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Published November 4th 2014
Glamping - it's like regular camping but with style & class
If the concept of camping in the remote centre of Australia with everything supplied including hot meals, warm showers, toilets, lounge facilities, pre-made accommodation and no other campers / visitors for miles appeals to you, then look no further as the answer is here.
Located due west of Alice Springs are two semi-permanent campsites set up to provide luxury accommodation to guests walking parts of the Larapinta Trail. Operating as a collaborative partnership between the Aboriginal Traditional Owners, the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service, and World Expeditions, these campsites tease guests and reset expectations by adding a touch of glamour to a traditional camping experience.
Nick's Camp, named after Nick Murcott, one of the designers of the campsites, and Charlie's Camp, named after Charlie Holmes who was one of the Larapinta Trail's early guides are both fully self sufficient and environmentally friendly remote campsites with no mains electricity, sewers or mains water.
Both campsites, designed by the same team of award winning architects, have similar facilities, with a central lounge / dining / kitchen area, a toilet block, a shower block and numerous heavy duty tents. The central lounge area has comfortable padded benches in a L-Shape to encourage conversations about the day to unfold, or the day that has already unfolded. The dining area comprises a long table with 16 comfortable fold up chairs. The kitchen with a fully equipped BBQ and heating facilities, is largely off limits to guests as the tour guides commandeer the facilities to prepare meals. A small supply of electrical power from the solar panels provides a power boost to those camera batteries which have earnt their keep during the day.
A hot shower is a dream in areas so remote from local towns, but they are possible at these campsites, albeit with a little bit of effort. It starts with a trip to the rainwater tank to grab a pail of water, and then off to the campfire. A clever "donkey" contraption involves pouring cold water in at the top, which then forces hot water out in to a new pail. This pail of hot water is then carried to the shower block, and is then used with a shower head for the hot shower. Surprisingly, a pail of water lasts just over 2 minutes, which ends up being plenty of time for a shower.
Charlie's Camp Shower Cubicle - Photo : Steve Hudson
The toilet blocks are the traditional long drops but built on a platform, but with the insertion of straw after each visit, this ensures that they remain clean, odour-free and as inviting as one could expect in remote Australia.
The heavy duty tents are fully securable should the weather change, or if some of nature's fauna elect to pay a visit. Each tent has two stretcher beds with a swag on them, and guests are encouraged to take these beds outside of their tents on the warmer nights and to sleep under the cloud-free skies.
Nick's Camp is about 15km due west from Alice Springs, about 2km inland from the Larapinta Drive on a private road. The campsite is in an open area of arid land, with plenty of native mulga, spinifex and few trees in the surrounds.
Sky views from Charlie's Camp are limited to the stars above, but are balanced by extensive views of the trees, shadows and natural surrounds in this rare green area of Central Australia. And for those quick enough, some of the tents have a "river view", although my take on it was that this river hasn't seen water in decades !
World Expeditions, and their Australian partner Australian Walking Tours, conduct three and six day tours of the Larapinta Trail from March to October each year. These tours use the facilities at Nick's Camp and Charlie's Camp, and provide guests with luxury in a luxurious part of remote Central Australia. Glamping never felt so good.