For the stunning images that accompany this story, read this in our online magazine.
What is it about stars? On a clear night, sitting around a campfire, it is easy to lose hours just gazing up at the night sky. There is simply nothing better. It got me thinking recently. I was a few weeks into an Outback trip and nearly every night was perfectly calm and cloud-free. I would spend hours just staring upward. Yet, one thing was bothering me. Was I the only person interested in gazing up at the stars?
See, every place I stopped along the way I was surrounded by people travelling in a variety of vans and trailers and, guess what? As soon as it grew dark they started to disappear into their canvas and aluminium shells, not to be seen until the morning. Why?
It seems as though owning a mobile getaway actually starts to impinge on the very reason we get away – to see our beautiful country. We want to meet people along the way and we want to have an enjoyable time too but a line needs to be drawn between living in that shell and living the outdoor life.
It might seem easier to retire early in our comfortable cocoon, but we can often then be oblivious to our surroundings. Our discovery shouldn’t end when the sun goes down, which is really early in winter, and start when we can visit attractions and take photographs.
It raised many questions for me, and talking to plenty of others along the way since this moment I saw a lot of people change their camping habits.
For some it is simply nice to retire into a van at the end of a long drive; others really like their sleep. But the majority of people I spoke to do it out of habit. It’s simply what’s accepted – routine. For many, that habit is borne from visiting caravan parks where you are in very close proximity to your neighbours – and being decent people we respect our neighbours, right? Also, there can be a lot of ambient light pollution – around the east coast in particular – meaning that only the brightest of stars are visible. It is easier to cook up the meal on the gas or electric stove inside, rather than drag out the barbecue or cook over the fire. We can get so wrapped up in our little mobile world that we forget the whole reason we bought it.
No matter our age or circumstance, when we travel the Outback we have space. We have a connection – not to the power outlet but to Mother Nature. It is such a shame to see so many people retreat inside when the conditions aren’t perfect or it’s getting dark.
People buy RVs to see this great country comfortably, but we need to go and see it. So next time you’re travelling (away from the caravan parks), enter your mobile home only when you need to. Cook outside, sit outside, listen to music or read a book, do as much as you can outside. But most importantly, go out and watch the night-time stellar show above. It’s where the magic really happens.