When you come to Australia, you need camping gear, yo! Travel gear to make you self sufficient. What does that
include? Stuff like an army knife, a cooking stove, a backpack, sleeping bag, and a tent. There are plenty of places to buy this stuff. You could
go on eBay or shop at stores like Paddy Pallin, Anaconda, Ray's Outdoors, or Kathmandu. Bringing in the travel gear from abroad won't suffice. You
simply won't be able to carry it all in. Once you own travel gear like backpack, sleeping bag, tent, army knife, and lantern, you are rocking, baby.
See you at Paddy Pallin in Tasmania, yo.
Travel Gear For Australia
"Is it true that 'less is more'? It
would be in Australia When you travel around this continent with less, you
wind up spending a helluva lot more."
Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
In a country the size of Australia, it really is true that the
less self sufficient you are, the more costly and less
revealing this country becomes.
Those who show up with only their wallet and keep it that
way will be opening up their wallet a lot and paying a lot:
for hotels, for tours, for flights, for restaurants.
This will apply to every traveler in Australia for a short
spell. The backpackers
and working holiday
visa-holders who strut through here in droves won't be
spending a lot or earning a lot, but they also won't be
doing a lot. If you intend to come to Australia and
really see it, then your first concern isn't to
spend the absolutely lowest amount of cash. It's to
get the best bang for every buck you do spend.
Getting my act together
The Gear You Need
My first piece of advice to anyone coming to Australia for over 4-5
months: buy yourself the best used car
you can afford, keeping in mind that you'll probably recoup 40-50% of
the cost when you eventually sell it. Personally, I wouldn't spend
more than AUD 5,000 on a 6-cylinder 2WD, which will suffice most
travelers driving around this continent. AUD 3,500-4,000 is more
ideal. If you can't afford even this, pal up with a few
mates and jointly purchase the car.
A car lets you go where you want when you want. You're not
beholden to more expensive tours and traveling. Once you have the
vehicle, you need to stock it with enough things to make yourself self
For a good one, at least AUD 300.
This will have multiple pockets and a removable
daypack, possibly a rain cover. Cheaper ones
can be found for under AUD 60. The way to go
is to by a travelpack. It's a backpack, but
you can conceal the backpack straps when you ship
it. Newer models can have wheels on the bottom
for easy moving.
Any time you
travel you need to take a suitcase. Why not
expand the idea of a suitcase to include a suitcase
you can wear on your back? It'll fit better in
a car and travel better on a train.
fold-out camping chair
I didn't think I'd need one of these, but when I saw
that they were priced at AUD 10 at Bunnings, I
thought "What the @()#*?" And it turned out to
be one of the items I used constantly.
Preferably get a camping chair that has a mug holder
in one of the arms. See pic. Today,
you'll pay AUD 15 and up for a chair.
What could be more useful than a chair that practically folds up into
nothing? Much of Australia's wonderful landscapes are the middle of nowhere, and the middle of nowhere isn't renowned
for offering comfortable seating. Imagine yourself with a freshly brewed cup of coffee looking out a trio of kangaroos and an emu, thinking,
"Life could only get better if I made $20m for 3 months work on a Hollywood movie set."
Again, depending on quality, you can get used ones
for under AUD 10 and a brand new set with four of
everything for between AUD 25-50. Plastic gear
is cheaper. You could supplement this stock with secondhand spatulas, wooden spoons, and can openers, etc.
How do you intend
to eat and rink on the road, genius?
three-burner gas stove
About AUD 70 for a two-burner. Make sure it
uses standard gas cylinders refillable inexpensively
at any gas station. Stay away from cheaper
butane 1-burner stoves. The flame never get quite as hot and the butane stoves burn quickly through the more expensive cannisters, which are
harder to find on the road
It is an asset to be able to cook food on the road. Outside the big cities, the food in Australia at restaurants
and roadstalls is average and unhealthy. Chain grocery stores are to be found throughout the land, and you can buy decent produce at them all. A 3-burner
stove wouldn't be necessary unless 3 or 4 of you were traveling together. A 2-burner is quite useful. You could, for example, boil the water for pasta on one
burner and cook the pasta on the other. These types of stoves are very fuel efficient, and in a year in Australia, I only refilled my 2 kg gas cylinder one time,
which was used to power both my stove and my lantern.
AUD 50. You can spend considerably more on one, but it's not necessary. A table that can seat 2 or 3 is adequate. You may not even
eat at the table, but it'll still prove beneficial for laying down cooking ingredients, empty plates, etc. This is one item I didn't buy but should have.
Many of the places you'll be stopping for the night will have inadequate cooking facilities. Because I lacked a table, I placed by
2-burner stove on the ground and tried to do my cutting on a cutting board placed on a tree stump or on the hood of my car. A cheap, lightweight fold-out table will
earn its keep on the road. Buy this used if you can. A new table will yield no more value than a used one.
If you're traveling alone or as a couple or just 2 buddies, I wouldn't bother with the set. This would be useful if a family or four
people were on the road together
Kids or spoiled girlfriends won't want to sit on the sand or the dirt to eat. They'll expect 'five-star' treatment. A dining set would be beneficial for these
AUD 25 for summer temperatures. AUD 60-100 for
winter ones. You'd ideally pack two
A sleeping bag is better than a blanket. It rolls up and becomes compact. I set off for Tasmania borrowing a friend's
sleeping bag she used for traveling in Africa. That sleeping bag was comfortable for warm climates. I froze sleeping in it during the Tasmanian summer nights. One
zero-temperature sleeping bag could suffice, if you unzipped it and slept on it rather than it during warm nights. Otherwise, I'd recommend having two sleeping bags. I
eventually forked out and bought a warmer sleeping bag for camping in the Northern Territory.
The common ones to get are Primus, and they can be
refilled cheaply at most any gasoline/petrol
station. Cost 1.25 kg: AUD 40.
2 kg: AUD 50. A 2 kg cylinder
These aren't compact, but they're fuel efficient and common throughout Australia. These cylinders will power camping radiators, heaters,
lanterns, stoves. Refilling a 4.5 kg cylinder costs about AUD 13. If your bottle lacks a gauge (and most do), you'll know your low on gas when you stove becomes more difficult
to light. Gas outlets don't charge less for refilling half a bottle.
There are times you could be traveling through remote regions. It never hurts to have an additional 20 liters of gasoline
handy should that be the case. A 20-liter can will be sufficient. I only required the jerry can 3-4 times on my entire trip.
40 on up. This was the first item I
bought after I got to Australia. I found a brand new dome tent on eBay for AUD 20. My tent was adequate for two to comfortably sleep within. Dome
tents work best. Two or three foldable fiberglass poles support the structure of the tent. Stakes can optionally be inserted into the ground if there
is insufficient weight in the tent or the weather is windy. The point is: dome tents don't need to be staked to be setup. And they're quite easy to setup.
A tent with a tarp cover allows you to sleep wherever you want. In Tasmania, camping is the best and the most economical option. The best
Tasmania has to offer would be out of reach if you weren't willing to camp. Buying yourself a large tent with pillars and an adjoining kitchen is overkill. These tents require
too much effort to setup and aren't practical on a long haul trip through the Australian continent.
You need somewhere comfortable to rest that head in your tent. I used both a pillow from a secondhand shop and inflatable one on my travels.
7 to AUD 25 on up for self-inflatable ones.
I paid about AUD 25 for a self-inflatable mattress that could sleep only one. In retrospect, I would've
purchased a twin-sized inflatable to cover me when I rolled over during the night (and on the offchance you obtain an unexpected pickup). A tent mattress
of some kind of a necessity. When I traveled through Africa, I used a cheap foam type. It did the job. A mattress provides comfort for the back when pitching
your tent on hard surface and it also offers temperature insulation.
AUD 25 and up. I bought a three-mode headlamp in Hobart, Tasmania I use to this day for just AUD 19.95.
In Asia, you can get the same lamp for AUD 6. .
They're superiors to flashlights in every way. You can set up a tent and read, two things you won't be able to do easily if you're
holding a flashlight in one hand. Stop being a pennypincher and get your head on one of these.
AUD 30 for a polypropylene top and AUD 30 for a polypropylene pant. I bought two tops, a short-sleeve and a long-sleeve, and one bottom
during a summer sale in Melbourne.
Sure, you've got your subzero sleeping bag, but what about walking about and cooking dinner. I packed only
one light Gore-tex windbreaker. I wasn't going to pack a padded winter-type coat, too. It would take up too much room in my backpack. If you wear
a thermal top and bottom beneath your shirt and pants, it will do much to preserve body heat and keep you warm during cool nights. There were many times I slept with
my thermals in the subzero sleeping bag.
From AUD 35 for a simple one, all the way up to several hundred
dollars for pocket stoves that burn multiple fuels. The generic PocketRocket I bought
in Tasmania for AUD 40 burned blended fuel (either 70% butane-30% propane or 80% IsoButane-20% Propane) in 227g
(8 oz) canisters. The burn time
for one canister is only an hour, and the canisters are not nearly as cost effective as the the larger LPG
cylinders used with larger 2-burner stoves.
In every regard, the larger LPG stoves are superior. They're more fuel efficient and they
get to boiling temperatures faster. The pocket stoves are for different purposes,
either for making quick pot of tea on the road or, even more likely, for use on treks, when carrying the larger stove and
accompanying cylinders is impossible.
The pocket stoves weigh next to nothing, and even if
you just use it once on a 3-day trek, it'll be worth
your while to buy.
AUD 30-35. There's nothing sophisticated about these. You don't one to consider one with less than a 20 liter
You can never be self sufficient without fresh water. I refilled to this rim as often
as I came into contact with the freshest water supplies. In Western Australia, I had access to water tank filled with the
freshest of rain water. I emptied out the entire contents and refilled to overflowing, and this water lasted me the
rest of my trip.
pocket knife (Swiss army or copy)
AUD 35, if an authentic Swiss one; AUD 15 or
possibly lower if it's Chinese copy. The
copies are sold over Asia, and some of the Taiwanese
ones are made well enough.
Even if you weren't planning to be self sufficient throughout
your trip to Australia, a pocket knife is always a handy tool to have around. It never hurts
to have a screw driver, knife blade, or can opener at your disposal.
AUD 20-30, depending on size and illumination.
I purchased a small lantern midway through my trip. Pitching the gas cylinder
and lantern outside my tent, I could read quite well lying side, shielded from mosquitoes by my tent's mosquito
net. My only regret: I should've bought a lantern right from the very beginning. They burn the LPG very, very
efficiently and it's quite easy to extend a hose from the lantern pole and extend it right to your stove, so that
the stove and the lantern can be used simultaneously with the same gas cylinder.
Where To Buy All This Wonderful Gear
is so far from where wherever you're probably coming
from that even if you owned similar gear back in
your home country, you're not going to haul it this
far or take it back with you. In fact, it's
for this very reason that I didn't travel to New
Zealand. I had already invested in a car and
travel gear for Australia. If I flew to New
Zealand as well, which the majority of long-term
travelers to Australia do, I'd have to leave behind
the car and most of the gear.
So you're left with two choices Down Under:
buy the gear new or buy the gear used.
If you're buying a cheapo backpacker mobile,
there's more than an off chance it has some travel
gear included, though this travel gear may have been
used more times than a Broadway streetwalker.
My recommendation is that unless you're getting a
killer deal on secondhand gear, just buy it all new. I was able to sell all my gear in the weeks before
I left for only a AUD 100-150 loss. Effectively, it cost me only AUD 100-50 to rent all brand new gear for a year.
The beneficiaries of your year-old gear will most likely be Australians in the market for quality gear vs backpackers looking for something for
the cheapest price.
Some places to look for gear:
Close to 40 stores in
five Australian states and the Australian
Capital Territory. I bought
two-thirds of my gear at Ray's.
camping store found throughout Australia . .
. and New Zealand, too. And 6 stores in the UK as well. I got a
full set of thermals at Kathmandu on sale just as the Australian autumn was ending.
coast-to-coast Australian chain with almost
New South Wales stand-alone that offers
bedding, tents, lamps, mattresses, and
Australian family-owned company that got
started in 1930. A small outfit compared to others with only 13 stores all across Australia, but does mail order. Has their
own respected Pallin line of clothing ware.
A one-shop South Australian outfit which also does mail order.
Another Australian family-owned camping store with 13 stores, mostly in Victoria and Queensland, but
a few scattered among Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, and South Australia
Wellington Surplus Stores
A Perth, Western Australia-based store, specializing in "the widest range
of camping and survival equipment, field gear, and militaria."
Mostly Victoria-based chain with the usual array of sleeping bags. I purchased some fuel canisters for
a quick burning stove here but wound up returning them when I bought a more common 2-burner stove which
utilized more common and efficient
Another place to check is eBay Australia.
I managed to buy a brand new
two-man domed tent for AUD 20. Add in an
additional AUD 25 for shipping from Queensland to
Victoria, and it was still a baetter deal than what
I could find for an equivalent tent in the local
camping stores. I was able to sell the tent to
penny pinching Israeli for AUD 25 before I left the
Shop at charity stores, located near most shopping
complexes in Australia, for the odds and ends. I picked up a pillow cases, knives, cutting boards, basic kitchen utensils, and so on for very little
money at these stores. You're not buying any of this stuff to show off in your new kitchen. You just need some kind of workable item that will suffice
on your travels. Happy shopping!
Coming Down Under in the near future? Yo, joeboy, you're going to need to get your hands on some camping gear. Without travel gear in your possession, you
won't be self sufficient. Want to open a brewsky, you're going to require a pocket knife or army knife. Cook your own food? A cooking stove. A backpack to put all your gear in, a sleeping bag
to sleep comfy at night, and a tent to shield your ass from the elements. There are plenty of places to buy this stuff. You could
go on eBay or shop at stores like Paddy Pallin, Anaconda, Ray's Outdoors, or Kathmandu. Carting the travel gear from abroad won't suffice. You
simply won't be able to carry it all in. Which camping store do you prefer the most for your camping gear: Paddy Pallin, Anaconda,Ray's Outdoors, or Kathmandu?