Everything you need to know for your first camping trip in a national park

Everything you need to know for your first camping trip in a national park

New to camp­ing? This four-part series will help you pre­pare for an unfor­get­table trip. First up – the tent.

South Aus­tralia has some won­der­ful bush camp­ing, with camp­grounds in more than 40 of our nation­al parks and reserves.

You can camp at what­ev­er lev­el suits you, from the most basic to an ultra-com­fy set up, but there’s a few things to con­sid­er when organ­is­ing your site.

Here’s some ideas for choos­ing and set­ting up your tent, and get­ting a good night’s rest:

1. How to pick a tent

While camp­ing, your tent is your home. If you’re not car­ry­ing it on your back, always choose a tent that is slight­ly larg­er than you need so you have room for your lug­gage. There are low tents or taller ones that allow you to stand in the mid­dle, so pick the size and height that suits you best.

Once your tent’s been pitched it’s a good idea to take your shoes off when­ev­er you’re inside – mud and dirt can make for a messy expe­ri­ence. Plus, leav­ing your shoes inside on a piece of news­pa­per will ensure they stay free of creepy crawlies when you’re not wear­ing them.

Speak­ing of crit­ters, always keep the fly screen closed or you’re like­ly to have unin­vit­ed guests.

2. Be pre­pared with extras

An extra tar­pau­lin as a ground sheet will keep the base of your tent from get­ting mud­dy if the ground is wet.

Bring a mal­let to ham­mer in the tent pegs, although a rock will do if you’re trav­el­ling light. It’s a good idea to pack some extra tent pegs in case one gets bent. A peg can even dou­ble as a tool to pull out the oth­ers when you’re tak­ing the tent down.

Cable ties and duct tape are invalu­able in emer­gen­cies. Cable ties can be used to mend bro­ken tent poles and duct tape can stop unex­pect­ed leaks.

Anoth­er handy item is glow in the dark rib­bon, which can pre­vent sud­den tent col­laps­es caused by peo­ple trip­ping over cables in the dark.

3. Think about your sleep

If com­fort is your pri­or­i­ty, pack an air mat­tress, sleep­ing bag and a pil­low, with an extra blan­ket for cold nights. A dou­ble sleep­ing bag is a great invest­ment if you have a camp­ing part­ner, or even if you don’t, as they’re less like­ly to tan­gle than the sin­gle version. 

If you’re not as wor­ried about com­fort, a bedroll and sleep­ing bag will save space.

4. Choos­ing a nation­al park

With more than 300 nation­al parks cov­er­ing more than 20% of South Aus­tralia, choos­ing a nation­al park for your camp­ing trip might seem daunting! 

To give you a help­ing hand, use the Find a Park tool on the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice web­site. It allows you to search the vast num­ber of parks and refine the results to find the per­fect park for you. 

For exam­ple, you can search for:

There’s many more search options avail­able, so go online and have a look today, you might be sur­prised what you’ll find in our nation­al parks.

5. Great camp­sites for first-timers

If it’s your first time camp­ing, you prob­a­bly want to ease in with a camp­ground that has toi­lets and show­ers. These 4 spots have all the facil­i­ties and are sur­round­ed by amaz­ing scenery and wildlife:

Now that your tent and sleep­ing is sort­ed, check out the next instal­ments in this series:

For more camp­ing options in nation­al parks and reserves, vis­it the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA web­site.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Sep­tem­ber 2015 and has been updat­ed with new information.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living