Tents? Re­lax…

This camp has all the ho­tel-style com­forts cov­ered

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - LIFE -

Life ex­pe­ri­ence sug­gests there are two types of peo­ple: in­vet­er­ate campers, and oth­ers. Once, on a visit to the red cen­tre, my tent col­lapsed in the mid­dle of a mild dust storm, to gen­eral de­ri­sion. For me and camp­ing, that was a deal-breaker. So the idea of glamp­ing – out­sourc­ing the grunt by stay­ing in a lux­ury tent pitched by some­one else and din­ing at a qual­ity restau­rant – is a pow­er­ful draw.

And so to Paper­bark Camp, hid­den away in 40ha of eu­ca­lypt and paper­bark trees flank­ing Cur­ram­bene Creek, which feeds into Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast. It’s a bike ride (or kayak) from the quaint tourist draw­card of Huskisson, brim­ming with home­wares, bric-abrac, cafes and the Huski Pub.

A long nar­row gravel road leads through a tan­gle of trees to re­cep­tion, housed in an el­e­vated tree­house-style timber build­ing along with the restau­rant. A buggy will carry your lug­gage down the path to your tent, if you want to out­source that ex­er­tion. Each of the 12 tents feels en­veloped by the bush, but in re­al­ity they are not that far away from the restau­rant.

Stay­ing at the camp an­swered a ques­tion I didn’t know I was ask­ing: how could I be close to na­ture with­out sac­ri­fic­ing com­fort, un­der­tak­ing a forced march (look­ing at you, hik­ing) or mess­ing with poles, pegs, guy ropes, syn­thet­ics or can­vas? Loung­ing on a day bed in the sun af­ter a shower un­der the trees, bird calls and the gen­tle flap­ping of can­vas in my ears and a glass of cold cham­pagne in my hand, I had my an­swer.

The King Deluxe safari-style tent – a raised, fixed struc­ture of timber and can­vas – can sleep up to six guests; with space enough to host a re­vival­ist meet­ing, it in­cludes a large

deck with daybed. The bath­room has a free-stand­ing bath, twin van­i­ties and chic toi­letries; through a sliding door is an open-air loo with pri­vacy screens. On the other side of the tent, a high­light of the glamp: an out­door shower un­der­neath the gum trees, which is up there with the best of na­ture’s caf­feine. Glo­ri­ous.

The tents come with ho­tel-style com­forts such as hot and cold wa­ter, nice bed­ding, tow­els, slip­pers and robes but are de­void of tele­vi­sions, air-con, bar fridges or heat­ing (the camp is closed mid-win­ter, and hot wa­ter bot­tles are avail­able on chilly nights). Lamps are so­lar-powered, there are plenty of can­dles, and if you need to recharge your de­vice, the main lodge has a bank of taste­fully screened power points.

An­other high­light is the Gun­yah restau­rant, with its friendly ser­vice, full bar and de­li­cious dishes in­clud­ing pan-fried lo­cal king­fish with steamed mus­sels, fen­nel slaw and olive tape­nade. A cen­tral fire with couches and a se­lec­tion of board games cre­ates a wel­com­ing and re­lax­ing space. Un­der­neath the restau­rant is an­other area per­fect for whiling away your time, with a large hang­ing day bed and an open air camp­fire, sadly un­lit on our trip due to fire re­stric­tions. There’s also a gi­ant wooden swing from which cou­ples can gaze out over the river be­fore, say, re­viv­ing them­selves by pad­dling a ca­noe in the creek. Ca­noes, kayaks, stand-up pad­dle boards and bikes are avail­able for guests to use at will.

The need for ac­tiv­ity over­came our in­do­lence on two oc­ca­sions and the trip up the creek was fan­tas­tic, the splashes from my in­ex­pe­ri­enced ca­noe mate’s oar fresh and brac­ing. For bush­walk­ing types, the area is rife with tracks and white-sand beaches, and the staff are knowl­edge­able and happy to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

On this spring week­end, most of our fel­low glam­pers – rang­ing from their early 20s to re­tirees, from fleece-wear­ing hik­ers to those who look more at home on the day bed – ap­peared to be on a ro­man­tic get­away; the solo trav­eller may feel con­spic­u­ous. A fam­ily taste of the bush is pos­si­ble, but only for chil­dren aged six and over.

The wild things you want while glamp­ing are, af­ter all, the non­hu­man kind. At Paper­bark Camp, cu­ri­ous pos­sums might sit out­side the win­dow watch­ing you have din­ner, and odds-on you’ll en­counter kan­ga­roos. Some im­pres­sion­able guests re­port see­ing koalas, but the area is not known for them. Birds are plen­ti­ful – crim­son rosel­las, black cock­a­toos, king par­rots, kook­abur­ras and, if you luck is in, the elu­sive azure king­fisher.

With the birds singing as you drift off to sleep, and a ther­mos de­liv­ered early the next morn­ing for fresh-outof-bed cuppa, it seems all crea­ture com­forts are present and cor­rect. Must do: Wan­der, ex­plore, re­lax.

Din­ing: Look no fur­ther than Gun­yah restau­rant. Pic­nic lunches by prior ar­range­ment; small bar menu from 2pm.

Get­ting there: Paper­bark Camp is 190km or two hours’ drive south of Syd­ney. Trans­fers from Syd­ney Air­port or Nowra Bo­maderry train sta­tion avail­able.

Bot­tom line: From $395 per night for an Orig­i­nal Safari Tent; from $620 for King Deluxe Tent. Break­fast in­cluded; din­ner and mas­sage pack­ages avail­able. Min­i­mum two-night stay for book­ings in­clud­ing a Fri­day or Satur­day.

Safari: camp­fire; day bed; kayak; black cock­a­too

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.