THE SLOW DOWN

Riding New Zealand on horseback when Covid-19 lockdown was announced

 
 

MY LIFE UNHURRIED

NINA KARNIKOWSKI

 
 

SLOW STAYS SEASON TWO

The Camp

 
 

SLOW STAYS SEASON TWO

Clifftop at Hepburn

Off-grid & sustainable Byron Bay glamping in a secret location – Welcome to The Camp

Bell tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay

There’s something innately primal about sleeping without a roof over your head. Maybe it’s the ability to fully hear the sounds of nature around you, take deep drowsy breaths of oxygen (instead of air-conditioning), or the fact you’re harnessing the tiniest fear of being awoken by a wild animal.

The rise and rise of glamping in recent years has proven that even the biggest of camping haters want to immerse themselves in open spaces that rejuvenate and invigorate. They just like doing it with a touch more comfort.

Which is why constructing a glamping retreat on top of secret hill high up a dirt track – away from people and traffic lights and noise – proved to be a great idea for David Wilkinson and Teagan Marshall. With adverse life challenges, a small budget, the determination to create accommodation with a small footprint, and a lot of footwork, the couple started the build in 2017 and proudly opened it to the public just over 12 months later (listen to the whole story on our podcast).

Located in Yelgun, just outside Brunswick Heads and 20 minutes’ drive from Byron Bay, The Camp is an off the grid, carbon-neutral, eco-tourism haven. Fitted out with solar panels, batteries, a water tank and a composting toilet, the property is a working example that luxury doesn’t need to be sacrificed in aid of sustainability.

“…the property is a working example that luxury doesn’t need to be sacrificed in aid of sustainability.”

The first thing to know about The Camp is that you won’t find it on any map. Instead, directions are shared just before your arrival, adding to the adventure. Divert off the Pacific Highway and a country road takes you to the steep and rocky driveway, which is shared by other rural residents who enjoy this leafy hillside location. As you climb higher to the top of the hill, you expect the camp to reveal itself, like a caravan park with an overhead welcome sign… but it doesn’t.

It’s not until you park your car and continue further on foot that you get a glimpse of your own private camp. 

Named Ochre, the solitary canvas bell tent sits on a circular deck, connected by a timber deck to its very elegant kitchen and bathroom, built on top of a 12-foot utility trailer.

Lifting a corner of the canvas reveals an interior in tones of sand and clay, perfectly curated to blend with the surrounding wilderness. Beautiful terracotta linen, rattan reading chairs and big pillows set a minimal scene for you to climb inside and collapse in comfort.

Inside, you’ll find Dave and Teagan’s collection of books on camping, cabins, botanicals and tiny homes including the popular Cabin Porn. Laying back on the woven rug, glass of wine in hand, flicking through the beautiful photography in these pages might just have you wondering why you’re working your butt off to live in such a big house.

Bell tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Bell tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Bell Tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay

Over in the adjoining tiny cabin, the kitchen has a gas cooktop, fridge and enough bench space to make yourself a hearty meal. It also has a bench with high stools under a beautiful large window which looks out over the valley. Sit and enjoy your meal inside wanderlusting out to the west, or enjoy the campfire outside, looking towards the coast.

The bathroom is also a no-holds-barred affair with a stunning rain shower head and full-length window to take in the view. Eucalyptus coloured towels are rolled on timber slab shelves, like leaves in an Australian bush painting.

Kitchen at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Kitchen at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Bathroom at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Bathroom at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
“Eucalyptus coloured towels are rolled on timber slab shelves, like leaves in an Australian bush painting.”
Bathroom at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay

There is enough power and water at The Camp for you to enjoy every part of your holiday without stress, but just enough to deter you from spending too much time on your electronic devices.

If you choose to go adventuring, everything that the Byron shire has to offer is just a 10-20 minute drive away, but coming back to camp in the evening to lay back and look up at the stars quickly becomes a more attractive option.

Bell Tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Kitchen at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Kitchen at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay
Bell tent at The Camp, Yelgun, Byron Bay

It’s easy to feel either underwhelmed or adversely anxious when presented with the prospect of doing nothing. But within a few hours of moseying around this peaceful hilltop and soaking in the mountain air, you might just find that doing nothing is what you really needed.

Nonetheless, your stay at The Camp will inspire something in you. Whether it’s to learn to disconnect, simplify your own space, or consider how you can reduce your environmental footprint at home. It’s camping like the good old days before paid sites and tent tags. Just you, your special someone and the tranquility of the great outdoors.

Book your stay at The Camp HERE.

The Camp donates to 1% for the Planet + $20 of each booking also goes to Sea Shepherd Australia.

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