Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Let’s start with this…
The activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home.
I take issue with this definition, sourced by our friends at Dictionary.com. You see, “home” is such a subjective thing. Hands up for those that have uninterrupted creek views four metres from the end of your queen bed. The same queen bed that has magical heated blankets, 944 pillows, thread count not achieved
from Kmart, and a place that wraps you up in the surprise of weird af bird noises and the sleepy patter of rain on the watertight canvas above your head. Nope. Me neither (but if you do, can we be friends? I have wine.)
And for the record, my definition of luxuries of home is when I am not fighting for the TV remote or hiding in the pantry consuming the last of the kids party bag lollies (light off – not stupid) (side - has anyone else noticed the absolute demise in lolly bag quality? No Julie, my kid (me) does not prefer a shitty plastic yoyo and a non-edible stack of memory cards that get lost between the party and car ride home. But I digress…)
So as a camper (swag / nylon tent, sleeping bag, 7cm foam mattress, explorer socks), I’m a little conflicted. You see, I had this notion that my very first glamping experience, would feel remotely like camping, but you know, nicer.
Like…without the 2 hour set up (don’t judge me, fairy lights don’t set themselves up), the 1 hour pack down, washing for days, and dear god scrub me with salt and steel wool to take off the grime. Like…don’t worry about the planning excel spreadsheet three days prior to leaving – shan’t be required. Like…you’ll have a heater – just pack one layer. You get my drift.
So appreciate my confusion when after 10 short excited minutes on arrival, the first beer has been cracked, the cheese board is full and I’m feet up, experiencing my first case of Bell Tent Whiplash*. It was a confronting experience. Especially when I started questioning my current life choices; analysing whether I am truly living my best life, and soon after, began googling pricing and specs on canvas bell tents to see if I could get squeeze one in the back of the Ranger for the next family adventure. But holding just short of youtubing tent erection videos (hindsight high-five), I stopped…and relaxed. And for a fulltime, working single parent, it was nothing short of spiritual.
The park is one of my local favourites – hosts made from the very salt of this earth (don’t let Gav fool you – he’s a chatterer…just feed him red wine first). Facilities are basic, but clean, and easily accessible. For a small park, the midnight hike to the loo is not a big deal. The camp kitchen is well equipped with a large enclosed wood fire (firewood supplied) where you might just be lucky enough to meet up with a visiting Ulysses Bike Club for a drink and a yarn.
The sites are a Tenters dream – grassy and delightfully powered. Ask for the sites up the back (sites 20 – 22) to be spoilt for room and your own frontage to the creek full of defrosted snow (she’s cold…even in Summer).
It’s close to the main road, (bit of noise with trucks hurling round the bend at odd hours) but makes for an easy jaunt into High Street for eating and exploring (too many local cafes with exceptional food to mention but lock in Saint Monday and The Rusty Bike), two main pubs (visit both…free pool tables and the Fireball Whisky may just change your life), junky and fancy antique shops to smell your way through, Gum Tree Pies (you will not present me a better pie in Australia) and the museum with detailed displays of the local region (with an original cottage out the back from ye-olde-ago). Make some time to explore and swim in the Yack Gorge (5km walk) or head just out of town to see other local attractions (Woolshed Falls, Wineries, Berry Farms, Breweries, Markets, or book in 43 years in advance to get loose at the Yackandandah Folk Festival).
But enough kafuffle…the main attraction. The Emperor Bell Tent site is private, and easily has the best creek frontage for the entire park. With a gorgeous deck area facing the creek, you could lose hours with a book or a handline quite happily. Inside, the tent is slightly spectacular.
Made for two (but you’d squeeze another small half person in), you’re spoilt for choice on how to spend your time, but what is absolutely clear, is the tent and park are built for R&R. I may, or may not, have pawed/shook/manhandled every single thing in the tent (because….research) and found everything tippy-top (heater^, electric blankets, linen, towels, camping lanterns, basic toiletries, lamps, heater^, games, floor coverings, 257 power points, heater^, pillows, kettle, heater^, mugs, enough supplies for a coupla cuppas, heater^.)
So what to bring? I’m a 7 cups of coffee a day kinda person so bring some extra supplies if you need it, no fridge in the tent but you can store supplies in the camp kitchen pretty safely (or plenty of room in the tent for a small esky or car fridge). And a pair of jocks. That’s it. The rest is done. And a nice touch – the tent is padlocked with a three digit code that can still be remembered after a Fireball Whisky experience in town. We happily left our personals inside with no problems whatsoever.
So as a campery type person (who still has screw in tent pegs on her next ALDI special buys wishlist)…was I impressed? You bet your sweet canvas I was. Have I ruined any chance of going back to the swag? Possibly. Do it again? Planning as we speak (kiddo #1 can pitch his swag on the deck).
* Bell Tent Whiplash - noun - neck injury caused by sudden head snapping around the tent followed by “look – kettle!”, “look – lamps and lanterns!”, “look – a basket of board games!”, “look – the heater goes up to 30!”, “look – throw rugs!”, “look – magazines!”, “look – Bluetooth stereo!” etc.
^ Heater - we stayed on the very last night of Winter 2018. She was cold, but we were comfortable – because – heater (and maybe Fireball Whisky).