Over the A.N.Z.A.C. weekend, we finally got the chance to go camping and kayaking on the Blackwood River with friends. Due to my foot injury and our commitments over the summer, our last outing was quite some time ago, and I was looking forward to getting away again.
It took a couple of months of organising everyone’s schedules – our friend Brian even flew over from Sydney, but we finally managed it thanks to Facebook of all things. I volunteered to prepare and cook all the food for the group, and luckily everyone was happy to ‘go primal’ for their meals!
Although this meant in the days leading up to going away I was very busy shopping and preparing; it is a task I love doing, and it helped build the excitement. The foods I chose, while simple, would be delicious and wouldn’t require a lot of work at the campsite.
I made a further 12 Apple Spice Muffins, 12 Carrot Cake Muffins and 20 slices of Chocolate Seed Bar along with several bags of snacking jerky…. for the Primal Labrador; he sure does love any excuse to have beef jerky! 🙂
I also sliced, diced, grated and shredded volumes of tomatoes (for sandwiches and breakfast), mushrooms, lettuce, cheese, cold roast chooks and a giant 6kg lump of rump! There was 3 kilogrammes of bacon, 14 sausages and a vast amount of eggs, although most went into the baking, we still took about 4 cartons away to have with breakfast and to make Primal Pancakes for desserts.
All this food was to feed six hungry men, one youngling and myself…. the fridge was stuffed to the gills!
Our destination we had chosen was called ‘Wedge Tailed Eagle Retreat‘ on the banks of the Blackwood River about 2 and 1/2 hours south-east of Perth. The guys took kayaks for an overnight wild camp, and I took a nice thick novel, as I was looking forward to spending some time on my own in the bush.
Once there, we spent some time having lunch and setting up camp before exploring the bushland and along the riverbanks.
The retreat is a 40-acre property with both bush and cleared land, has two dams, one with two provided traps for yabbies and one with turtles. There are also some sheep and chooks and a plethora of native wildlife down near the river.
There are three separate camping areas for groups, each with a firepit and wood. There is also a toilet with a shower and a shed with cooking facilities back up at the homestead for those that still like a bit of modern convenience.
The property is run by Sylvia who is a fantastic hostess, and she’s doing a great job revegetating the bushland areas along the river.
If you’re ever looking for a relaxed private property to go camping on, give her a call!
Just walking around breathing in that clean, fresh air I could feel the stress of life just melting away. It had been far too long since we were last back in nature.
The first evening saw the men practising some basic bushcraft and fire lighting skills along with sitting back and socialising while discussing the upcoming kayaking trip.
We were up early the next morning with the guys packing their gear into their kayaks and walking them down to the river.
Once they had departed, I cleaned up the breakfast things and went for a walk around the property perimeter which was wonderful. I saw a lot of signs of kangaroos and other wildlife, and I spent the rest of the day napping and reading my novel.
The boys enjoyed their time out on the river, and I picked up Brett from downstream of the campsite around 4 pm as he had to go back to town the next morning, and with him came the Primal Labrador who decided to crash back at camp with me… :-p
That evening we sat and ate primal pancakes and played ‘Cards Against Humanity’ with much laughter. The other guys returned around lunch time the next day after paddling back upriver and the rest of that day was spent in the bush exploring, gathering fire making tools and finding traditional ingredients to make a fibreglass like glue, which Paul used to make an axe.
There are many benefits of camping and getting back in touch with nature – it’s in our roots. People don’t realise just how stressed they are on a day to day basis, and how stress can have a huge impact on our health. It affects not only our bodies but our minds too.
There’s an interesting article here on how we’re hard-wired to prefer the countryside over the city.
Some of the best-known effects of going bush include some very simple things.
For starters, getting more Oxygen, that feeling of happiness you get when you breathe in those first few breaths of clean, fresh, pleasant smelling air causes a release of serotonin. Trees and plants release negative ions which can have a beneficial effect of lowering blood pressure, improving digestion and boosting your immune system.
Spending time in the sun and outdoors increases your melatonin which will help you sleep better. So many people nowadays underestimate how much a good nights sleep can affect your mood and ease the feelings of stress. You will wake feeling refreshed and feel ready to take on any challenge. Sunlight will also boost your vitamin D. This hormone is vital for good health and well-being and a dose will increase your energy levels, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients from your food, particularly phosphorus and calcium.
With all this fresh air and exercise, you should not only sleep much better, but you will also most likely have an increase in your appetite! Since most camping foods are packed with protein and healthy fats… think of the bacon and eggs with vegetables for breakfast, and hearty steaks or fresh caught fish on the BBQ for dinner, with plenty of accompanying salad or vegetables. All this food will fuel the hiking and exploration you can do when ‘going bush’… You need to get out of the 4WD and get ‘lost’ amongst the bush to get a real feel and gain the advantages from it.
Another great benefit is turning off technology, and spending time socialising, talking and laughing… and the ‘bush telly’ is always captivating.
Human beings are naturally social creatures, and we can often become very isolated or work oriented when living in the city. When out camping, life slows down, and becomes more relaxed, following a more natural rhythm. The stars and sky were gorgeous in the darkness of the bush, away from the interference of the city lights and Brett’s photo captured the night sky superbly!
On our last day we packed up and felt almost sad we were not staying longer. I would have loved to have been able to extend by a few more days and caught up on even more reading and relaxation.
Brian put together an excellent 3 part video of the trip you can see part one here…
The boys are now planning their next big trip, to walk the Stirling Ranges (good luck with that guys, I’m not cooking on that trip!) and since my foot is still not healed, Anthony is heading out onto the Bibbulmun Track next time on his own. We’ve vowed not to leave it so long between our adventures next time… It’s important for our health!