Tag Archives: tent

Camping, Latvian style

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All roads lead to Riga, so I’ve spent the last few days back in the Latvian capital with my lady friend Marty. She’s smart and pretty and nice to me, and really quite pleasant for a Norwegian. Thankfully, she also has poor taste in men and a soft spot for a Gosfordian accent. One thing I’ll never let her do again, though, is plan a camping trip.

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Still looking good after a night of sleeping in sub-zero temperatures

We headedout towards the beach at 8:45pm, as the sun was setting behind the Riga skyline, and made it to the sand just as the northern European twilight was fading. We set up the tent and the fire (alright, Marty set up the fire after my disastrous attempt) as the cold settled around us, and when everything was organised we lay back on the sand and ate good food and drank good alcohol under a full moon. It was a fantastic night with fantastic company.

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It would be even more romantic without the empty beer cans in the background

Bedtime was a different story, though. No, no, I’m not going to get rude, it’s just that Latvia gets really, really, really bloody cold at night. Seriously, there are snowmen with willies warmer than a Latvian evening. And despite Marty having spent most of her life in climates too cold for human habitation, we were unprepared for the elements and spent the evening shivering and fighting off the effects of frostbite. Seriously, the next morning I was counting my fingers and toes to make sure none had dropped off in the evening.

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Showing off my sausage. Marty was not impressed

It was the perfect way to end my (longer than expected) trip to Latvia. Now, it’s time to head south to the beautiful land of Lithuania, where dragons roam wild and free and all the women  are strong enough to bend iron bars with their bare hands. I won’t be going camping down there, though – well, unless one of those Lithuanian women with the strong hands promises to keep me warm at night!

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Checking off all the rules we broke. While we were taking this photo, a handsome policeman with a bushy moustache stopped us and told us to leave the beach immediately

Lake St Clair Strikes Back

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I usually go camping alone, and end up with my pants off, dancing around a fire by myself. Occasionally I decide to be a bit more social and go camping people, which is exactly what I did this weekend, with a short jaunt to beautiful Lake St Clair. You might remember it from my near-death experience a few months ago.

In attendance were my brother ‘The Dagwood Daddy’ Ben, Wade, Mitchell, Dezza and Leon. Also in attendance was a heat wave that would melt the cock off a Greek statue, with temperatures hitting 43 before we even headed off. I haven’t been so warm since I decided to wear my doona to work.

Lake St Clair is home to some of the most magnificent scenery in Australia, with sheer, green mountains rising out of perfect blue waters. It’s remote and strange, quiet and perfect, and the camping ground is incredible. Not so incredible was the caretaker of the place, an obese slug with tattooed-on eyebrows and a serious problem with hording. She lives in a tiny caravan that smells of BO and dog shit, and I’m pretty sure if you looked closely you’d find bottles of urine stacked up in there.

The first night was just beautiful, as the sun slunk behind the horizon and the goon started flying. It’s an incredible part of the world, and it was lovely to watch the water turn orange and then purple and then black, as the day dribbled away. Music played and conversation flowed, and before I knew it, it was almost 5 in the morning, which was my signal to pass out under a tree with my trousers around my ankles. I guess it doesn’t matter who I go camping with or where I go, I always end up naked in public.

When I got up the next morning I was still drunk, so I did my best to polish off the rest of my cask before we all headed out in Wade’s boat. I’m not much of a fisherman (people who don’t eat land animals but eat fish annoy me, so I eat fish and not land animals, just to piss them off), so I went for a swim instead. The lake was dammed about 30 years ago, and the corpses of long-dead trees still poke out of the water, providing an eerie backdrop for a lovely splash. I even felt a slimy eel brush my leg, so now I know why none of my ex-girlfriends have enjoyed snuggling up with me in bed..

The weather turned and the wind picked up, so we beat a hasty retreat back to land, where I discovered my tent had collapsed like every boner in the room as soon as Penny Wong walks in. Actually, that’s putting it nicely, because the thing was fucked and there were poles pointing in every direction like a gang bang porno.

As I was trying to put the stupid thing back together, a fat, shirtless man wandered over to me with a confused look on his face. “Have you seen my wife?” he asked. “She was there when I left to go to the toilet, and now she’s gone. I think someone kidnapped her.”

He left before I could ask him what his wife looked like (if he was anything to go by, she probably hadn’t popped off to compete in the finals of the Miss Universe competition) and I went back to fixing my tent. Twenty minutes later, he was back, with a big grin on his face.

“You must’ve found your wife,” I said with a smile.

“Nah,” he replied. “I just realised she didn’t come camping with me.” And then he swaggered off into the sunset.

The second night was somewhat more reserved than the first, owing to everyone having hangovers. But we still polished off plenty of booze while the storm kept storming and my tent did its best to fly into the sky like some sort of oversized butterfly. My brother pulled out a box of frozen Dagwood Dogs and attempted to cook them on the BBQ, before finally deciding to eat the half-frozen and half-burnt. Finally, unable to polish off the last two of his eight Daggies, he threw them away, only for a couple of lucky possums to race over and tuck in.

The next day’s weather was as angry as a hungry stepmother, so we packed up early and got the fuck out of there. As we were leaving, the shirtless bloke stopped our car. “Fellas, can I just check your boot to see if my wife’s in there? I haven’t seen here all morning.” We floored it and got out of there.

The weekend ended with a much-appreciated bout of paramagliding at the beautiful Catherine Hill Bay. The conditions were poor and the ride was short (but enough about my sex life!), but after my flying troubles it was just great to get out there and fly through the heavens for a minute or two.

Just to float above shrubs, and dance in the air, and be away from troubles for a time. It really is wonderful. There were times when I thought I might not fly again, to have this short flight meant so much. And I didn’t end up with a barbed wire fence up my blurter, which is always a good thing.

Olney the lonely

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Hiking through Olney State Forest is a bit like getting a lap dance off your best mate’s mother – pleasant and refreshing, but not overly exciting, with the whole experience leaving you feeling dirty at the end of it.

I’ve been as busy as Rolph Harris in a kindergarten lately and haven’t had a chance to get away for more than a month, so when I found myself with a few free days, I packed my bags and headed into the wilderness. After driving through glorious valleys and pretty rural towns, I parked by the side of a dirt road and headed out into the trees, making my way from Cedar Brush to the Basin Campsite, on the NSW Central Coast.

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If you’re thinking of taking this walk, this is where it starts. Trust me, it took ages for me to find it. You can thank me by buying me a beer!

The track headed steeply upwards, and it wasn’t long before I was regretting every meat pie I’d ever even. Actually, that’s a lie, because I’ll never regret a pie. It was a real slog through the scrub with little in the way of rest areas, and after an hour or so I was very happy to reach the top of the mountain and stop for a well-deserved lunch break.

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There were trees. Lots of trees

The next two or three hours of swaggering along the ridgeline were lovely, even if there wasn’t a lot to see. Lots of trees, plenty of dirt, some rocks, that sort of thing. It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve barely had any time to myself, so it was wonderful to be out there with nothing but the birds for company.

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I always get the birds

As the track dived down the other side of the mountain, the vegetation changed quicker than a small-penised man in a public swimming pool bathroom. Giant ferns and palm trees towered above me, and I stormed down into the valley as the daylight waned and darkness settled over everything.

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In fact, the darkness settled just a little too much, and I found myself stumbling through the night, with only a vague idea of where my campsite was. I fell over rocks, bumped into trees, and tumbled into roots (not for the first time!) before finally coming out (no, not like that) at the glorious Basin Campsite.

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The delightful Basin Campsite

While it was too dark for me to fully appreciate, the Basin is a huge, well-kept camp with heaps of fire pits, a few picnic tables, and a view over a muddy creek. It’s next to a dirt road, so most people drive in and set up camp and rock in with beers and sausages and big tents, but I had the place to myself. Well, pretty much.

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“Oi, mate, get fucked, that’s mine!”

That night, I learned two things. 1) Possums love nachos every bit as much as I do. Shortly after finishing my deliciously authentic Mexican meal, these cheeky bastards rolled in and smashed the leftovers, then hung around for the next few hours while I listened to music and danced around the campfire like some sort of demented hippie.

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He’s on fire!

2) It gets pretty fucking cold in the Watagans in the middle of winter. I went to bed wearing thermals, a shirt, a jumper and a jacket, wrapped up in a sleeping bag rated to zero degrees, and I still woke up feeling colder than a penguin’s penis. The council needs to install some heaters out there.

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The mighty and majestic Knobcheese River

The next morning I headed back to the car, and after a 10km walk I was feeling a tad thirsty – so I headed to the Six Strings Brewery at Erina, where I drank beer and embarrassed myself in front of a pretty lady! Maybe I’m best off out in the bush by myself, at least I can’t make a dickhead of myself out there…