Ah, remember the good old days? You’d pack the station wagon with the flimsy tent, only five of the six pegs, and an empty gas bottle, and head off to your favourite campground.
Where it would rain.
Dad would try not to swear as he hammered his thumb instead of the peg, emitting a word that sounded like blood-bugg-sheeesh!
Then you’d drive home, as red as lobsters and covered in mozzie bites, raving about how it was the best camping trip ever.
Our attempt at replicating this family tradition ended with the kids being chased by a giant goanna. And a 200-strong tick infestation.
Upon examining the poppy seeds dotting their tiny bodies, the doctor said, “I think they’re ticks, but I’ve never seen that many on a child before”. Days later, I found one embedded in seven-year-old Grace’s eye. We vowed never to go camping again. Until now.
Welcome to Camping 2.0.
This is the umbrella term used to describe the journey from camping to glamping.
In Britain, camping has overtaken B&Bs in popularity – a big call in a climate where you could lose a toe to frostbite.
“This year, we’ve seen a big burst of Australian properties joining our site,” says the editor of goglamping.net, Garri Rayner.
These include Jimmy’s Beach Holiday Park near Port Stephens, with 50-square-metre “chalets” complete with verandahs, plasma TVs and bunk beds for the kids.
“Families are really busy these days,” Jimmy’s Beach marketing manager Jenny Sewell says. “They want to give kids a grassroots camping experience, but the thought of packing up everything, then unpacking it at the other end, is too exhausting.”
Many, like Jimmy’s, come with en suites (hot showers – woo hoo!), including the new glampsites on Queensland’s Moreton Island. Later this year, the Ikara Safari Camp at the Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges, will offer “bush butlers”.
If you’re still worried about lizards or teeming ticks, try a night at one of the city sites. There’s a fully stocked bar at the glampground on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, while The Place Tandara boasts African safari-style tents overlooking the lush Lane Cove Valley.
The great thing about glamping is the price. Many sites start at $80 a night.
If you want to do it yourself, check out the quirky tent designs on fieldcandy.com. One tent looks like a slice of watermelon; another a field of farm animals; while the evocative “Get a Room” features a silhouette of a couple canoodling.
It’s OTT overseas, with glamp pods made of timber and bamboo, and en suites in gypsy wagons.
So if you’re worried about spidery shower blocks, glamping is the go. Unless you’re my husband.
“That’s not proper camping,” he grumbles, as I lie on Egyptian cotton sheets and a duck-down pillow, at the aptly-named Extravacamps. I quietly suggest he goes outside, without insect repellent, and bangs his thumb with a hammer a couple of times.