The right gear makes any weather good for camping so the GSA (early) Christmas Camp at Barwon Heads Caravan Park, Victoria was a Singing In The Rain thing for the GoSee team.
There is no doubt that the great strength of our GSA crew is our collective difference which translates into diverse experience in all kinds of camping situations. This was on show at Barwon Heads Caravan Park.
Agnes and Nick with their Condor camper pulled by their reliable Ford Falcon station sedan.
Pam and Alan came with their 21ft Blue Sky caravan hauled by the Holden Colorado diesel and Garth and Lisaarrived with their GSA1 auto diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee with its custom-made Napier Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) tent.
The Condor Camper has an astonishing ability to expand through unfurling additional canvas sections.
The Camper comes from a time when equipment was made to last so Its canvas will stand in the face of gales which would test a windjammer.
And that is what the GSA Christmas Camp got, gales, heavy rain and wild wind squalls which would have sent a clipper ship crew racing to tie in reef knots on their sails. But none of us thought of staying home as we travelled through a bleak outlook towards beautiful Barwon Heads.
The 21ft Blue Sky caravan is fitted out like an apartment and the Jeep Grand Cherokeehas an SUV tent which fits like a sock.
Our camping clothes and equipment are well tried and with good gear all but the wildest extremes can be managed.
GSA Southern Division team Barwon Heads Christmas lunch
None-the-less Victoria's soggy, sulky Spring into Summer threw in a mighty blast which tore the awning on the Blue Sky caravan. This happened despite additional poles, guys and tent pegs holding down the awning.
We were away at the nearby Barwon Heads Hotel celebrating Pam's birthday when the blast struck, but as is common among campers friendly neighbours furled the awning before too much damage was done.
Christmas Camp celebrations continued and later we settled down for the night warm and dry as the gale driven rain squalls marched through across a wildy beautiful seascape on route to Lonsdale Light and Port Phillip Heads..
The CondorCamper and the Jeep SUV tent were double pegged and sprung to ease through the gusts. The SUV tent has a 'bathtub' floor which seals out water. It is pitched on a big section of shade cloth which is laid down first on any campsite we use.
To be sure to be sure we added our redundantsun reflective tarp to the floor inside the tent and carried the twin restraining straps along the Jeep's roof to be clipped to the underside of the bonnet which was then closed, locking them in place.
The sock which links the Jeep to the tent clips to the rear wheel spokes and a skirt which stops drafts dead clips to thoughtfully placed receiver points in the Jeep's load space floor.
The four tent guys were double pegged with the pegs across each other at an angle of about 30 degs.
Barwon Heads is a real camping park and the well protected, value $33 a double a night powered campsite was based on solid soil which gives round tent pegs something to hold in. We carry flat, broad pegs for pegging in sand.
Nick the Knife and Mad Morrison murder GSA Christmas Camp bbq
The campsite soil composition also drained well which was essential in the circumstances. But the Napier SUV tent has a trap for new campers.
The rainfly must go over the tent and be attached from the clearly labelled Vehicle Side first. Hooks clip into dedicated receiver rings. It is essential that the fly cap be clipped equally to the fibreglass tent poles which bow across each other to lift and hold the tent erect.
If this is not done correctly the edges of the fly will not cap the top of the tent completely and a wet experience will follow in heavy rain. With the tent floor double pegged down the SUV tent can still give to wind gusts through it flexible fibreglass tent poles which helps it handle really heavy going.
The SUV tent has Hurricane venting via the fly cap which means there is little or no condensation even when the tents windows and doors are zipped shut for warmth in wet windy weather.
But even the best equipment does better with thoughtful placement of the campsite.
On arrival the GSA group experience double checked the prevailing wind direction and placed the Jeep and SUV tent on grass in the most sheltered corner of the big campsite, with the Jeep facing as far as possible into the wind with the tent behind it .
The SUV tent has two access options. The placement of the fly, which extends into an awning secured by two poles, is determined by which entrance is chosen. In this case we placed the fly and awning to use the sheltered rear entrance.
This meant that the wind and rain blew along the Jeep and over the tent with the tent entrance in the shelter of the awning which was tied-off to a nearby strong fence rail which was sheltered by scrub and low, thick tea trees.
This became the kitchen area with enough protection from the wind to allow operation of the twin burner Coleman gas stove and Cobb Supreme cooker. We used our DreamPot thermal cooker too under the kitchen card table. We always arrive at a campsite with a hot meal already going in the DreamPot.
The double Coleman airbed in the Jeep's load space supports a double sleeping bag, pillows and an electrically heated throw-over blanket. We also use a hotwater bottle in a wool cover Lisa created and dress for bed in wool caps and socks in cold weather.
There is also a small fan heater which is used to take the chill off the air until body heat takes over. The overall result is comfort.
Sinful Santa and Mary Christmas Weber BabyQ vegetables
The GSA Christmas Camp included a festive meal with all the trimmings in the excellent nearbycamp kitchen and sheltered barbecue area.
Barwon Heads is a well presented caravan park.
At no extra cost the clean fully enclosed camp kitchen includes cutlery, stove and oven, fridge, microwave, sink with dishwashing liquid and cleaning equipment. There are two tables which cater for six people each. It is adjoined by a sheltered twin-plate barbecue area with its own sink.
Although small the shower and toilet block we usedis well maintained. The showers use a five minute press button system. The shower water is generously hot.
There is a five minute delay between showers. There are disabled toilet facilities and unlimited hotwater available. Barwon Heads Caravan Park is a value experience in a beautiful location which GSA will repeat.
Nick's GSA Christmas Camp barbecue selection Barwon Heads Caravan Park
Alan and Pam
Alan does big things with the capable Weber BabyQ
GSA Condor Camper Barwon Heads Caravan Park
GSA Blue Sky with Holden Colorado
Electric throw-over rug ultimate camp comfort
Tent zipped up for warmth and Cobb Supreme roast cooking
GSA crew with Condor camper Barwon Heads GoSee sthn Div Nov 2013 068