It’s camp­ing, but not as you know it

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - ESCAPE - ROSE BREN­NAN

Ihave never re­ally en­joyed camp­ing. Child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences were tainted by try­ing to sleep on a de­flated air

mat­tress in swel­ter­ing heat be­neath a pun­gent can­vas tarp. But now “glamp­ing” – glam­orous camp­ing – re­treats have popped up in sev­eral Queens­land lo­ca­tions and they aim to bal­ance the needs of campers who seek the undi­luted great out­doors and the de­mands of re­luc­tant nat­u­ral­ists like my­self who want three-course meals and mas­sages.

Night­fall Wilder­ness Camp, nes­tled amid 101 sprawl­ing, viri­des­cent pri­vate hectares on the boundary of Lam­ing­ton Na­tional Park, 80km south of Bris­bane, has ex­e­cuted the con­cept beau­ti­fully. The site was opened to guests in March and only one tent was op­er­at­ing at the time of our stay but a sec­ond was near com­ple­tion. Sit­u­ated in com­plete pri­vacy at the top of a hill in the shadow of a cliff, the tent was gen­er­ously sized with a high can­vas roof sewn by Night­fall co-owner Heidi Ross. She and hus­band Steve Ross have lived in their own tent on the property since buy­ing the land four years ago, and they work each day re­gen­er­at­ing the land and re­al­is­ing their vi­sion of a glamp­ing re­treat, com­plete with or­ganic kitchen gar­den. Along with its el­e­vated wooden floor and ro­tat­able fire­place (im­ported from France and in­stalled the day be­fore our stay), our tent’s lux­ury fea­tures in­cluded 600 thread-count sheets, “raw” chocolates and a well-stocked bar fridge with an­tipasto plate and Chan­don sparkling wine. We dined with our hosts in the com­mu­nal area, where Heidi and Steve pre­pared de­li­cious and hearty win­ter fare in a camp oven – beet­root-and-kale pizza, roast lamb with root ve­g­ies, and ap­ple pie to fin­ish.

A hike to the wreck­age of the Stin­son plane, which crashed in 1937, was on the agenda but overnight rain­fall had made the tracks im­pass­able. In­stead we walked the 10km loop to the na­tional park’s en­trance. The road snaked be­tween ver­dant hills, past cows and wal­la­bies that seemed sur­prised to see us, such was the seren­ity.

While our hosts stressed they were still at “guinea pig stage”, ev­ery de­tail of the ac­com­mo­da­tion hit the mark, from the le­mon­grass-scented soap to the hot wa­ter bot­tles in bed as part of the turn-down ser­vice. Af­ter a break­fast of fresh or­ange juice with a yo­ghurt and straw­berry par­fait be­side a fire on the creek bank, we left with a new­found fond­ness for “camp­ing”, and feel­ing as nour­ished and un­wound as Lilly Pilly, Night­fall’s chilled-out res­i­dent wal­laby.

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