When I first started telling people that I was going to Australia, people would say things like, ‘oh, the most poisonous spiders in the world are there’ (I saw none of them). Or, ‘there are crazy wild animals there’ (The animals are all cool…well, all of them except for dingos. Dingos are jerks.) And I was all, ‘Whatever People. It’s a giant country the size of America. What are the odds I’m going to run into wild animals. I’m not sleeping outside or anything.’
Well, it turns out I was sleeping outside.
And if you know me at all, you may know that I have a fairly intense fear of sleeping outside. This is partially related to the time I woke up in the middle of the night and had a possum on top of my head. That’s right, there was a possum sniffing around in my hair, on my head. (I’ll give you a second to comprehend and appreciate that.) And I was indoors when that happened. I can’t even imagine what goes on outside at night. Because the outside is filled with creatures like this…
So when we first got to Australia and we met with our lovely tourism representatives from Tourism Australia, we started talking about our night in Jervis Bay. We were schedule to stay at the very lovely Paperbark Camp . Camp being the main word here that means sleeping outside.
It’s like camp, but glamourous. Glamourous camping. Glamping. Get it?
Oh but Friends, glamping is still camping. In the woods. In Australia. With Australian animals.
“Oh yes!” they gushed. “It will be amazing! Beautiful forms of nature. Gorgeous birds. Lovely woodland creatures.”
“Kangaroos?!!!!” screamed Jenny.
“Sure. Kangaroos. Walabys. Wallaroos. Also kookaburras. And possums.”
“Wha say what?” I came alive.
“Oh sure!” And then they raved about the possums and how cute they are and how wonderful they are, and oh, they’re even sort of the mascot of Paperbark Camp.
That’s just awesome.
And that’s when I lost my brain.
But then we got it, and it was gorgeous (they were right), and at least we would be staying in a tent.
A super fancy tent. A tent built up on stilts and a platform. Where you zip yourself in and other things out.
And there were fancy beds in this tent.
And a clawfoot bathtub with fancy soap. This camp isn’t messing around.
Ben, one of the owners, assured us that no possums would get in our tent. Believe me, I asked him this question about 12 times. Ben’s parents started Paperbark Camp in the 1990s, and now Ben sort of runs the place.
He also oversees the Paperbark Camp restaurant, The Gunyah Restaurant . Which by the way has a possum on its logo, no big deal.
It also has the most amazing menu.
And here’s what else:The Gunyah Restaurant featured hands-down the best food I had in the continent of Australia. And that’s saying quite a lot.
I could go on and on about the food (and I will in a post about food) but just trust me on this one, if you are ever anywhere near this area, go have dinner with Ben at the Gunyah. You won’t be disappointed.
However, by the time we finished dinner, it was completely dark outside, so they gave us a “torch” to make our way back to our tent.
It turns out a “torch” in Australia is a teeny tiny flashlight.
And this teeny, tiny flashlight was all that stood between us and about 8,000 possums, possibly. We saw three of them on the way back to our tent. Jenny cheerfully suggested they were simply showing us home to where we would sleep.
And that’s when I started completely freaking out.
Also, we soon found that Jenny didn’t zip up the bottom portion of our tent.
Just a tiny detail.
It turns out (and it’s a good thing too…for Jenny) that no animals ever made it into our tent, and although it was chilly enough that we put animal costumes over our pajamas…for warmth and to scare off any possible animals…we survived the evening with style. And sleep.
In fact, the last thing I remember that night is falling asleep to the distant sound of waves crashing onto the shore. Nature’s sleep machine.
The next morning, everything looked brighter.
In fact, as far as I’m concerned, Paperbark Camp is a must-go experience.
And I wished for another night there.
Or at least a long lazy afternoon.
And even though our long night outdoors ended our stay too soon, somehow I already know that I will make my way back to Australia to stay another night outside.
At Paperbark Camp, preferably. In fact, that might still be the only way that I’d do it.
But now I know I can do it. And I must say, that afterwards, I felt like a total badass. And I can’t even begin to recommend that feeling highly enough.