Is it going to be a traditional or a dome and if it is to be a swag – which one is right for you? These are the questions Jason Mchugh endeavors to answer at campingswag.com. The Australian outdoor gear website is growing into the most complete resource for camping swags online. In addition to having all the various models that one can imagine, it covers tutorials and swag reviews as well. Prior to meeting Jason via a comment on TracksAndTrails.ca, I had never heard of a Swag. For those of you who may be wondering, a swag is pretty much the same as what we in North America would call a bivvy or bivouac, a small lightweight waterproof shelter.
Jason Mchugh grew up in Victoria County in Australia and is the outdoorsman who knows a little about swags. He has hiked and camped and bushwacked since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Enjoy the interview as he guides you from Gold mines and bush walks to Goannas!
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t go camping. As I grew up our family would pack up the 4WD and go camping at every opportunity. Each Christmas we would head to Wrens flat or Sheep yard flat in the Victorian High country of Australia for two weeks. When Easter came around we would spend a week in the beautiful Buckland Valley in Victoria’s Alpine region behind Bright.
So I guess you could say I was introduced to camping by my parents when I was a wiper snapper!
What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
This question is a no brainer to me, the Victorian high county, which provides spectacular scenery of magnificent bushland. A play ground for all lovers of the great outdoors weather you enjoy bush walking, motor bike riding, four wheel driving or riding a horse through mountains on the endless trails. I have been privileged to explore many other parts of Australia, which are truly magnificent, although I keep coming back to the high country.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
Every year on a long four day week end in June myself and a group of about 18 friends and work colleges, head away on our annual boys week end. A four wheel drive trek through the bush, starting at Buckland Valley heading over the range and down though the Wonnangatta valley which was once an old cattle station and a great place to explore with many historical points of interest. We then head off again over the next range to make camp setting our swags up by the creek at a place named Talbotville. This was once an old gold mining town with some great treasures to find on the many bush walks. These bush walks are a running Joke each year on our trip, because some of the people that come on this trip have only ever walked to the fridge. But each year my brother forces them all to explore another walking track in mountainous terrain this nearly kills half of our walking party and takes twice as long as an average walker. Once we reach our destination we are rewarded with the sight of an old gold mine that has not been used since the steam engine days, everything is still there the trolleys on the rail tracks in the tunnels, old stampers and old steam engines.
After Talbotville it’s off to the Dargo pub an old country pub that serves a great pub meal. After Dargo we follow our tracks back home all smelly and in need of a shower which is where my wife sends me as soon as I walk through the door.
Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
It has been a long time since I have had experience with emergencies’ in the bush. The last time was over twenty five years ago when my brother was riding his motor bike and had a head on collision with another bike rider that came around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road. Both riders were in need of medical help and we were nearly two hours drive through bush tracks from a hospital. We lay them in the back of a Ute with their motor bikes and raced them off to hospital. Luckily my brother injuries weren’t that serious just cuts and burses and a broken hand. To be honest there wasn’t much we could learn from this as we did everything that we were supposed to do as we had been taught from a young age. On the other hand the other rider was under the influence and all over the road, he not wearing the protective clothing my brother was.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
The funniest encounter I have witnessed with an animal was a while ago when I was in Kakadu at the top end of Australia. We had camped at the Holiday Park and it was as hot as buggery. I had woken up early and was walking to the rubbish bin to throw out my rubbish when I nearly stood on a 4 foot long goanna which turned and hissed at me and frighten the #### out of me. Goannas aren’t dangerous but can be scary. After this encounter I sat in my chair and watched it wonder around scavenging for food and exploring other camps. There were a couple of blokes that were sleeping in swags just across from me and because it was so hot they had the top of the swag pulled back, there swags weren’t equipped with fly mesh. Well the goanna saw this sleeping head sticking out of the swag and thought he would investigate. Well he licked the man’s head which caused him to wake up! I have never seen anyone wake so quickly or jump so high in my life. I think hearing me laugh didn’t help him feel any better.
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