Camping, Aussie Style

Hello Up There! Camping, Aussie-style, is unbelievable; listen to this:

My first weekend here Vicki took me down to her family’s campsite in Rosebud. It’s in a big long strip of scrub along a lovely sandy beach, about an hour south of Melbourne. There are hundreds of campers packed together “so tightly that if the bloke in the next tent sneezes, you catch his cold.”

There’s a miles-long strip of vehicles and tents, and then a miles-long stretch of very shallow beach. You can walk out a hundred yards or more at low tide, and still only be in up to your knees. The water is warm and very blue.

Vicki’s mum and dad, and mum’s sister and her husband, had been at the campsite for about 6 weeks. Might sound a bit rough for grandparents, but actually it was quite comfortable. There was a big tent, maybe 400 square feet, with windows and a doorway. Over the doorway were hung those long, thick, heavy-plastic streamers like you sometimes see at a market, to keep the flies out. The whole inside was carpeted (I think there were three different rugs laid down), and quite a large area outside was carpeted, as well.

Outside there were tables and chairs set up, for reading, relaxing, drinking a beer, watching the kids on the beach, supervising the huge container ships far in the distance (heading up to the harbor), or just staring off into space. The kids from nearby camps were constantly running in and out of the campsite (but were very well-behaved). We played bocci, too.

Inside the tent were two full-sized refrigerators, a huge kitchen table with about ten chairs around it, a 4-burner camp-stove, and a make-shift sink. That’s in one half of the tent, actually. It was separated by floor-to-ceiling curtains from the other half, which was in turn split into two rooms with more curtains. In each of the rooms was a queen-sized bed, on a frame(!), and a wardrobe for hanging clothes.

They needed this much room because the kids/cousins and spouses and grandkids had been there, too, for much of the summer. The ones that work only come on the weekend, but the rest hang out for weeks. That’s where they celebrate Christmas.

The weather had been a bit rough the day before I arrived, and thousands (literally!) of tiny jellyfish — each only about 3 inches long — had washed up on the shore. Vicki’s mum (Nanna) was encouraging all the grandchildren to squish the jellyfish between their toes. (Yuck! It was fun, but very gross. Yes, they were already dead.)

One of the best parts of my day at the beach was Tea Time. This is tea (with milk and sugar) with a light meal at 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. The day I was there, it was Vicki’s nephew’s fourth birthday, so we had chocolate cake, white sponge cake, and cupcakes, all heavily-decorated with gummy worms and other colorful candies.

And “chicken and salad” sandwiches. Sandwiches here are extreme: either very plain, or very complex. These were rolls with chicken and iceberg lettuce (that’s the “salad”). Simple, and good. The other kind of sandwich (which I have learned to avoid) is “with the lot,” which generally includes a fried egg, several kinds of meat, beetroot slices, several cheeses, tomato slices, sprouts, lettuce, plus butter and mayo.

We also had “Little Boys” for Tea. They’re boiled cocktail weiners, with ketchup for dipping, and they’re a staple for campers. Nanna told me she reckons the Big Boys flatter themselves by referring to these as “Little.”

I’ve never seen anything like this in the U.S. (although camping in the mountains when I was a kid definitely had the same spirit.) These days I think Americans mostly use campers, so don’t get to know each other so well.


6 Responses to “Camping, Aussie Style”

  1. william macqueen says:

    Hi i was wondering if this is where i enter the competition for the t van, i liked it so much i wanted to enter competition , thank you .

  2. steve jackson says:

    where do i enter the competition for the t van thank you

  3. joanne says:

    wer do I enter for the competition for the caravan.. its not on this tv stated website. thanks jo

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