“The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain” Bob Cooper
Hopefully I never find myself in a survival situation. Any form of outdoor adventure can carry some form of danger or potential for things to go wrong. Being prepared could be the difference between life or death and anything you know no matter how small could be that difference.
A lot of my adventures in Australia see me exploring alone. I always carry a First Aid Kit, a separate Snake Bite Kit and a PLB (personal locator beacon). When I was researching information on survival situations most of what I found was based over seas mainly in America. That led me to Bob Coopers book titled Outback Survival. Bob Cooper is one of Australia’s leading survival experts, he has written an excellent book which covers; survival kits, finding water and shelter, bush tucker, snakes and spiders, dealing with fear and more.
Part 1: My Story is the beginning of the book and has some great stories on Bob’s experiences with survival situations and SAS training and I found it a very interesting read. Bob is definitely a very talented man and has some great experience in the outback. Part2: Outback survival goes on to cover all the different areas of survival including; Control, The Big 5, Dehydration, Finding water, Fire, Shelter, Distress Signals, Navigation, Snake bites and stings and much more.
Outback Survival by Bob Cooper contains a lot of hugely valuable information all relevant to Australia and I think anybody venturing into the wilderness should have some knowledge of survival situations and what to do in the event of. I highly recommend this book for all persons that venture outdoors as a refresher or as new knowledge as I feel it is invaluable to be prepared for any situation that may arise. Outback Survival is well written and easy to read, Bob Cooper has done an amazing job.
Having recently purchased a pair of what some might call “proper” waders I was eager to get out for a fish and try them out. Over the last few years I have owned a few pairs of gumboot style waders. These were mostly used to fish surf beaches in winter which considering you don’t need to walk long distances and you are normally on sand they were great to keep you warm and dry. After moving to Victoria and fishing more in fresh water streams for trout I soon found that these waders although well priced were not the best option to walk long distances in stony creeks and can in some circumstances be quite dangerous.
After visiting the guys at Gavin Hurley’s Fly Fishing World I came away with a pair of Stalker backcountry waist waders and Simms Freestone boots. This is a great entry-level setup coming in at around $490 (the freestone boots were on sale!). Although still considerably more than gumboot waders they are a lot more affordable than some other brands and material technology has improved over the years, which has brought prices down. I will review both these products once they have had more time on the water.
Leaving home at 7:30am KB and myself headed north to our destination of Big River State forest, 30km east of Marysville. Parking the Ute, gear ready, waders on, we were in the river by 10am. The river (a small tributary of the Big River) was looking great, with a steady flow and super clear water confidence levels were increasing. Within wading just 30 metres the cost of my new waders had left my mind, they were extremely comfortable. The old saying of why hadn’t I done this earlier rang true in my mind.
Fishing turn about for a couple of riffles we were yet to see a fish. Approaching our first decent pool it was decided KB would have first cast. KB cast to the other side against the bank and half way through the retrieve a small brown trout could not resist the Strike Tiger 1” froglet he had on offer and engulfed it. After a small fight we had it on the bank, a photo and a quick release and we were keen to get lines back in the water. If you have not seen the Strike Tiger range of soft plastics I would highly recommend heading to there website/online store and check them out! I hate to admit it but after KB’s success I basically cast into the same spot as he did, the only difference was I had on a Strike Tiger 1” Nymph in copper berry. Again half way through the retrieve BANG! I was on, this time a small rainbow that leapt and danced all over the place it put on quite the show. The fish was quickly released and took off back to the cover of the depth. After all that commotion unsurprisingly the pool went quiet so we moved on.
Continuing upstream for another 1km I was rewarded with another rainbow and although there were no more landed fish we had a lot of follows and spooked a few fish so overall the river was looking really healthy. I was extremely impressed with my new waders and boots and how they felt in the water. Even after wearing them for a few hours they were still really comfortable, I can’t wait to get back out and chase some more trout. A great couple of hours fishing in a beautiful small stream in Victoria.
Six or so years ago if someone had told me they were going to sleep in a SWAG I would have replied with a confused, blank look upon my face. I was first introduced to the legendary Australian swag when I joined a land based fishing club in Perth Western Australia and wanted one instantly. The convenience of rolling up your shelter with a mattress and sleeping bag all ready to go was genius. OK so the swags we use today have evolved and changed from the original swags but the concept is still the same (a canvas sleeping compartment sometimes insect-proof, with foam mattress, and is a durable fast erecting shelter). These days swags are used primarily for car/4WD camping due to their size and weight.
Both sides roll up, great for those warm clear sky nights
So I was in the market for swag. After doing a lot of research I stumbled across Southern Cross Canvas Products an Australian Company based in Victoria. It was not the cheapest swag available but after seeing one in the flesh the quality was out standing. I chose a double dome swag, which has ample room when I am travelling solo but also there is plenty of room for when my girlfriend decides to join me. I am 6’1” and find the length fine.
There is a window at each end, I just about always have these open to reduce condensation buildup.
I have spent hundreds of nights beneath the stars in this swag in varying types of weather and have never had a drama. Most often I will set it up under my awning so that in the morning there is minimal dew on the outer canvas and I can roll it up without having to worry. The base is heavy-duty vinyl, extremely waterproof and durable, and the canvas is great quality and mine is showing barely any wear apart from a little fading as to be expected. The two end hoops are aluminium with the top spreader bar galvanised steel. It is very quick to setup, strong and simple. After completing multiple extended trips up to 6 weeks long from the Kimberley to the Victorian High Country I have always had a comfortable rested night’s sleep and never once was I sick of sleeping in the swag!
Victorian High Country
Six years on my swag is still in perfect condition and have no doubt it will be going strong for many years to come. Overall I am extremely happy with this swag and would not hesitate to buy it again. Sure there are a lot of cheaper swags out there but the Australian outback can be harsh on gear and I would rather have something locally made, strong and reliable that I can count on when out in the bush.