BOOK REVIEW: Camping Guide to the Northern Territory

Camping guide to the Northern Territory

I am in the process of planning my “Dreaming Tour”, a ride on my deadly treadly from Darwin to Perth. As part of the planning I have been seeking out resources which may help me with identifying camping options and more importantly water sources. For the Northern Territory leg of the ride I have checked out and made some use of Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage’s title, Camping Guide to the Northern Territory 3rd edition published in 2010 by Boiling Billy Publications.I think in fairness to the authors it is important to put my comments in perspective. I am writing this brief review and making my comments from the perspective of a touring cyclist. I feel that this guide is more suited to the motorised tourist, who would probably find it of value; I know I would if I was on a driving camping based trip.

But I am cycling and not driving so I found the guide of very limited value. The only useful part from my perspective is the four pages on road side rest areas which indicate which rest areas have emergency water supplies.

The description of the camping areas are only of limited value in that they provide indicators of possible water sources. To me the idea of sharing campsites with lots of camper vans, four wheel drivers and generators is not that appealing, so the information on drive-up camping sites is not that appealing.

Getting back to the book and what it contains. The book is in colour which is nice. It provides a great selection of photos related to the campsites, so you get a good visual idea of what is there. Along with the photos there are 39 different campsite symbols used to provide a quick guide to the campsite, e.g., Camping fees, drinking water, walk-in campsite, hot showers, etc. This is a good feature to allow one to get a quick feel for a campsite.

A brief description on access is also provided along with the number of campsites, suitability for small/large camping vehicles and if you need to bring drinking water and/or firewood. Interesting known swimming holes for example, if water is not on tap, are marked as bring drinking water. I guess the thought of accessing the water hole is not an appealing one.

Finally GPS coordinates are given along with a grid reference for the maps included in the guide. I found the map references to pointless as the maps included do not unless it is a major National Park “insert” do not actually show the campsites. This means the maps are really simply small maps given an overview; they are in my view a pretty useless part of the book. If they showed the campsite locations then they would have some value.

So would I buy this guide (the copy used for this review was from the library)? I got it from the library to get an idea as to whether it was worth buying and no I will not be buying it. As I noted early on the only really useful parts for me where the four pages listing the rest areas, so just not worth the dollars for those four pages.

That said from what I have seen of the various camping guides this is one of the better ones, so if I was in the market for this type of guide I would buy it. It is a nice A5 size and it focuses just on the Northern Territory so the level of detail is much better than the Australia wide style of guides. From what I have seen it does seem to have a comprehensive coverage. Of course I have not tested the information on the ground so no claims to accuracy or otherwise made.

To give you a taste of the guide, I have scanned a few pages. You can access them here. My apologies for the scan quality, but if you do find the style of the guide works for you please consider getting a copy. It can be purchased online from Boiling Billy Publications and good bookstores I am sure (are there any left?).

I am also hoping to get a loan copy of the Camping guide to Western Australian also published by Boiling Billy. Maybe that will be worth the investment.

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