Glamping in the Grampians

Aussie’s are crazy about camping! Where are you going camping? Are you guys tenting it or trailing it? Beach or mountains? I finally relented after incessant pleading from the Irishman and kids, and we struck a compromise – we would go glamping with a Huge Camper Van at the 300 acre Laharum Grove belonging to consummate hosts Richard & Deirdre Baum, long-time friends of our neighbours the JDs and new friends of ours now!

As you can imagine, I was a tad apprehensive about stepping out of my comfort zone. The JDs decided to conduct an intervention after chancing upon my colour coordinated excel spreadsheet packing list, wrestled me away from the clipboard and assured us that everything would be cool, that there would necessities like an outdoor hot tub. Fine. We got down to the finer details of planning – like how many bottles of bubbly we would need to last us for the trip and who was bringing the scrabble board. Middle Age Rocks!

We settled into our new campsite with relative ease, thanks to our amazing Black Wolf Turbo 300 tent which we erected in about 2 minutes flat. Feeling very impressed with ourselves, we then discovered that we had nowhere to plug in the bloody camper van so the appliances wouldn’t work. Never mind! Cashmere throws were unfurled, beanbags fluffed and we were in full nesting mode.

Suddenly we noticed that it curiously quiet and it wasn’t just because we were in the mountains. Finn and Dylan had disappeared into the kid tribe of the 10 families who were camping at the grove as well and were running around whooping, jumping on trampolines and stirring hot tub soup.

I tell you, people had it good in the days of tribal living. This is how kids were supposed to be reared, with minimal to nil parental supervision, the older kids looking after the starry-eyed little ones, everyone out of sight from dawn till dusk.

The older kids decided to film a zombie movie and the little ones were thrilled to have their grunting and yelling appreciated for once in their lives…

I was living vicariously through Orlando, watching him whizz through the olive groves at sunset chasing kangaroos was pure golden nostalgia for a carefree childhood I never had, being a good little Singaporean battery hen.

The highlight of the trip was definitely the grand 12 course degustation Long Lunch we had on our last day at Laharum Grove hosted by Deirdre, who is a fantastic cook and is in the process of opening a restaurant at Laharum Grove. Deirdre really is an amazing talented woman.

I must deviate for a little while here to briefly sketch a fragment of Deirdre’s story – she and Richard chanced upon Laharum Grove on a holiday (with the infamous JDs again! Always central to any sort of action…) when they took the wrong turn in the mountains. They immediately fell in love with the beautiful olive grove they were lost in and which happened to be up for sale.  And then while Richard was still working in the city, she did the full Pioneer Woman and moved to the bare land with 2 small boys in tow, and lived there out of a caravan for months while they were setting up house!

As if this isn’t incredible enough, part of their renovations involved transporting the entire local church from the nearest town on a flatbed truck to their estate and converting it into part of their homestead. I mean, I can just visualise the scene of the church creaking its way to their estate against the dramatic backdrop of the mountain ranges, it would make a spectacular movie.

Ok, back to the lunch. The JDs briefed us that we were supposed to prepare 1 course of a 12 course degustation menu, enough to feed 24 people.

24 happy, riotous, expectant Aussies!

For this occasion, I made special dumplings filled with pork and my homemade kimchi and drizzled with a fragrant vinegar, szechuan pickle and scallion sauce. They were a bit hit and I was really cunning having strategically bagged the first dish so I could enjoy the rest of my lunch without stressing!

This is my favourite photo – Dylan in the morning mist, getting her own boots and clothes on and ready to run off with the girls for waffles. Every morning one of the big girls would come over, knock on our camper van door and say “Crystal, is it ok if we take Dylan and Finn for breakfast? We’re making waffles / campfire toast / pancakes!” Heaven!

Let’s end with a quick roundup of our favourite things about camping!

1.) Showering under the big open skies. There’s something magical about this, it’s a really primal and satisfying experience.

2.) Campfires, stories and marshmallows, of course!

3.) Scrabble with friends over wine and cheese

4.) Arts & craft time, appreciating simple pleasures with no screens in sight…

5.) Treasure hunts – especially hilarious when the older kids are handicapped by having their legs tied together in pairs

6.) Ok, I know this is not standard camping protocol, but boy did we appreciate that hot tub, especially with THAT view in the background!

7.) Seeing the entire galaxy lit up at night, and sometimes spying a shooting star

8.) Being so close to nature that you remember that we’re all animals after all, hot tubs and all….

9.) Our kids getting along so well by the end of the trip and learning to occupy themselves, even during the 5 hour drive back home.

That’s it for now, we’re now newly converted camping enthusiasts and I’ve been doing a lot of research online on beautiful vintage Airstreams. The JDs have booked us in for another camping trip in November, this time by the beach. We’ll keep you posted!

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