Some notes on lone outback travelling for newbies.

Submitted: Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 10:48
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I'm often told that travelling the bush by myself must be scary. I'm sometimes asked what sort of gun I carry, and if I've had any close shaves.

Let me state that I am usually frightened of people with guns. They are often more of a danger than any homicidal maniac.
A drunken person with a firearm is a danger to everyone around. If a bad guy without a gun comes into your camp with the intention of robbing you and gets hold of your gun that you were pointing at him, guess what your chances are ?
I've seen too much of guns.
One example was a traveller at Purni Bore who wanted to shoot rabbits, despite the fact that we were expecting a group of offroad bikers to roar into camp from anywhere at any time.
The locals are often more at risk from travellers with firearms than the other way around.
So no guns for me.

The bush isn't full of murderers and rapists. There are statistically less of them than in a city. Far less. (because there's fewer people...duh!) It's actually populated by people like you and I.
Yes there are remote areas, but few ways in and out. Anyone wanted by the law is going to get caught pretty easily. The people who work and live in these areas are a pretty close mob when it comes to that sort of thing. Crimes do happen, but compared to living in the big smoke, you are usually much safer.

The locals are often a mixed bag of characters. They may have to be, to live and work there. Now they may not dress or talk like we wage slaves in Sydney or Melbourne, but that's of little importance in these areas. They may look rough, but most are just like you and I.
Treat them with respect and courtesy, use your common sense and listen to your gut feeling, and you'll be fine.
How would you like to answer questions like where's the closest Maccas to Woop Woop, several times a day, for years ? Travellers who rush in, take a 30 second look and rush out ? I'm sure that almost everyone in the bush has a tourist story or 10 to tell.
Remember that the bush is the backyard of many. How would you like a con voy of YEE HAW 4wders shooting up your backyard, and then asking you to help them out ?
I suspect that many who go into the bush take the city with them. Rudeness and arrogance is often the trademark of these time poor souls. They would be better off staying at home.
The locals are not always happy to see tourists.
But take time to ask about their area, and their lives and most will open up and yarn for ages. You'll probably learn more from the locals in an hour than in a week of reading books.
Don't expect it to happen, everyone is busy and has their life to lead. They're not just sitting around waiting for you. But when it does, enjoy their pride in their history and area.

So, what if you're by yourself ?
Let me put it another way. What if you're not?
You argue. You fight. You disagree. You want to go different places or see different things. You pack and carry supplies for two (or more).
Yes camp chores are easier, but there are role expectations etc.

On your own you can do what you want when you want. Leave the washing up till later. Go to bed and get up when you feel like it.
Yes the workload is increased. You can get crook on your own. You can have an accident (being extra careful will minimize the risk...you take less risks on your own. What would be a days drive becomes a two day drive etc).
On your own you are responsible for everything. You can't blame the wrong turn on the navigator. No more "where did you pack ...?" No more "but I drove all day !" If you don't do it, it doesn't get done. Life becomes both easier and harder so it's a matter of priorities.

The real trick to travelling alone is not travelling alone. Huh ?
By this I mean that there are some things that you do so that although you're the only person on the trip, others are keeping an eye out for you.
Drop in at the police station and say gooday. Chat to a few locals. have someone know where you are going, how you intend to get there, when you expect to be in contact again and have good communications on board. A satphone, EPIRB and HF radio mean that you will never actually be alone.
It isn't a trip to the corner shop, but you can minimize the chances of anything going wrong.

Safe and happy travelling by yourself.


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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:23

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:23
Thanks for the info Footie, now you've overlooked the most crucial aspect - you will always win the argument when travelling alone! The only problem with that is if you actually start arguing with yourself. Guess it's time to head back to company when that happens.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Des Lexic - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:27

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:27
Well said Footy. I agree with your comments entirely.
One thing to add to your comments, Don't bypass the small retail outlets just because they are too dear, next time you come through the area, you might just need to get some emergency supplies or whatever and you can't because the business has closed down due to lack of patronage. These people depend on the likes of us to keep their business' running. Sure some are rip off merchants but most are just honest people trying to survive out there.
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Follow Up By: revhead307 - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:48

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:48
Thats an interesting comment Des.

I have lived/worked in a town of 100 people for the last 2 years. It has a pub and a general store, the post office and fuel station are run by the shire.

The stores prices are fairly expensive compared to the city as everything has to be freighted in etc. We are on a wildflower route and the small caravan park (also shire run) attracts its share of nomads following the colour.

However by and large they are self sufficient, and buy only the paper at the store. Its run by a friendly couple that have decades in the region and always have a yarn.

In the same position..i would stock up where its cheap aswell, so its not a criticism just an observation.

Regards
Rev

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Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:55

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:55
Agree with Des. You don't have to do a massive shop just one or a few items by each traveller would ensure some of these outlets stay in business. The total extra dollars you pay would be peanuts overall.

Regards
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:57

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:57
IWhen I want toargue with myself I remind myself that we had that arguement last week. How are you Footy, I'm fine :))
Of course when I get home people run away when they see me. I make up for the lack of convo big time.

Yep, buying in the bush. I'm always surprised at what little price difference there is, considering where I am. Sometimes prices are outlandish but not always. I was in a bush pub once, having a fresh sandwhich and coffee with my wife and learning about the area. A family rushed in and out again. 30 seconds and you could hear them thinking "oh there's nothing to see". What did they expect, dancing elephants ? We had a great visit and plenty of fond memories. And they might of had also, if they'd only pulled up a stool and said G'Day to the locals.
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Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:00

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:00
If they'd stayed and had drinks while listening to you and the locals they may very well have seen the dancing elephants LOLOL
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:03

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:03
Gramps, I stopped at the same (remote) pub the year before for a cuppa. The locals were in full swing. Too much nightlife for me so I only stayed 30 mts :))
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Follow Up By: Des Lexic - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:34

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:34
Rev, last year we were returning home travelling through Corrigin and decided to stay overnight. got talking to one of the locals who told us about the local wildflower drive. Backtrack about 7k's and spend half an hour looking at the flowers was the plan. Ended up staying till after lunch. It was fantastic and we would have missed it had it not been for the locals.
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:47

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 11:47
Would you advise a woman to travel by herself?

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:00

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:00
Mike, I wouldn't advise anyone to travel by themselves if they didn't have to. Especially females. But I'd guess that would depend on the person and the circumstances.
Why do you ask ?
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:57

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:57
Did you hear about the 45 year old French woman who last week left Exmouth bound for Maritius on a windsurfer! Solo sailing for what she expects to be a 60 day voyage. I would never do that, but some people have what it takes. The story I saw on TV about it, showed her saying she had to sail for 1.5 hrs, then take a 15min break to redo sunblock, eat, drink and reset her navigation. She has all the comms gear and laptop etc under the deck and she goes below breifly. Amazing what some people will do - man or woman.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:55

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:55
Michelle, no I didn't. Like yourself, I am constantly amazed by what people will do.
My post was intended to reflect that fact that some people prefer or have to travel by themselves, and providing precautions are taken, it can be quite rewarding.
In no way do I suggest that people go solo if they don't have to. Doing so makes the trip far more difficult and "iffy", despite the rewards.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:08

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:08
Sorry Footloose, my followup was intended for Mike Harding who commented about women. I wanted to illustrate that women can't be excluded from the notion of travelling solo if they wish. I actually agree with you on this topic. But its not for me - I need to share my experience with someone (just one will do) but at least one.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:01

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:01
My question was posed because I was curious regarding what people (ie. men and women - are there any others? :) thought about solo female travellers. Perhaps we should give the thread longer but I'm surprised there has not been more responses.

We readily accept the concept of males travelling alone and I thought the basis of Foosloose's post was that solo travel is OK providing one uses common sense – something I would agree with - having done much of it. However I have had two occasions recently where women have asked my advice about exactly this issue and although logic says; “no problem – I do it often” emotion says “hmmmm – I think you need to be a little careful here”. I’m not disputing women are quite capable of windsurfing across the ocean (or whatever) I’m more interested in the perceived, collective wisdom of solo female travel by 4WD, or similar, in Australia?

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Member - Willie , Epping .Syd. - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:22

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:22
Hi Mr Loose ,

I like travelling by myself in the car - the only thing I would love to have with me is a dog - but that is not possible these days .

I always feel a little bit nervouse camping out in the never never by myself , especially if I am within sight of the road , so I either camp next to someone I like the look of , or to conceal myself from all by getting well away from the road and out of sight . I don't like staying in caravan parks much .

I always carry a peacemaker - a pretty mean on at that . I do not have any problems with them - it is only there for insurance and a little piece of mind if things turn ugly .

The only problems I find with being on my own is that sometimes I will drive past something I should have stopped to look at , whereas with a companion , for some reason , I probably would have stopped for a Captain Cook and you usually can't bother to cook good meals for only one person .

Willie .
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Follow Up By: Richard Kovac - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 00:05

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 00:05
Willie

Sorry to hear you carry a gun I would have thought the under pants were enough.... LOL

Richard
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:35

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:35
Good post Footy, See you don't really post to much?? LOL.

I don't know about the rest of you but I don't just travel for the scenery, I travel to experience the country as a whole which includes its people.
Stopping to talk to the local shop keeper, farmer or just talking to a bloke in the pub is always an interesting experience as I find they are just as interested in you as you are of them.

I have traveled on my own or with just one of my kids and never felt alone or unsafe in this country, no need to carry any sort of weapon (Don't own one) and in my view God forbid if we as Australians start this sort of $hit big time in our country.
I agree with Footy, the likelihood of being in fear of your life is again in my view many times more at home, in the city, in your own bed.

I have found that an extension of that "Experiencing the country" I mentioned above has been enhanced with listening to the VKS network and experiencing the travel exploits of your fellow travelers around the country with you.
Its been an enriching experience listening to the characters that call into the sched's from time to time, my kids also like to listen and then look on the map as to "Where the caller is located"

I guess its pretty well the main reason we all visit and post to this site, To experience the travels of others, to meet new and interesting people, to learn about them and to experience Australia.

If you are capable and confident and have the experience to travel by yourself, male or female then just do it, life is to short to sit at home worring about risk.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:13

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:13
Yes - agree with you John. Well said.
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Reply By: Rod W - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:39

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:39
Some good stuff here. Yep I often go bush by myself. I find the most anxious time is before I leave home. Once I leave the driveway and hit the road all anxiety goes and concentrate on the job at hand. I always come back satisfied.
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Reply By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:05

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:05
Footie,
Your post makes you sound like you are against anyone carrying firearms in the bush .Iagree that there are many "cowboys" out there using firearms irresponsibly but I don't think you should generalise, as I ALWAYS travel with a high power firearm all over Aus. and most times I am in the bush on my own and have never had any problem with anyone.I use a gun for sport and food and have over a million acres of land that I can camp and shoot on legally.Ihave nothing against people carrying firearms as most are very responsible and it can be a great asset for a bit of free bush food.Other than that I can say that there is great enjoyment in travelling alone as it makes you aware how insignificant you are in your surroundings.ihave also done many trips with another vehicle and it does give more peace of mind in case of an emergency.Each to their own but enjoy while you can.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:12

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:12
Rambler, I actually said "most people with firearms" and "no guns for me". I didn't say that it was good or bad overall, you're either a gun person or you're not. I've seen enough GSW for a lifetime. So I'm not a gun person anymore. However if the Govts don't do something about where the remaining ones are (in the hands of criminals !), I may well change my mind.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:37

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:37
I had the impression (Sorry Footie if I was wrong) and my own post reflects the point that the thought of carrying a firearm for the intended purpose of self protection in this country is in my view a wrong one.

I have absolutely no issue with those that lawfully carry firearms in the course of there chosen sport or business.

I also point out that if you do carry a firearm and enter National Parks or for that matter cross State Borders my understanding is you are breaking the law and that may have more consequences than any proposed thought that you may need it for self protection.

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Follow Up By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:51

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:51
Crossing state borders with a firearm is not illegal if you comply with the regulations in that state.It is up to the licensed firearm owner to comply with the relevant regulations.People who run hunting safaris have people coming from interstate with firearms all the time.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:56

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:56
Yes good point Rambler.
Not being a licensed firearm owner I admit that I am not fully conversant with the relevant laws on cross border travel.

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:07

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:07
Or the laws on National Parks John - so best not to guess at them, don't you think?

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 23:22

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 23:22
So Michael are you suggesting that you are permitted to carry or posses a firearm in a National Park?
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 06:50

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 06:50
I sure am - want to bet? Proceeds to the Melbourne Lost Dogs Home.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Joe King - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 14:46

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 14:46
I always carry my rifle/s when touring anywhere & so does my wife, as she hasn't got the heart to "Club" a wounded animal to death.
I carry mine for a number of reasons, the above being one, food, sport & to make a living, we are very reponsible with them & if we do go on NP they stay in the locked car unless I'm contracted for feral animal control by QPWS.
carrying a firearm is like owning anything, you have your yobbo's & they make it bad for everyone, it was one lunatic who got the laws brought in in the firstplace & also as with anything, its personal choice & Footie, great thread mate.
JK
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Reply By: Member - Michael O (NSW) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:09

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:09
I travelled around Australia by myself for almost 3 years. There's no doubt I met more people and shared more experiences than I do now that I travel with wife and kids.

Many times I'd be sitting alone in a Pub or a caravan park and someone would ask me "are you on your own?" When I said yes the next comment was usually, why don't you come and have a drink with us?"

Thanks to that I
went deep sea fishing at Ceduna SA
sorted sapphires on a belt at Emerald Qld
got a tour of the Ranger mine at Jabiru NT
got taken through a timber mill in Pemberton WA
helped make sausages with some mad Italians in Manjimup WA
stayed in a crayfisherman's hut near Jurien WA
helped muster sheep on a property NE of White Cliffs NSW
was asked to assist in a huge whale stranding at Augusta WA
saw a jade mine at Cowell in SA
behind the scenes at School of the Air in Broken Hill
crewed for an off road racing team at Rankins Springs NSW
helped lay foxbaits at Bourke...

Travelling alone is terrific. If you're a male...

The only scare I had in all that time was when a city bloke camping with his family somewhere near Esperance had a panic attack about me camping alone near him. He wandered over after dark and asked me if I was on my own. "Sure am..." I said.

"I carry a gun" he replied.

I found another campsite...
Monday I have Friday on my mind...
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:26

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 16:26
Mike, thanks for sharing, pretty amazing stuff. It's a big country and I rekkon there are more stories out there than you can poke a stick at.
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Follow Up By: Joe King - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:56

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:56
Bugger that!! traveling alone sounds like a lot of hard work lol..
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:58

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:58
JK, you're right ! It seems like 10 times harder than having the navigator along.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:26

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:26
Footloose,

I don't wish to change your excellent outlook on life mate, so DON'T watch the Wolfe Creek movie. It'll give you the "screaming heebies" and you will be buying an armory of weapons to protect you and yours.
Bill


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Follow Up By: Moneypit - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 01:50

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 01:50
Ain't that the truth. I watched i tin a motel the other week and was too scared to shut my bl**dy eyes all night.

Jeez that John Jarratt couldn't be more removed from Playschool thesedays coudl he??

Regards

Dave
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:32

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:32
A good friend of mine (new migrant - been here about 18 months) who has been deep bush with me three times watched that film (at the behest of his wife and friends! I haven't seen it and won't - not my style) the other week just before he was due to head out on his own for his first single solo night in the bush and it gave him the willies big time.

I have to question the wisdom of making a film which will make a lot of people, the world over, afraid to step into the Australian bush lest it be crawling with psychopaths. Not a good advert for friendly, relaxed old Australia.

Ho hum - such is freedom of expression I suppose... something no one, on this forum, could argue I was against :)

Mike Harding

PS. $50 John? :)
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Follow Up By: Wombat - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:48

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:48
It's not my style either, but think of the benefits - "a lot of people, the world over, afraid to step into the Australian bush lest it be crawling with psychopaths." That means more seclusion for those craving it. You never know maybe Truckster might be able to go bush on a long weekend with no fear of the 26486598466246 tourists.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:54

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:54
Good point!!!

We need more films about psychopaths in the bush!!!

Mike Harding :)

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:13

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:13
Yea, but the really frightening part is that the film was based on true events, such as the Ivan Millat and Bradley Murdoch incidences.
Bill


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Reply By: Trevor M (SA) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 22:04

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 22:04
I have experienced camping on my own a few times. It has generally been the "leave Adelaide to drive to the snow" type scenario where it is "when I get tired I will find somwhere to throw down the swag". My exprience has been not only is it harder than you expect to find such a place but when you do the sleep is rather restless. Last year I found a spot not far from Bright and had somebody drive in and out in the early hours ....... their perogative of course but didn't lead to too much more sleep. (I probably upset their plans for some "late night activity")

Driving back to Adelaide I found a spot and wasn't disturbed but I must admit I was unsettled and the whole experience will make me think next time (although I will not admit it to anyone!)

The interesting thing is that on other occasions when it has been just my lad and I camping at whatever place I find I have never felt nervous. Whilst he is totally dependant on me it doesn't seem to matter that he couldn't help if any "baddies came", it still feels more comfortable than being alone.

Anyone else agree that the mind can play silly games? Can't sleep when you are alone but ok when a child is with you that you are totaly responsible for? Shouldn't it be simpler when you are just responsible for yourself?

Trev
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Follow Up By: Member - Bware (Tweed Valley) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 02:00

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 02:00
Yes mate. I live rural and it's amazing how sometimes something can 'spook' you even though you know there's no dropbears out there or 'Harry head-chopper off-er'. But when I'm with the young fella it's "no mate, tigers are only in Africa and vampires are only in Buffy the Vampire Slayer". LOL
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:50

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 17:50
I think it's one of those things that the more you do the more relaxed you become about it.

Logic tells us that just because it's dark doesn't mean the bush is any different to the way it was when the sun was shining - emotion says something a little different :) Then again logic tells us that psychopaths don't have a union which only permits night shift work and we all know that _no one_ can move silently through a forest - despite what Hollywood would wish us to believe - hell! Hollywood would have us believe people suddenly (cue camera 5!) appear from nowhere - ever noticed how the slowly walking psychopath always seems to catch the fast sprinting young woman?

Just spend more time in the wilderness and you'll learn to be a part of it, won't take long before you can readily distinguish the normal bush noises from human noise. Go far enough out and you'll not hear any human noises - best place to be.

Just steer clear of the crocs and there's not much to harm you in Oz - well... watch the snakes too... and some spiders.... :)

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Barnesy - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 14:17

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 14:17
Love going bush alone but after about 6 days i feel the need to see my girlfriend again. And the reasons you're all thinking of is only part of the story.
I think if I was single I wouldn't hesitate to get in the GQ and just drive.

Barnesy
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