I’m fairly sure that most kids measure the flow of their years by annual family holidays.
For me it was weeks spent at Burleigh Heads over summer, Easters at Hervey Bay and the May long weekend camping at Lake Cootharaba, where family lore had it that it was always fine when we set up camp on Friday night before inevitably raining for most of the weekend – just enough to ensure everything was damp and muddy – before becoming gloriously sunny just in time for us to pack up.
I love camping. I love the simple meals cooked on the camp stove, the games of spotlight once the sun has set, the hours spent reading or playing games, the endless days spent in nature bushwalking or swimming, the moment when you finally give in and just let yourself be OK with the fact you will be encrusted in dirt for the entire holiday, dinners by gaslight – or even better by the fire – and the early mornings when you stumble out of the tent to birdsong and watch the rest of the camp ground come to life.
For our most recent wedding anniversary present Steve and I bought a tow bar for the car. Not the most romantic of presents, but one that let us pack our camping gear into the trailer, load the kids into their seats and drive the almost two hours to Imbil – a small town almost halfway between Noosa and Gympie, located on the Yabba Creek – shortly after New Years. My brother, his wife Kim and their delicious kids had booked four days out there with friends for the first week of the New Year, and we unashamedly crashed the holiday in the hopes that the addition of cousins his own age would make camping a little easier for Jman. The poor chook is not a fan of the dark or being dirty, which is kind of unavoidable in tents.
We succeeded. He and his cousins ran riot for the entire time, barefoot and with dirt under their nails, making up games that changed and evolved as the mornings went on. Before the sun got too hot we’d all throw on our togs, let the kids draw all over our faces with pink zinc and head to the nearby creek, taking it in turns to jump off the rocks, or capture snails that were floating downstream.
My brother and his family are seasoned campers and came equipped with everything you could think of including a paddle board (that I stole at every possible moment to explore up and down Yabba Creek, trying to swerve huge lungfish and laughing at cows ambling into the creek for sunset swims), and an inflatable rowboat that was used to ferry the kids out and around the creek.
When the kids were eventually convinced (read carried unwillingly) back to the tents for a rest during the heat of the day, we’d lounge as best as we could on camping chairs, attempting to read or chat, occasionally walking to town for ice cream or for the one pub dinner we had out.
Imbil is a tiny town, cute but sleepy, and the pub left Steve waxing lyrical. Not because it was full gastro pub, but because it was chilled and a gathering place. The locals had gathered for post-work drinks, leaving the dogs at the door to say hello to passersby.
It was a great few days, and it was hard to come home although that first hot shower was beyond incredible.
If I was a more conscientious blogger I would have taken more photos. But the current bushfire crisis happening across Australia has left me – like many people – feeling anxious and overwhelmed and I’ve found the best way to manage this is to leave my phone on flight mode and far away from me for large chunk of time. Plus who needs screens when you’re out in the great outdoors?
Tuna, spinach and lemon pasta (above and below)
Do you like camping? Where are your go to spots?