Everything you need to know about your next (or first!) camping trip in a national park

Everything you need to know about your next (or first!) camping trip in a national park

Choos­ing the right equipment 

When it comes to camp­ing gear, your tent is your home away from home, so choose wise­ly based on size, dura­bil­i­ty, and ven­ti­la­tion. Opt for a slight­ly larg­er tent to accom­mo­date both sleep­ing space and gear stor­age, ensur­ing a com­fort­able experience. 

Next, con­sid­er oth­er essen­tials like a ground sheet for pro­tec­tion against mois­ture, a mal­let to secure tent pegs, and ver­sa­tile tools like cable ties and duct tape for emergencies. 

Pri­ori­tise a good night’s sleep with qual­i­ty bed­ding, includ­ing an air mat­tress, sleep­ing bag, and pil­low. For cou­ples or those need­ing extra space, a dou­ble sleep­ing bag pro­vides ample com­fort, while a bedroll paired with a sleep­ing bag offers a min­i­mal­ist option. Don’t for­get to pack an extra blan­ket for added warmth on chilly nights!

Plan­ning a hike dur­ing your stay? Check out our guide of what to pack, as well as the best ways to stay safe (link to hik­ing blog).

Choos­ing the right nation­al park

South Aus­tralia boasts over 300 nation­al parks, each offer­ing unique land­scapes and recre­ation­al opportunities. 

Use the Find a Park” tool on the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice web­siteto dis­cov­er parks with facil­i­ties such as car­a­van-friend­ly sites, pic­turesque hik­ing trails, or tran­quil swim­ming spots. Con­sid­er fac­tors such as prox­im­i­ty to ameni­ties, avail­abil­i­ty of activ­i­ties, and envi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions when choos­ing your ide­al park.

Top camp­sites for beginners

For novice campers, select­ing the right camp­site can sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact your expe­ri­ence. We’ve rec­om­mend­ed some camp­sites that cater to begin­ners and have facil­i­ties such as toi­lets, show­ers, pic­nic tables and bar­be­ques, as well as being sur­round­ed by amaz­ing scenery and wildlife: 

  • Stringy­bark at Deep Creek Nation­al Park: Enjoy stun­ning coastal views and easy access to hik­ing trails.
  • Mam­bray Creek at Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park: Explore scenic gorges and tran­quil water­ways in this pic­turesque setting.
  • Wilpe­na Pound in Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park: Dis­cov­er the rugged beau­ty of the out­back while enjoy­ing mod­ern ameni­ties and guid­ed tours.

Cook­ing essen­tials for camping

Prepar­ing meals while camp­ing can be both prac­ti­cal and enjoy­able with the right equip­ment and prepa­ra­tion. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Choose cook­ers and uten­sils suit­able for camp­fire restric­tions and park regulations.
  • Pack essen­tial cook­ing items such as a fry­pan, ket­tle, chop­ping board, and foil.
  • Enhance your culi­nary expe­ri­ence with spe­cial­ty items like a long-han­dled jaf­fle iron for deli­cious toasties and a stove-top espres­so mak­er for your morn­ing caf­feine fix.
  • Keep per­ish­able foods fresh by invest­ing in a portable fridge for the car or pack­ing an esky full of ice.

Some camp­grounds have pub­lic gas bar­be­ques, but it’s always handy to car­ry your own equip­ment. Depend­ing on which park you’re vis­it­ing, and what time of the year it is, this can range from a basic butane-fuelled, sin­gle-burn­er cook­er up to a portable gas bar­beque. How­ev­er, please be aware that dif­fer­ent parks have dif­fer­ent fire restric­tions, so be sure to do your research before you head off.

When it comes to uten­sils your basics can be as sim­ple as a fry­pan, ket­tle, chop­ping board, bowl, a cou­ple of sharp knives and a roll of foil. Add a plate, bowl, mug, knife, fork and spoon per per­son and you’re set. It’s always a good idea to throw in a roll of paper tow­el and the toma­to sauce.

Man­ag­ing waste

Respon­si­ble waste man­age­ment is cru­cial for pre­serv­ing the nat­ur­al beau­ty of our nation­al parks and min­imis­ing envi­ron­men­tal impact. Here’s how to man­age waste effectively:

  • Pack all rub­bish in leak-proof bags and remem­ber to take it with you as there are no bins in nation­al parks. 
  • Bring a buck­et for extin­guish­ing camp­fires safe­ly and min­imis­ing fire risk. Remem­ber, camp­fires must be put out with water, not sand or dirt.
  • Prac­tice Leave No Trace prin­ci­ples by clean­ing up after your­self and leav­ing your camp­site in bet­ter con­di­tion than you found it.

Book­ing and prepar­ing for your camp­ing trip

Before embark­ing on your camp­ing adven­ture, take the time to plan and pre­pare thor­ough­ly. Here are some tips for book­ing and get­ting ready for your trip:

  • Reserve camp­sites and pay vehi­cle entry fees online in advance to secure your spot, espe­cial­ly dur­ing peak seasons.
  • Check mobile phone cov­er­age in your cho­sen park, as some remote areas may have lim­it­ed or no reception.
  • Down­load Aven­za Maps for offi­cial park maps and offline nav­i­ga­tion, ensur­ing you can nav­i­gate safe­ly even with­out inter­net access.
  • Ensure you plan to arrive and leave the park dur­ing day­light hours and avoid sun­rise and sun­set as this is when wildlife will be most active in the park. Always dri­ve carefully. 
  • Famil­iarise your­self with park reg­u­la­tions, safe­ty guide­lines, and emer­gency pro­ce­dures to ensure a smooth and enjoy­able camp­ing expe­ri­ence. And if you’re look­ing for­ward to snug­gling around a camp­fire make sure you do the right thing. There are some impor­tant rules and safe­ty mea­sures you need to fol­low to make sure you and our nat­ur­al envi­ron­ments stay safe.

By fol­low­ing these tips and rec­om­men­da­tions, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your first camp­ing trip in a South Aus­tralian nation­al park. Whether you’re seek­ing adven­ture, relax­ation, or sim­ply a con­nec­tion with nature, our parks offer some­thing for everyone. 

So pack your gear, grab your friends and fam­i­ly, and get ready for an unfor­get­table out­door experience!

Keen for a bush­walk­ing adven­ture? Find out more here.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living