Getting my glamp on!
Camping? No. Been there, done that and the thought of the cold ground seeping up through my bones, cutting through a wafer thin foam mattress and a patchy, duck feather sleeping bag strangling me is about an attractive proposition as being kept awake by the flapping of a nylon tent in a gale-force wind. So there.
But, here I am, snuggled in a king-size bed, with crisp white linens crackling around my face, darkness folding itself across the entrance of the large tent (should I call that a habitat?) and smiling to myself and remembering that I was never going camping again.
But, glamping. Yes! How civilised, how wonderful and how about this location?
We began our journey in Tasmania to enjoy the ‘Bruny Island Long Weekend’ experience with an early morning pick up at Daci & Daci Bakers in Hobart. No hurry, a fresh-out-of-the-oven pastry and a hot cup of java and then we are delivered to a private boat at the waterfront and so it begins . . .
We enjoy smooth sailing on the silky Derwent River and watch the city fade as the ancient coastline emerges.
There are dolphins at play and at the bottom of the steep, sandstone cliffs there appears to be a gang of sleepy seals playing possum. Sea birds swirl around the tops of the cliffs and we feel very far from civilisation.
We disembark. North and South Bruny is connected by a narrow strip of land called The Neck which is easier to say than isthmus.
The island is around 50km in length and during a couple of days here we get to see the various hotspots.
Our bags (travelling light) are stashed and we waste no time before we begin to walk. We take a narrow path and begin our walk to a cape on the east coast of Bruny Island. Along the way we see no other human beings. Our hosts/guides/protectors are Robert and Dave who guide us gently through the sea level scrub before we start to rise higher where the scraggly, tough native trees are either gathered tightly together or are out on a limb leaning to the north. When the wind she blows . . . she blows.
I haven’t done a lot of bushwalking in the past few years but realised how much I like it. Pushing the legs a little harder than usual, breathing in the crisp, end-of-summer scented air is invigorating. The remains of the wildflowers and tree blossoms are hanging on to the endless summer (and it’s been a cracker this year).
The max number of guests on any given Long Weekend is eight, and we are seven which makes getting to know each other easy and companiable.
Our walk takes about five hours with a packed picnic lunch stop, a visit off-the-beaten-track to an old hut that had been built years before – a kind of men’s shed in the wilderness; a trek to the farthest cape and a walk along a splendid, deserted beach with a smattering of rocks that boast of geological marvels and weathered history.
We are on our way to our camp but stop first to gaze at the smooth water of Great Bay to see how the famous Bruny Island oysters are farmed. A clutch of gnarly shells are brought out from the waters, shucked and eaten, au natural with great gusto. No that’s how you finish a bushwalk!
The camp. Nestled in a clearing mid an old growth forest is our accommodation for the next two nights. The roomy tents (with big beds) are camouflaged in the bush and are a decent distance from each other. (It’s funny, throughout the normally silent night as the toilet is up the hill, away from the tents, all you hear is the sound of tent zippers opening and closing.)
Down the hill is the outdoor shower. Standing under pounding hot water and staring out at sentinel stands of eucalypts is a pretty special experience.
Then the big surprise unfolds. The hut where we eat our meals (like a bunkhouse) sits alone and as I wander down for pre-dinner drinks a fine film of smoke wafts into the air. Ah, dinner is cooking!
We sit in the fading afternoon light chatting while Dave and Robert work like a well-oiled team cooking our dinner. Mmmm, roast lamb, vegetables, hot rolls, and a sweetheart of a dessert.
Into bed afterwards and asleep before I hit the pillow.
The chefs are at it again for breakfast – bacon and eggs? Don’t mind if I do.
The rest of the gang went on another bushwalk today to East Cloudy Head to stretch the legs and for a view of the wild Southern Ocean. I opted for sightseeing.
The landscape is gentle and dotted with little farms, old and new. Decrepit houses and shacks make for good photography and by chance we saw the famed white wallaby make a brief appearance in the bush as we drove past.
The highlight of the day was to visit and climb the stunning Cape Bruny Lighthouse. First lit in 1838 the lighthouse is a stunning example of the best lighthouse architecture of its time. And it’s Australia’s longest continually staffed lighthouse.
We stopped later at The Neck for a lazy lunch and I returned to camp early and bagsed the first shower.
Another evening of good company, gourmet food (local pork and vegetables), fine Tassie wines and late-night laughs. One of the guests had shouted herself this weekend to celebrate her 60th birthday. She loved it, as we all did.
This ‘glamping’ business suits me.
Robert Knight and Dave Lane.
We walked and talked and learned so much about the nature of the island, the history and how to have a luxury experience without the four walls of a hotel.
It was a lazy start the last day, for me. The others took off for another walk but I wanted to hug a few trees before departing.
And continuing being ‘gourmet-spoilt; we had a long lunch at The Jetty Café to keep the high standard up.
I felt a little sad leaving Bruny Island as I was just beginning to understand this wild and beautiful part of Australia.
Well done Robert Knight (director of the company) and super cook and guide Dave Lane for a truly memorable long weekend. Amazing how little time it took me from ‘no camping’ to ‘I love glamping’.
Writer, Bev Malzard looked back on her pictures from many years ago (below) from her bushwalking days/daze. There are tiny tents she squeezed her sleeping bag into, billy cans with porridge and dried fruit cooking up for breakfast, heavy walking boots kicked off after a long day’s walk, and shots of her pouring red wine into her mouth from a wine skin. Ah, those intrepid times . . .
Bev Malzard enjoyed the hospitality of The Bruny Island Long Weekend (and heartily recommends it). For more information on the itineraries, departure times and now, the winter package, visit www.brunyislandlongweekend.com.au