Hogwash Bend - Our Outback Camping Shake Down Trip.

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2015 at 19:35

Stephen L (Clare) SA

Fiona and I are no strangers to very remote true Outback Camping, and know that the success of any trip comes down to thorough preparation of both vehicle and camping equipment. Get it wrong and that very special trip will can turn out to be the trip from hell.

Our usual mode of camping is our trusty swag, and to be honest, is so comfortable and cosy, that we have never been let down. Travelling into remote areas, we have seen on a number of occasions, travellers pride and joys left stranded by the side of the track when it met its final death, due to only one fact and that their so called “Off Road” camper or trailer could not handle our true harsh and unforgiving Outback conditions.

Over the last couple of years, two of our fellow Outback travelling companions had both used one brand of camper, that took everything in its stride, from the punishing corrugations of the Anne Beadle Highway to pure cross country work, just as if it was being towed on a good dirt road. The first time, Michelle’s from EO fame, mum and dad, Colin and Sandy turned up with their new Ultimate Camper, and this year, John and Suzette had their camper along for the trip. Anyone that has followed Mick O’s blogs will have noticed that John and Suzette are always part of his team and when they go Outback, it is usually pure cross country travel into some of Australia’s most remote and hostile country.

Last years trip was no different, but before setting up camp each night, Mick would usually add a few words on the lines……this should be an OK spot for the ground dwellers, knowing that for anyone sleeping on the ground, the spot had to be clear of low ground vegetation and reasonably flat, while the high rise sleeping party could sleep over ground covered in dense spinifex without even knowing it was there.

As our last trip carried on, both Fiona and I both agreed that those high rise sleepers looked very attractive with John always saying…when are you going to upgrade, and Suzette always showing Fiona the finer points of their camper. We knew the campers were tough, and one very important thing that was very important, 100% water and dust proof, both inside of the sleeping area and in all the compartments and very large boot area.

Well before the trip was over we were now converts to above ground sleeping and the search would now be on for our future Outback mode of Camping……the Ultimate way.

By early September last year, we had purchased our new pride and joy and decked it out to our own individual tastes. Each time we would speak with John and Suzette, the very first question was….have you taken it on a maiden camping trial trip yet, and sadly the answers was always no, because of either work commitments or the weather was just getting too hot. With the long range weather of the Christmas break just perfect, in the mid to high twenties for South Australia, we knew one such spot that we would head for, where we could try everything out, from our new bush shower tent, to the solar to keep everything electrical working while away from electricity.

So on Friday the 26th of December, which also happened to be my birthday, we set off to Hogwash Bend, located of the banks of the mighty Murray River between Morgan and Waikerie and only just under two hours from our home in Clare. The camper was very sturdy and light to tow and after many trial set ups in our back yard, we finally set up for real in a perfect location, with only a few metres of sand separating us from the River. Hogwash Bend is the perfect location on the Murray, being more like beach camping, with a nice sandy sand bar, and very safe water for even the youngest of campers. Anyone that has ever swam in the Murray, knows that safety if paramount, as the water is usually deep and there are the ever threats of snags that can injure or maim the best of swimmers.

The water here at Hogwash Bend is all sand bottom, with no weed or snags and it was possible to wade out well over thirty metres from the bank, and the water is still only just above your waste, with no hidden deep holes or snags. Over the next couple of days either were just purely relaxing watching the sights of the River, going for small walks, or for me enjoying paddling on the Murray. We did have one regret…..we could only stay away for two nights, as we both had to go back to work on the Monday after Christmas. Everything turned out just perfect, but we still had one final test for the new Ultimate, was it going to be dust proof for our desert trips.

To find out, I knew of a good road to find out and give it a good test, taking the back dirt roads to Blanchtown, down past Swan Reach, then west on the Murraylands Road to Cambria, a distance of around eighty kilometres. One important place that we had to get an accuracy GPS Waypoint for and to add to the Places index, was Shell Hill. Shell Hill was so named because of the very unique structure of the hill, with deposits of Oyster Shells up to 6 metres thick and believed to be 5 million years old, and in the 1940’s used as a source of fertiliser when it was crushed on site.

Even though the roads were good quality roads, they were still dusty enough to test the dust proof ability of the Ultimate Camper, with the end result of coming home with flying colours and not one spec of dust either on the inside of our new living area, or in the compartments on the side of the camper.

It was a very big step and outlay for Fiona and I, but we are wrapped and can not wait to head off again and enjoy our new camping life style, knowing that we will no longer be sleeping as a ground dweller, but sleeping and living as a high rise sleepers.

Stephen Langman

January 2015
Smile like a Crocodile
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