Camping Tips

We will look firstly at caravans for our first few tips, which some will perhaps know about and some maybe not.

When towing a caravan there are a few points to get right.
  • Before you start getting ready for your caravan trip take a look at your tyres. If your caravan has been standing in one place for some time the tyres could have become damaged due to standing on one spot and or sunlight on the tyre side, depending on its position.The axle needs to be jacked up and the wheel rotated about 90 degrees every couple of months and if placed in a sunny position make a cover for the exposed wheel to stop sun damage.
  • Whilst on the subject of wheels, again if the caravan has been stood for some time it would pay to check the wheel bearing lubrication or have it checked if you are not capable of doing it yourself.
  • Next tyre pressures, check your caravan specifications for the correct pressure, but if a two wheeler the pressure would need to be higher than you usually use for the car in the range of 210 - 250 kpa (30 - 35 psi).The weight per wheel will be much higher than your tow vehicle as a rule.
  • Whilst carrying out prechecks you should check out your electrical circuits inside and outside especially the driving lights.
  • If you have a hot and cold water system, the plumbing and heater system will need a check out along with the water tank if you have one installed.
  • Whilst on the subject of plumbing. If you have chemical toilet make sure it is washed out and ready for use along with a supply of chemicals for both tanks.
  • If your caravan has a separate battery installed inside, it is a good practice to remove this when the caravan is not to be used for a long period.It needs a periodic charge as it will run down on its own if left standing for a long time.
  • When the time comes to start packing the caravan it is wise to have a check list as it is many times a case of "I thought you packed it!" and nobody did.(see separate page). The one supplied may not be totally suitable for your use but like anything else its not hard to modify and saves you starting from scratch.
  • Remember not to pack too many clothes especially for and extended period as they will always wash or dry clean.For the ladies mix and match outfits are a must and save a lot of space.
  • When loading the caravan take care to balance the weight around so that your nose weight at the front of the A-bar is no more than  around 25kgs (50 - 60lbs ). If you use the bathroom scale to check this make sure you place a strong enough board on the top and adjust the zero. Otherwise you could need to get a new one! Also make sure that your fully loaded caravan does not exceed 75% of the weight of the towing vehicle. Before you set off do a coupled up check and make sure that your caravan nose is 50 - 75 mm  (2 -3 ins) down from horizontal.If the measurement is incorrect a drop plate will solve the problem. They can be obtained from any good caravan store in a variety of sizes to suit your needs.
  • Another item to watch out for are Road Trains If you are travelling in the outback you are likely to come across these vehicles.
  • Road train
  • They consist of a drive head (prime mover) and several trailers mounted in one long line. They are very long, very heavy and take a long time to stop. Also there don't maneuver very well especially at higher speeds. Some of the roads have only a single strip of tar and the road trains will always be travelling towards you taking up all of this strip. The rule is, slow down and move your vehicle off the road to the left completely off the tar strip and onto the dirt edge. This way you will probably not get stones thrown into your windsceen, causing damage.
Jurgens 17ft. SA with Chevrolet Commadore
The reason for the the few tips above is to stop your outfit from fishtailing.Some caravans have accessories which mount to the couplings between the caravan and vehicle to assist with this problem. Some normal saloon cars have very soft rear suspension to make them a more comfortable ride. But when it comes to towing this is the last thing you want. So if you have this problem get some advice on the fitting of suspension aids like spring assistors or adjustable dampers amongst others, which will help to solve this problem. The worst thing you want to happen is for your outfit to take on a mind of its own. Sometimes called "the tail wagging the dog."
If you have ever had difficulty in reversing your caravan or trailer into a tight spot for a site, there are a few tips you may not have heard about.
  • When trying to reverse and keep a straight line in reverse try looking into your left and right side mirrors. If the width of the trailer or caravan that is visible in each side mirror is the same you are going straight in reverse.If one side is wider than the other, turning the steering wheel to the direction of that mirror will put things right.
  • Another tip to solve the reversing problem is to mount another tow ball on the front nearside of the tow vehicle.
  • Front towball
  • Recouple the trailer or caravan onto the front tow ball and you will be able to see down the side of the trailer or caravan whilst manouvering. Your reverse manouvre will be a lot more responsive with this connection than it is when connected in the conventional manner.                                
  • When using a Camper Trailer and the tent is erected, You may tip up the trailer if your body weight is moved to the rear of the trailer. Fitting Trailer Struts will stop that from happening.
  • Trailer Struts

                 Health & safety.
When travelling in the bush in Australia you are more than likely to come across snakes. It is often said that there are more snakes in this country than any other and there are many different types. Of the 23 most poisonous snakes in the world, 20 are Australian, including all the top ten.
1. Death Adder Thick bodied, brownish. reddish or grey with darker banding 40-60 cms (18-24 ins). In sandy area of much of Australia.
2. Australian black snake Slender blue-black with bright red belly (red bellied black snake)1.5-2 m (5-6 ft). In or near fresh water.    
3. Eastern brown snake Slender, yellowish grey to brown with a pale belly. 1.5-2 m (5-6 ft). found in dry areas of eastern Australia. Easily roused  and when antagonised , strikes repeatedly. The world's 2nd most poisonous snake. 
4. Tiger snake Thick bodied, large beaded tawny-ochre bands with greenish-yellow, grey or or orange-brown. 1.3 - 1.6 m (4-5 ft). Found in semi arid areas from southern Queesland down to New South Wales ( where it is black rather than brown. Nocturnal on warm summer nights. Agressive, the world's 4th most poisonous snake.
5. Taipan Uniformly light to dark brown with yellowish brown on sides and belly. Found from Kimberley through Arubauland to Queesland. Up to 3.5 m (11 ft). Ferocious when provoked. World's 3rd most poisonous snake.
6. Yellow-bellied sea snake One of the most widely distributed sea snakes, it averages 72-88 cm (28-35 ins). Like most other sea snakes, it occurs in the Indian Pacific oceans and can live in estuaries and coastal swamps.
Poisonous Snakes: safety rules.
Do not approach, provoke or attempt to handle snakes - even if they seem to be dead. Some snakes only move to strike when prey is close- and they can strike faster than you can!
Watch where you step: often after eating, and when shedding skin, snakes are sluggish, and a well camouflaged one is easily trodden on.
Look closely before parting bushes or or picking fruit. Some snakes are ardorial.
If you come accross a snake, stay calm and move slowly. Most snakes will be eager to escape. If you are in a known snake area, walking with a heavy step can cause enough vibration for a snake to sense your approach and move away.
Do not put your hands or feet into places that you can't see into. Use tools or sticks to turn over logs or rocks that you need to move.Wear stout boots. Check clothing, bedding and packs before putting them on - snakes may be using them for shelter and warmth.
If you have been on a long journey in the snake prone bush and stop for a rest in the early evening, be carful not to go near your wheels when ready to leave again, snakes like to climb onto the top of your tyres to get the warmth from them! In other words - no tyre kicking!
If someone does get a bite from a snake. Apply an bandage from above the wound and down over the wound to create pressure but not too much so as to cause a distorted colour of the limb. Do not Use a tornequet. Do not cut the wond and try to suck out the poison as this rarely does any good as the bite can go very deep.Keep the patient laid down and calm them down. Ice blocks or cold water inside the dressing over the wound helps to reduce pain. Be prepared to give artificial respiration should the patient's breathing stop.
                     Camping Communications.
Quite a large number of camping sites have a wireless Internet connection available. If your computer has a wireless connection built into it, you will be able to connect to their wireless network by purchasing a code to enter the Internet site. The price charged can vary between sites and also depending on the time that you require to use it. It is important if you are staying for a while to check that their access code will work multiple times until the time purchased has expired.The majority of them do. However we came upon a site in south Adelaide which allowed you to purchase a code for several hours but only allowed one access.This is a total ripoff. So make sure you don't get caught by this ripoff company. In fairness to the site owners, they were not responcible for this ripoff,  it was the Internet Service provider they were using. Which was a small local company.
The other way to connect to the internet is to purchase a USB adaptor from Telstra with a 'Pay as you go'card which can be renewed if you run out of time.
The Telstra wireless system we have found is obtainable over a wide area of sites especially in the coastal areas from South Australia right up to Queensland, areas which we have travelled in recent times.
Another important issue could be how do you recharge your computer battery if you only have a non powered site.This problem is easily solved by purchasing a
computer connection kit which has a connector plug for a cigarette lighter at one end of the cable and a variety of different connectors to fit on the other end. These can connect to just about any laptop computer on the market and allow you to recharge from your cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle usually whilst the engine is running with the vehicle on the road.
Quite a lot of camping sites have electrical sockets available in a common area such as a lounge or a Camp Kitchen area. These can also be used to charge up your computer.