I heard myself saying that I could actually live in a tent at the beach to several of my friends and colleagues after we got back from our 10 days of Easter camping. I think I could. I really love a good camping trip.
(I may have complained about our airbeds losing air, the hours and hours of packing, unpacking and setting up and finally my kids. Well. It was not all blissful, but it came pretty close in my opinion).
Camping. All the choices.
When you first decide to go camping in Australia, the possibilities are endless. Firstly because the weather allows you to go pretty much all year around (at least in Queensland) and secondly because there are so many ways you can camp, ranging from basic self contained camping where you bring everything (incl. toilet and water) yourself through to caravan parks with waterslides, kids clubs and coffee vans.
This time we headed South West with two family friends for three nights, followed by six days of camping on Stradbroke Island. The map will give you an idea.
Denmark vs Australia
I vividly remember the thrill of leaving the driveway to go camping through Europe for the summer holidays with my parents and sisters. My sisters and I had mattresses laid out in the boot and we slept and read stories the whole way. As the littlest sister I was squeezed in the middle and it was the actual best! This was the era before safety was a thing, let alone smoking around kids (in a car). But hey - still alive, breathing. No harm done.
When we packed our car, ready to leave Brisbane, I wondered how my parents did it. Have space for us, just lying there. I mean, our 3 kids were strapped in, the boot and space around them was filled to the max and jeez, the amount of stuff we had on the roof too.
And then it hit me. We are not crazy people. We have just integrated quite well, also in terms of the way we do camping. In Denmark we would be laughed at, no actually: In Denmark I would have laughed at us so hard: "who the freak brings their whole living room to the camp site?". The thing is: When we camped with a tent the Danish way, we set up a tent. We brought the minimal functional necessities (and to be honest, we liked if there was some level of suffering and deprivation involved. You know, camping in a tent was almost a variation of a survival trip). When we camp with a tent in Australia, we set up a camp (with slick cooking, dining, sleeping and hygge areas with comfy chairs).
This difference may not solely be cultural, it's probably also us getting older. We've reached the age of comfort.
First stop the mountains
We drove inland to an area called The Scenic Rim, 2 hours south west of Brisbane to set up a proper camp. An almost cinematic drive.
Stopped to buy firewood on the side of the road.
The camp site
We had a little creek running next to our camp area, a tap with running water, room for a camp fire and a fancy compostable toilet a 150m walk away. The pictures online did show a swimming hole too. In reality this looked more like a duck pond with alges and moss floating on top. It didn't make it to my camera role. However, I did go in. Somehow refreshing, but I didn't repeat the dip).
Here's a few scenes, that did make it to my camera role :-)
Youcamp. Camping on private land
We booked the place through youcamp.com, which is such a great concept. It is basically an Airbnb for camping on private land all over Australia. You can find everything from land to camp on, cottages to stay in, tree huts, glamping tents and amazingly weird accommodation types like these ...barrels?. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to go off the beaten track a bit when exploring Australia. You won't find a lot of beach camping (believe me, I've tried), but lots of inland glory.
The land we stayed on was owned by a retired couple who now offers their land to campers like us. We lost our phone connection 15k before the destination and felt pretty adventurous as we were driving down the winding roads to the destination with the mountain range as a backdrop.
Simple life. Cheap pleasure.
Life on a camp site is pretty simple. I mean, planning the camp, setting up tents, adding the hygge and fairy lights, unpacking and nesting, building a bonfire pit takes a while. Opening the first beer from the designated beer Esky (køletaske. Australian style) after the hard work feels so well deserved. Just look at Majelines smile.
We spent quite a few hours just hanging out around the bonfire. Making the bonfire. Keeping the bonfire alive. Finding wood. Talking about the bonfire. That sort of vital activities. One morning I woke up and the kids sat on their knees, bend over the fire pit with firestarters and gas lighters trying to light a proper fire 6 am in the morning. Such a good kid friendly activity (!). Can you see how this bunch of kids look like a group of friends who just went camping on their own? Ruth is apparently doing some sort of tribal dance.
The first night when we were star gazing we saw this glowing thing flying over the night sky, that didn't look like a shooting star or an airplane. We spent a good deal of time discussing whether it was a UFO or a space station. It turns out it was actually the international spacestation flying over Australia that exact day. What are the chances? Mother Earth and space all came together right there. Needless to say, my dear husband was stoked when he found out.
Somehow we managed to get organised enough to plan our food. Each family made a dinner - 3 nights, 1 dinner each. Easy. And I tell you, it wasn't just porridge. We had fancy food such as hotdogs, salads, pizzas made in the BBQ and a big pot of veggie chili. I'd say that plan was a winner, - plenty of adults could hang out with the kids and the baby while a few people cooked dinner in (what comes close to) piece.
People who know me wouldn't be surprised that I'd planned a craft competition. I love my hippie crafts. And also: kids love to compete against their parents.
The task was to use nature to create a hanging thingy that could make some sort of sound.
The kids against adults. The little rascals were pretty stoked about the ideas whereas I felt a bit resistance from the 30+ segment. Seriously Sophie? Until we started. Especially the dads were quite enthusiastic and approached the task with an engineering mindset. Weaving and painting was going on.
The kid team had their discussions (!) and ended up making lots of little things we we hung up on a branch and there were some great presentations of the artwork. Beer bottles, juice cartons may not have been all natural, but nonetheless it was quality hippie craft. No prizes, trophees or stickers this time around. Very un-Australian, actually. Gotta integrate better in this area.
A hike with John
One day we went for a hike all 13 of us. Along the way our friend Scott invented John the Dragon - a story of a creature that was kept alive for the whole trip and beyond. The kids spent a lot of time talking about John, looking for his footprints and calling out for John with a very specific tune. A very loud tune, as I recall it.
The country town pub
After the hike we ended up in the local country town, Marydale. The town basically consisted of a pub that served xxxx beers (classic Australian beer) and meat pies. Rumour has it that they were pretty darn good. Australians love their pies. There were mountains and a pub. City planning at it's best. Have a look for yourself here.
No easter without an Easter hunt. Because, not sharing your bowl of chocolate with your bestie with a face full of permanent marker, is a lovely thing when you are 3 years old.
After three days, the kids feet were black, we all smelled of smoke when we waved goodbye to our friends and drove off to our next stop: Beach camping on Stradbroke Island.
I'll write about this in my next post.
KH Sophie :-)
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