Want to escape the beaten track and find elbow room at little-known campsites where the views are your own? With a bit of poking around, you too can break out from the pack and discover your own secret slice of Australia.
Words by Catherine Lawson and David Bristow from www.wildtravelstory.com
1. Observe the landscape
To discover new spots you’ve got to be curious, poring over topographical maps or trawling through your navigation system for rivers, peaks and canyons and the tracks that might take you to blissfully remote campsites. When you travel, take the time to nudge down promising-looking dirt roads that follow rivers or might lead somewhere spectacular, but be prepared for dead ends and the 9-point turns you’ll have to negotiate when you can’t easily turn back around.
2. Be ready
When you find that amazing spot that’s completely off the map, you are going to want to linger. Ample stocks of water, fuel and food (and being aware of mobile phone reception) are necessary for any trip, but if you want to wander off the beaten path, then being properly stocked becomes even more important, as it allows you to keep that possibility open as you encounter new places.
3. Be near the crowd, not in it
The popularity of one spot in a particular region is often decided by simple things like closeness to supply points, accessibility, a tourism push or even good signage - it doesn’t magically mean it’s the only campsite or potential public hotspot of its kind in the area. You don’t necessarily need to go in the opposite direction of the crowd to find a hidden gem, as you probably only have to look either side of it to find somewhere just as good and half as busy.
4. Take advice
With so much online information at our fingertips, who stops at tourist information centres anymore? I do, for the simple reason that there’s nothing like local knowledge when you are searching for new and authentic experiences in an unfamiliar place. Staff at tourist information centres can tell you about road conditions, top free camps and other specifics; when I ask them where they go for outdoors fun, I usually walk away with directions to some secret local swimming hole or favourite fishing spot. At the very least, you’ll find out where to access free Wi-Fi and you can do your research then.
5. Every traveller is an expert
Most travellers are proud to recount the many places they’ve discovered, and love recommending potential destinations to other explorers. Always keep an ear open and ask the right questions when you encounter another traveller, which means listening to their yarns and picking their brains for directions to top camps, secret tracks and best beaches (and remember to write it all down).
What’s our story?
We are wildtravelstory.com, a website devoted to inspiring adventurous families to tackle trips they never thought possible. Check out our pick of the 10 best secret travel spots we've found on our travels, or you can learn more about travelling with kids.
Five years ago we kickstarted our ‘camping with kids’ foray in ambitious style, taking our then four-week-old newborn on a five month-long assignment for Australian Geographic. Blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead, it was a baptism by fire, parenting our little bundle 27,000km around Australia in a tiny off-road van. While it was never easy, it was enormous (albeit sleepless) fun, even if people thought we were insane. Being outdoors exposes kids to exceptional and diverse natural environments where unique wildlife encounters are possible, and turns holidays into simple, cheap, flexible and fun adventures.