A clean weekend at Paperbark Camp, Huskisson
That’s what The First Husband and I did this past weekend at Paperbark Camp in Huskisson.
Located in the middle of a wetlands on the South Coast of NSW, Paperbark Camp is the original home of ‘glamping’ in Australia. For the past 12 years, Paperbark has been giving stressed out city slickers a 5-star taste of the bush.
The sandy, scrub-fringed track that leads to the front door certainly gives you a sense of isolation. That is until you wander into reception and encounter a hulking Jaguar Gourmet Traveller award on the counter, a gorgeous blonde Swede manning the desk and a pristine white golf cart waiting to whisk you away to your tent.
Sure, there are mosquitoes and possums and, yes, the tent is made of canvas, but that is where the similarities to normal camping end. Your tent has a deck, complete with sprawl-length couch. There is a double bed with a whimsical-looking mosquito net, bedside candles and many, many blankets. There is an open-air bath, toilet and shower stocked with organic mandarin peel and spearmint bath products and fluffy white towels.
The Gunyah Restaurant takes things up a another notch. On our first night, we order kangaroo loin carpaccio, fig, beetroot and buffalo mozzarella salad, slow cooked beef cheeks and desserts that would make MasterChef judges weep tears of joy; iced chocolate mousse, crushed honeycomb, salted caramel and vanilla bean icecream and ginger syrup cake with apple jelly, granola and ginger beer sorbet.
When we wake up the next morning, it’s with distended bellies and an uncharacteristic desire to burn off calories so we head down to the creek and drag a canoe into the swampy water. Within minutes, The First Husband has fallen into the creek and in a typically un-Christian manner, I laugh at him. We eventually straighten out the vessel and set out for Huskisson, eyes a-gleam with energetic purpose.
Fast-forward five hours and we are labouring against the tide, singing ‘We are the Champions’ in order to rally a few more strokes. Turns out Huskisson is an hour and a half down the river and we have somehow managed to paddle against the tide in both directions. We pass amused locals who cheer us on. We pass ‘Serial Killer’ shacks hidden in the scrub. We glide over the top of stingrays the size of hang-gliders.
When we finally reach camp, we slouch back to reception, collect our picnic lunch and spend the afternoon in a sunstruck gin-and-tonic daze.
Dinner comes around again and we head off to the campfire, gullets ready for another delicious onslaught. We neck a few fireside drinks and then head upstairs for ocean trout sashimi, smoked quail breast, Ballatine of Thirlmere chicken and vanilla and lemon creme, poached rhubarb and praline rhubarb sorbet.
Another night of falling into a food coma ensues, disturbed only by the sound of a possum scurrying around on the roof.
Morning comes and with it, the disappointing reality that we must go home. We pack our bags reluctantly and hop back on the golf cart.
We are going camping again over Easter, but in a real tent, in a real camping ground. Will I miss the three-course meals and hot showers? Indubitably.
Paperbark Camp has ruined me forever.
Have you ever been ‘glamping’? If so, what did you think?