Beautiful images shot by acclaimed photographer Corrie Bond in May 2016 and published June 26th 2016...
Inspired by the private safari camps of Africa, Paperbark Camp takes you into the great outdoors of Australia with some of NSW’s finest beaches just a kayak paddle away. Owners Irena and Jeremy Hutchings were way ahead of the ‘glamping’ game when they opened Paperbark in the late- 90s amid pristine bushland on the edge of Jervis Bay, a three-hour drive south of Sydney. The dozen tents are far from typical; built on timber stilts with a verandah and a canvas shell, they get the balance between Serengeti chic and modern refinement just right, the latter coming in the form of queen or kingsized beds, solar-powered lighting, hot showers and freestanding baths.
Your en suite bathroom is open-air but private, so while you get to bathe alfresco you’re not giving an intimate show to your camp neighbours. Not that they’d see anyway – each ‘tent’ is a good distance apart and, at night, the site is so quiet you could be the only being in the region. Aside, that is, from the wallabies and kangaroos often seen and heard hopping about Paperbark. The relaxed and easy-going nature of the camp makes it the perfect getaway from city life. During the day, you could just hang around reading the papers, do a spot of birdwatching from your timber verandah, enjoy an in-tent massage or play a game of chess on the giant board.
Feeling a bit active? Borrow one of Paperbark’s bikes and explore the local trails, or take a stroll around the eucalyptus, paperbark and mangrove forest. Perhaps the most fun to be had is to head for the creek on the camp’s edge. Picking either a canoe or kayak, push off into the gentle waters – it’s tidal though, so be sure to check they’re ‘gentle’ – and head down Currambene Creek for Huskisson. Following the river’s meandering route while watching wading birds search for lunch – and, if you’re lucky, the occasional sea eagle doing the same – you’ll eventually come out in Jervis Bay.
Huskisson is the perfect place for a fish-and-chips pitstop, and if you want to give your arms a rest, sign up for a Dolphin Watch cruise – the staff at Paperbark will book one for you. The expert guides will take you out to meet some of the bay’s 80 or so resident dolphins; whale tours are on offer too. Should you not want to go quite so far in a canoe, just stop off a short way down the creek and go for a refreshing swim before tucking into the picnic lunch prepared by Paperbark’s gourmet kitchen. You’ll want to save space for evening meals though, as dining by candlelight in The Gunyah Restaurant is something to savour. An ever-changing seasonal menu takes you from pork belly with truffle pumpkin puree and pears to grilled local snapper with chimichurri and chilli sauce. The camp is now run by Irena and Jeremy’s son Ben and, together with his friendly (but not overzealous) staff, Paperbark is a well-run ship that you’ll want to make your regular get-away-from-it-all retreat.
Two nights: $790 paperbarkcamp.com
Best boutique hotel for a glamping escape: Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay
This place is just a skip from one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches we’ve ever seen: Jervis Bay on the southern coast of New South Wales. It’s only two-and-a-half hours from Sydney, but the 100-acre retreat overlooking the Jervis Bay National Marine Park feels really remote. Accommodation is more glamp-site than campsite. The bush camp was built by former Sydneysiders who escaped the city, and they’ve fitted out 12 tree-fringed tents with comfy beds, organic toiletries and ensuite showers (and even baths in the deluxe rooms).
They all have wrap-around verandas. We spent our days bushwalking, kangaroo-spotting, kayaking, snorkelling, diving and whale-watching, and by night retired to the treetop restaurant, Gunyah, for some modern Australian-meets-Central American food. They call this “a place for possums and foodies”; both were very much in evidence during our stay. James: “Of all the tents, Kookaburra was our favourite, for its prime location beside the creek: ideal for our dawn kayaking adventures.” Tamara: “Take up the Paperbark Challenge and canoe to nearby Huskisson and back, then chalk up your time on the communal blackboard.”
The details : Paperbark Camp; 571 Woollamia Road, Woollamia (doubles from A$295/£170, b&b).
A light breeze plays across the veranda as you leisurely flick through the newspaper. Trees sway above you, and kangaroos and brush turkeys rummage in the undergrowth nearby. Lying back on the cushioned, beige recliner, you slowly watch the afternoon pass you by, with only the sounds of the animals in the bush around you. Paperbark Camp is an oasis where nature and luxury are irrevocably interwoven. Located on the New South Wales south coast near the picturesque coastal town of Huskisson, Paperbark Camp is a glamorous camping (otherwise known as ‘glamping’) haven of sumptuous tents and beautifully prepared meals. In the gorgeous Jervis Bay region, the bush and the coast meet in a plethora of white-sand beaches and stunning swathes of trees. Hidden in 40 hectares of unspoiled bushland, Paperbark Camp was built to carefully integrate itself into the natural environment. Opened in 1998 by owners Irena and Jeremy Hutchings, Paperbark Camp was designed to emulate iconic African safaris and allow travellers to sample a traditional taste of the Australian bush. Today, the camp is run by General Manger Ben Hutchings, Irena and Jeremy’s son. The glamping trend has infected both domestic and international visitors, with a wealth of stunning glamping accommodation options springing up across Australia.
When Paperbark Camp was first established in 1998, Irena and Jeremy unconsciously predicted this amazing trend, building a facility that married the forwardthinking, environmentally friendly strategies of sustainability with indulgent luxury. A tree-lined gravel path leads you, meandering through the bush. After a few minutes, you pass a small car park and then reach the Gunyah restaurant and lounge, which acts as the laid-back reception for Paperbark Camp. The circular, gravel driveway is surrounded by trees, with a large eucalypt providing the focal point for the entrance. Gunyah, which is Aboriginal for ‘meeting place’, is designed to incorporate the bush aesthetics around you into its architecture and décor. The camp’s architect, Trevor Hamilton, of Sydney firm Nettleton Tribe, designed the ochre-toned Gunyah as a hub for the camp, incorporating a reception desk, fireside lounge, restaurant, and outdoor cocktail area into its make-up. Natural woods line the lounge and restaurant space: gleaming wooden floorboards and wooden walls appear to seamlessly interweave with colours of ochre red, green, and beige. Floor-to-ceiling doors are folded back to allow guests to wander along the wraparound veranda, which possums frequently scamper across at night. With ancient trees surrounding the veranda and the natural bush aesthetic continued into the restaurant and lounge, it seems as if Paperbark Camp grew out of the Australian bush. After check-in with a friendly and informative staff member, you walk to your deluxe safari tent, differentiated by its moniker, Sugarglider. The camp boasts eight original safari tents and four deluxe safari tents, each named after bush flora or fauna. Placed along rambling dirt paths, the tents are sensitively spaced out to ensure complete privacy for each couple. Climbing up the steps to your deluxe safari tent, you quickly recognise the attention to detail paid to its design and construction.
To avoid scurrying creatures, the tent is situated on a raised wooden platform, and tent flaps can be securely zipped and enclosed with a karabiner. The veranda of the tent provides the perfect place to read the newspaper back to front or simply to watch the native wildlife in its habitat. With two beige armchairs and a cushioned recliner, you can lean back and let the afternoon pass you by, a sin never committed in your hectic city routine. Inside the tent itself, the first thing you see is a massive king-sized bed with soft linens and flowing white nets to protect its inhabitants from any pesky mosquitoes that breach the outer layer of the tent. Lanterns are placed on wicker baskets next to the bed, with tea-light candles nestled within them ready to be lit for a romantic glow. This enchanting bed seems designed for a decadent descent into pure relaxation. The tent is spacious and airy, with large squares of mesh fabric allowing guests to see and experience the bush from inside their tent while preventing invasion by insects. Velcro flaps can be secured across these inventive windows for privacy at night. An armchair is nestled in one corner of the tent, and in the other rests a small wicker table that hosts a jug of water, an information booklet, and a welcoming greeting. Guests are advised not to bring any food into the tents as possums will try to force their way in. This sparse set-up allows the bed to form the focal point of the tent and become the centre for relaxing, lounging couples. Behind the bed lies a row of shelves and a hanging-rail, hosting two robes.
The shelves provide guests with bush necessities like insect repellent, sunscreen, candles, matches, and torches for spotting nocturnal visitors on the veranda. A sliding door opens to a unique, open-air bathroom. This stunning creation is one of the highlights of the tent. A large bathtub is perfectly positioned to enable you to lie back with a loved one and After sampling each dish on the impressive buffet and devouring your portion of seafood paella, you wander back to your tent with the help of the solar-powered lights along the camp’s paths. In the deep night of the bush, without the usual lights of the city, the stars are bright in the sky above the thick canopy of trees. Negotiating the paths and finding your tent in this darkness is a bit of a challenge, but the astounding feeling of complete isolation is worth it. The tent is cosy and welcoming as you light lanterns around the tent. Sinking into the bed with romantic arcs of white netting spread above you, the lavish and exclusive nature of this experience washes over you. Although you are surrounded by eucalyptus trees and the sounds of Australian night animals moving around, you do feel as if you’ve immersed yourself in an indulgent exotic safari. After an invigorating open-air shower, with strategically placed screens for privacy, you head back to Gunyah for breakfast. A highlight of Paperbark Camp’s breakfast buffet is its amazing granola, which mixes coconut, walnuts, macadamias, grains, and other delicious additions served with fresh fruit and natural yogurt.
A range of bread is available, with the camp’s homemade fruit toast proving to be a standout. Each experience nature surrounding you. Strategically placed screens allow for some privacy while not obstructing the views of the bushland. An open shower is a luxurious experience, with Paperbark shampoo, conditioner, and body wash provided. A wooden tree-like stand provides the perfect perch for your towels. For those wishing to experience another level of indulgence, the camp offers a king deluxe tent that truly embraces the glamping concept. This tent, situated close to Gunyah for convenience but far enough away for privacy, has a large veranda that tempts guests with two beige recliners. A small wooden table holds a rustic lantern and provides the perfect roost for an engrossing novel. Inside the tent, lush, thick rugs are strategically placed across the wooden floorboards. A king bed is laid with linens, and hosts a cover and cushions in natural shades that emulate the muted greens and browns of the surrounding bush. For groups, two single beds can be added to the tent, with many girl getaways choosing this option. Beyond the bed lies an amazing sunken bathtub and an outdoor shower with waterfall showerhead cleverly pouring from a rustic metal bucket. Natural shades and textures are intimately interwoven in the design and décor of this beautiful tent. After settling in and relaxing on your tent’s veranda, you walk back to the Gunyah along wooded paths. Guests can enjoy a different set menu each night at the Gunyah. On Sunday nights, this is relaxed, with the camp offering a paella and pisco night to guests. The Gunyah restaurant is simply magical at night, with soft lights illuminating wooden tables, gleaming cutlery, and the ghostly trunks of the surrounding eucalypts. Tables are spread across the warm restaurant space and the wide veranda, where guests are approached by ambitious possums.
After being seated, you order from the camp’s range of local and international wines. A friendly waiter places a ceviche with blue cod, prawns, and king trout on the table in front of you, with a cleansing lemon pisco to accompany the ceviche. This combination is tart and refreshing, proving to be the perfect start to a seafood dinner. The restaurant’s Sunday-night fare is more casual than other nights, and is presented as a simple buffet. Along with a wide wok filled with seafood, meat, and vegetarian paella, a range of salads are provided, from a mouth-watering potato salad with bocconcini and chorizo to steamed beans with roasted quinoa and a spinach salad with fetta and tart lemon dressing. The camp’s bread is all made on site, and has a traditional, delicious damper-like taste to it. You devour the homemade damper bread, which is completed by corn kernels kneaded into it. morning, the camp provides a traditional cooked breakfast and a special option. This morning is a poached egg with sourdough bread, spinach, roasted prosciutto, ricotta, and tomato chutney—a simply delicious combination. As the day passes, you bike-ride to Huskisson on the camp’s bikes, drive around the Jervis Bay region, swim at the little-known Murrays Beach in the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve and at the iconic Hyams Beach, and eat burgers at the charming, and only, café at Hyams. The day is long and satisfying. The sun beats down as you walk through the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve and the waves lazily lap against you.
Returning to Paperbark Camp and descending into the bush is a welcome, quiet reprieve from the comparatively bustling towns of Huskisson and Vincentia. Gratefully dumping your beach bags on your veranda, you sink onto the recliner for a short nap. Later, you indulge in a long bath. Next to the bathtub, screens can be raised to allow you to gaze across the bush as you lie in the scented water. That night, dinner is a set menu of four simple and succulent dishes. To start, an amuse-bouche of trout, oysters, and other intriguing flavours is placed before you. This is followed by corn and basil ravioli in a beetroot sauce, an inventive and unique take on the traditional pasta sauce. A sous-vide beef rump with chimichurri and contemporary slaw serves as the main course, while a delicious dessert of watermelon and rum compress, gin jelly, berries, and watermelon sorbet ends a thoroughly indulgent evening. You sleep straight through the night, enveloped in the white cocoon of your bed and protected by the swathes of white netting that float above you.
The following morning, you enjoy a final shower, noting the trees swaying in the breeze and the birds delicately hopping along their branches, before devouring your final bowl of granola, natural yogurt, and fresh fruit. The cooked special is an amazing haloumi and potato rosti served with salmon and rocket. These final acts are bittersweet, coming with the realisation that you must leave this natural oasis and return to the city. The innate luxury of Paperbark Camp lies in its simple ability to weave indulgence and the natural world into an experience that seems more like an African safari than two hours south of Sydney. For those wishing to experience Paperbark Camp for themselves, visit paperbarkcamp.com.au.
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Half an hour south, on the shores of Woollamia near Jervis Bay is where you’ll find Paperbark Camp. Forget tent poles and sleeping bags; Paperbark is perfect for those of us too posh to pitch. Picture soft, spacious beds – yes, that's right, real beds – ensuites, verandahs, armchairs, electricity and hot water. These luxury Safari Tents are the way to experience nature without giving up your creature comforts. Look out at the bush from your bathtub or lie back in your queen bed and watch the local possums come out to play. Hungry? Forget billycans and campfires. At the camp’s award winning The Gunyah Restaurant chef Doug Innes-Will and his team bring fine dining to the bush. Get cosy by the fireside and feast on local line-caught kingfish and braised spring lamb. In the morning forget about pulling down your tent – book in for session with the Reiki therapist or take one of the complimentary canoes for a paddle down Currambene Creek.
Paperbark Camp has been privileged to host some beautiful weddings over the years, sneak a peek here at the special day of one of our recent happy couples and be inspired by all the pretty things featured on this gorgeous site.
PAPERBARK CAMP, JERVIS BAY, NSW
You'll recognise this glamping experience, hidden in the forest on the NSW south coast, by either the iconic treehouse housing its lush restaurant, Gunyah, or by the beautiful safari `tents' - elevated timber installations that come complete with hardwood flooring, wraparound verandahs, high thread counts and freestanding bathtubs. "Everyone I've met who's been to Paperbark rates it as one of the best accommodation experiences they've ever had," says McEvoy, who gave it a perfect 10.
You agreed - Paperbark was nominated by several readers for not only its incredible setting, but for its close proxitnity to idyllic beach town Huskisson and the incredible food and wine experiences on offer.