Do a quick Google search of ‘glamping’ and an abundance of Instagram-worthy, boho-styled, canvas safari tent-like accommodation will flood your screen. Usually situated on a pristine beach or in a lush jungle, you’ll likely think to yourself ‘yeah as if, places like that don’t exist.’ Boy oh boy does it make you itch for a weekend away, though. Well, turns out, the weekend of your dreams does exist, and it has for 20 years.
Situated near the white sand beaches and pristine waters of Jervis Bay, NSW, you will find the pioneers of glamping, Paperbark Camp, which first opened its doors in April 1999. Nestled amongst native Australian bush, you will find the cosy canvas cabins that have now become synonymous with luxury camping: The perfect base for a nature filled weekend. Although, there’s absolutely no judgement here if you choose to stay in the bath all weekend, either… I mean, look at that view:
Paperbark camp gives you the opportunity to enjoy a sunset bevvy from your private deck, just as the founders did when they conceived the idea in Africa in the early 90s. Irena and Jeremy Hutchings had fallen in love with the style of accommodation they frequented on safari in Africa. The idea of being amongst nature, without the hassle of packing and unpacking camping gear, but with the comfort of a few simple luxuries, all the while sticking to their camping-addicted roots, was appealing to say the least. Why was this not happening in Australia, they wondered? After deciding to leave their jobs and buy a 100-acre site of untouched, creek front bushland in Jervis Bay, their dream became reality. Yet could the couple ever foresee the emergence of the now very hashtagable trend of ‘glamping’?
“We have always embraced growth in the market,” says Camilla Hamilford, Paperbark’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “We believe the more that people experience this type of accommodation the more they seek it out when they travel elsewhere. When we started out, the word glamping hadn’t been invented, but twenty years on you can find glamping in all corners of the country and in many different styles, from much more basic to super luxurious!”
Twenty years on and Paperbark Camp welcomes guests from all over the globe who are looking for a genuine Australian bush experience, as well as city slickers simply just looking for a breather.
“In the earlier days we would have said that our guests were very much professional and well-travelled, an adventurer looking for something different for their quiet getaway, reflects Camilla.
“These days we feel that we appeal to a much broader market, people understand the concept of glamping and are looking for a more unique experience when travelling. So, these days we welcome all sorts of people [and] even if it’s a bit outside their comfort zone, they nearly always leave so glad they have had the experience.”
Long before sustainability was ‘in’, the Hutchings were thinking green. When planning commenced on the project in the 90s, the concept of ecotourism was small and relatively unheard of*. It was the Hutching’s desire to maintain as much peace and beauty of the natural environment as possible that really drove Paperbark Camp’s sustainability mission to the forefront of their business operations.
With the emergence of climate change concerns and the growth in demand for travel that impacted the environment as little as possible, Paperbark Camp was quickly recognised as leader in the field and achieved Advanced Ecotourism Certification in its first year of operation. The owners and staff are dedicated to continuous improvement and leaving a lasting positive impact on their local environment. You can read more about their sustainability initiatives here.
From all of us here at Ecotourism Australia: Happy birthday, Paperbark Camp, and all the best for the next 20 years!
Want to know about some of our other ecotourism pioneers? Check out our certification Hall of Fame.
For more information about Paperbark Camp, check out their website or follow them on social media.
For more green travel inspiration, visit our Green Travel Guide.
[Photos: Paperbark Camp]