Remember those camping virgins we went to Kenilworth with, hoping to laugh at all their stupid first time camping mistakes only to completely cock up our own camp site? Aah yes, good times, good times. Well not long after that when they proved they weren’t completely useless, we went on another weekend camp trip to a caravan park almost every person on the Sunshine Coast with camping gear and kids has been to: the Nine Mile Cobb and Co Campground in Tandur, Queensland.
Oft times have I stood at school pick up or down at the local park and listened to the virtues of this mysterious campground in the middle of nowhere. Okay, 20 kilometres south of Gympie is hardly nowhere but I’m from Noooosa daaahling: we don’t even eat food which hasn’t been grown within the shire boundaries.
Anyway, we were convinced it would be alright and set off on another adventure where I stupidly agreed to tow our Jayco Swan up straight after school pickup, set up and wait for Fiela to turn up after he finished work to a hero’s welcome whereupon I would throw the kids at him and scull my wine. It all worked out quite well except for a few hairy moments on dirt roads somewhere in the Woondum National Park when my phone lost reception and therefore the map I was following.
But we arrived unscathed and before even arriving at the reception area, were impressed by a huge playground featuring a FULL SIZED pirate ship with kids crawling all over it. You’d have thought I’d given my two children speed the way they reacted to that in the back seat. Reception is all 1800s décor with dusty saddles, old medicine bottles, massive railway beams and lots of dust, not to mention a few free range chickens. The staff were super lovely and by this time The Duchess had arrived to escort us down to our chosen camp site.
Here’s where camping with friends can be a blessing and a curse. Yes, they had chosen a spot overlooking the second playground, but they’d done so in such a matter that we were front and centre in the open. I know from experience that front and centre in the open = hordes of children and stupid adults constantly walking through your site. But again, they had jagged it and for the rest of the weekend we watched our children ride their bikes on the BMX track, play on the flying foxes (yes, two) sandpit, slides and fort without having to move a muscle.
Set up was sort of a breeze- I was still as useful as tits when it came to levelling the bloody thing out but Fiela arrived to sort that so happy days. Where’s the wine??As for the kids, this place is built for them. There are no real designated camp spots, so you can choose your own amongst the gumtrees, around the billabong or out in the open and decide where your fire goes. In addition to the two playgrounds is a petting zoo, a billabong to paddle about in, pony rides and on weekends there is the corniest, funniest bushranger re-enactment featuring frilly ladies underwear and gold painted eggs.
The Governor of Queensland and Bushranger Nick (who also does the pony rides and at dusk, holding various QLD rugby league flags, gallops through the campground on his horse a number of times depending on how fecked off he is with going on slow pony rides with spoilt children all afternoon) give a brief and dubious history of the colony and how we’re still sending gold back to “Mother England”. The Governor than starts up Rocky the train, and with about 40 kids armed with toy rifles and sticks of dynamite to protect themselves from “any blasted vagabonds” who might attempt to steal the gold, they move off for a slow putt around the billabong. Of course, it’s not hard for Bushranger Nick to spot them since it’s the same route every Saturday and he has a go at robbing the train. It’s awesome. There are enough jokes to make the parent’s laugh and enough slapstick to make the kids (yes, and me) guffaw. Plus it breaks up your Saturday morning of doing not much in time to start thinking about my favourite camp past time: what am I going to eat next?
So our weekend at the Cobb and Co was delightful. The kids were entertained, I actually had one of those “I should be doing something” moments which moved onto reading my book underneath a tree and ended with one of the beautiful staff arriving to ask me if I could talk to Sussie about leaving the chickens alone and stop pulling the tails of the other animals #idontknowthatkid #wrongcampsite #soz #qualityparenting.
The amenities are fine: there’s even some drop toilets dotted about to make you feel like you’re really toughing it. My favourite bush mechanic moment was when Fiela gaffa-taped head torches to the handlebars of the kids bikes so they could continue riding well after dark and we could drink wine in peace. There’s actually quite a bit to do around this neck of the eucalypt woods but that’s another post involving long walks ending in TV towers, strawberries and you guessed it, more wine.