Barry ‘Baz’ Du Bois co-hosts The Living Room with Amanda Keller, Miguel Maestre and Dr Chris Brown, on Channel Ten.
Where did you go for camping holidays when you were young?
Dad, Mum, my brother, sister and I used to camp in a tent for the entire school holidays at a little beach on the south coast of NSW near Kiama. All of our cousins would be there. This time was amazing to me – fishing, swimming and exploring – we did it all. It was a place where you were safe but still it was an adventure.
My dad was a hard worker but loved to spend as much time together as a family as possible. I remember one year during the 1970s driving down the coast in our brand new station wagon. We were slowing down as we went through Kiama and we could see our reflection in the shop windows, the roof racks where loaded right up. While stopped at a crossing, a kid in the street said to his Dad, “look at that car Dad, they are the luckiest people in the world”. He was right, it’s a day that I will never forget.
Later in life, the family started to water ski and we got a little cabin at Burrunjuck dam near Yass which is where my dad was brought up.
What has been your favourite place to camp and why?
My 13 year old Nephew does not have his Dad in his life and we spend a lot of time together. When I started on TV I bought a Toyota Land Cruiser and set it up for camping with a fold out tent and all our camping gear. We had it for two years and travelled to many great spots, leaving it at airports and mechanic shops when I had to fly back for filming.
One of my favourite times was again on the south coast of NSW at a place called Mimosa Rocks. We stayed right on the water for a week and lived off what we caught. It was a great adventure.
I also have a big BMW GS 1200 motor bike which is what they ride the Paris to Dakar on and we have all the camping gear on that as well. We will often spend two nights camping and on the third, we check into a B&B or hotel for a clean up.
Recently I had a recent fantastic ride through the Snowy Mountains via Thredbo and into Victoria – it’s an amazing landscape in Autumn especially.
Tell us about some of your favourite camping memories.
In 1983 (I think), after an extended water skiing holiday, my brother and I still had a few bucks left and we decided to hitch a ride down to Melbourne from Sydney and then jumped on the ship to Tassie.
The two of us and a mate headed down the east coast camping every night, mostly for free. Sometimes you would pay a dollar a night which would include showers and a fire pit.
As it happened, Tassie was in the world spotlight because of the Gordon below Franklin Dam site controversy. There was a huge protest and people had come from all over the world. I wasn’t overly politically minded at the time but there were a lot of girls protesting so we joined the team. Our protest (and relationships!) were short lived but our time in Tassie lasted another two months. We hitched a ride with a couple about our age who were meeting friends in the beautiful fishing village of Bicheno. We skin dived for lobster Abalone and fresh fish – I reckon I put on a couple of kilos that week! The camp site was $2.00 per week including showers and amenities. The sky was clear and beautiful , the ocean was plentiful and the locals extremely friendly.
Any not so favourite camping memories or experiences?
Not many but on the same trip to Tassie we were camped under a tree and we arrived too late to set up the tent.
The mozzies where so bad they nearly carried us away, the sound of them buzzing was terrible. I was completely covered by my sleeping bag trying to protect myself, but they were still getting us. And it was freezing.
Then my brother kept telling me to put my head out of my bag because he thought he could hear someone. We were a long way from anywhere so it was a little freaky. Suddenly, out of the blue, a possum fell out of the tree above and landed on me. It screamed, I screamed and that was that for me. We hiked three hours till we found a town and sunrise. My sleeping bag needed a wash after that!
Do you have any camping tips? Must do’s and don’ts?
My main tips are to make sure you get out there, and only take what you need. There is nothing more frustrating than unpacking all the unnecessary expensive stuff to find the simple practical thing you need.
What’s on your camping location wish list?
Camping is on hold for a year or so with my two bubs only 12 months old (Barry has twins). I am dreaming about camping under the stars with the kids out in the desert. I retired in 2006 and spent a lot of time on a yacht in the Mediterranean. I sailed down to North Africa from Sicily to meet a mate and we spent a couple of weeks in the Sahara. I have not seen a lot of Australia’s deserts but I imagine from my experience in Africa they must be amazing. After living on the coast for a long time, I want to make sure we see some of our deserts.