The realities of camping – composting toilets, burnt snags, a fight over who lost the last tent peg and unsettling night-time noises – often contrast starkly with our romantic notions of sleeping out in the wilderness. For the sake of would-be outdoorspeople everywhere, a growing collection of camping specialists are providing the means for a night beneath the stars with none of the hardship. The word for this service is glamping and there are glamp sites popping up all over the country. These are our favourite spots to pitch a tent (well, let someone else do it for us).
Twilight Glamping, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Interrupt a Great Ocean Road trip to spend a night or two in one of Twilight Glamping’s bell tents. Tents are delivered, set up and styled in guests’ chosen position, then taken down when they’re ready to move on. There’s a choice of four- or five-metre tents kitted out with single or queen airbeds, cushions, throws and rugs. Weary travellers can choose from various packages to ensure that upon arrival they’re met with bottles of local wine, cooking facilities and gourmet cheese platters. Camping? Yes. Roughing it? Decidedly not.
Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay, New South Wales
The term “camp” is used very loosely here. The 12 safari-style tents at Paperbark Camp are rather more established than most, sited on wooden platforms to make the most of the sea breeze. They all have wraparound decks, mosquito nets, solar lighting and private – apart from passing kangaroos – open-air ensuites. The Gunyah is the site’s reception and lounge area as well as dining room. The restaurant serves up leisurely breakfasts, sunset drinks and three-course dinners using produce grown on site when possible. Paperbark Camp is one of the grande dames of glamping in Australia – it opened in 1999, predating the term. The site, near the gorgeous beaches of Jervis Bay, two-and-a-half hours south of Sydney, offers lots to do – or nothing at all. There are walking trails plus complimentary bikes and canoes.
See also: Sydney Harbour’s Pop-Up Island Hotel
Tilba Lake Camp, Central Tilba, New South Wales
On the Sapphire Coast, Central Tilba is one of the prettiest little towns in NSW and its heritage-listed main street bustles with antique shops and cafés. A few minutes out of town are lush hills and virtually deserted beaches waiting to be explored. This is where the Tilba Lake Camp has pitched a tiny village of Lotus Belle tents. Each of the three yurt-like tents comes complete with queen-size bed, table and chairs, plush rugs and a charging station for electronics (plus wi-fi!). Outside the sanctuary of the tent, there are bathrooms with toilets and showers, barbecues, a fire pit, a swimming pool and even a little store for all your in-tent dining needs. There’s also a golf buggy that delivers meals to your tent door. The best bit? Falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
Simple Pleasures Camping Co., Manly, New South Wales
Simple Pleasures sets up glamping grounds in gorgeous natural surrounds within driving distance from Sydney, including Seal Rocks, Wallis Lake and Seven Mile Beach. This summer they’re bringing the glamping experience to Sydney. The Bedouin on the Beaches pop-up will see 10 luxurious tents installed in the grounds of the International College of Management overlooking Manly Beach. They’re each decked out with rugs from around the world and Hugo Sleep mattresses plus plates, cutlery and a coolbox. Breakfast is a lovely stroll down a rainforest path to The Boathouse at Shelly Beach. Other experiences, such as surf lessons and dinner on Manly Wharf, can be organised by Simple Pleasures. The pop-up is in place from December 14 until January 31.
Nomadika, Western Australia
The promise from the folks at Nomadika is that they’ll pitch a four-metre bell tent anywhere in Western Australia, from your own backyard to the back of Broome. However, there are also several established sites, including the Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup, Yanchep National Park and Swan Valley. At these locations and others, Nomadika sets up a camp site with the aforementioned tents, double beds with linen, lounge areas, picnic sets and lighting. The great outdoors never looked so good.
Cosy Tents, Daylesford, Victoria
Cosy is exactly how these tents feel, despite their generous size. Each is furnished with wicker baskets, cane furniture, jute rugs and beds made up with 1200-thread-count sheets. Cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery are provided and each tent has access to the barbecue area and fire pit. The check-in tent has games, cards, books and magazines so put down those phones and go back to basics. Cosy Tents is situated in the Hepburn region close to weekend-away magnets Daylesford, Trentham, Woodend and Kyneton. Guests can BYO food but the Brekkie Box option provides a hamper full of goodies that includes cereal, croissants, coffee, muffins and juice.
Tandara, Lane Cove National Park, New South Wales
Lane Cove National Park is located about 10 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD but feels a world away. From within a luxurious tent set upon a sandstone shelf, happy glampers have views across the Lane Cove Valley. There’s kayaking on the nearby river, bushwalking trails and wildlife tours where bandicoots, tawny frogmouths and sugar gliders may be spotted. Back at the camp site, the singe tent has its own deck, sun lounges, outdoor barbecue and bathroom with twin showers and sinks. If this is camping, you can keep your hotel.
Me Jane Camp Out, Southern Highlands, New South Wales
Founder Jane Quinn says Me Jane Camp Out is all about “primal luxury” and she’d know luxury – Quinn is the founder of Per Aquum Resorts. Canvas bell tents can be erected at a number of locations in the lush Southern Highlands, such as private vineyards and the Berrima Reserve opposite the Wingecarribee River. Tents are styled with flair using items picked up from local artisans and Quinn’s own overseas adventures.
Wingtons Glamping, Clarence Point, Tasmania
Along the banks of the Tamar River is a glamping paradise that harks back to the golden era of travel when exotic locales were explored in the grandest possible fashion. At Wingtons, there are elaborately furnished safari tents complete with queen beds, Egyptian linen, Persian-style carpets, wood-burning fires and vintage steamer trunks. Modern touches include Bose speakers, private outdoor kitchens, and bathrooms with hot showers, flushing toilets and plush robes.