Shake Things Up

Graham Cahill. — July 15, 2014

The old adage of there being no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation rings very true when one lives in the south west of WA. This last week or two has seen some of the very best and very worse of winter weather. By bad luck or poor management however, my free time has coincided only with the wetter and windier side of the scale. It’s been something of a shock to the system given I have just spent the better part of a month in tropical north Queensland.

Winter in the south has long been a local’s only affair. By that I of course mean the tourists that flock to our beaches during the warmer months, are not seen in anywhere near the same numbers come the middle of the year. Those you do meet on the tracks and out in the surf tend to almost exclusively be locals. I for one find this odd, yet brilliant at the same time. Empty beaches and deserted campsites are spot on in my book.

Being dictated to by the weather is not a routine I like to follow. With a limited number of days available in any given life, I hate the notion of waiting till the planets align and conditions become your ideal. Sure, there are circumstances that may challenge this; think the Simmo on a 50 degree day in February. Perhaps not an ideal time to attempt the QAA line! For the most part though, I refuse to be held ransom by conditions. Weather is weather; enjoy it for what it is.

I really noticed this while up the Cape this year. I would rate this season as perhaps the busiest I’ve seen. Camp spots along the Old Tele Track were chocker block and the By-pass Rdwas like a city street (except with teeth loosening corrugations). Yes I know, the wet dictates that this region is impassable for a portion of the year but early and late in the dry it’s a whole different story. I got chatting to a station owner at Bramwell; he informed me that just a month earlier conditions were perfect yet the tourists hadn’t made it yet. It’s almost like we follow a calendar not the conditions!

Now if you put this into the context of available holiday leave, the usual month a year, for me anyway, it becomes pretty clear that allowing the weather or time of year dictate your routine is fraught with possible disappointment. Couple this with the fact we tend to all follow the same accepted time structure of north for winter and south for summer and you start to form a bit of a trend.

Of course it’s all about being prepared. Anyone can be comfortable in good weather; it’s an art to be comfortable in less than ideal conditions. It’s an art worth the learning though as the rewards are numerous.

I’m a big fan of shaking things up, going against the accepted norms.  Head north during summer; yeah it’s going to be hot but heck the evenings will be stunning and water holes all the more perfect. How about going south in winter? You bet. Crowds are non-existent, campfires all day long and nothing beats the sound of rain on canvas! Making sure you have canvas is the trick.

I use the word canvas metaphorically, not so much literally; what I’m getting at is making sure you have the gear to be comfortable if conditions are going to be challenging. Taking an A-frame tent from 1982 and a pair of thongs to the Vic high country in June is just crazy. However, packing multiple warm clothes, large tarps, double sleeping bags and ground sheets plus axe and chainsaw is starting to paint a very appealing winter camping picture. Certainly it is looking a lot better than putting the holiday off or worse, not going at all!

I am of course writing this with some trepidation, I don’t want everyone to change their ways, heck it’s crowded enough down here in summer, let’s leave winter crowd free hey! Yet if you are canny enough to read behind the lines, you will realise that right about now, somewhere in the Deep South, a campground is as empty as a pocket and the firewood is free. Go grab yourself some of that secluded goodness!





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