View of Hastings River, Port Macquarie, NSW

Tents and the City

October 19, 2012

in blog trip, camping, Nature, New South Wales

I think I left something off my list of reasons camping unnerves me in my other post.

Another factor, for me, is that if you camp in a secluded area, which is pretty much where most campgrounds are, you best not have forgotten anything you needed. And as someone who routinely forgets toothpaste, body wash, a hair brush and other items when I’m just staying in a hotel room, the idea that I have no access to a store or concierge to give me deodorant in the morning because I forgot to pack some is a scary thought — particularly for the people around me who will have to smell my funk for the rest of the trip.

But I discovered on my recent trip to Port Macquarie to stay in the Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park that not all camp sites are rural and woodsy. This tourist park is along the river in the middle of downtown Port Macquarie, a short walk from shops, restaurants and pubs — or a Coles in case I ran out of mouthwash. A much bigger site than Sundowner Tiona Tourist Park, Breakwall felt like its own Saturday night gathering within the fenced-in campgrounds. Families with super-tents and couples with RVs dotted the small plots of land, lending a community feel to the property. There are also riverside cottages for those who want a bit more luxury during their stay.

View of Hastings River, Port Macquarie, NSW

The location of Sundowner Breakwall makes sense as it links the camping community to all the other activities Port, a city of 75,000, has to offer. So named because of its situation along the Hastings River breakwall, lined with painted rocks, Sundowner Breakwall gives easy access to whale and dolphin watching — there’s a resident dolphin pod — river cruising and junk-boat riding. There’s also kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding on offer and a beach right nearby. And there’s no shortage of good grub in the area, with Port becoming known for top restaurants showcasing inventive chefs cooking with locally-grown or -sourced ingredients, such as LV’s on Clarence.

Breakwall, Hastings River, Port Macquarie, NSW

In operation since March, owner Todd Richardson says he keeps his menu simple and makes everything in-house with produce and meats from local farms. Menu items include salami and juniper berry-cured pork back strap, Hastings River oysters and cornflour-battered prawns with spicy aioli washed down with craft beer from Black Duck Brewery. Sundowner Breakwall is staying on top of this emerging foodie scene with partnerships with events such as the Tastings on the Hastings food and music festival this past August.

Battered shrimp, LV's on Clarence, Breakwall, Port Macquarie, NSW

Sundowner Breakwall seems like it would be the perfect stepping stone for new campers or re-entry to camping for those like myself who haven’t pitched a tent in a long time. As Simon Luke, director of Sundowner Holidays, said, “You can chuck up a tent and then get dressed up and duck into town.”

Which do you prefer — camping in the middle of nowhere or near a city?

I was a guest of both Sundowner Tiona and Sundowner Port Macquarie, however, all opinions on the tourist parks, camping gear and activities are my own.

7 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Annie @ Go Camping Australia

    Generally, I would say the more secluded the better for camping. The feeling of being alone and away from all the comforts and trappings of modern life! BUT…. We have camped near towns on the odd occasion and the ability to run into town and get last minute supplies, or grab a meal because you didn’t want to cook …… Well, it’s a nice little luxury!

    So I can understand the benefits of being close to town, yet truly appreciate the isolation that some camping trips entail.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks for weighing in Annie — I found it pretty incredible both options exist within a few hours’ drive of Sydney.

    1. Lauren Post author

      I think I’m the same — love to get away in nature, but could I live there all the time? Probably not.

  2. Rahman Mehraby

    The location of camping depends very much on one’s attitude and feelings. Some, who want to feel more secure, may prefer to be close to a city. Those who would like the serenity and adventurous part of traveling, may prefer to be away from the cities.

    I think if you want to deeply experience the different setting in which you’re camping, the farther, the better!

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran

  3. Lauren Post author

    Hi Rahman — All good points. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to really go deep into the great outdoors!

  4. Pingback: Glamping with Grandma: A Tale of Two Campgrounds - The Life That Broke

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