City camp­ing

SNEZANA BELEVSKA-BEN­NELL packs up three gen­er­a­tions of her fam­ily and es­capes to Syd­ney’s Cock­a­too Is­land for the ul­ti­mate com­bi­na­tion of Aus­tralia’s new­est camp­ing phe­nom­ena.

Caravan, Camping and Holiday Parks with Kids - - Contents -

For a dif­fer­ent side to ‘the big smoke’ head to Syd­ney’s Cock­a­too Is­land and test the lat­est trends in fam­ily camp­ing: gramp­ing and glamp­ing

When I first saw the word ‘gramp­ing’ I thought it was a typo for ‘glamp­ing’, which is camp­ing with a bit of glam­our (and plenty of crea­ture com­forts). As it turns out, gramp­ing is the cool way to de­scribe Aus­tralia’s lat­est out­door trend: camp­ing with grand­par­ents. Although we’ve al­ways talked about go­ing camp­ing with my in-laws, none of that ever ma­te­ri­alised thanks to a web of busy sched­ules. So when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self for a mini es­capade to Syd­ney’s Cock­a­too Is­land, we jumped at the chance to turn it into a won­der­ful glamp­ing and gramp­ing week­end.

Our mini adventure started with a scenic ferry ride across Syd­ney Har­bour from Rush­cut­ters Bay, past the Opera House and un­der the bridge. Cock­a­too Is­land, with its rich his­tory of docks and houses built by con­victs in the early 1800s, was a mar­vel­lous sight on ap­proach, ris­ing out of the re­flec­tive wa­ters where the Par­ra­matta and Lane Cove rivers meet. The two-tiered is­land is one of Syd­ney’s World Her­itage sites with old sand­stone prison build­ings, empty ware­houses and enor­mous old ship­build­ing yards.

Upon ar­rival, we checked into our wa­ter­front tents with wooden floor­boards, beds and a deck with chairs over­look­ing a gar­den. For­tu­nately, I had al­lowed the boys to bring their scoot­ers along. There was so much open space – lush grass, aban­doned ware­houses and tun­nels to ex­plore – and the en­tire is­land was just per­fect for scoot­ing. The kids were com­pletely free to ride wher­ever they pleased.

Af­ter wan­der­ing amid the in­dus­trial re­mains, we stopped for lunch at the Is­land Bar. This eatery blends the stun­ning Syd­ney views with the vibe of a Euro­pean beach haunt sur­rounded by green­ery, white picket fences cov­ered in bougainvil­lea, striped um­brel­las, sunbeds and Euro­pean waiters run­ning from cus­tomer to cus­tomer. On week­ends af­ter 3pm it’s an adults- only zone, so if you want a date night while camp­ing with the grand­par­ents your babysit­ting is al­ready sorted.

Perks of the sim­ple life

We spent the rest of the af­ter­noon ex­plor­ing the is­land, only paus­ing our ex­pe­di­tion for a game of ten­nis, be­fore en­joy­ing a fam­ily bar­be­cue din­ner. In true glamp­ing style, we opted for gourmet food packs avail­able on the is­land,

stocked with ev­ery­thing we needed from steaks to salad dress­ing. There are a few op­tions, in­clud­ing veg­e­tar­ian and break­fast sets, but re­mem­ber cater­ing re­quires 48 hours’ no­tice. You can also bring your own fam­ily favourites and store them in the esky pro­vided.

As night fell over the har­bour, the kids’ re­quests to go for a night-time scoot be­came ir­re­sistible – the loom­ing shad­ows of for­got­ten in­dus­try promised a per­fect mix of scary and fun. The rest of the evening was spent re­lax­ing at our tent, sim­ply chat­ting un­der the stars and watch­ing the lit-up boats sail by.

Young kids mean early morn­ings, so nat­u­rally we were all up at the crack of dawn.

We took a leisurely stroll along the fore­shore and en­joyed cof­fees and cakes from So­ci­ete Over­board, a cute lit­tle café be­side Par­ra­matta Wharf, be­fore cook­ing up a big bar­be­cue break­fast feast with other fam­i­lies.

Our fi­nal adventure be­fore leav­ing was another scoot through Dog Leg Tun­nel, emerg­ing from the dark and damp to dis­cover the Ma­rine Cen­tre at Cam­ber Wharf with its charm­ing pop-up vin­tage Airstream Café.

The trip was a great ex­cuse to get away with­out hav­ing to go too far from home, and a won­der­ful way for the kids to spend time with their grand­par­ents, all in the won­drous great out­doors.

The loom­ing shad­ows of for­got­ten in­dus­try promised a per­fect mix of scary and fun

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