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.
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.
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.
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.