Before kids had crocs, glamping tents, apps and iPads for those long road trips – camping was full of barefoot adventures, charades, connect four, searching for the Milky Way, burnt eggs and baked beans and the old school Walkman.

Nostalgia warning! Cue tent zippers, mini boxes of all the fun cereals, eye spy, SoFresh C.D’s on repeat plus the car choir sessions – yeah, your parents loved the Spice Girls, not. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to relive the fear of long drop toilets, encounters with your first kangaroo, the smell of Aeroguard, endless playtimes exploring the campsite with your new best friends and sticky marshmallow everywhere. It’s all of the things we loved (and loved to hate) when camping as a young explorer.

  • Swagman brekky

    Whether your parents brekky game was strong or not we all remember waking to the smell of slightly burnt toast, toad in the holes or fried eggs and baked beans on the camp stove. Then, diving into the chip bag cos the taste of charcoal wasn’t your thing. Remember those awkward fun sized cereal boxes you fought over with your siblings? Making a huge mess by pouring the milk straight into the box was totally worth that Coco Pops sugar hit.

  • Mozzie bites

    Large insects swarming around artificial bright neon light at night. credit: Stocksy
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    The essential scent of Aeroguard did a great job protecting you from those blood sucking bandits but also caused simultaneous coughing fits. So, you’d assure Mum that you would 100 per cent respray throughout the day, conveniently forget, and wake up with a week’s worth of mozzie bites as your karma. Rookie error!

    Did you know? Natural insect repellents such as citronella, lemon eucalyptus, cedarwood and patchouli oil are pleasant in scent, because they’re natural and don’t contain the harsh chemical DEET found in most common insect repellents. Lots of organic and natural insect repellents are now available in most stores.

  • Midnight torchlight stories

    Light on inside a tent at night. Credit Stocksy / Jordi Rulló
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    Stocksy/Jordi Rulló

    Remember when you channeled your inner Goosebumps novelist, R.L. Stine; telling stories so scary you stayed awake all night letting your imagination run wild as you listened to the midnight melodies of nocturnal nature alive and in full swing. You shuffled closer to your younger sibling as the ghosts and flesh eating kangaroos stirred throughout what felt like the moonlit night would never end. Waking up to the sound of kookaburras calling, you found yourself sweating, now that your tent is doused in the morning sun. Unzip to fresh air and freedom!

  • Your first campfire

    People toasting marshmallows around a fire at The Basin campground in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: Tim Clark
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    The Basin campground

    The Basin campground

    Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

    Tim Clark @timclark1

    With a lil bit of help, you successfully became a jolly swagman running back and forth ferrying the mill off cuts for the campfire. Not before Dad taught you the family Scout’s honour in all things fire safe. The glowing red and crackling stirrings of the wood left you with a sense of notable achievement, while the mesmerising fire turns the loudest chatterboxes to silence. Memories of Mum and Dad sharing camp stories (for the umpteenth time) around the fire while you are toasting marshmallows.

    Ranger tips: Before camping check for any fire bans and make sure there is not a total fire ban in that park. If you’re planning on a camping trip with a camp side fire, only light them in designated fireplaces and ensure you completely extinguish all flames and coals before leaving the area or going to sleep. Remember collecting wood in a national park is prohibited so BYO firewood  orcheck if your local office has some for sale before you go. Read more on campfire tips.


  • Wildlife encounters of the first kind

    Two kangaroos standing by a tree
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    Stocksy/Dominique Chapman

    First encounters of wildlife, where you felt like Dr. Dolittle. Making awkwardly long eye contact with the roos. Mistaking a lizard for a snake and freezing, petrified in the moment. And that time when you felt the slippery, slimy scales of a Murray Cod while swimming in your undies. Bugs and beetles in your unzipped tent and ants, all of the ants!

    Ranger tip: Keep yourself and our wildlife safe and understand why we need to  keep wildlife wild #Don’tfeedit.

  • The outside dunny experience

    Old outdoor toilet
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    Stocksy/Natalie Jeffcott

    Remember that time you were tucked up in your sleeping bag and trying to convince yourself that you don’t need to go? You experienced your first outside, non-flushing toilet situated far from the campsite for the first time. The internal debate of whether you had to go THAT bad cos not only did you fear what may lurk in the dark, but the companionship of the local snakes and spiders, all while worrying about falling down into the bottom of the long, dark and stinky pit.  The slow cautious walk out and the run back faster than Usain Bolt only to trip on your little bro’s tent, scaring the soul out of him.

  • When you became an explorer for the day

    Pair of feet in sand
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    Stocksy/Dominique Chapman

    When you became an explorer for the day by finding your secret spot, believing you are the first to ever discover this hidden gem. You made your first explorer milestone and remember the moment forever.

    Fact: Spending time in nature has been associated with positive impacts on mental health, stress reduction, obesity, creativity, imagination, and connection to ourselves and the world around us. Nine out of ten adults say their favourite memory took place outdoors.

    Find out more:

  • The epic pack-down

    Person leaning out of a stationery car window. Photo: Tim Clark
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    Tim Clark @timclark1

    The dreaded finale of the team effort packing up what has been another epic family holiday. Tents stripped and dismantled. Sleeping bags never seem to fit back in the same bag. Conducting an emu parade, by collecting all your rubbish with you and leaving the camping ground as if you were never there.  Driving away smelling and feeling like you’d been on a year’s trek with wonderful memories. But you still look forward to getting home and into your own comfy bed only to dream about your next trip away. Make the memory real again – when’s the last time you camped?