole adventurous experience!! definitely you are my favorite couple.

    • Mi amiga!!! Thanks for reading our articles… I am happy we are your favorite couple! You are our favorite Mexican :-)…. hi, hi, hi… just remembering Tequila time in B’mouth! How wonderful!! Can we do it again sometime? Si no?

  5. Hello R&B, yes looks like all is full of change including the exchange rate :-), DMP is always a challenge also during life I learned, but anyhow like you mentioned “all is great in a life in a camper”, so finding a solution process is huge I see, therefore good to read and nice to see you always found solutions, have fun was nice to read,
    Best Dad


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