From up here camping takes on a whole new and exciting perspective.
In 1970, Dinah and I commenced our love affair with travel, and we haven’t stopped yet. Over the past 50 years we have visited more than 50 countries, travelling in everything from kombie vans to caravans, by plane, train and cruise ship, sleeping in everything from white-washed villas on the Greek Islands to two-man tents in the Australian outback. We still love travelling and we love the adventure inherent in exploring new places and experiencing new things.
In recent times, our travels have seen us journeying through Asia, exploring ancient castles and cathedrals in Europe, enjoying a pint (or two) in a 12th century English pub, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Christmas revellers in New York’s Times Square, marvelling at the ancient temple gardens in Shanghai, walking on the Great Wall of China, soaking up the sun on Hawaii’s famous Waikiki Beach, silently gliding past nesting crocodiles in Australia’s ‘top end’, or simply camping under the stars in one of this country’s many national parks.
While we a fortunate enough to own an excellent caravan and over the last few years have seen much of Australia in it, recently we invested in a roof-top tent, perfect for those short-stay escapes. While roof-top tents are not exactly new, with canvas tents fixed to the roof of the four wheel drive often the choice for travellers going to remote locations, this new breed of ‘hard-shell’ rooftop tent adds a whole new dimension of luxury and convenience to the notion of sleeping off the ground. It also adds a significant degree of practicality and affordability. And you wake up feeling on top of the world. Literally!
Late last year, Dinah and I decided to invest in a hard-shell roof-top tent. We wanted something that was quick and easy to set up (and pull down) for overnight stops, as well as something that was durable enough to combat the extreme elements of the Australian countryside. We did our homework, reviewing the brands available on the Australian market. We found everything from mass-produced hard-shell tents that simply pop up, usually under $1000, to the more expensive and better designed imported tents that range anywhere from $1500 to $5000. We finally settled on a tent from Australian company, OCAM Industries. OCAM hard shell tents are sturdy and well-constructed and come in a choice of King or Queen bed sizes. They mount easily to the roof racks of most four wheel drives and can literally be set up in minutes. We have a Jeep Grand Cherokee and the tent fixes to the cross-bars of our Rhino Vortex roof racks with four simple brackets, making it simple to fit and then remove when you are not travelling. Simply release the hard-cover fasteners, reach up and pull out and down the telescopic ladder and the tent sets itself up. Insert the awning and window stays and you are ready to climb aboard. The OCAM tent comes with its own high density foam mattress.
The tent also comes with an optional awning that simply zips to the front of the tent. The awning is really roomy and is well worth investing in as it not only gives you privacy, it affords protection from the elements. The OCAM hard shell roof-top tent is excellent value and is a convenient and practical way of enjoying the great outdoors.
OCAM Industries have stores in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. You can either order online or buy directly from one of the stores. We purchased ours from their Rocklea store in Brisbane where the guys helped fit it for me. The service was excellent. You can check out the OCAM roof-top tents as well as a comprehensive range of four wheel drive accessories at: www.ocamindustries.com.au
Stepping back in time
Naturally, we couldn’t wait to trial our new roof-top tent. Living on the Sunshine Coast we have no shortage of choices when it comes to places to camp, either right on the coast or in our beautiful hinterland. For our first trip away, we opted for Kenilworth, a picturesque country town located in the heart of the Mary Valley about 50 kilometres from Brisbane and about an hour’s drive from our home. We’ve visited Kenilworth many times and love it. The town retains its traditional 1930’s atmosphere and offers a surprising range of attractions for visitors including a very engaging historical museum as well as a number of excellent eateries, shops and even an art gallery. We love the traditional main street with its eclectic mix of fashion shops, stores full of country bric-a-brac and trendy coffee shops, not to mention the historic Kenilworth Hotel, the pub at the top of town. This is a great place for a hot dinner and a cold beer.
We’ve also visited Kenilworth for the annual Kenilworth Show and Rodeo held on the third Saturday in September. A terrific experience where you can slip on your RM’s and squatter’s hat and mingle like a local. If you haven’t been to a country show and rodeo you are really missing one of the truly great Aussie experiences. Perhaps the most famous attraction in this great little town is the Cheese Factory. Here you can see cheese being made the traditional country way and sample the huge range on offer. Kenilworth and the Cheese Factory also host an annual Cheese, Wine and Food Fest, held in late June.
In early October, there’s the Kenilworth Arts Fest, an annual festival with an art competition and exhibition. Always lots happening here. A great day trip from Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast, or a fun over-nighter. You can find out more about Kenilworth, its attractions and special evets by visiting the town’s website: www.kenilworth.qld.au
From up here the world looks great
Relaxing on the bed in our tent watching the sun go down was magical. From on high the world takes on a whole new perspective. You may be only six feet off the ground, but in our roof-top tent the effect is one of floating on air. The sun setting through the trees of our campsite was a sight to remember. There are a number of campsites in and around Kenilworth. We opted to stay at the Showgrounds because it is central and you can walk to everything. Bush reserves sites are also available. You can check them out and book by visiting: www.kenilworthcampinggrounds.com
Life is full of adventures and great experiences. This is why Dinah and I are so passionate about our travel blog. Now, with the convenience and ease of travel (no towing) afforded by our hard shell roof-top tent, we have found a whole new way to goctheplanet.
Main picture: A roof-top tent is a great way to get away
- Undo the hard-shell fasteners, push the roof up, pull down the ladder and you are set up
- The final step is to insert the stay rods in the front and side window awnings
- Zip the awning to the front of the tent
- The awning gives you both privacy and protection
- Lock the ladder in place
- Get ready to wake up on top of the world
- A great way to goctheplanet
- The main street. Straight out of the 1930’s
- The Kenilworth Hotel, a top pub
- An oasis in the centre of town
- The famous Cheese factory