We asked local camping guru Scott Ivey to tell us a bit about his favourite camping destination ever, and it’s not really at all surprising that someone who has camped so extensively throughout Australia couldn’t name just one — neither is it surprising that they are both right here, at home, in Aus.
The Simpson Desert
“On a clear night nothing really comes close to the Simo, there’s no light to interfere with the stars, you can’t beat it: an open fire…”
The world’s largest sand dune desert lies in the heart of the Australian outback; a massive expanse crossing the borders of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. The Simo – as Scott affectionately calls it – is a four-wheel drive adventure Mecca attracting outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world and Australia each year. Row upon row of dunes line the horizon, some stretching as high as 40 metres into the sky.
The Simpson is one of the few places you can truly experience the incandescent brilliance of the night sky. Living in the city it’s easy to forget how huge the universe is when you can’t even see it because of light pollution. In the Simpson, not only will you experience a truly unique terrestrial environment, but you might just feel a bit extra-terrestrial staring up as satellites and stars make tracks in the void above.
Keep in mind, a trip to the Simpson Desert is not for the faint hearted: extreme environments demand extreme preparation. Scott uses three times as much fuel per kilometre when driving in the deep sand and scorching conditions of the Simo and will keep 20 litres in reserve just in case plans change.
You’re going to need a lot of water. The most important thing when spending time in the desert is clean drinking water. You could travel for hundreds of miles without a natural water source, so you best make sure you have enough for every person on the trip and plenty as back up. Accidents do happen.
Your vehicle will need to be kitted out specifically for your trip based on the time of year you are going and the kind of activities you hope to participate in once you are in the desert.
Dune bashing demands specific upgrades be made to your vehicle. Your tyres, suspension, and drive train may need to be either adjusted or replaced entirely to cope with such conditions.
The most popular time of the year to head to the Simo is definitely in winter, for fairly obvious reasons. Temperatures can soar to 50°C in summer! That kind of heat forces you to constantly monitor your hydration and your vehicle in order to keep sunstroke at bay and stay on track. Unless you are incredibly well versed in desert survival, it is not advised to visit the Simpson in the summertime.
Not all of us are as experienced in the outdoors as Scott. If it’s your fist trip planned for the Simo, you might consider going with a licensed guide: they will be able to show you amazing things along the way and take the hassle out of planning and packing for a desert journey.
See also: Bob Cooper - Outback Survival Expert
“Sort of the Second cousin to its big cousin Fraser Island where everybody tends to go, but Moreton Island’s a little bit quieter and actually a lot nicer place to end up at the end of a day on the beach as the sun sets.”
At just over an hours ferry ride from Brisbane, Moreton Island is the sometimes overlooked second cousin to Fraser Island. Outdoor adventurers like Scott head to Moreton to experience the tropical surrounds, the magnificent array of wildlife, and the wrecks that dot the coast line begging to be explored.
Four-wheel driving and camping on the island are allowed so long as the appropriate license is obtained on the mainland before you jump on the ferry with your vehicle. There are no roads on Moreton so you had best leave the Barina at home.
Fifteen vessels were sunk not far from the beach near one of Moreton’s four permanent settlements, Tangalooma. They are close enough to shore that you can swim out to them. Just be sure to take the proper precautions when snorkelling or scuba diving: wreck diving is a different beast to reef diving all together.
Scott’s sets up his 4WD camper right on the beach, throws a line in and waits for the fish to come to him.
During our time hanging out with Scott, he painted for us an incredibly detailed, beautiful picture of Moreton Island — so much so that we wanted to escape the coming cold of Melbourne’s winter right away and head straight to Queensland!
What’s the best camping destination you’ve been to? Tell us on Facebook or leave a comment below!