So you’re driving along in the middle of nowhere and you really need to go to the toilet. There’s a couple of cars around, a handful of people and a few decent sized bushes. What do you do?
I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me they refuse to go camping due to the lack of a ‘nice’ toilet. Before my first Simpson Desert trip, my biggest worry wasn’t dying a horrible death from breaking down in the middle of nowhere or being eaten by a pack of wild dingoes. It was where on earth to go for a pee in the middle of an empty desert when you’re travelling with a large group of males. My close friend (who’d never been camping) suggested taking an appropriately sized towel to drape across my legs to preserve my dignity. That seemed fraught with danger and worried me more.
To my relief I discovered that there’s a lot more foliage to hide behind in a desert than you’d think. Toilet stops became less of a worry and surprisingly liberating.
So how exactly do you go to the toilet (dunny) in a World Heritage Area or a National Park or anywhere else for that matter?
Outback toilets come in all shapes and sizes from composting drop toilets to squats behind a humble bush. There’s definitely an art to peeing remotely. Ensure there’s enough privacy from all around and then look at what you’re pee-ing on: hard rock or compacted sand will likely provide splash back onto your legs. Peeing downhill is the best plan so the trickle doesn’t end up on your shoes. Hike up any long trouser legs, and squat as low as you can like you’re sitting in a chair. Peeing in the dark with a torch may seem less scary but it means everyone nearby can probably see very clearly what you’re up to. And.. .check for wildlife, the last thing you want is a sneaky ant (or a snake) biting you on the bum mid-pee.
Number twos bring an element of complication. A hole needs to be dug (shovel is best), location (far enough away from people, water and creeks) and depth considered. ‘Kimberley confetti’ is the name for toilet roll left disgustingly strewn around the bush. It’s one of my pet hates. Bag it up (doggie poo bags ar good for this – useful for tampons too) and take it with you or burn it. Don’t leave it for the next visitor. If the hole digging isn’t your thing I’ve even witnessed help being enlisted for this task, with said hole digger standing sentry to do the hole-filling as well ( a well trained travelling companion!).
If you need help with your toileting activites there are an array of accessories to ensure you’re always ready. The She-wee device allows women to pee standing up. Be warned, these handy contraptions do need some practice (in the shower is best), so you don’t end up peeing down your trouser leg instead. Or there’s the Bumper-Dumper….the picture best describes this unique contraption….
Travellers tend to under estimate the impact of our human waste on the bush especially as more and more people take to the tracks. Make a plan before you leave on how you’ll clean up after yourself. When you find yourself perched on a little hill doing your business looking out at a wonderful view, you might wonder why we ever invented ceramic toilets at all.
Have you got some toilet tips to share?