10 adults and 17 kids descended upon Warburton Caravan Park last weekend in what was a very memorable 2 nights of camping.
In true Bear Grylls style we overcame river rapids, treacherous prickly things on the ground, searing temperatures, swarms of kamikaze insects and duck poo.
It felt like I had been preparing for this for weeks. My car was full to the brim. I had enough stuff for a month. The kids were squashed into their car seats. We left Friday afternoon.
We could not have picked a better weekend. 25-31 deg all weekend.
Warburton Caravan Park has about 1km of river frontage with several small rapids at various intervals. Perfect for sitting in a rubber ring or inflatable boat and letting the current take you downstream.
The water is deep enough in parts to warrant a life jacket for the kids and rocky enough for adults to hurt themselves if they stumble. I know this because both of mine fell in and I stumbled, often.
There did not feel like there was much down time on this trip. There was always something to do. Whether it was cooking, cleaning, swimming, toilet runs, cricket or footie. I suppose that was my choice though. There were others that sat and listened to the cricket for 2 days.
I’m not sure if camping with 27 people is more or less relaxing than with just a few others. I really enjoyed it. Everyone looked after their own families but there was still a communal feel to it and everyone chipped in and helped out as needed. I think that has a lot to say about the people that were on the trip. Everyone was easy going, happy to muck in and enjoy themselves. We had a gazebo set up which became the catering zone. The tents were set up around this. We also had a huge grassy area right next to us which was perfect for the kids to run around in.
We started our river adventures cautiously. We finished the day exploring new rapids, avoiding underwater obstacles, fishing lines, fallen logs, reeds and treacherous sinking mud. We tried to avoid these prickly things on the ground on our walk back to the start of the river trail. That was hard. We spent a lot of time pulling prickly things out our feet. We searched for new areas to play in. One of these areas I have named Hell’s Crossing.
Hell’s Crossing is next to the deepest point of the river. An area surrounded on 2 sides by the bank and partially on one side by rocks. If you could get to these rocks you could sit on them and jump into the deep part of the river. But to get to these rocks, you had to pass through Hell’s Crossing.
Hell’s Crossing. The Hobbit would have had an easier time getting to Mordor. This was a mine field of slippery, sharp, wobbly rocks. Conveniently hidden beneath a shallow layer of very cold rapidly flowing water. Cross it if you dare. We dared.
Most made it across safely. Various foot injuries, a few crying children, several bumps and bruises. We played on the rocks for a while before deciding to head back. But getting 17 children safely back a second time would be pushing it. Everyone was tired. Disaster loomed.
I don’t know who thought of it. But it was a special moment. Someone came up with the idea of a chain of dads.
Each dad took a spot in the rapidly flowing river and made a chain back to the bank. Even some random passers by joined in the efforts. It was momentous. Like Chariots of Fire or the end of Rocky, I wanted to get on my feet and clap and cheer as the children were passed one by one down the line to safety. I only wish we had a picture. The kids loved it. Old ones and young ones were cheering and clapping as they were passed from one dad to another. The dads were left to hobble and stumble back to shore.
It did not get dark till 8.30pm so there was lots of time for the kids to play after dinner. Food for 2 days consisted of sausages and burgers and for one particularly lucky dad, a 28 day aged wagyu steak! Now that’s camping in style.
When it started to get dark we all gathered round the fire. There was an obvious and quite vocal appeal for horror stories. Luckily we had done some preparation and stories such as The Hairy Toe and The Dog That Licks your Hand and The Hook featured prominently. Watching some of the kids faces as these stories were being told was priceless. They lapped up every word as they ate their marshmallows.
It ended on Sunday afternoon after another trip down the river. Exhausted and satisfied we drove home. It was a great success and we have been reminiscing for the past week and looking at pictures and the video footage.
And how do I know the kids loved it?
They slept the whole way home.