Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forget The Room With A View

Over the years I have spent countless hours on the internet in search of the perfect place to stay.  My quest has been driven by many factors including price, location, historic importance, recommendations, quaintness, and if the place had yet to be "discovered."  It never really seemed to matter how much time I spent researching my choice,  once the decision was made I was always faced with a sense of fear.  A fear that there was something better out there.  
When we began to camp in Australia, I felt a relief.  I believed that I would no longer be faced with endless hours of searching for that perfect place and the anguished by that act of ultimate decision making.  After all a campsite is a campsite, right?   Besides, if we were unhappy with a site we could easily pack up and move on.  I soon discovered that even though this is true, the worries continue.  I am now faced with the anxiety of not only finding a camping spot but one that is not right on top of someone else.  If we do find the perfect secluded spot there is the stress of not knowing if after a long day of hiking we will find someone camped right next to us.  I'm not sure if it is the Australians' social nature or if they believe safety comes in numbers, but a solo tent is like a fire beckoning a moth.
So last month in Litchfield National Park, after discovering that the trail we had planned to hike was closed, we were faced with a decision.  Should we stay where we knew we had a spot, or risk moving on--in search for that perfect spot?  Visions of full campgrounds and the thought of having to stay at a commercial campground helped  us make our decision--we decided to stay put.  
This turned out to be a decision we regretted when we were 35 km down the road at Walker Creek.  We never considered Walker Creek as a camping option since it involved hiking in.  However, we decided to walk the 1.8 km trail since there weren't a lot of hiking options in the area.  
The single track trail follows a small creek that flows out of the northern slopes of the Tabletop Range.  The trail which gradually climbs to the second plateau doesn't really take you next to the creek bed; however, you can hear the rushing water close by.  About 600 meters in there are turn offs every 200 meters to the creek.  These are actually the walk-in campsites. If they are unoccupied they are open for day use. We didn't actually walk into any of the campsites until we reached number 7--we had been told by people walking out that it was vacant and it was the spot to visit.

The moment we saw the site--it not only had its own table and fire pit but its own swimming pool and waterfall--we knew we had made a mistake.  I would have gladly carried our gear on a hike that had taken less than half an hour for this perfect camping spot.  There was even a brief moment that we considered sleeping under the stars--we had our sleeping bags in the car--but decided against it.  As we slowly trudged back to the car, calling in at the other sites (only the first 2 had campers), we couldn't help but know we had made an unfortunate decision.
If you plan to visit and camp at Litchfield National Park, I strongly recommend staying at Walker Creek.   There are 8 camping spots with a toilet provided near campsite 6.  Before heading up the trailhead be sure to look at the reservation board to make sure there is an opening.  You need to register and pay before heading in but, not to worry, all campsites have their own pool!


  1. Hi Maya, that is a cool campsite location and with a beautiful pool and cascading stream. It's very nice of you to post about your experience and sharing this useful information with others.

  2. This post is really hitting home with me right now. I'm on the web trying to figure out where to camp this weekend near Mt. St Helens. I seem to always feel like there might be something better out there. I was really happy with Red Top - although there I was disappointed that it got cloudy at sundown - I really wanted a great sundown.

    I also love your comments about how people want to camp together. We had a long discussion about this on a hiking board along with safety for solo women camping. We prefer being alone and away also.

    This camp really looks nice. A mile in might not be bad especially for the privacy and great site. Thanks for posting about it.

  3. Hi Kathy, it was a cool campsite and we were bummed that we couldn't stay there. Hopefully the information will be useful to someone else.

    Hi Marta, when I wrote this post I thought of you and one of your current comments. It is so true that it is hard to know when you won't find something better.
    It is frustrating that here in Australia there is so much land, but then someone camps right next to you. But we really do like not having neighbors.
    I've never hiked in, but would have done it for this site! Unfortunately, I don't think we will have a chance to revisit the spot.