Who'd ever have dreamed it?
A tented bush camp, in Jervis Bay...
Conceived over a few sundowners on safari in Africa in the eighties, Paperbark Camp officially opened in 1999 after years of dreaming and planning by the owners, Jeremy & Irena Hutchings. With the help of their family and a dedicated team of staff, the camp remains a family operated business and continues to be at the forefront of ecotourism and luxury camping in Australia.
Just 2 ½ hrs drive south of Sydney, near the pristine clear waters and white sand beaches of Jervis Bay, the camp offers a unique blend of fine food and wine, cosy canvas accommodation and a peaceful bush setting, the perfect base from which to explore this nature lover's paradise.
If this is camping, we want more! Everything was perfect- hospitality, food, wine, tent... Thank you all
Directions to Paperbark Camp
Paperbark Camp is located 2 ½ hrs drive (190km) south of Sydney in Jervis Bay, which is part of the Shoalhaven region. The Shoalhaven has a wealth of natural treasures but the bay area is the jewel in its crown with its calm, clear waters, amazing white sand beaches and pristine coastal bush landscapes. The area boasts three national parks: The Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay National Park and Jervis Bay Marine Park which together include many kilometres of walking trails and deserted beaches as well as provide sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife and underwater creatures.
Paperbark Camp is 4km from the small holiday town of Huskisson on the shores of the bay where the Currambene Creek meets the bay. Also around the bay are Vincentia, Hyams Beach and Jervis Bay Village which is in the Booderee National Park.
The bay and its extensive surrounding area covers 16km from north to south and 10km from east to west. Having a car is therefore useful for exploring the area and is certainly the easiest way of traveling to the bay. However we do encourage guests to consider alternative modes of transport. The train from Central station Sydney to Bomaderry (Nowra) is particularly scenic and we are happy to arrange a transfer to the camp, after which guests are able to explore the area by bike, canoe or by an escorted tour.
From central Sydney
Head towards Sydney airport and continue south, following the signs to Wollongong (F6). Follow the Princes Hwy South passing through Kiama, Berry and Nowra. 13km South of Nowra, turn left into Jervis Bay Rd. After 2km you will see a sign for Woollamia, turn left into Woollamia Rd and continue a further 6km. When you see Goodland Rd on your left, SLOW DOWN: the entrance to Paperbark Camp is around the bend on your left.
From the south
When traveling from the south, do not take the first exit to Jervis Bay – wait until the turn off at Falls Creek. Turn right into Jervis Bay Rd. After 2km you will see a sign for Woollamia, turn left into Woollamia Rd and continue a further 6km. When you see Goodland Rd on your left, slow down: the entrance to Paperbark Camp is around the bend on your left.
The Paperbark Story
It all started in Africa in the early 90’s over a few 'sundowners' with good friends in their private safari camp. We had travelled to Africa a couple of times and just loved the tented style of accommodation we experienced there and thought that the same concept would be ideal for Australia. Having been enthusiastic campers in our earlier years we still loved the feeling it gives of really being amongst nature, but no longer could be bothered with the planning, packing and unpacking required for more traditional camping.
On our return, we happened to discover beautiful Jervis Bay and it's pristine environment and at the same time noticed there was not much accommodation available, unless you knew someone with a house in the area…perhaps this could be the place for our much dreamed about camp? The idea of creating our own Aussie version of the African camp experience really started to take hold.
There were a few years of 'dreaming' of it all, discussing our ideas with friends and generally working up the courage to take the plunge. We still had dependent children in school in Sydney and it was pretty scary thinking of giving up our secure jobs and nice city lifestyle to risk everything we had worked so hard for, especially for what many friends considered a CRAZY idea! We had the vision, but found it hard convincing others. It was a matter of having the perseverance and belief in what we were doing, even though no one else did!
After a few years we found what we were looking for, a 100 acre site of untouched bushland with creek frontage and close to the bay. We left our jobs in engineering and publishing, rented out our home in Sydney and began the long process of satisfying council and government requirements to build on a protected wetland.
It took a staggering 4 years from the time of submitting the development application to the start of building though the delay may have been a positive thing, as perhaps the concept was ahead of it's time. In the end, our opening coincided with a growing trend towards nature based tourism and ecologically sustainable development, as well as the growth in the internet which has been so beneficial to our industry. Our opening also coincided with a rediscovery of the Jervis Bay area by Sydneysiders and it becoming a National Marine Park (only the second in NSW at the time) which renewed interest in the area and increased recognition of it as being a truly spectacular coastal destination.
Nearly ten years on and the camp has evolved somewhat from our original basic vision of a small private bush camp. Our architect Trevor Hamilton, of Sydney firm Nettletontribe, must have known from the beginning something we didn’t, foreseeing the emergence of ‘glamping’ when designing the ochre toned ‘Gunyah’ and realising the need for a substantial space that would meet all our requirements as the business evolved. It is now an integral part of the camp, with an established restaurant (never part of our original plans!) renowned for its fine food and unique atmosphere… a tree house for possums and foodies! It has become a special place for weddings and has been proven very popular for conferences, family gatherings and celebrations.
Though our original safari tents were certainly very comfortable and were positively posh compared to your usual build It yourself tent, we could see there might be a market for a more ‘luxury’ product and decided to build another two ‘deluxe’ tents that would satisfy this demand. These were quickly booked out months in advance and we have since upgraded another four as well as completing in 2012 our beautiful King Deluxe tent… it seems the concept of luxury camping is really taking hold and we welcome the growth in the concept around Australia.
We have been fortunate over the years to have had much support from our children, all of whom have worked with us in varying capacities and continue to do so as they start there own families and follow their own interests. Together with a team of dedicated local staff we like to think this gives our guests an especially warm welcome and genuine interest in ensuring they have a truly memorable stay.
During our opening week all those years ago we were having dinner on the verandah of the Gunyah, looking at all the couples having candle lit dinners under the gum trees, and it was just so exciting to finally see the evidence of what we had achieved. Today we welcome guests from around the world looking for a genuine Australian bush experience as well as many weary city folk looking for an antidote to their hectic lives and it still gives us immense satisfaction to see them enjoying our special part of the world and appreciating the beauty of our natural surroundings.
We hope to see you here one day!
Irena & Jeremy Hutchings