Friday, 6 January 2012

Cold showers, cooking on the dirt, being chased by killer goannas (and other tales of camping)

We recently went on our first ever camping adventure as a family. It was my first time camping & I was a bit unsure what to expect. My usual strategy for dealing with the unknown is to plan & organise - so I wrote a very detailed packing list, spent time menu-planning, thought about small toys that would interest the kids for 5 days (it was forecast to rain every day!) and strategised ways to keep everything clean and dry. I prayed that it would not rain all week, that the forecast would be wrong (thankfully, God organised for us to only had two mornings of rain in the 5 days!).

At the beautiful swimming beach - the flat, shallow water was great for the kids!
Some wonderful friends loaned us their camping gear & even came to set up/pack up the tent for us! It was a bit of a mission, as there is no car access to The Basin, so we hired a barge to take everything over from Palm Beach. On the second day, we were joined by two other families. The kids played really well together - Mr Sociable loved having another boy to play with!

Digging a deep hole - they actually continued to work on this hole over a few days!
Burying Franky in the hole
Mr Fun made a friend too!
The campsite does have toilets and cold showers, but the sites are not powered (there is electricity in the bathroom). It was a bit crisp showering in the cold - showers were very short!! After the kids screamed for the duration of their first cold showers, we gave them baths in our red bucket for the rest of the week (with water that we kindly heated for them on the stove). The red bucket was the most useful thing that we took - it served as a bath, a washing-up bucket, a container to catch the water coming off the awning in the rain and a basket to carry things to the beach.

Ah, brothers :)
Collecting the water that ran off the awning - Mr Fun thought it was a great place to play!
I was thankful that I had put time into thinking about toys for wet weather. The kids were occupied on those wet mornings and had lots of fun with the small toys. Everything fitted into one supermarket cold bag. I took:
* sticky slap hands
* playdoh & some cutters
* small wooden meccano set
* toy cars with a plastic car mat (the plastic car mat was made from tablecloth vinyl - it was actually really useful for keeping the floor clean in the kids' half of the tent)
* balloons
* drawing stuff (whiteboard, colouring books, whiteboard crayons)
* battery powered portable DVD player
* bubbles
* a beach ball (which got lost)
* parachute men (which we didn't end up using)
* small plastic tops (which we also didn't use)

Watching Cars on a rainy morning - note the plastic car mat on the floor
Mr Fun, inspecting the wet tent
Ok, so we didn't really get chased by killer goannas... but they were BIG & they did come close to the tents. We were also visited by ducks, bush turkeys, bandicoots and wallabies. The wallabies found their way into our garbage bag one night and sampled some of our rotten fruit scraps, which they thoughtfully spread out for us to inspect!

Goanna walking past the tents
We went on a day-trip to Palm Beach on the ferry. Both boys loved going on the ferry, although I was a little concerned about Mr Sociable standing so close to the doorway, playing with the chains that blocked the entrance (eventually I was a mean Mummy and told him to sit in the chairs). We bought fish and chips for lunch, which was nice (but pricey - almost $50?!?!). The older kids played in the playground while Mr Fun fell asleep in the sling (cuddly moments are rare these days - so I enjoyed the time holding my sleeping bubba).

Ferry trip to Palm Beach
My sleeping bubba
Taking in the view on the ferry trip home
Mr Fun spent most of his time wandering around, exploring. He pottered around on the beach, found muddy puddles to play in, said hi to the neighbours and ran around on the grass. He has been mourning freedom since coming home!

As a first time camper, my overall experience was pretty positive. I liked the simplicity of focusing just on basics - spending time together, preparing meals and cleaning up after meals/the beach. I enjoyed the lack of technology which can interrupt relationship time. I liked chatting to one another while we washed up, walking to the beach and playing as a family. I enjoyed all having "rest time" in the afternoons - when the kids would rest/sleep & the adults read books.

Franky was not so easily convinced - he likes warm showers and a comfy bed. Before we write off camping as a family, I'm hoping we can go to a site with car access, hot water and electricity. Perhaps having a few "luxuries" will make camping more bearable for my beloved husband!

What are your experiences of camping? Do you have a favourite place you like to go?

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