1. Choose a camping spot, and book if you need. There are hundreds of campsites within a couple of hours of Sydney. Some have views to die for while others are a small, flat spot (if you’re lucky) surrounded by scrub. With a bit of research you’ll find one just perfect for you or your group. Some good resources to find campsites are:
- Wild Walks: http://www.wildwalks.com/camping-in-nsw-parks/near-sydney-campsites/
- National Parks: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/sydney-and-surrounds-campgrounds
- Map programs usually show campsites. There are quite a few programs but I tend to use Gaia GPS. They show pretty much all the places you can camp (including the crappy spots). It’s especially useful if you want to camp in a particular area. You can see what’s around there and then put the site in Google to see what it’s like.
2. Download or print maps. Don’t rely on your phone for directions to the campsite. Many are out of range and it really blows if you get most of the way there but then can’t find the campsite since the maps aren’t loading. Either download maps for offline use in whatever map program you’re using or go old school and print them out.
3. Check the forecast. Some places have pretty wild temperature variations, especially anywhere at altitude. It’s much easier to pack when you know what you’re in for.
4. Bring essentials: For a single night trip, even if you didn’t take a single thing, you’d probably still survive since Sydney doesn’t get super cold. But that would be seriously miserable! So there’s a few items you really don’t want to forget:
- Map and compass, whistle (if you’re hiking in)
- Water (if you don’t want to carry too much, bring purification tablets and refill from a creek)
- 1st aid kit in particular, make sure you’ve got a bandage in case of snake bites. An emergency space blanket is another great item that can be used to sleep in if you find your sleeping bag isn’t cutting it.
- If you go remote, take an EPIRB (emergency beacon). They can be hired easily (and for free) in the Blue Mountains or Kosciuszko:. Hopefully you never need it but you’d be screwed if you got into trouble without phone reception! https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/questions/where-to-hire-emergency-beacon
- Light, ideally headtorch. I have forgotten this a few times and it’s a real pain in the arse!
- Sleeping bag (if it’s warm you might get away with just wearing your warm clothes to bed)…
- Warm clothes (easy in summer but you need more in winter e.g. thermal top and pants, overpants, fleece/wool jumper, jacket e.g. synthetic down, raincoat, beanie, gloves, thick woollen socks)
- Any medications
5. Bring comfort items. You can do without these but it’s way more fun being comfortable:
- Food! Yum.
- Extra warm clothes
- Long pants and top for bug protection and/or bug spray
- Lip balm
- Stove and fuel for cooking and/or tea and coffee or pot to cook over the fire if you’ll have one (and matches/lighter)
- Cutlery, mug, plate
- Plastic bags for rubbish
6. Bring luxuries:
- Cheese and biccies
- Flask of port, whisky or whatever it is you fancy
- Tea and coffee
- If you’re camping near the car, you can bring extra stuff like books, a pillow, camp chairs, a rug, firewood etc etc. But at the end of the day, you’re there to enjoy nature and being outdoors. The more stuff you bring, the more time you spend stuffing about with it and the less time and headspace you have to just ‘be’. I’ve seen people spend more time packing and unpacking than they did on the trip! I like to keep it simple and take the essentials, some comfort items and a few food-related treats.
7. Now it’s time for the fun part, have a kick-arse trip!