The idea of camping is equal parts fun and full-on. There’s all that planning, prepping, packing and setting up before the holiday actually begins. And don’t forget the pack-up, clean up and put away when you get home. But it doesn’t have to be this way…
I have camping in my gene code. The Glindemann family photo album is splattered with yellowing photos of my younger brother and I running around various Stradbroke Island campsites with dirty feet, salty hair and broad smiles while mum, no doubt, busied herself sweeping sand from our caravan floor. Every hour. On the hour. EVERY day. We had our favourite spot on Flinders Beach that housed our ‘canvas castle’ most school holidays and our names would still be carved into our fave climbing tree there.
I have to admit though, as I’ve gotten older, wiser, more affluent and more time-poor (and my family has grown in size), camping has been filed in the too-hard basket. Give me an inner-spring mattress, hot showers, plumbing, an ice maker, ceiling fans and a cleaner with my holiday sea breeze and water views any day. Having said all that though, camping doesn’t have to be as hard as the theory states. And this was proven on our recent long weekend at Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park, near Byron Bay.
While all the traditional camping options are available at this gorgeous, shady, absolute-beachfront location, including powered and unpowered tent and caravan sites, it was the safari tent option that captured this clever camperwoman’s attention. One word: Glamping. When I thought, as a kid, that our family had a “canvas castle”, these safari tents were true ‘castles’. They offered us ceiling fans, bunk beds, real mattresses, lounge chairs, ensuites with REAL TOILETS, a kitchenette with a full-sized fridge, real crockery and cutlery (not plasticware), power points, pendant lights and even air conditioning. But all this ease and delightfulness was enclosed in traditional camping canvas walls and zip-up flyscreen windows. Holy camping bliss! There are a variety of safari tent options here depending on the size of your family. The Lilli Pilli was perfect for my four. We simply backed up our four-wheel drive, unloaded our clothes and food and hit the beach.
While the accommodation style was spot-on for us glampers, the location was next level. Shady trees canopied the safari tents and campsites, providing comfort from the sun. And it was only a one-minute walk via a private track to the white sandy beach and perfect family surf, with the Cape Byron Lighthouse keeping an eye on us from the horizon to the north. We felt safe letting the kids roam around the grounds and visit the on-site mini convenience store for afternoon treats. The amenities block was older, but still neat and clean. And the shared kitchen area with its undercover picnic tables made eating your barbecued sausages still feel like camping but with the Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park ‘glamping’ twist.
Above all though, what this short camping break made me realise was that it really doesn’t matter how much whizz-bang camping gear you own or how big your caravan is or how flashy your car towing it is. What matters most is who you share your camping holiday adventures with. That there are late-night hot chocolates and good conversation. That there are screen-free family games and belly laughs. That there is authentic holiday relaxation and family love surrounding you – as well as glamped canvas!