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The perfect haven – closer than you could imagine!

03 October 2022


Tucked away in the Royal National Park, Sydney lies a little campsite I find myself returning to time after time. It’s become a staple for my quick getaways from the city due to its easy accessibility but strong sense of isolation once you’ve arrived. It was a place of solitude and rest during the moody winter months and a playground for surfing and spearfishing in Australian summer time. I visited the site so regularly I came to boast I could finish work on a Friday afternoon, have my board and camera gear ready to go and be at my favorite campsite boiling up a bean stew just in time to watch the sun go down.


When I first visited the site in my early teens it taught me the idea of self sufficient camping. The idea you only take what you need as you wear the weight of all your food, water and possessions. It also taught me the idea of not just surviving in the outdoors, but thriving. I’d revisit the site with different pack loads and tent combinations trying to find the balance between spartan, minimalist camping techniques and where luxury and ‘glamping’ starts. I stripped it down evermore attempting to be light and fast but still comfortable. My expeditions to North Era weren’t an exercise in suffering as camping can sometimes be associated with. It was of contentment and joy in the fact I was doing it right. I could shine in an environment most withered in.



Here’s a few tips I’ve discovered from my trials and tribulations.


* Good gear isn’t cheap, cheap gear isn’t good. Unfortunately this is a conundrum which applies to most everyday situations. The gear which has lasted me the longest is the gear I spent the extra dollar on. Don’t scrimp on your shoes, shell and tent. Shoes are your mode of transport, the shell keeps you dry and the tent protects you. The three pillars of camping in my opinion.


* Share the load. If you’re moving as a pair or in a group, split the weight amongst yourselves. One takes the tent poles and pegs and the other takes the rainfly.


* Choose lightweight food sources. Take foods like couscous with lentils and chickpeas or freeze dried meals. Canned food can be a good idea sometimes but the packaging turns to waste and they’re generally heavy in liquid weight.



North Era campground is an hour drive south of Sydney CBD and is accessed only by foot after a quick hour hike from Garie beach parking lot. The short walk along the coast track takes you past small communities of surf shacks built as early as 1910. The shacks were originally built illegally and after a failed attempt by the government to destroy them they were eventually heritage listed after strong opposition. The campground itself is protected on all sides by surrounding hills so campers won’t need to worry about strong coastal winds but they will need to be self sufficient with food and water.


Here is a map of  North Era Campsite.


North Era will forever hold a special place in my heart and after a two year stint in London it became a place I dreamed to return to. It was destination rugged enough to feel off the grid but it felt secure and safe. The perfect haven for a seasoned hiker or a newbie testing the waters.




Written by | Mitch Duncan –
Learn more about Mitch and follow his travels on Instagram  // Tumblr
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