I’d never done glamping in my life before, so you can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to let the whole family experience glamping for the first time together!
We had driven a long way from Blue Mountains National Park after arriving in Sydney, and as we were behind schedule, it was past light when we approached Paperbark Camp. Navigating through obscure road signs in the dark, we can only follow Google Maps in the direction of the camp.
Our restless bodies perked up when we finally recognised Paperbark’s logo at the entrance welcoming us into our abode for the next 2 nights. Rows of tall trees flank the sides as we carefully meandered through a narrow gravel path towards the reception. As it was pitch black, the road seemed to go on and on and on, until it finally reached a clearing.
It seemed the only place that was lit was on the second floor, and so we went up to have a look after parking our car. True enough, instant warmth greeted us as we entered, a consolation from the cool autumn air.
The entire space was bathed in a warm orange glow, with candles illuminating the hut. The wooden furniture that decorated the space added to a very homely feel.
Checking in to Paperbark Camp, Australia
With only a cosy 13 tents to manage, the receptionist took it upon herself to recognise every guest staying for the night. Without having to introduce ourselves, she already has our designated tents in mind.
Check in was swift as we signed some administrative papers and she introduced the local area to us.
We learned that there is no WiFi available in our rooms (tents) except here in the dining/ lounge area, which I didn’t mind one bit. My city family needed this Internet detox.
Paperbark Camp’s Room
Needless to say, we were very curious to find out what our tent looked like. My family certainly wasn’t used to sleeping with/ in nature, so I was excited to hear how they would take this glamping experience.
Through a short boardwalk, our tent came into view. Depending on the type of tent you booked, some configurations might be slightly different. My parents were booked in the Deluxe Safari Tent.
Camouflaged amongst spotted gums and paperbark trees, we had a little front porch with a table and a sofa, and an additional side porch with sun beds, offered as part of the Deluxe Plus category.
Indoors, the large King-sized bed dominated the tent, with the bathroom supplies stored on the racks behind the bed. A portable lamp was also provided to us in case we needed to get around in the dark. Minimal lights were used throughout the tent. The bed – oh the bed! What can I say? It was so large, so comfy.
The tents here are all solar-powered, so we couldn’t find a single power socket in the tent. On hindsight, which proper camping tent would have a power socket? It’s hard to remember we’re in a tent when the facilities here are so complete. On that note, it posed a little inconvenience when we had to walk back to the lounge whenever we needed to get our hair dried with the hair dryer.
Extra blankets, bathrobes, insect repellent, extra candles, coffee and tea are also provided in each tent, though hot water has to be collected at the common area.
When we opened our door to the bathroom, we found it completely open air, which is a fact we couldn’t quite get used to initially, especially come autumn when the temperature is cooler. The feeling of being exposed to animals while you shower was a little disconcerting. We dreaded waking up to cold morning showers and the cold toilet seat. I believe this outdoor concept will be much more appreciated in the summers, and even better if we could be entertained by wild, random kangaroo occurrence. (We did see a wild possum one night close to the lounge though!)
That said, I couldn’t resist not utilising the bathtub when it is set in such a serene environment, overlooking nature. How often can you get a bathtub in the middle of the forest?
Tents are fitted with really durable, waterproof material, with windows being a mesh that can be closed with flaps to keep the cold and light out. You enter and exit the same way it works with every tent, with zips.
The only thing that wasn’t so cool was how we had an unwanted trespasser in our tent one night. While tucked in bed, we started hearing scratching sounds. Thinking I could scare whatever weird animal was below our tent if I got off and started stomping on the ground, an antechinus (if you don’t know what that is, it looks like a rat which runs really fast) appeared under our bed and so quickly scurried out of our tent, giving both my sister and I a fright.
We weren’t expecting any animals within our room since it was zipped tight, and shrieked so hard from this unexpected encounter, incapacitated for a good minute, trying to catch a breather, and thinking of our next game plan. We decided to lock our luggages and keep our food airtight in case it comes back at night. Hopping back to bed, the feeling of insecurity ensued.
There aren’t heaters installed in the tents and it gets chilly (about 15ºC in May when we went) even under the sheets as the night goes on. It was thus a relief we heeded the receptionist’s tip to hug the hot water bags in bed. What a life-saver that is!
Hot water is only provided at the common area, so it was a nice gesture that a flask of hot water is delivered to our tents every morning. Pity we never got to use it as it usually came when we were just about to go for breakfast and then headed out for the day.
Paperbark Camp’s Amenities
There are various things you can do at the property. Apart from driving out to check out the bays and beaches (more on that below), there is a creek just behind the property, Currambene Creek, where you can kayak in.
Additionally, the property also provides bicycles, and you can even set up a campfire there.
Dining at Paperbark Camp, Australia
Dinner was always in an intimate fashion, fine dining standard at The Gunyah, Paperbark Camp’s dining room, reception and communal lounge. An extravagant affair each night, a four-course meal is served on a rotating menu depending on the day you are booked in.
Two of the more memorable and unique dishes we had were the kangaroo meat for appetiser (“House cured kangaroo bresaola w/ Wild mushroom & warrigal greens, sweetcorn curd, crunchy grains”) and a chilli chocolate for a snack, both dishes that were etched in my mind. Have you ever eaten a spicy chocolate ball so spicy you cried?!
We took our time to savour every bite and flavour. It was truly Michelin star standard.
Breakfast was very much looked forward to each morning. Aside from the buffet-style spread of the classic toast, muesli and fruits, each guest is also entitled to a meal and coffee of choice – usually big breakfast style. I enjoyed the morning coffees and we never leave without feeling so stuffed from a hearty breakfast, totally fuelled for our adventures of the day!
Paperbark Camp’s Location
Paperbark Camp is situated 2.5 hours drive south of Sydney, right in the heart of Jervis Bay.
Huskisson is the closest town where you can find your shopping supplies.
Hyams Beach, which is close by and an attraction on its own, has been titled to have the whitest sand in the world, and even has a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Further south, Jervis Bay National Park is worth a visit. A one-time park fee is payable per car. I highly recommend heading south to Cave Beach while you’re in the national park, which will impress you with its gorgeous cave formations and cool-sized rocks, shaped by the constant erosion of water, brine and air. If you’re lucky, you might be rewarded with animal spotting on your drive in the national park.
Other locations (recommended by a local photographer!) if you want to have a wander are:
- Chinamans beach
- Murray beach
- Callala beach
- Green Patch – heaps of bird and wildlife
- Point Perpendicular – huge cliffs and a lighthouse
- Honeymoon Bay
Except for the fact that they didn’t clear our trash when they made up our room on the second day, the service, especially the receptionist’s, was stellar. It’s such a feat to see her juggle waitressing at dinners, checking guests in, loading our luggages into our tents, and attending to the requests of the guests all on her own!
Staying close to the truest sense of nature, Paperbark Camp is all about unplugging and enjoying the natural environment.
As much as we had to battle the cold during our open air showers (which is not the best feeling in the winter), I really enjoyed this novel “glamping” experience, which comes complete with a bathtub. If only I brought my bath salts over!
Special thanks to Paperbark Camp for this experience! All opinions remain my own.
15-17 June 2019, Wed – Fri