7 things learnt while camping this year

‘Let’s go camping this year’ isn’t something that came up in conversational plans early on in the piece about what we had in store for 2023. However when awesome family friends suggested it, we happily jumped into it muddy boots first.

It was a huge 3 days, we ate like kings and I walked out a little more camping educated that when I started. Not a bad way to spend Easter at all!

Camping this year – the things we learned.


Camping veteran Holly the Wonderdog also joined us

A massive shout out to clan Shakespeare who invited us along to this camping party, camping veterans from way back. They started with tents, upgraded to a caravan and now are proud owners of a cabin (but still have all the original gear on hand so they can use the cabin as a base of operations and go from there.) Which meant they were across everything from things to explore to food to pack (wowee did they cook up some amazing food!) right down to the little things that would make camp life easier.
And that wealth of experience was super handy for us, clan Shield, because we haven’t camped much. No really – once I had a tent and a mat to sleep on and that was about it. I used it once all up for a new years eve party and I’m not even sure where they ended up either after that.
So when someone who has spent plenty of time in the great outdoors sends you a suggestion list, follow it because they know exactly what you need – they’ve been there and camped that!


For camping this year we had a choice of two rigs – my Subaru Impreza with possible head gasket issues or the wife’s Mitsubishi Lancer with a perfectly fine head gasket but no working air con. And while the all wheel drive would have helped plenty in muddy conditions, we chose the Lancer because there’d be less chance we’d have to stop halfway through to check coolant levels.
The trouble was that once we packed the car and it’s hatch to the absolute brim, there really wasn’t much room for anything else including the kids. Because even though it was only for three nights, we brought enough food to sate an army and enough blankets to rug them all up. Plus there were camp beds, pillows, jackets, Easter eggs and the like taking up what limited space we had. Which mean the kids sat in the back covered in doonas while I perched in the passenger seat looking like I was trying to smuggle my life’s possessions across the border somewhere. Luckily the caravan park was less than an hour away but still, it’s no fun having to play ‘camping supply Tetris’ just to spend some time with family friends.


Save for an Alfa Romeo something (I didn’t catch the model but it was sporting and red naturally, god only knows why that was there) the Lancer really stuck out in the caravan park car collection on account of it not being some sort of SUV or 4×4 mud basher and having tiny everything including tires (and especially space) in comparison to the people haulers puttering about. Heath had a luxurious Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Tom brought his hard as nails Toyota Hilux (and slept in the back of it) and there were plenty of models nice and high off the ground from a BMW X3 to plenty of Nissan Patrols, Mitsubishi Outlanders and more than enough Toyoya Landcruisers.

But the most popular make on the lot seemed to be a Kia. I lost track of the number of Sportages and Carnivals parked near tents and caravans and that surprised me because it’s not normally a brand that I’d consider as some kind of camping SUV. But then again with my camping history being on the rather low side, I’m probably not the best person to ask if the question is ‘I’m camping this year, what car should I take?’ Although I can recommend you keep the Lancer at home.


One of 13

On day two, Heath suggested a spot of four wheel driving over a section of road called 13 Creeks – which is exactly as it sounds, a trail that crosses a long winding creek 13 impressive times. And so my son and I jumped at the chance, soon enough finding myself bumping away in the Pajero Sport so much over the rocky ground that my smart watch Jurgen suddenly thought I was cycling and began recording a few workouts while I sat in the passenger seat.

Halfway through we broke out the camera drone to record some fording footage and up the top of the hills we stopped to survey the glorious sights and grab some fallen firewood. But it was towards what should have been the end of the trail that we came into some issues – namely ground that was severely messed up. A camper parked on a sweeping corner told us we ‘could give it a go’ if we liked, but then pointed out that his car was still there, bogged in the track, the rain from the day before really messing things up including traction. (Why he suggested we attempt it if he couldn’t get out was anyone’s guess..) Time to turn around and go back the way we came? Er…no. Not nearly as easy the other way, so alternative routes needed to be found.

Which is why we ended up wrestling Six Mile Road trying to find an exit where conditions ranged from ‘Okay’, right down to ‘Things are going south at a record rate.’ Certain sections felt like trying to grip on ice and more often than not the Pajero’s rear end would start to slide out when you least wanted it to. Brakes? They’d be beneficial about half the time as everything got clogged up with thick mud at a record rate. And the last thing you wanted to get close to given the drop right next to it was the road’s edge.

camping this year

Luckily Heath had thought to bring along the unbranded recovery boards, or as he put it ‘The best $100 I’ve ever spent’

Camping this year
Boards such as these

Given how precious little traction we were getting at every corner, this things were a godsend. Jam them under the wheels, right the car, continue down the road very slowly before things becomes perilous again. However two issues popped up pretty quickly when using these babies: 1) We had to use them a lot as there were quite a few corners and ripped up sections of Six Mile Road and 2) I volunteered to recover them every time they were used. Which would have been an easy job had they not collected enough mud and rock every time they were squashed in the ground to make them weigh significantly heavier. Dragging them through the mud time and time again added up pretty quickly to one hell of a workout.

camping this year
This rest stop was about 3/4 of the way through. My arms are still aching a couple of days after camping.

The good news is, we made it through okay. The kids kept their calm, the car didn’t fall off into a gully, we explained to family we were okay once we got back into phone range (they were wondering) we ended up carting home another 40kg of unwanted mud but we survived. Quite the adventure and good fun in the end once we escaped!


camping this year

Clever me, I’ve gotten this far down the list without revealing where we went camping this year. But yes, Mitta Mitta is a gorgeous little area in Victoria with a population of less than 200 and it’s own website. There’s a pub (which goes off on big nights), a general stall, one police officer, a brewery and a caravan park and that’s about it. But did I mention the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of? Sweeping views, rolling rivers, camping spots a plenty and an incredibly scenic drive of less than an hour from where we call home to get there.

camping this year

This was the second time we camped at Mitta (the first was new years eve a couple of years ago) so now we’ve seen it in the summer and the autumn and it’s incredible in both seasons – no wonder our family friends have been visiting the place for over a decade now!


Signal out here? You might be lucky if you’re not with Vodaphone (no points if you guess who we’re with..) But if you’re really desperate, you can hook into the free wifi behind the oval next to the caravan park, provided you can stay in range. Otherwise you can put your phone away and just enjoy no interruptions while you take in the air, sights, sounds and possibly the cold water if you’re brave enough.

For the record I did check to see if there was anything important going on in my digital life (there wasn’t as expected) and once that was done I went back to the warming fire.

Which leads to:


camping this year
Not sure what my daughter Sophie is up to here but she’s having fun and that’s the main point.

If you’re camping in Mitta, be it in tents, caravans or a cabin, you’re going to need a fire pit. Luckily Heath and Jess had one the perfect size for two families and now I understand why you see so many people in these areas hunting for firewood out on the trails. Not only did this one provide endless warmth but our hosting campers used it to cook a tonne of stuff including eggs, stew, butter chicken, hot cross buns, pizza, toasties, everything.
And then of course there was many a marshmallow toasted, because: fire.

camping this year

Yes we may have gone camping this year, but we certainly ate just as well as if we cooked at home.

Even though I got home a little sore and very tired (I struggle sleeping in my own bed most of the time), we had the best time ever and can’t thank Team Shakespeare for the opportunity. Here’s to the next one (Where we should be a touch more knowledgeable this time)!

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