Tales of a 3.9 litre Tdi Bushie Ute

Bushie Camping

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius
“I travel light. But not at the same speed.
” – Jarod Kintz

For everyone to be able to enjoy camping it is important that we “leave no trace”.

Keeping everything as simple as reasonably possible, eliminating processes that take time and effort for “smoko” or overnight camps is important to me while touring through outback and remote regions. The intention is to travel light, reduce non essentials, have the important and most used items within easy reach, and minimise unpacking/packing when making/breaking camp. These things have evolved over many years, and while not suitable for everyone, I don’t mind compromising for the sake of systems that are simple for one person, efficient and light.

Old timer bushmen and swagies, hikers and adventure motorcyclists provide inspiration for lightweight and simple examples that can be applied to 4wd based camping.

Shelter and Sleeping Systems

Our normal body core temperature, about 37ºC, has a tolerance of plus or minus 1ºC between hyperthermia (when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates) and hypothermia (when a body loses heat faster than it can produce heat), both of which can lead to death within a few hours.

Shelter for a hot environment needs to provide:

  • shade during the day to reduce heat absorption
  • openings to a dark night sky to aid heat rejection by radiation
  • good ventilation to aid heat rejection by perspiration and heat transfer by convection
  • good protection from rain

Shelter for a cold environment needs to provide:

  • good protection from wind and rain

On most overnight camps, I sleep in the open or under a tarp, or hoochie (aka hootchie).

If I want to spend a few days at a campsite I have a large Snow Peak hexa tarp. If rain or cold wind is expected the hexa tarp is pitched lower to the ground than Snow Peak intended.


I don’t like roof racks and the rolled up bulk of my old swag with foam mattress took up too much space, so it was replaced by a simple bed roll (woolen blanket and micro fibre quilt) and a Helinox cot-max stretcher. Because they are very light and pack away small, I also take a military spec, bivi (bivouac) bag and an inflatable mattress.

CGear Multimats are used as ground sheets or mats.

The large size Snow Peak fire pit is used for a camp fire, and cooking. They are a great design, made from stainless steel, take hardly any time to set-up, and pack into a compact, flat package. The fire pit only needs a small amount of fire wood, or heat beads, doesn’t harm the grass or soil and leaves no trace of a fire afterward, the small amount of fine ash is not harmful when distributed around trees or bushes.

For frying, cooking stews, roasts, dampers, deserts, etc. using coals or heat beads I use a small, 25.4 cm (10″), spun steel Bedourie camp oven . These are well made, robust, but light, the lid can be used as a frying pan, and the small size is ample for me.

I like the design and quality of Snow Peak products, though expensive they should last me out, so I now use their plates, mugs, cookset, cutlery, etc.

Two, single burner Coleman 533 stoves fueled with unleaded petrol, or diesel are used when it is not possible or practical to use the fire pit. I prefer these over lpg or butane gas stoves, fuel is less expensive, easier to obtain, and produces more heat (especially in a cold climate). Although not advertised, these stoves run well on diesel, so long as the gas generator tube is pre-heated using another fuel, such as gel fire starter (ethanol).

For a cuppa or washing up, an eco billy uses a mere hand-full of leaves and twigs, to very quickly boil water. The eco billy can be used on the fire pit or Coleman stove, in which case a cap is placed over the chimney to reduce the time to boil the water.

A small 12/24 Volt fridge is used to keep some foods cold, and the rest of the foodstuffs are stored in insulated boxes. Bulk items such as sugar, cereal, etc. are kept in separate click-lock containers within their insulated box. Re-useable dry ice packs, are frozen in the fridge and added to the fruit and vegetable container to extend their life, this is better than keeping them in the fridge.

It took a long while to find a comfortable camp chair that packs away well, until I came across the lightweight Helinox chair.

A nice hot shower is a luxury after a day in the outback. I use a RainMan camp shower because it doesn’t require an electric water pump, uses very little water (as little as 3 litre per shower), works very well, and is easy to use. The only downside is the bulk, 675 mm x 245 mm x 245 mm, for packing, but it does have a 12 litre water storage capacity.