My girlfreind was the one that got me back into it.
Neither of us a "clean freaks" but both of us like to have the campsite tidy and to have all utensils and plates etc clean (ive been to a jamborre i know how quickly sickness spreads in a campsite - especially when theres over 10,000 campers...) Its not that hard to keep your campsite tidy (infact from a safety point of view its a good idea - prevents more night time trips in the dark and you always know where all your gear is) also environmentally its good to try keep your camp site neat and tidy to stop the wild life getting into all your food stuffs filled with preservitives etc.
But yeah I cant believe that your winging about your missus wanting to go camping! hell i was over the moon when mine suggested camping!
our entire outfit consists of:
tent, tarp, esky, stove, 2 x 2.5 kg gas bottles, 2 x gas lanterns, gas extension pole with 2 outlets, 2 sleeping bags and a good double foam matteress.
add onto that a couple of fold away chairs that every one has and a card table (or fold away table) and some cheap plastic plates and old knifes and forks etc
Its nothing fancy and comes to a total price of less than $1000 (actually less than $850 - and we could get away with a setup that costs less than $600, we used to and we've just added a couple of things like the extra gas bottle and lantern and pole although having the gas pole i wouldnt live with out one again - best $20 from k-mart ive ever spent!)
Best bit about it We've been camping places where there are other people camping who have spent MEGA $ on all their gear and had them come over and talk to us about our site/setup. It looks good, it works great, its neat and tidy and very functional.
quite simply we can accomodate upto another 4 people if they simply bring with them a tent and and sleeping bags etc.
The biggest problem i think people have with camping is they either go all out and spend too much money on their first trip away and get all the bells and whistles they dont know how to properly set up and use all this equiptment so they think they wasted all their money. or else you get the tight arses who buy a kmart tent and sleeping bag and think they can go camping with that - they get rained out and have a misserable time and again never go camping again.
IMO basics for a short term trip (upto 1 week within an hour or so of supplies):
Tent (good camping store get a 4 man dome tent with a covered verhanda for around $200 thats good for 2 people 3 if you really wanted to - grab some decent pegs though!) best tents are canvas but they are also more expencive
Tarp (kmart - jackaroo tarp set up with poles about $60 but grab some decent pegs)
Gas bottle - 2.5 kg should be good for about 4 days 4kg would easily do a week about $25 for a 2.5 unfilled from k-mart on special and about $10 - $15 to have it filled
Gas pole - $20 kmart (upto $40 from camping stores - this is where you have to watch prices)
Chairs - you can pick up fold up camping chars for around $15 each from bunnings or a camping store - i have seen them on sale at times for as little as $25 for a pair - watch quality though!
Table - $20 for either a small camping table or card table camping tables are better i find than a card table
Stove - $80 simple two burner from camping stores, bunnings, aussie disposals, kmart etc
Stove stand - get one cant remember how much they are worth off the top of my head - not a great deal - but they make a Dagnabbit's load of difference!
Matches - get wind proof/water proof ones - they are more $ but worth it
Fire lighters - again they are just one of those things that arent nessisary but make lighting a fire a hell of a lot easier
stove lighter - you can use the matches but a stove lighter is fairly cheap and does a good job - safety point of view dont use a cigarette lighter they explode when around temperatures as low as 40 degress and near a camp stove they can explode really easily! (trust me ive seen it more than once)
bedding - clark rubber is your freind. get some of those high density foam mats to isolate your bed from teh ground then get a foam matteress that suits you. you might find that a couple of vairied density foam matteresses are better than one constant density. our bed is made up of a high density foam isolation mat then a softer foam matteress then a thin fairly firm matteress we also put a plastic sheet (painters drop cloth couple of bucks from Bunnings or paint spot) between the high density foam and the bottom matteress to stop the bottom of the bed getting moisture rising into it.
As for sleeping bags i cant really make any recommendations as I've never bought a sleeping bag - ive always had them given as birthday / christmas presents. I would advise spending a few quid on a decent one and if its you and a partner then definately get 2 identical ana make sure they can be zipped together to make a double (I have a freind who zips 3 together) the other option is a couple of doonas.
If im camping by my self i preffer a lighter sleeping bag and a space blanket.
Suit cases are good if you have the room - they pack better and theres always easily accessable places to store things like tooth brush and soap etc. duffel bags are the next best option and packs suck great for hiking not so good if your doing a base camp.
Bring in water but not in 1 litre bottles get a big 5 of 10 litre container
if your only going short term you can drain a bit of the water and freeze them and stick them in the esky - they work like a huge ice pack to keep your food cold plus you always have cold water - only problem is if its really cold sometimes you cant get the water out
Esky - well if you dont have an esky then its about time you got one! no idea how much they are worth mine i got from a raffle in the fishing club (full of booze too!)
I think thats the basics the way to go up in the world then is to bring a few nice beers a couple of nice bottles of red, some nice food and some nibblies to make up a cheese or fruit platter then just relax.
Remember that camping is about relaxing, socialising, getting out and seeing this great country of ours and having fun. Early nights are by no means a bad thing quite often when camping i'll be in bed by 10pm when I'm normally not even thinking about bed untill 1am I'll be up about 8am (im normally up about 7am) i feel relaxed and we will cook up a breakfast or cut up some fruit for breakfast then we head out to check out whats around us - wether thats a lake or the beach or the bushland or a town even. we check it out head back for some lunch then we might go for a drive go to a winery or go explore the area some more head back to camp and cook up a feast and then get into the wine...