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.Winner 1

My husband and I used to travel some of the more isolated parts of the North West of WA in order to service fuel meters on airfields and fuel depots. We often detoured to some of the more usual tourist spots. We had been on one of our work runs and had decided to spend a day or so at Millstreem National Park in the Pilbara. It was hot when we arrived and there didn't seem to be anyone around. No other tents/vans/vehicles etc. We set up camp on the riverbank and as the water looked inviting and we were covered in red dust and sweat, we decided to have a swim.

Now my husband was a rather short and rather round man and weighed about 110 kg. He stripped off and dived in first. This was fortunate or unfortunate however you look at it. I was less enthusiastic about diving into the dark water, so I sat on the bank preparing to slide in. For whatever reason Bob decided to come out of the water and sit beside me. He found that he couldn't get out because the bank was undercut at that point by the current. There was nothing to put his feet on. His arms weren't powerful enough to haul his weight out of the water. He tried a few other spots with the same result. It was obviously no use me trying to pull him out.

"It's no use Darl, you'll have to put a rope under my arms and tie it to the vehicle and pull me out." he said. I wasn't too keen but I couldn't think of any other solution that didn't involve swimming around all afternoon trying to find an exit. It was sundown already and would soon be dark.

So I got the rope and had just tied it around him and was about to attach the other end to the towball, when the CALM ranger appeared. He was a burly young man and when he had subdued his hysterical laughter to the occasional snigger, he had no trouble hauling this very embarrassed, naked, fat man out of the river. He probably tells this story himself when the rangers are reminiscing about the stupid things the tourists do.

(D. Hemsley)

.Winner 2

We went camping to Tryon Island, off Gladstone, on the Great Barrier Reef. It was a 12 hour trip by charter boat, then we had to cart all our food, water and equipment up the beach and choose our camp spot. My wife and and I decided on a nice spot nestled between the fir trees and native shrubs, and settled down to pitch our tent and set up our campsite for the next 3 weeks.

When we had finished we were quite exhausted, so we went for a swim and, as the sun went down over the beautiful ocean, we decided on having an early dinner, a few wines and, after the camp-fire burned down, we were going to crash out. It had been a long day.

I got the frozen cask of wine out and poured 2 glasses of wine, while Sylvie cooked the fresh fish I had caught that afternoon. "Cool," I thought as I sat back to watch the sunset. I helped myself to another glass of wine from the defrosting cask, and made my wobbly way back to the chair. "This is strong stuff," I said to my wife, who already had that "I've had too many drinks" look in her eye. She giggled and agreed. By the third glass I was pissed - smashed, in fact. I couldn't understand it. I could usually handle 3 glasses of wine, no worries.

All of a sudden we heard a loud thump! It was a mutton-bird coming out of the island burrow it stayed in during the day, to head out to sea for its nightly fishing expedition. Squawk, flap, squawk, was all you could hear!

All of a sudden, thump, thump, squawk, flap, flap. Two more birds hit the tent. It was instant kaos! Then bang, bang, bang, more bloody mutton birds. S---! We had pitched our tent in a mutton-bird nightly flight path!

The only solution was to dismantle our tent and move it to another spot. I was rolling drunk by this time, and so was my wife. It was a huge mission as it was already dark by now. It took us a good hour in the dark, under drunken flashlight guidance, to get our new camp in some sort of order. We sat down to another glass of wine and within 5 minutes of finally relaxing I got bitten on the foot by the ONLY island creature worth worrying about - a centipede! It was a good thing I was drunk as it stung like hell. Bugger it, I thought, I'm drunk, pissed off, tired, and my foot was stinging. "Let's go to bed" my wife said. "Things should get better in the morning."

As I lay down I reflected on our journey to get there. An 8 hour car trip to Gladstone, a 12 hour boat trip in rough weather to get to the island, all day setting up camp and carrying everything up the beach, then we had to pull down our tent, set it up again, then the centipede bite. And how did I get so drunk, I wondered, as I got the sleeping-bag-bed-spins. And my foot was really burning.

I must have fallen asleep after about 2 hours of tossing and turning as the ground was a bit harder than my bed at home - just slightly. About 3 am we were woken up with something poking at both of us from under the tent. "What the f@#* is this," I thought. What next? A snake? WHAT!!!!! We carefully got out of the tent to have a look at our intruder, only to find about 150 little green sea turtles coming out of the sand directly under our tent! "NOOOOOOO" we both shouted in unison. Tiny, new-born turtles are great, but these little buggers had some seriously bad timing. My head hurt, my foot throbbed, and I felt like I was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. "Let's just grab our sleeping bags and sleep on the beach," I said to Sylvie.

We ended up getting a few hours sleep before our 2 friends, Mat and Ann, came and woke us up at dawn. "Isn't this great!" they beamed at us. "Get lost!" we both moaned.

After telling them about our previous night's debacle they were roaring in laughter. We could sort of see the funny side of it all especially when my mate Mat explained to us that if you freeze a cask of wine, the first thing to thaw out is the alcohol. Well, did that ever explain a lot. We were drinking pure alcohol, and that was the start of our horrendous night!

For the next three weeks we had a wonderful time, but the first night we will never forget. Needless to say it was an invaluable learning experience as we have been back there 9 times and never made those mistakes again. This story has got to be worth a tank of petrol!

(M. Wolff)

Bring on the Rain

Ah, the joys of camping by motorbike. Known as "the drought-breakers", we knew that as soon as the tent was strapped onto the bike we'd bring rain, and this time was no exception…

At the end of that hot sticky day, we started to accelerate up the Gibraltar Ranges in NSW. Sitting on the back of my hubby's bike, surrounded by 10 tons of camping gear, my helmet visor flew off down the road at about the same time as we noticed a wicked looking thunderhead in the sky directly in our path. The air cooled rapidly and soon my face was being pelted with millions of tiny spears of rain so that shortly I couldn't see anything at all. As my hubby was soon fogging up his visor and we were starting to feel the dreaded water drips down the back of the neck and towards the groin where the waterproofs don't really work, we decided to find somewhere to camp for the night (or even a motel - we were so exhausted). Eventually we spotted a sign - Mulligan's Hut Camping area. Hooray! But we were not to know the trial wasn't over yet.

As the sun rapidly disappeared, we started slowly down a dirt track that was more mud, roots and potholes than track. The trip down seem to take forever and I kept thinking we were about to fall off as we got wetter and wetter and we started to worry about running out of petrol. I think it was about 10 km of this agonising progress before the ground started to level out. At this stage, it was pitch black and still raining heavily so we just wanted to find a place to get our gear out and crash. Finally, we reached a level area and the tent was out quick smart - thank goodness we could put it up almost blindfolded because we certainly couldn't see anything.

Now to try and dry off and what to eat? Oh, look, a hut with a roof and some firewood! But the wood's too wet to start. At least we can spread out some of our wet stuff and a tin of spaghetti will have to do. We look around with feeble torches but can't find anything or anyone. Oh well, climb into soggy sleeping bags and try to get through the night.

Next morning we discovered that we'd camped right in the middle of a communal picnic area, nowhere near the actual camping sites, so we had to relocate everything in the steamy heat. At least the rain had stopped (for now!)

(D.Pearman)

Great Honeymoon!

April 17 1980 was our first day as a married couple.

As we had just bought a house and had little money we decided to drive from Adelaide to 'The Grampians' and camp there doing a few walks for a week. It was a beautiful day and a very pleasant trip.

As we were driving in to Halls Gap my lovely new bride saw stables with a sign saying 'Horseriding". We decided to visit there in the morning and go for a ride through the bush.

Apart from being freezing cold overnight (honeymoon or no honeymoon I couldn't keep warm), there was also a mouse plague and most of our supplies were eaten. Not being too fussed about this we bought breakfast as everything had either been nibbled at or was covered in mousie poo. We then walked down the road to the stables.

Both being novice riders we were given two very placid horses and ambled off down the track together. After about 1/2 an hour my wife's horse was startled by a cap lying near the track and took off at Melbourne Cup pace heading for home. My wife screamed and I saw her fading in the distance half-on, half-off the horse. My horse would not go faster than a slow walk so I jumped off and ran after her.

Rounding the bend I saw her sitting in the middle of the track covered in dust with two clean streaks where the tears had rolled. She couldn't walk so I put her on my horse, when he finally turned up, and took her back to the stables. After a visit to hospital and a leg in plaster we packed up camp and drove back to Adelaide where she stayed with my mother and I went fishing with my father.

Believe it or not, I have great difficulty in getting the whole family to go camping.

(M. Stock)

Mr Forgetful

A couple of years ago a friend and myself, who live in Newcastle, decided to go trout fishing at Lake Eucumbene. We invited another friend, living in Lithgow, to meet us at the lake on Saturday.

We arrived from Newcastle just before lunch to find our friend from Lithgow waiting for us. He said he was so keen to be trout fishing again, he decided to arrive the night before and get an early cast before we arrived.

If you have been to Lake Eucumbene you will know that in November the days can be warm but the nights are very cold, often close to zero. Our friend arrived dressed in shorts, T shirt and thongs. As night arrived, he decided to change to warm clothing. He found he had left his case with all his other clothes back at Lithgow, on the footpath, where he packed his car. He spent the night huddled under an old bit of carpet in his car trying to keep warm, to no avail. Next morning he drove into Cooma and purchased a new outfit of warm clothing.

Back at the lake, we unloaded the cars and loaded our gear into the boat and set off up the lake for a couple of days camping and fishing. Nightfall came and it was time to unpack the blankets and sleeping bags. You would not believe it, our friend packed the boat with his fishing gear, new warm clothing and food. No blankets or sleeping bag, he had left them on the ground next to his car. He spent two very unpleasant nights trying to sleep close to the fire, on the ground, waking up regularly covered with frost. On our return to the marina, he found his blankets and sleeping bag on the ground next to his unlocked car, although the area was busy with other holidaymakers.

After we arrived home he telephoned and advised us he found his case with his clothes still on the footpath in front of his home in Lithgow, where he packed his car 4 or 5 days earlier.

(D. Jenkins)

Not even a date with Tom Cruise...

My wife & I operate a 4WD tour company and last Easter we decided to go camping by ourselves to enjoy a bit of time on our own.

We travelled to a beautiful spot next to the Blowering reservoir near Tumut in NSW. We stocked up on enough provisions for an extended stay. We called on the local butcher and asked for a “rolled roast” of beef to cook in the camp oven. We were both disappointed when the butcher didn’t have a rolled roast so we settled on a large leg of lamb.

The night arrived for our big cook-up in the camp oven. The leg of lamb was a tight fit. We added a variety of vegies to make it a ‘proper’ baked dinner. The beautiful sunset over the water and our idyllic location was the right time for us to indulge ourselves with a bottle of good red. Ah, perfect, and it was now time to serve the meal.

My wife Jann lifted the lid of the camp oven and the leg of lamb also came out – because it was too big it had become stuck to the lid whilst cooking. There was a loud ‘thud’ and the sight of the leg of lamb tumbling down the river bank towards the water was too much for our dog who promptly raced after it and grabbed it in her mouth.

Jann said “There you go, a rolled roast after all”.

The dog ended up with the leg of lamb for several days and we had the vegies - turned out great.

(M.Callaghan)

Not quite what you'd expect

We went camping in the Narbarton hills outside Lilydale, Victoria. It was a nice clearing near a creek so we pitched a tent but, during the night, we were attacked by bull ants as we had set up tent on top of an ant hill and they were not happy. Any way, it was dark and everyone was grumpy but we packed our stuff and tracked 10 minutes further on until we found another clearing and pitched our tents under the moonlight.

In the morning we were greeted by semi-mililtary persons brandishing guns, shouting at us to put up our hands and not to move. We later discovered that they were the police and we had set up camp in the middle of a drug crop and they (the police) thought we were the offenders. Funny? I think not. I still have nightmares…

(H. Mattarucco)

Out of the night...

Twenty years ago in Mount Isa, my wife (then girlfriend) and I decided to go camping at Palm Springs, a little Oasis in the desert built by Mount Isa Mines. The weather looked good when we arrived and we had time to set the tents up properly, which certainly saved our lives. That night, we had the biggest, loudest and windiest thunderstorm in Mount Isa's history. Firstly, it bucketed down. Then the wind started throwing Palm fronds around like spears. Once there were no more fronds, a herd of cattle stampeded through the camp site, closely followed by several familes of wild pigs. We were fortunate that they were all travelling in the one direction and we had the car parked in front of the tents. I wondered for the rest of the night (a) if there were any more animals, (b) if the storm would return from the other direction and (c) why the hell didn't we just get back in the car.

We haven't been camping since.

(M. Whitney)

Raindrops keep Falling

I decided to initiate some city slicker friends to the joys of camping in the bush. We piled into my old 1970s Falcon and headed off to the Grampians in Victoria. It took us a bit longer to get there than I thought it would so it was already dark when we got there. No worries, I told them, we'll just keep driving to a nice isolated spot away from all the tourists so you can have an authentic bush experience. I never get lost.

As we bumped along a narrow, overgrown dirt track it started raining - pouring down. The track got muddy and it got boggy. We churned along in first gear but the track just kept going and going. Wet branches smacked the windscreen as we whacked our way through denser growth.

The chance of finding a clearing evaporated like the steam off the bonnet. There was no way we could turn the car around. So my friends had their first night camping out bush, sitting up in the car. Of course I had the worst of it being stuck behind the steering wheel but that didn't stop them whingeing.

The next morning we had to back out of the track, no mean driving feat I must say. The pikers insisted on being driven straight back to Melbourne and so they never got to enjoy the bush camping experience. Poor sods.

(C. Sitka)

Stock Route Saga

My husband, friends and my brother-in-law and new wife decided to go down the Canning Stock Route. We had planned this for 12 months and arranged for the petrol/diesel to be brought in by 6-wheel drive from Newman, stocked our landcruisers with food, clothes and spare parts. We left Sydney in May and decided to arrive in Halls Creek in Western Australia at the beginning of June. We planned to take our time going down the Canning Stock Route.

We drove to Halls Creek taking in all the sights in the first month. Arriving at Halls Creek we restocked our food supplies, petrol/diesel in the landcruisers, filled the jerry-cans, rang all the family to tell them we had arrived at Halls Creek and were ready to start our trip. We went to the Police Station in Halls Creek to tell them we were travelling down the stock route and that we were taking 3 weeks to do this. Problem! The Canning Stock Route had been closed due to flood waters in Lake Gregory. All our planning but there is nothing you can do about the weather.

Just as we were leaving the Police Station a couple of bike riders had come into the Police Station to tell them that they had arrived. They had also done a &dbquo;mud map&dbquo; a very basic map drawing on a very small piece of paper to tell other travellers about the way that they had gone. The lady in the Police Station photocopied this for us, and we left the Police Station ready for our trip.

Starting off out of Halls Creek we turned off the main road and onto the Tanami Desert Road. This road travels from Halls Creek down through Rabbit Flat to Alice Springs. Driving down the road our first bit of trouble was a flat tyre and with the rocks on the road the tyre was chewed to bits, so our friends had to return to Halls Creek to buy another tyre. We stopped at this point for dinner and rest for the evening.

Our next day we continued to travel along, but we could not turn off to the road/track that we wanted as it was in flood, so we headed out to an aboriginal community called Balgo. When we arrived at Balgo, the majority of people had left and there were only a few people to give us directions of which way to go. Unfortunately they sent us in the wrong direction - after many hours of travelling on a road that was just corrugations we camped the night and then decided to head back to Balgo the next morning.

This we did and the next morning the police were in Balgo as they had some trouble. They told us the right direction and off we went. My husband and I were the first car so we led all the way. The decisions that we had to make were very hard, as there were only a couple of tracks on the road, no signs to direct us and tracks leading in every direction. On our way we met a couple of motor bike riders who told us which way to go. We eventually found the Canning Stock Route and camped our first night on the Canning Stock Route. We all stood at the beginning of our trip and looked at Lake Gregory that was in flood.

We had many more things happen to us. We had to drive over 900 sand dunes, some easy, some very hard and some we had to winch over. Our friend broke a front spring on the landcruiser so he had to do a spot of welding to fix the problem, we all had flat tyres after driving over spinifex grass and very sharp rocks. We had to race camels that kept running alongside the cars, we saw dingoes, budgerigars all different birds.

We swam in wells that were built at the in the early 1900s, we swam in underground rivers and explored caves. We eventually arrived at Wiluna exactly 3 weeks after we left Halls Creek.

The weather was something to mention too. We left Halls Creek in very hot weather, but by the time we arrived in Wiluna the weather was very cold and windy. Some nights on the Canning Stock Route it was just too cold to stay up, the wind was too strong for a fire, it rained (and this was supposed to be the desert), we were trapped in one area and could not move as the rain had made the roads just mud and slush and the salt flats were dangerous to drive over as if you stopped, you would not move again until the salt flats had dried up.

We enjoyed this holiday, something that I would definitely do again.

(R. Kemp)

Two Toilet Tales
No. 1

We went camping at Douglas hot springs in N.T. When we arrived at the site the first thing we looked for was the toilet. As we looked at it we thought it looked a bit "hazy". We (my wife and myself) both dismissed this as an after-effect of a bad hangover.

When it was time to actually go to the toilet, we proceeded and the haze didn't go away. Finally (we were around 250m from the toilets) we got to the toilets to find pit toilets that were infested with blowflies - the haze was the swirling flock of blowies that were hanging around the toilets. Naturally, we didn't use those toilets. (G. Beckers)

No.2

We go camping every Christmas with a group of people. We're usually the last to arrive as we leave after Christmas. When we arrived a friend of ours told me, "I knew you were coming today Jody, so I dug a new toilet." I thought this was pretty good until I went to the toilet. As I stood up, the sand gave way and my foot fell in. I grabbed hold of the little toilet tent as I was NOT going to fall into any toilet.

I had bruises on my arms after this and everytime I went to the toilet after that, I made Scott come with me. You can only imagine how I had to straddle the toilet after this episode. The zipper on the toilet tent was also broken so, because I had to have my legs wide apart over the hole and lean my body forward to hang on to the front of the tent, my head stuck out the front and I could look sideways into another camp site.

My husband has now bought me a chemical toilet and I look forward to using it this Christmas.(J. Campbell)

Unpleasant Surprise

While camping over at the York Peninsula one summer, with my husband and son, I decided to lay down on a rug with a pillow and catch up with some reading while they went fishing. I must have dozed off because next thing I remember is feeling something sliding over my leg. Thinking it was my husband playing tricks on me, I just ignored it for a minute, then decided to tell him off. I opened my eyes to see what was going on and guess what? It wasn't him but a Brown Snake slithering over my legs. I just laid there absolutely terrified till it moved away and then got up and went screaming down to the beach hysterically. I couldn't talk, just babbled about "snake, legs, crawl". It didn't make much sense until my husband and son went back up to the campsite and found the track of the snake coming down from the dunes across the path where I had being lying and going off into the bushes.

For the rest of the day and as evening approached I was so jumpy at every noise and sound that I made them very nervous. Eventually, we packed up and spent the rest of our camping trip at Ardrosson caravan park in a cabin. Every time I think about it, it sends cold shivers up my back and I can still feel the snake sliding across my legs.

(J. Schonfelder)

What else?

We all went for a trip to Lake Eildon one year (there were four of us) where the weather was fine and we packed thinking that everything we needed was fine.

We finally reached Lake Eildon at nighttime as we were planning to stay there for a couple of nights. A tent I had at the time had been lent to a couple of friends who had been camping that same year. When we went to pitch the tent we found it to be deteroiated and mouldy. It must have been raining when the "borrowers" used it. We all had to abandon the tent because of the smell and the condition of it and find somewhere to sleep. As it was a busy time of year, there were no hotels we could stay in. We all decided (remembering there were four of us and one car) to sleep in the car for one night and move on the next day.

That night was uncomfortable and warm (as it was summertime) so we left the windows a tad open. But what was more uncomfotable was waking up to an itchy but strange twitch on my hand. There it was, my greatest fear, a "larger than life" huntsman-looking thing on my hand first thing in the morning. This was not my idea of breakfast and nobody else's, as they were woken up by my screams and so was the rest of the camp.

As we were leaving we decided we desperately needed to use the toilets that were there. They were holes in ground with a seat elevated and attached and not a nice view. The third event that occurred was extremely hilarious, only because of the fact that it didn't happen to me. The girl I was with went into the toilet first (lucky for me). As she went to sit down, the toilet seat collapsed leaving her screaming for her life and hanging on as down below was far and not very attractive. This made my day. We all left that same day with stories to tell of a very short adventure but funny in size. Never to return…

(J.Tran)