Camping in 1965





Bill and Nola married in 1965 and being a young Aussie couple of this era looked at the options for their honeymoon. Bill was and still is the adventurous type. Bill is practical and is a "Mr Fix it Man". Nola is just as adventurous and makes the best of every situation. So in 1965 where did this Melbourne couple go for their honeymoon. You guessed it - they went camping in the outback of Australia.

Camping in the 60’s

Travellers now days are confronted with a bewildering array of equipment on offer.

There is much wonderfully well-made stuff, but can we get by without much of it.  In earlier days we didn’t have this choice and got by without it.  You do need a warm bed, shelter, food and water, transport.

What we considered essential camping supplies (in the 60’s)

This was Nola’s and my honeymoon in April May 1965.  Nola was 20 and I was 23.  Our equipment was 2 camp stretchers, 2 sleeping bags, 1 auto tent (borrowed from my parents), 3 gallons of water (2 containers in case one leaked), 1 esky ice box, various cans of such things as Tom Piper Irish Stew, a Primus gas stove (21st birthday present from Nola), spade, hot-hand billy cups (plastic), cutlery etc, plastic wash bowl for dishes and us,  a small folding camp table with two stools, our clothing and personal stuff.   We packed it all  into our 1950 Rover (not  Landrover) car.

Camping in 1965
Our Rover in 1965. We travelled from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back, camping all the way.

4WD Vs our Rover

As English cars of the time were not noted for their reliability there was also a container of engine oil, spare fan-belt, ignition coil and  points, puncture repair kit, hand pump, 2 gallons of petrol and some tools and a tow rope.

How was our journey to the outback?

The Rover fuel-pump failed on the trip from Melbourne to Ballarat.  A tap with a hammer on the side of the pump got it going again.  No problem with the old Rover after that,  all the way to Alice Springs.

We would pull off the road and set up camp near a windmill or other water supply and use this water for cooking and cleaning while saving our good water for drinking.

If we were lucky there might be some fresh meat and vegetables on ice but if the ice had all gone it would be the Tom Piper.


Little traffic travelling the now popular route from Melbourne to Alice Springs

There were few vehicles on this road then and everybody would stop and ask – “Are you alright?” if you had stopped for a break.  We had the luxury of the campground at Alice Springs whilst we explored the area.

No drama here until we headed to Palm Valley.  The track was not well sign posted so coming across an Aboriginal man we stopped and asked if we were on the right track.  The conversation went like this:

Me:  “How far to Palm Valley?

Him:  looking at my vehicle and shaking his head – “long way.”

Me:  “how far?”

Him:  “long way.”

Me:  “how many miles?”  (1965)

Him: “12 miles” still shaking his head.

Me:  “12 miles nearly there – thank you.”

Our Palm Valley Trip

It was years later before we finally made it to Palm Valley.  A bit further on we came to a river crossing, no water but lots of sand.  A group of Aboriginals on the other side had just crossed in their old Austin.  If they can make it in that, then the Rover should.

WRONG – halfway across the Rover was hopelessly imbedded in sand.  Enjoying the entertainment, I had provided,  this group of strong young men came over to us – all smiles and laughter as they pushed us out of our predicament.  “We waited because we knew you wouldn’t make it,” we were told.

Nursing my bruised ego and a broken spring on the Rover we returned to our campground (Alice Springs).

Ayers Rock (remember still 1965)

With a new rear spring flown up from Adelaide, which had been fitted, it was onto Ayers Rock. The campground was at the base of the rock.  Only 2 camps, us and 2 blokes from CSIRO studying flies. There were zillions of flies.

We drove the Rover to the base of the rock to where the newly installed safety chains were and climbed the rock.  (see picture of lonely Rover from Rock).  Nothing is the same now.

Climbing Ayres Rock in 1960
The white dot at the bottom of chains is our little Rover

Camping equipment makes life easy

The drive from Ayers Rock back to Melbourne

Heading back towards home over the corrugated roads, the shaking loosened the solder holding the radiator together and we were losing water.  After topping up a few times our water supply was getting low and we had to stop.

A truck driver gave us some new-fangled stuff called Araldite.  We had to wait overnight for it to set but it did the job.

Araldite has been part of my tool kit ever since.

We made it to the bitumen at Port Augusta.

On the return trip to Melbourne and the Rover did not miss a beat.

These days you can make this same trip travelling on good bitumen roads in the comfort of our reliable 4wd’s  towing all the necessities of modern life behind us.

How much stuff do we really need???

Submitted by Bill and Nola

Disclaimer:- This blog represents an account of an actual event and is not offered as a blueprint of how to travel.  Keep Safe and Plan. 

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