Camping, Culture and Challenges

This is the next instalment of my Special Moments, Magic Memories series for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge.

Memories come in all shapes and sizes. Some are those “wow” moments that bring you up short and stay with you because they are remarkable. Others are more subtle, nuanced moments with memories that can be brought out to hold gently in your mind, and evoke happy times.


Family camping adventures evoke those happy memories of time spent together just relaxing or occasionally sight seeing. Funny stories would often come from our adventures together. Our recurring favourite campsites were at Hastings Point in northern New South Wales, and Tambourine national park near O’Reilly’s. I’ve written about them before here and here so won’t elaborate in this post.

Instead, I’ll write about a camping experience that is more at the wow end of the spectrum for me. As the research centre where I worked came to an unpleasant end, my stress levels were sky high. With the support and encouragement of Mr Cassmob and the daughters, I decided an escape to the country was needed. Not the UK version from TV, but a solo drive from Brisbane to Adelaide (about 2100kms + detours), camping where possible, and defaulting to cabins or motels if the weather overwhelmed me. Did I mention I have an amazing husband? While others were prophesising doom and disaster, he trusted me to stay safe and sensibly deal with problems as they arose. Even though I was often camped in wide open spaces with only a few others, I felt quite safe….until I drove towards one site and the hairs on my neck stood up. I didn’t hang about and just took a U-turn back to a safe motel in Young. That was a very unusual experience, and not one I recall feeling on any other occasion, but I trusted my gut instinct and was pleased I had.

Why is this trip such an important memory for me? I did what I set out to do, solved practical problems as they arose, and coped with the overall adventure, though as I neared Adelaide I was starting to feel lonely. I had enjoyed amazing sunrises and sunsets, seen stunning places and indulged my photography hobby. By the end I was feeling restored and able to enjoy the next leg, Adelaide to Alice Springs, with Mr Cassmob, and Alice Springs to Darwin with two of the daughters, before returning to Brisbane “just the two of us”. We pulled into our Brisbane driveway having completed some 14,000kms.

Another thing I like to do is sit back and take in nature. To look at the birds, listen to their singing, go hiking, camping and jogging and running, walking along the beach, playing games and sometimes being alone with the great outdoors. It’s very special to me.

Larry Wilcox, American actor. Sorry Larry, jogging and running is, and never was, me.

Funny memories of the trip that come to mind:

  • The daughters having left their jackets on the banister at home, the sound of them turning all night to the crackle of the space blankets.
  • All of us singing along to new cassettes (yes, they were the days!) by Ted Egan, subsequently Administrator for the Northern Territory. His songs include lots of history and commentary on the early days of the NT. This was probably our first infection with country music – eldest daughter looked on in horror when we returned 🙂
  • Being totally intimidated by the Territory’s huge road trains, we became adept at managing our “desert pees” to ensure we were back in the car before they caught up. There were some funny sights associated with that, probably best not shared.
Edited extract of NRMA touring map of South East Australia. 1992 showing my route. Click to enlarge.


We have been very fortunate in seeing some fabulous cultural activities over the decades from taking the family to see Cats in Sydney, the terracotta warriors in Brisbane, Aida on the harbour at Sydney, the vibrant Guinness Irish concerts in Brisbane, the Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Impressionists anywhere, the Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and numerous shows and exhibitions, many that have faded from memory.

The serendipitous Wow moment came in Rome in 2000. Not only were the streets closed to traffic near the Colosseum, there was an amazing and extensive collection of Monet’s works from a wide range of galleries. It was truly awe-inspiring! We’ve often wished we’d bought the accompanying catalogue even though it was in Italian.

Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.

Elie Wiesel, American author and Holocaust survivor.


Lest these posts feel too often like Instagram moments, I need to assure you that we’ve had our challenges over the decades: physical, practical and psychological. Those memories may not feel precious to us, but they are formative to our characters. We may anguish over them in private moments rather than revel in the joy of the memories, but they’re ones to keep private or to share with our closest friends. I don’t think many people live care-free untroubled lives. I am, however, grateful for friends and family and for having so many wonderful experiences.

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.

Michele Obama.

Do you enjoy camping? What are your favourite cultural activities?

16 thoughts on “Camping, Culture and Challenges

  1. I am camping at the moment but in a comfortable caravan with its own bathroom. Several years ago we enjoyed taking our small tent to El Questro, leaving the caravan in Kununurra for three days. My first camping experience was in 1970 as you will read in my A to Z. It wasn’t without its Challenges.

    I am wary of booking any Cultural activities, especially expensive ones, because who knows when one might have to cancel? I might feel more confident in twelve months time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. El Questro is beautiful isn’t it? We’ve camped there too near the river. We’ve never really given serious thought to a caravan and if we did get one it would be essential to have its own facilities. No more midnight trips to the toilet block 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. G’day Pauleen,
    Camping brings back memories. But when travelling on my own, I prefer hotelling especially overseas.

    I have a couple of Ted Egan’s tapes now on an ipod that connects into my car for listening to on drives. When I was in Broome, I tried to find the gravestone for Nakamura (Japanese pearl diver) mentioned in one of his songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue, I’ve never even considered camping overseas, not least because we usually travel when it’s cold 😉 A lovely comfortable and warm hotel is a delight and part of the joy of travel I reckon, not just a bed to sleep in for the night.


  4. I was very glad, when you were on your great Australian adventure, that you had that great brick of a non-landline phone (state of the art though it was, you could hardly call it a “mobile”!).
    We were all very proud of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your solo trip from Brisbane to Adelaide sounds so adventurous. I love what you said about your husband, ‘While others were prophesising doom and disaster, he trusted me to stay safe and sensibly deal with problems as they arose.’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your solo road trip sounds like a great adventure and just what you needed at the time. Our family loved a camping trip. Unfortunately my camping days are now over. I’m loving your memories

    Liked by 1 person

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