14 Aug 2017
Australian country music star Beccy Cole has been camping for as long as she can remember. She gets her creative inspiration from (down)time on the road.
I feel most at home in… Adelaide. It took 20 years living somewhere else to truly realise where I belong.
My earliest childhood holiday memory is… Port Elliot in South Australia. We’d go on holiday in a caravan every year. We didn’t own a van, we borrowed one.
When we travelled we… all packed into a car. Me, my brother, my mum and dad. We’d meet up with another family and it was so much fun. Holidays like that provide you with so many memories.
Most of my life is travelling between gigs so I try not to go too far from home when I get downtime. We’ve had a couple of holidays to places like New York, but recently I’ve really wanted to get back to basics, so we go on camping holidays.
On my travel bucket list you’ll find… visits to Ireland and Scotland.
I love… the whole campfire vibe. I love getting back to basics and that’s where I feel more creative and inspired. Whenever I have a break, I take off and often just head off without really knowing where I’m going. I have lots of favourite camping areas around Australia.
I take… groups of Aussies on our camping and music trips across Australia. I set up a tour business called Aussie Road Crew. Anyone can come along. We take up to 35 vehicles with us, so about 70 people all up. We book into camping grounds and caravan parks that have the facilities we know are perfect for our group. Upcoming locations are South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.
People love it. It’s magical. That wonderful feeling you have going away with people. You can be anonymous. You’re with this amazing group of people. Whether you’ve just had a big break-up or lost somebody… you can start afresh and have a few weeks with these people. Singer/songwriters join us along the way and we’ll sing around the campfire or sometimes have more formal concerts. People love the atmosphere.
On the last one… we went right up to outback Queensland to a place called Eulo out near Cunnamulla. We spent some time at farmstays and campsites. Having a holiday in New York is fantastic but it’s nothing like looking up at an outback sky.
Glamping or swag? I don’t mind either and I’ve done both. It was recently my partner Libby O’Donovan’s first camping experience and she loved it. When we came back, the car was covered in red dirt. Until recently, Libby’s idea of roughing it was slow room service but now she’s right into it. We have camp ovens, the whole setup. We took a Jayco motorhome but I’m also very happy to throw a swag out. Like John Williamson says, it’s a “chandelier of stars” up there.
We don’t own a caravan. We have a Toyota Prado and our big Aussie Road Trailer full of things we need. We drive that and another staff member drives the motorhome. People follow us with all sorts of vehicles. There’s no discrimination. Some people have never camped before and hire a vehicle to come along. We take all the gear and people can help themselves if they want to try some camp cooking.
My favourite thing to do at night is… buy camping gear online.
I love cooking for the masses. I make breakfast for everyone in the morning. It’s so much fun – lots of like-minded people who love to show off their camping rigs, whether it’s retro vans, basic vans or mansions on wheels. The days are spent going through other people’s set-ups.
My favourite camping recipe is… a cob loaf I think I’ve just perfected. It’s a cross between a damper and a cob loaf. I recently became gluten intolerant so I can’t even eat it, but I love making it. It smells amazing. It looks a lot more impressive than it is, it’s so easy to make.
My favourite piece of kit is… anything to do with camp oven cooking. I do it at home, too. Everyone in our house laughs at me because I get a little fire going outside at home or get the coals out of our open fire and see if I can heat up the camp oven and do a veggie dish.
My tip for a successful camping trip is… Expect the unexpected. Nothing ever really goes to plan and you’ve just got to relax. Leave the hustle, bustle and lists behind. You have to be organised and have all your equipment but sometimes things don’t work out. It might rain and you’ll have mud everywhere but you just have to go with it. Part of the magic of camping is going with the flow. It adds to the experience.
My favourite camping spot is… local. I’m a South Australian girl and the Fleurieu Peninsula is my favourite place to be – whether it’s camping or otherwise. I write most of my music down near Aldinga Beach. I feel like I belong there. There’s beautiful wine there, too.
I never leave without… a decent doona. I’m more of a quilt off the bed girl than a sleeping bag girl.
The first car I owned was… a car I drove in from Sydney to Adelaide when I was 18. A Datsun 120Y. These days I drive a Prado. We just bought it for more of these camping trips.
When we drive… we listen to audio books. The best one lately was Magda Szubanski’s autobiography Reckoning. In the audio version, she reads it and her accents are amazing. Her mum is Scottish and her father was Polish.
I thoroughly recommend listening to her read it to you rather than reading it yourself. Either way, it’s amazing what her family went through.
My new album The Great Country Songbook Vol. II (recorded with Adam Harvey)… is good for road trips. The retro country music songs spark memories because they’re old songs re-done. I like to think people put a CD in and play it from the first song to the last. That’s the way the CD has been designed.
I experienced the biggest culture shock in… the Middle East when I went there to entertain troops for the first time in 2005.
I was in Baghdad and there was a pretty serious war at the time, so I got to see a lot of the devastation. We were basically camping on that trip as well. We stayed in military tents. One night you’d be in a tent feeling like you were in M*A*S*H and the next you were in old palaces with all the gaudy fake gold everywhere. It was shocking to see the devastation that happened during the dictatorship at that time.
I wouldn’t go back to… Egypt right now because of the political situation and danger there, but I’d love to go back another time and hope it will one day be safe enough. The pyramids are an amazing thing to experience.
What’s at the top of my playlist? I’m loving the new Busby Marou album [Postcards From The Shell House]. I think they’re fantastic.
The television series I can’t get enough of is… The new season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. We also love Transparent. That’s the last one we binged on.
Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey’s The Great Country Songbook Vol. II tour continues nationally until 23 September. Beccy also performs at Trundle Bush Tucker Day
(2 Sept) in Trundle NSW. www.beccycole.com
WATCH the beautiful Beccy Cole perform with Adam Harvey
This interview was published in G’DAY Magazine.