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Setting up camp
The walking part of the adventure handles itself
– just follow the yellow signs and remember to
stop and smell the eucalypts. It’s the end of the
day that takes some thinking about. There’s no
heaters, no TV and no microwave here.
So what is at the camp? A three-sided
wooden shelter with a wooden floor to sleep on
(that’s why that air-mattress is a good idea).
There are tables and benches to eat at, and in
some places a fire-pit for your campfire. A short
walk away, there’s a sit-down, long-drop toilet
(carry your own toilet paper!).
If you walk in the winter you will probably
arrive wet and tired. You won’t be especially
cold; the effort of walking will have kept you
warm enough. The trick is not to waste that
warmth. Daylight hours are relatively short in
the winter and it is better to get yourself set up
before dark rather than by torchlight.
When arriving at the campsite make sure
the kids are taken care of first — towelled as dry
as possible and dressed in campsite clothing
thermal underwear, long pants, warm top
(fleece), beanie and a Microlite towel and
footwear such as crocs or sandals.
Hang your wet clothes to dry during the
night. Set up your fuel stove, and make hot
drinks — tea, coffee, soup or whatever. It is
essential to carry a fuel stove with you. You
may be able to light a fire but cooking over one
is not recommended, especially if there are a
lot of people trying to prepare their food at the
same time – and, of course, it may be raining!
While you wait for the water to boil, set
up your sleeping areas. Pick your spots in
the shelter carefully. Make sure there are no
leaks in the roof and check the direction of
the prevailing wind to ensure you are in the
most sheltered area. Set up your sleeping mats,
spread your sleeping bags on top and use one of
your stuffed bags of clothing as a pillow.
By now the water is boiling, so make hot
drinks, sit back, relax and reflect on your
day’s walking. You are dry and warm and it is
important to stay in that condition. If weather
conditions allow, and you are in a campsite
where fires are permitted, it is generally a
good idea to get a reasonable-sized fire going,
especially for the kids. Apart from heat, it gives
a psychological boost. So light the fire and start
cooking on your stove.
Food is a very individual choice but should
be nutritious, as lightweight as possible
(dehydrated, freeze-dried) and easily prepared.
Once you have eaten, it is important to preserve
warmth. A short time around the fire is fine,
but don’t allow yourself to get cold.
Come bed time, put out the fire and get into
your sleeping bags while you still feel warm:
a sleeping bag doesn’t warm you, it retains
the heat you’ve built up. The same applies
to the clothes you wear in the bag. Proper
thermals will keep you much warmer than
heavy sweaters, and always wear a beanie —
most body heat escapes through the top of
your head. The digestion of your food creates
warmth and if you are properly equipped and
clothed you will enjoy a good night’s sleep and
be ready to tackle the next day’s walking.
Hot food such as porridge in the morning
maintains warmth and energy. Bring plenty of
treats (bribes) such as chocolate and lollies, to
help the journey back to your car.
Mt Cooke campsite
The Bibbulmun Track passes
by any number of lookouts
with spectacular views.
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