Fires can spread very quickly in the hot outback and you must be extra vigilant in regards to fire management. After you have chosen a spot
, make sure that there are no dried leaves, grasses or sticks lying around within reach of the fire. Keep the fire area clean, have a fire safety contingency plan (like water or a fire-blanket on hand), never leave a fire unattended and be responsible.
The number of travellers in our outback is increasingly dramatically and every one of us must make a dedicated attempt to cover up any sign of our campfire
, toilet pits etc. One of the most devastating things you can do in the Australian outback is leave the remains of your campfire
. Campfires are particularly bad because wind picks up remaining ashes and can spoil the area by spreading black ash through the soil. There is nothing worse and unsightly than camping on dirt or sand that has been stained by black ash!
Firstly, when you select a campsite try to reuse any existing fire pits left by other campers. This helps reduces the number of black pitted holes in the area. Be sure you are aware of any fire restrictions or bans in the area and always only create a fire that is sufficient to cook
your meal. Large bonfires are extremely unacceptable. Obviously, take note of signs regarding fires as in National Parks (and other areas) they are only allowed within certain times of the year and often you will only be able to light a fire in fireplaces provided.
To build a campfire
, scrape out a divot in the ground for your fire pit - DO NOT pile up kindling and wood directly on top of the ground. By scraping out a hole for your fire you will have some soil to use as a wind break around the edge of your fire (be wary of using rocks for a windbreak as they can explode when hot), and you will be able to cover up your firepit when you're gone leaving a more environmentally and traveller-friendly campsite for other visitors.
When you leave, extinguish the fire and carefully cover the hole with the fresh dirt you kept aside (gently place the dirt on top of ashes to avoid ash mixing with the fresh dirt) and pat down to leave the ground appearing as if a campfire
had never existed, rather than leave an unsightly mound! Buried ash and coals will break down over time if covered up this way and this will help to regenerate the area for future users.
Gathering of firewood is also something that you'll need to consider carefully. Old logs and vegetation are a vital component to the bush cycle and in many areas restrictions or bans will mean you will not be allowed to collect wood from nearby your campsite. Most National Parks now request that you bring your own (from outside of the park boundaries) or they will supply you with firewood as an additional fee or included in your camping fee. If in doubt, use a gas cooker instead of lighting a fire. See tips for Campfire
Cooking in our Food and Water Article.