Pemberton here we come
Believe it or not my love, my darling, my Special Friend and I have never been camping together.
Yup, it’s true, in the 10 years we have been together we have been caravanning with our girls. We have travelled to parts of our home state and country as well as parts of the world, staying in motels, b&bs and even five-star hotels. But we have never been camping together.
Since returning home from our overseas travels, setting up house and getting back to some sort of routine we have felt the urge, the itch to break away from the push and shove, the lights, the buzz and the routine of ‘the city’.
So, when the Caravan & Camping Show took place in Perth we, without any expectations, decided to have a look. Little did we know we would find and buy a perfect inflatable house. You read rightly, it’s a completely inflatable tent, no pegs or poles just a pump. It’s great! Plus, we got a couple of awesome sleeping mats too and I mean AWESOME!
We thought about buying some sleeping bags but decided upon the glamping version and packed our fleecy sheets, doona and pillows instead. I found a prefect-for-camping black doona cover and we packed our ‘Jack’ with food, water, warm clothes, bug repellent and toilet paper for a fun-filled camping weekend.
My former-Rover and literal boy scout of a husband has kept his camping cooking gear from decades ago. They too were packed in the 4WD along with a sparkling new ‘Gladiator’ camping cooker.
So, Friday morning off to Pemberton we headed with GPS coordinates for the camping spot and meeting place agreed upon. Mobile service dropped out the closer we got to our location. Luckily, we were prepared for this eventuality and had downloaded maps of the area so we wouldn’t get lost. Paper maps are so old school.
We stopped briefly in Bridgetown to stretch, eat our packed lunch and enjoy the scenery along the Blackwood River.
Western Australia’s beautiful south-west
One of the best things about heading to WA’s south-west are the trees, the massive, beautiful, peaceful, stunning trees. Enormous Tingle, Jarrah, Marri, Karri and even Sequoia trees dwarfed us, engulfed us, impressed us and put smiles on our faces as we left the city behind.
Another highlight was leaving the bitumen road and driving along gravel tracks to get to our picturesque camping spot in Big Brook Forrest, about 10mins drive from Pemberton.
We picked our spot, cleared the site of sticks, honky nuts and kangaroo poos and set up our brand-new inflatable tent for the very first time. It was so easy and quick thus no arguing was necessary.
Then we lined the floor of the tent with rubber floor squares that fitted together perfectly. Next the deluxe sleeping mats were unrolled so they could self-inflate. We joined them together to make a double-sized bed and then topped it off with warm fluffy sheets and our black queen-size doona. Now that’s glamping.
We set up our camping chairs and watched as Dani and Jake set up their tent and our perfect spot took shape.
Now, before anyone thinks we were going 5-star all the way just STOP! No, not, nein, tidak, non… our tent may be fancy, our bed comfy and our doona plush but that’s where it ended.
Firstly, there was no water or showers at our perfect camping spot. Secondly, the one and only toilet was a bush drop toilet that started out well i.e. not smelly but ended up being rather pongy. At times there was even a queue. Finally I have to say, we didn’t mind, it’s all part of the camping-experience. I just didn’t want anyone to think our glamping adventure was all 5-star.
Phew! Glad that’s sorted.
The temperature started to drop about 4pm and the bitey bugs started to appear. To combat the nasty mozzies, who always manage to find me, tracksuit pants, a thick pair of socks, jumper, beanie and fingerless gloves plus insect repellent came to my rescue. Happy again, we enjoyed leftovers for dinner, heated up on the brand-new cooker. Dishes were done, little people put to bed and the big kids chatted around the heater and enjoyed the silence and the starry sky.
In true camping-style we were visited by some over-eager wildlife, including a whopper of a spider that tried to make its web over our dining table. Excuse me! We were alerted to its presence when it webbed Jake’s head. After waving his arms around to remove it the friendly beastie showed its hairy legs perhaps thinking it had caught something for its dinner. Instead it was startled with bright torch light and curses that had it scurrying back up into the tree above our tent. Lovely! For the next hour, I checked every five minutes to make sure it wasn’t tempting fate and returning to our spot.
When bedtime came, we donned our winter PJs, kept our socks and beanies on and climbed into our glamping bed. I’m not sure if we expected to sleep well or not but surprisingly we did – apart from being woken by some late arrivals to the camping ground putting up their tent in the middle of the night.
A brisk morning in Pemberton
Sunrise meant a dip in temperature and the early rising of small children in the campsite next to ours. Again, we didn’t mind, it’s part of the camping-experience.
We got up and made a bee or pee-line for the drop-toilet and then put the billy on to make a cup of tea. It didn’t take long for the rest of our camping crew to wake and emerge from their tent.
When Jake spied us sitting in our camping chairs with our matching PJ pants and cups of tea in hand he said “Losers!” which apparently, he meant in the nicest possible way – ha!
We enjoyed a camp-cooked breakfast for kings, then freshly ground Yahava aeropress coffee made by barista Jake – soooooo good.
Our delicious breakfast caught the eye of five local and overly-friendly kookaburras.
Earlier we had watched one of them preparing some breakfast on a log. It was holding the end of something, maybe a fish or a decent sized-slug in its mouth and smacking it against a log, trying to flatten it so it could swallow it whole. Smack, smack, smack and then it tried to swallow the food, it wouldn’t fit so it regurgitated it and smacked it some more. It was fascinating.
Little did we realise our breakfast was of interest to the kookaburra and his mates until one of the birds swooped down to get a close look at Lucas’ breakfast which he was holding in his hand. There was a flurry of hands, even a knife that was within reach, in order to deflect the low-flying-breakfast-nabber.
When we looked up there were five kookaburras perched in trees around our perfect spot, all looking for another opportunity to score a feed. Apart from laughing at our reactions, knives and all, we got out our cameras to try and capture the next quazi-attack. Thankfully Lucas finished his food and the crisis was averted.
Sprockets hit Pemberton
Our Saturday plans involved heading into Pemberton to watch Zoe and Lucas participate in their mountain bike Sprockets event.
The McAuliffe’s decided to ride into Pemberton from our campsite – which turned out to be up hill most of the way – and we drove.
I liked our idea better and when it took them more than half an hour we debated whether to go back and get them. Trusting in their cycling ability and energy levels we left them to their ride and soaked up the sunshine and found a real toilet while we waited.
Little did we know the event was for little people and big people. There were Lycra-clad people on mountain bikes everywhere and for those that don’t know, Pemberton isn’t a big place.
We found our people amongst the crowd and watched the goings-on of races starting, people peddling, crowd members cheering. There was adrenalin and competition galore.
When Zoe and Lucas’ event came around they made their way to the start line with mum and dad in tow to encourage them. They aren’t my little people and I was nervous for them. Or maybe it was the nervous energy and excitement of everyone but it was a tad overwhelming, especially at the start of a race.
We watched them navigate the track and disappear into the bush beyond where we could see then return for another lap. They were both impressive and enjoyed themselves. It was all over in half an hour and then it was time for coffee. Zoe and Lucas were tired after their big ride into town and their event so we put their bikes on the back of ‘Jack’ and drove them back to the campsite while Dani and Jake rode to camp.
Our Saturday night dinner was a meal I had prepared and frozen before our camping adventure, mushrooms and chicken cooked in butter with sour cream, lemon and baby spinach. We heated it on our camping-stove and it was delish. Soooo impressed was I.
It was a little cooler on Saturday night but we were snug as two bugs in a rug or a really warm doona.
Sunday, we leisurely packed up for the trip home. Impressively, our tent take down went as smoothly as putting it up. Even our first attempt at folding the tent and ground sheet went well and both fitted into the respective bags – too easy.
Mind you, we erected the tent and spread the ground sheet out again when we got home to dry it out a bit and my solo attempt to fold it didn’t go as smoothly. Ha!
After disposing of our rubbish and sourcing a coffee for the journey we headed home, impressed with our new tent, in love with our sleeping mats and bed set-up and very happy with our first ever camping adventure together.
We are eagerly looking forward to the next one. Go KamarudinS!
For more camping fun, check out ‘KamarudinS Camping Adventure 2 & 3‘