How to Bushwalk – Camping and hiking basics

It is amazing what you take for granted when you have been going camping or hiking for over 40 years. GULP, yes, it has been that long. With Sue exploring the centre of Australia on a school trip, Frank grabbed a window of opportunity and invited a mate of his, Jade, on a two night base camping trip to Lake Elizabeth.

This pretty spot is about one hour drive from Geelong (our home town) and in the Great Otway National Park  near a small town called Forrest. With about 20 “bush” (this means not clearly defined or marked off) campsites, open fireplaces and a great toilet block it is an ideal getaway and base camp location. It was a perfect spot  to introduce Jade to camping, go on a couple of short hikes and enjoy the birds and bush.

Campfire - Lake Elizabeth Otway National Park

Campfire - Lake Elizabeth Otway National Park

Jade really wants to do some multi day hiking trips but lacks the background (she is a city girl) , skills and confidence to step out on her first trip. The idea was to introduce her to camping, some basic hiking gear, getting set up and organised around camp and to take a couple of walks from the base camp. It was a fun couple of nights with lots of drinking (me) and talking (Jade) around the fire each night, a great stroll around Lake Elizabeth and fun just kicking back and enjoying the bush.

Lake Elizabeth Otway National Park

Lake Elizabeth Otway National Park

Jade is a bit of a “social media guru” and has been heavily involved in launching a new website so it took her a few hours to settle down and get used to not being “connected” (there is NO Optus phone service)

We did have a few funny incidents where I assumed she would know what to do (such as inflating a sleeping mat) We “brainstormed” how to teach others who have never been camping or hiking and decided that videos might be a great way to share this information. We recorded a few , on the spot, and once Frank can work out how to do a couple of edits, the first one will be launched here at Our Hiking Blog!

Check out the video we created:  “How to Inflate a Sleeping Mat” 

Jade's Tent - Lake Elizabeth Otway National park

Last time we camped at Lake Elizabeth was as a warm up for a trip to the Overland Track in Tasmania. Many of the group had camped a lot in the past but just needed a hit out with a full backpack and some hill work.

We were very lucky that time to have a close encounter with a very friendly platypus (for which Lake Elizabeth is renowned) – if you want to see the pictures and read about the trip, click here to check it out

Cooking Lake Elizabeth Otway National park

Cooking Breakfast - Lake Elizabeth Otway National Park

Have you ever taken a “newbie” camping or hiking?
What were your biggest challenges?
What did they really need to learn? How is is best to teach them?
Are you new to hiking, bushwalking or camping?
Are there any “how to” videos you would like us to share on Our Hiking Blog?

Drop us a comment below, we would love to read about your experience or create a “how to” post or video.


  1. Sarina says

    We took a newbie hiker on the Frenchmans Cap walk in Tassie last week. We actually did the circuit via Irenabyss and the Raglan Range. Our friend is a pretty tough guy (very strong) but stubborn and wouldn’t listen to any advice on reducing weight and waterproofing etc. Very stubborn! Anyway, he’s learned a few very valuable lessons the hard way. Wet sleeping bag on day 1. Managed to convince him at the head of the trail to change out of his denim jeans (scary) into board shorts. Most of his food was tinned (Stag etc) and he ended up with about 5kg of rubbish that he had to lug out. Carried in a bottle of spirits – in the bottle! About 2 hours into the walk he was lagging on the Loddon Plains and started getting out food to share around so he didn’t have to carry it.

    • Frank says

      Thanks for the terrific story Sarina, made me laugh and cry at the same time. Some people just won’t listen or have to experience the pain themselves. First time I did the Overland Track, my mate and I carried over 30kg each, we had EVERYTHING. We were giving stuff away from Day 1 and fuel by Day two and food ALL the time!

      And then there were our feet! Black and blue, blisters everywhere. Limped the whole way…..

      Feel sorry for your mate……. sort of….
      Thanks for sharing, much appreciated.

  2. says

    :-) I don’t feel like such an idiot now. I do know that I have to learn the hard way because I’m young, stubborn and ‘know all’. After last weekend I learned how massively unprepared I am and will be doing the GOW in two seperate walks.

    I really want to do more overnighters now. Mostly rail trails, bits of the great dividing trail. I think I could cope providing there are no random bug incidents and I’m able to get reception occasionaly 😛

    • Frank says

      Nah, You did well Jade. I have been camping since I was in the scouts and cubs as a 10 year old. Our kids have been camping since they were babies. There is so much you learn from watching and doing! Onwards and upwards!

  3. says

    Some of the best memories I have were while camping as a child. Now That i’m 46 and have a young family of my own, it suddenly occured to me that I have never taken my children on a camping adventure! Somehow amidst all the hustle & bustle of the last 6 years, it somehow escaped my mind that beyond the skyscrapers of the big city lie all therolling hills, beautiful oceans, lakes & mountain ranges that I was so lucky to have been able to take in as a young child.
    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting up this How to Bushwalk – Camping and hiking basics page! It took me back to a much simpler time & made me realise that I need to get my kids to a place like this before they’re all grown up!

    • Frank says

      Hi, thanks for joining in the conversation. Yep, we have many happy memories of camping and holidaying as children and with our own children. Great fun and a terrific way to learn a whole lot of skills. You NEED to go camping, it is a great thing to learn!

  4. Gwynneth Beasley says

    My husband needs a how to light a campfire post! He refuses to let anyone else do it and he snuffs it out time and time again. And gets very defensive when my 4yo is all “Dad, those leaves are going to smother the fire!”

    • Frank says

      Hi ya Gwen,
      Some people just can’t be taught! There are a couple of great videos on You Tube on how to light an upside down fire. Guaranteed to work (they reckon)

      btw, lucky to pick up your comment, found it in the spam filter (again) Not sure of the solution…..hope it can be resolved.

      Have an interview coming up from a lady that runs a site called Adventure Tykes that may interest you! (just have to think up some questions)

  5. Les Hoggan says

    I do indeed know a newbie camper, me, imagine 55 and never been camping. After a recent health scare I decided to regain my fitness and being 55 and overweight I thought I would take up bushwalking again after 25 years. Fortunately Wedderburn has a lot of bushland all around even if you do have to keep an eye out for old mine workings. After three months and know trimmer and fitter than I’ve been in decades and with a refound love of bushwalking I’m planning a multi day hike on the Great South West Walk in November. Thanks to this site I’ve now a decent idea of the gear I’ll need and more important what I don’t need, I have a very bad habit of over packing trying to cover every eventuality. Back on the bushland around Wedderburn, I’ve seen many a Kangaroo but last weekend I saw my first echidna in the wild, I’ve yet to see the fabled Mallee fowl that I’m told inhabit some the nearby nature reserve.

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