In a world where glamping is the ‘in’ thing today, back in the ‘80’s, growing up in the desert, one of the things we did for fun (and to get away from the parents) was good old fashioned camping.
You only had to travel five minutes out of town to find a spot if you wanted to – there’s not much as far as facilities outside of Alice Springs. Smack bang in the centre of Australia, surrounded by bush and desert. So, as teens if we didn’t go ten-pin bowling, attend a Birthday Party, have a video night, hang out at the Truck Stop, or visit the Speedway on a Saturday Night (alternatively, there was the Drive-Inn… yep there were no cinemas in those days – the fun was seeing how many people you could fit into your car, admission was $10 per car. After we parked up, it was like a circus automobile with dozens of teens exiting and heading to the cafeteria before the matinee started) In a small town everyone knew everyone else, so if you wanted to get up to no good – you needed to go bush!
Our idea of debauchery was gossiping and telling ghost story’s around the campfire… and maybe partaking in whatever booze we could get our hands on. Which usually consisted of bag wine, West Coast Coolers, or Port. Oh how times have changed, I’d sooner stick my arm up a Yeti’s bum than partake in any of those beverages these days. But what can I say, we were teen rebels! Sometimes we’d also play Spotlight. Which is a form of tag, or touch-chasey in the dark, where the person who is “in” has a handheld torch and it’s everyone else who hides and tries to get close enough to touch the torch bearer (and hopefully scare the pants of them as well) without being “spotted” by a beam of light.
I’m undecided if these nocturnal activities sound lame or not. I think I’d still prefer such idiotic fun over scrolling through social media feeds on a phone for hours. The only thing that could entice me away was a good book. But hey, I am a huge nerd. #nerdpride
Taking anywhere between one and four cars, packed to the top of the windows with food, bedding, water and contraband, we’d randomly head off in a direction away from the prying eyes of our parents. Little brother’s in tow (usually the payoff for some bribe to keep his mouth shut from witnessing a previous indiscretion.) And we were free!
Usually our campsites were pitched in or around the numerous dry riverbeds that meandered the landscape. Our outback sleepovers were always eventful. It meant flirting with your crush (however ineptly in my case), and we could make as much noise as we wanted – no adults to tell us to keep quiet. Yay!
But the outback is fraught with perils: poisonous snakes and spiders, large goanna’s, and other four-legged wildlife. We were survival savvy though, and nothing nasty ever interrupted our partying. The only notable incursions took the form of a dingo, riffling through our belongings as we slept, and took particular favour to my leather camera case… there were bits and pieces scattered everywhere when we woke the next morning. And the canine perpetrator sitting beside the car patiently waiting for another morsel when we cooked our (usually inedible) breakfast. Of course I had to wail “A dingo took my camera case” for a few laughs (if you don’t get that joke google Lindy Chamberlain.) Another encounter, and one that could have been dangerous in hindsight, was when we woke to find ourselves surrounded by cows. Close to a hundred of them. I opened my eyes to find a bovine staring back, stupidly chewing its cud, threatening to drop a huge gob of saliva on my forehead. We literally had to push the ambivalent things away, careful not to spook the herd and avoid getting trampled. Thank goodness no-one was stepped on overnight.
It was all in a night’s fun for this outback girl, until we discovered how to get fake ID’s and hung out at the only club that would permit us entry… but that’s another story.
I miss my friends, and our (mostly innocent) fun, and look forward to a reunion of the old gang later in the year – maybe I’ll dredge up some more humorous anecdotes to share… watch this space!
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