Modern Man

I've made a radical new year's decision; I am going to set up a tent on the front lawn of our house and we are going to move in - permanently.

We might use the house for holidays or go inside to use the toilet and washing machine, but after four blissful days of camping on the Goolang Creek at Nymboida, it is clear to me that most of the extraneous stuff we surround ourselves with in the modern world doesn't add to our quality of life, it detracts from it.

Having built a beautiful three-bedroom timber house, people might think I'm crazy living next to it in a nylon tent, but I could live with the slings and arrows of my detractors if I could maintain the peace and tranquillity we achieved when camping.

For four days my children were angels. They didn't hassle me to watch TV, they didn't fight over petty, stupid things and they didn't need my constant attention.

Instead they swam in the creek, found games to play with other kids at the campsite and learnt the finer points of backyard cricket (you have to run if you hit the ball).

To them sleeping in a tent was like being in an ingeniously designed cubby-house, cooking food on the camp stove or the fire was an adventure, and brushing your teeth with a cup of water and spitting on the ground brought forth giggles and merriment instead of tears and whining.

We were camped with a group of friends who all live nearby, so it felt a bit like the whole tribe had packed up and headed south for the silly season.

One friend suggested that one of the reasons nomadic tribes move on is not just when food supplies start to dwindle or weather conditions change, but that new locations refresh the spirit and the dynamic within a group. And that certainly was the case for all of us.

But modern camping has it's own set of requirements; you can't go anywhere these days without a family-sized tent, a tarp, a table, plus poles, pillows, sleeping mats, sleeping bags and of course the ubiquitous camping chairs. Once you've added the eskies, water containers and outdoor activities (bikes, kayaks etc), I don't know how nomadic tribes ever managed to get anywhere without a station wagon and a set of roof racks.

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