There's a first for everything, and with glamping, also known as glamorous camping, becoming huge in Australia, I had the absolute pleasure of staying in Australia's first glamping retreat, Paperbark Camp, located in the coastal town of Jervis Bay!
Less than a 3 hour drive from Sydney and Canberra, Jervis Bay is the perfect seaside spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. White sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters, abundance of wildlife and relaxed, carefree vibes is what you can experience here.
Not far from the convenience of towns and shops, yet secluded and hidden away in dense bushland giving the feel of complete tranquility, you will find Paperbark Camp. Officially opening in 1999, Paperbark Camp, which was inspired by a trip to South Africa taken by Jeremy and Irene Hutchings, became Australia's first glamping retreat and continues to be at the forefront of ecotourism and luxury camping in Australia and still remains a family operated business!
Turning off from the quiet street and in through the huge timber gates at the entrance of Paperbark Camp, you slowly drive along the short dirt road lined with bushland and of course paperbark trees! Walking to the reception you are welcomed to the sound of birds singing and of course the warm smiles of the staff. There is just an instant vibe of calmness and relaxation and I couldn't wait to have a look around!
Inside is the reception area, kitchen and communal space called the Gunyah and is where breakfast and dinner is served, there is a seating area around the fireplace and another seating area near a heater and as there is no power access in your tents, there is a charging hub where guests can charge all their gear. There are plenty of travel inspired books to read as well as a chess board.
If you're a family with small children, in my personal opinion, it might be best to leave them with a sitter or family member and treat yourself to an adults only escape. Depending on your children's interest, they will either love this place or hate it. There is no child minding service or kid's club, nor are there any child friendly activities offered on site. Unless they enjoy a game of chess, riding a bike or are confident enough to go stand up paddle boarding or kayaking in the nearby river there isn't a whole lot else for them here and it would be worth checking what other activities are on offer in and around Jervis Bay. In saying that though, the tents do have decent internet service and there is free WIFI available in the communal area where they can watch movies or play games on their hand held devices.
Outside on the deck there is a seating area on one side and another seating area on the other surrounding a fire pit. There are two public toilets for guests to use if they are mingling around the communal area to save them from walking back to their tents, and walking down the wooden ramp there is a pathway that leads you out onto a jetty overlooking the river and as mentioned before there is complimentary stand up paddle board and kayak hire available, just be sure to let the staff know first. There is also a swing near the water and my inner child just couldn't resist having a little go on it!
Okay, now the part i'm really excited to show you, the luxurious, safari style tent! There are three tent options, Original, Deluxe and King Deluxe, all with different animal names, I called the Gang Gang Deluxe tent home for the night and oh my goodness the tent is a whole experience in itself!
There is a wrap around deck with outdoor furniture, polished timber flooring, huge bed with extremely comfortable and cosy linen and a private open air ensuite bathroom with both a bath and shower. These tents are spaced far enough to feel private yet close enough to feel like you aren't completely isolated. Paperbark Camp pride themselves in being eco friendly and follow a sustainable philosophy and as such you will not find air conditioning or heating, TV, bar fridge or power points for your technology, but hey, you're here to reconnect with nature right?!
Massages and some beauty treatments are available by appointment or speak to the staff about organising a picnic hamper to enjoy wherever your heart desires!
Included in your stay is dinner and breakfast, if you're feeling peckish throughout the day there is a small communal bar fridge to store your food inside the Gunyah, food is not allowed inside the tents to prevent possums from foraging in there, or you can purchase light bar food from the kitchen from 2pm.
Since we are on the topic of food, let me just say straight up, the food was absolutely incredible! Everything was so perfect, the flavours, how it was cooked, how it was presented, just the whole lot! It's a set menu based seasonally and varies on different days of the week to change it up for guests staying longer than one night, they are also able to cater for children and those with dietary requirements.
The Gunyah welcomes both in-house and non-resident guests for drinks and bar snacks from 2pm - 6pm and also for dinner from 6pm. Bookings are essential!
Breakfast was simple but just as delicious with a selection of fruit, choice of juices and warm beverages, house made chia pudding and a choice from waffles or the big breakfast.
My one night at Paperbark Camp was a short but very sweet one, I had an absolutely beautiful time and would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a romantic getaway, an intimate catch up with the friends or family or for a solo traveller looking to indulge in some me time!
Website - https://paperbarkcamp.com.au/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/paperbarkcamp/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/paperbark_camp