AFTER being housebound in Brisbane for months, Catholic father of six, Carlo Piloto, has used the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across Queensland as a chance to get back in touch with nature and God’s creation.
Despite the winter chill, his young family have discovered the delights of beach camping, venturing north and pitching a tent on Teewah Beach in Cooloola National Park, north of Noosa.
For Mr Piloto, who arrived in Australia from Italy with his wife Lucia in 2012, it’s only the third time he’s taken the family camping, and the first time without power, and needing to take everything with them.
“It is very Australian. To drive for half an hour on the beach, camp on the beach is something you can’t experience in Europe. I feel more like a citizen now,” Mr Piloto, a keen photographer and parishioner at Guardian Angels’ parish, Wynnum said.
“I love it.
“Our kids are very noisy and the fact that you are so remote and you can make all the noise you want and no one can hear it, is very good.”
Camping remotely brings many pleasures.
No internet connection and no electronic devices – only the soothing sound of the rolling surf.
The waters are teaming with life; dolphins, sea birds, manta rays and large schools of fish.
And this time of year there’s the delight of spotting southern humpback whales just a few hundred metres off the beach on their annual 5000 kilometre journey north from the rich feeding grounds of the Antarctic.
It’s estimated up to 40,000 humpback whales are now migrating to breeding grounds in the warmer waters of the Whitsundays, north of Fraser Island.
Mr Piloto said there was so much to do – explore, play soccer, play cards, read a book, and spend time with other families around a campfire.
“What I liked was there were no discussions about the computer. For our children the only options were to go play with the other kids,” he said.
“It is very good to switch off, especially to be isolated from the phone.
“Today even when you are on a plane you are connected.
“But there (beach camping) you are basically completely disconnected from internet, from everything. That helps to live the moment.”
Each day after the sunrise over the ocean, the Piloto’s joined fellow camping friends for morning prayer on the beach.
“Having the ocean in front of you is beautiful,” he said.
“It is always great to start the day praying. To appreciate that this is all God’s creation.”
Mr Piloto said the waves breaking on the shore reminded him of man’s relationship with God, and that many times in the Bible the ocean was a symbol of death.
“When I looked at the ocean and the waves that break, it reminded me of what a Father of the Church said that there is a place that God created for man to live. He has put a limit to death,” he said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarises: “If water springing up from the earth symbolises life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross.
By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ’s death” (CCC 1220).
For Mr Piloto the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time.
His family comes from northern Italy, one of the global hotspots.
He takes solace from the experience of beach camping, finding it instructive both spiritually and practically.
“It gives you the sense that you are not God,” he said.
“Life is precarious. You are not in control.
“When you are not in a house but in a tent you depend a lot more on the weather, the environment.
“So you are constantly looking at the clouds – if you see a storm coming you have to prepare the tent, put stuff inside… you are more dependent on nature. If it rains you can get some water, have a shower.”