All day I dream about the wonder of a sunburnt country. An array of unique fauna, picturesque coastal scenes and the quintessential charm of country hospitality. My mind wanders down a forgotten path as it surveys the beauty of the inland plains. I rest a moment. The awe of a Nullarbor sunset washes over me, as I tilt my head toward its might. ‘One more moment’, I whisper softly, just ‘One more …’. The sudden tweet of a mechanical ring propels me into the present. I reach for my mobile phone; nestled between the Kindle and iPad. ‘Having a #blast! Today I’m camping in #Kuranda. Check out the #rainforest in Cairns! @cairnsskyrail’. As I slowly succumb to reality, it’s a reminder that a virtual community of campers are capturing their moments, uploading their experiences and sharing their thoughts of a timeless Australia – with all who follow. With the rapid ascension of social media and the increasing role of technology in our lives, we are now, but a scroll away from our next camping adventure.
As part of the GIFT (Google, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) generation embarking on a digital movement, it is apparent that the camping industry is being affected by the popularity of social channels. Yet, it still feels unnatural to use technology and camping in the same sentence; an oxymoron if you will. This is because the sense of adventure has come from experiencing Australia first-hand in its natural state - not by participation as an onlooker to the lives of others via these social media platforms.
So how is social media changing the camping landscape?
Google has removed barriers in finding reliable information at our fingertips. Need to hire a campervan or search for park accommodation? Type this into Google and you’ll return searches for hundreds of suppliers. Need a comparative source? Thanks to companies like Park My Van (parkmyvan.com.au), there’s now a convenient way to choose which van to hire (35+ suppliers) and where to park (5,500+ verified listings powered by Camps Australia Wide). This provides campers with a ‘one stop online shop’ to help take care of their vanning needs. What about if you are thinking about buying a van? Then chances are you will come across the Let’s Go or the Caravan Camping Sales websites.
If you’re after camping communities, Facebook enables online groups to freely exchange ideas and experiences on the great outdoors. Head to Everything Caravan and Camping which hosts a mammoth 60,000 members. This unlocks a virtual world to interact with like-minded campers, seek assistance on campervan issues and find out about recommended campsites across Australia.
If photos lend themselves to imaginative tales, then Instagram has allowed access to the splendour of our coastal towns and valour of our inlands in a single shot. Search for Aussie Camping and Adventures (#ozcampingandadventures) and view a pictorial escape that will make you feel like you’re right in the action. Instagram is today’s photo album of yesteryear, inspiring a new generation to seek the wonder of the outback and share every moment of the journey. Feel free to leave comments or like posts to interact with other camper-grammers.
For many city slickers, the common bird they hear is the ‘tweet tweet’ of a new Twitter post capturing headlines in under 140 characters. Apart from being used to share news across the country, Twitter’s best feature is that it enables a camper to search the latest information on a particular topic. This includes various insights on destinations, campsites, traffic conditions and even severe weather warnings (to name a few). Additionally, Twitter affords an avenue for a camper to ‘tweet’ on the latest apps they use to help others navigate their adventures. One such app, easily downloadable on iPhone and Android is Australian Road Trips. This provides campers (solo or families) with over 350 itineraries to drive across country.
Confined within the concrete jungle of reality, social media has created a community of virtual campers able to partake in the adVANnture before even setting ‘sites’ on the open road. By exchanging moments and sharing thoughts, the GIFT generation is redefining how we experience camping for all ages. As I make my way home through the bustle of the city centre, I smile as I wait for my newsfeed to refresh. Under the blaze of a fiery night sky, a campervan lies idle. No soul in sight as the heavens glow brightly with each passing moment. I let my mind drift as it dreams about the wonder of sunburnt country.