Any ideas we might have had, and in fact did have, of going back to Europe over the last year having been forestalled by the pandemic, this year we found ourselves all cashed-up with no particular place to go. The thousands we would have spent in Ireland, Jordan and Poland (the unlikely bedfellows of our proposed itinerary for last Christmas, alas) were reallocated to a two-person camper, a Tucana Teardrop.
We ordered one of these little headturners, which are made in Germany (cool kitchenette at back) and China (everything else), last August but because of Covid-related delays shipping it from Shanghai we didn’t end up getting it in time for our Easter trip to Carnarvon Gorge. Probably just as well, since we didn’t really fancy the fifteen-hour round trip to the Central QLD Highlands to be the first time either of us would have to tow a camper van, no matter how small and cute it might be.
Our maiden voyage with our new camper was, rather, a bush campsite called Wooyung Beach Holiday Park, situated on the Tweed Coast in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, somewhere between Kingscliff and Brunswick Heads. That was about as far as we fancied taking her until we got the hang of things.
We got down on a wet Saturday afternoon, and I swear – no sooner had we pulled into our spot in the campsite than jealous people approached our teardrop posing all sorts of questions. In a world of square, boxy, white/grey caravans a Tucana, especially a duck-egg blue one, really does cut a dash.
First thing next morning I brewed up a coffee on the kitchenette stove and passed Tina hers through the hatch – she didn’t even have to get out of bed. The rain was still a nuisance though so I proposed to the gang (there were four groups: twelve of us in all) we visit the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, which is just south of Murwillumbah.
I’ve been a fan of Margaret Olley since seeing a retrospective of her work in Brisbane’s GoMA a couple of years ago. Tina and I had actually been to the Tweed Regional before, whose setting, overlooking the Tweed river with a scenic backdrop of both Lamington and Springbrook National Parks, is as pretty as anything inside the gallery.
Sunday lunch on a camping trip tends to be – with any luck – a long and bibulous affair at a hotel in the nearest town. This weekend, that would be Brunswick Heads. As we drove back from the gallery to the coast, more or less through Mooball National Park, word reached us however that Hotel Brunswick was jammers.
I’ve always thought of Brunswick Heads as a poor man’s Byron Bay, but now that Byron has a Netflix and hot Instagram influencers problem we were more than happy to spend our Labour Day in the Heads. Crowded as it was we got a table in a place called Trawler’s and had a feed of fish tacos and Cooper’s Pale Ale, nobly upholding Sunday afternoon camping tradition. Somewhat relaxed, I walked with Tina out to the mouth of the Brunswick River as the afternoon’s light waned. There were kids out on the river in tinnies, Dads fishing with their kids, and off in the distance, Byron and its poseurs.
How did we fare in our first outing in the Tucana? Well, we’ll need a softer mattress for a start. And a trivet for our Bialletti. Other than that it was all that we expected. Mind you, we’d made it easy on ourselves by leaving Alexander and Eoin behind. They had homework or something. Where will they sleep on future outings? Wherever they want to, preferably under the pull-out awning/canopy thing we’ve ordered, but they’re not sleeping inside. That’s our space.