Tag Archives: tent

New Tent

So what’s been happening here? Well the truth is not much except for the change of tent.

We had been using the roof tent on top of the landcruiser (called Serenity) but being as high as it was there were issues. First of all, I couldn’t actually reach the tent on the roof which meant that Stuart pretty much had to do all of the putting up the tent by himself. I couldn’t help him at all. Traditionally, I have always put the tent up myself with Stuart helping me. And Stuart did the cooking whilst I was doing the tent. So we had to have a complete roll reversal. Something neither of us were very good at or actually liked.

Secondly there was the getting in and out. Yes I could just about do it but during the night the only way for a call of nature involved accidentally waking Stuart up. He preferred to help me climb the ladders when I was tired, but no matter how quitely I tried to get up and climb down the ladders, I’d wake him up.

And then there was the handling of Serenity. The roof tent really badly affected the handling. An already high vehicle with huge ground clearance, suddenly became very top heavy. Don’t even ask about the effects of adding a brick to the aerodynamics of the vehicle. The roof tent wasn’t easy for Stuart to get on and off either. So basically it stayed on. Not ideal when the fuel consumption is so badly affected. Taking the tent off its a 2 person job. 2 people who can lift something heavy above their heads and walk it onto the roof. So we’d had to come up with another method. It still involved the 2 of us, but needed both vehicles, a hoist and a tall enough tree. You get the picture. It wasn’t working for us.

So with all of the End of Financial Year sales on (that’s June in Australia) we hit the shops. We wanted something I could put up by myself. And because of my back and everything else we wanted something higher than our Hilleberg Nammatj (the one we toured in and is still going strong. Great for Arctic conditions, not so great in hot summers in Australia.

So, something waterproof went without saying, something breathable and with excellent ventilation. Something with shaded windows and mesh on everything. Something that could stand up to winter storms (within reason, we can always use the vehicle as a wind break). Something with an awning would be an advantage. We had a number to choose from but we kept coming back to two in particular.

In the end, we settled for the one that was the easiest to erect; the air tent. The poles are air filed and if my back is bad, then we can erect the tent with a battery operated air pump. It doesn’t come with one sadly, that’s extra but the high volume hand pump works pretty well when I erected it at home. Or at least did one both valves were closed! We had both thought that it had 3 air inflated poles, the 3rd a brace at the top not being always necessary. However, I quickly worked out at +100 pumps that air was leaking out of the open valve. Closing off that valve, with the thank you I did this at home first embarrassment, quickly inflated the single pole that runs in a U shape on the far side making the 2 poles actually just the one! Oops.

So the front opens up into an awning, which has 2 optional sides as you can see. There’s a handy fabric gatherer just by the door at the top to gather in the extra fabric needed to make a for reach the ground but isn’t needed when it’s an awning. The design prevents (most) water from gathering on the awning which is useful and I’m sure with practice I’ll get better at erecting it!

As you can see, the windows are shaded. The large one can have the privacy screen as it is referred to zipped open for maximum ventilation. There’s optional lower ventilation on the 2 side windows and a second window flap on the side windows, one from the inside and one from the outside. But a design flaw means that the one inside is zippered backwards and rolls down not up, so if you close it you’ll close off the bottom ventilation as well. It seems backwards to me anyhow.

Inside there is the ‘veranda’ sitting area (cheeky grin) and we’ve picked up a few mats for dispatching of footwear. Sites we have used to date have been muddy or sandy or just lacking in grass to hold the soil out. We’ll probably pick up some more or a flooring of some kind as time goes on.

Inside there’s well, there’s 1 room. It’s large, open plan and…

So that’s it. A guided tour of a single room tent.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Luckily I did read the instructions and erect the tent before we used it because one of the first things it says it’s that you need to waterproof the tent before use. What? It needs watering getting totally sodden and then drying out several times before is waterproof and that’s not all. Once you’ve done that, any large needle holes will need seam sealant putting on them. And yes, it leaks and yes I’m going to need to buy sealant (we did have some for the Hilleberg but it has died out through age) and yes, somehow I need to apply the sealant whilst the tent is erect, to the roof seams… Oh great. Experience tells me it works best when the fabric is pulled extra taught and applied to both sides at the same time. I have no idea how to achieve that one. But need to do so before we next use the tent in rain.

And one last thing. It had a zipped sheltered hole for electrics! This is not camping as we know it.

Stuart’s Birthday Holiday, Part 4b

Some of the rolling scenery along the fast sealed straight road taking us back into NSW.

The next town on was to be our lunch stop. Every one of these towns had the equivalent of a village green, usually toilets, covered picnic benches, uncovered picnic benches and gas fired BBQs (free of course) and the next place was no exception.

The mobile library joined us for lunch

We opted for the covered picnic benches because of an ant issue at the uncovered ones. After a slow lunch and a discussion on where next and where exactly we were aiming for, we set off again. A quick refuel later (Serenity was hungry again) and we were soon to turn off the nice straight tarmaced road onto a very windy narrow unsealed road.

We immediately noticed an environmental difference. We had tree ferns back.

I managed to record a video from my camera showing how windy the road was. At times it was not quite so reassuring to see what it was held up with. At least we knew how well gum trees don’t rot!

This was actually the good part of the road. The road is called Big Jack Mountain Road. It had an interesting start and is fine in the middle, but then it was to get considerably worse, at the exit of the valley. We didn’t actually get a photo of the bad section, both of us were concentrating on the road that much. That short section of road was down on the map as a rough track. Until now we had not driven a rough track. This was an exceptionally good reason as to why not to do one again.

After the track we hit the Prince’s Highway and headed south. Stuart wanted to visit Eden and the closest campsites are to the south. We soon got turn off and were presented with a desolate scene. The forest between the highway and the national park we were heading to was being harvested and the place was a disaster.

What hadn’t been felled was badly plastered with fine grey dust but we had had to pay for this site and had had only 1 of 2 pitches to choose from. The place was full apparently. It really wasn’t looking good and I felt ever so sorry for Stuart. Tomorrow was his birthday. I just hoped like hell that it was worth it. I kept reminding myself that the two campgrounds were in a national park so at some point the logging would stop and the dust settle literally.

On top of everything else, we couldn’t use the rooftop tent tonight either. So an old friend made a reappearance. It’s been a while since my back had been good enough to camp at all.

Stuart has had a new downmat since we last camped. He had chosen a longer wider version which dwarfed mine!

However our base was still the vehicle. We had reattached (OK, Stuart had reattached) the sun shade to the roofrack so we had shade or shelter from rain and my back really wasn’t up to sitting on the ground for any great length of time so table and chairs naturally went under the sunshade (it had started to spit a touch).

We hadn’t put used the sunshade before now so it wasn’t until we pitched it that we realised just how good a design it actually is. There are built in poles that connect down the sides to give a rigid side and after a little investigation we realised that a set of poles we had previously not found a use for with the rooftop tent and vestibule area are actually part of the sunshade designed to go diagonally holding the shade down using Velcro sewn into the roof (presumably for high winds of heavy rain because it was perfectly stable as it was).

I should mention the 6 foot high kangaroo we met on arriving at the site. Almost the moment I had the car door open, he was trying to get into the car. We guess he is used to thieving food from unsuspecting people or removing it from the hands of children (or being hand fed). He was to plague us constantly, never more than 10m from the back of Serenity the whole time we were there.

After tea we retired to the beach for a walk and found another set of toilets in the camp-site as well, which given the number of family units there and the huge number of young children using just one set of toilets, was quite useful.

Looking out at the scene
This is Saltwater Creek and the swimming area for children.

Sometimes you just have to pay attention to the close details when a certain person is claiming another section of land by scent marking it!

We obviously didn’t get very far along the beach but other than one other person, we had the place to ourselves.

Back at the tent I had cards to find, cards to write (oops) and then we settled in for a game of cribbage and an early night.

I made a silent prayer for better weather tomorrow. Before breakfast, Stuart wanted a walk along the beach to watch the sun rise. Fingers crossed.