Despite the less the than perfect weather forecast, nothing was going to stop us heading to Bruny Island for one last camping trip of the season. Some said we were bonkers, made of stern stuff, but really, camping in cold weather has many benefits including no crowds and almost no bugs. Besides, I don't mind if it pours with rain, or blows a gale, I just love the feeling of being outside.
The first day brought perfect weather for fishing, long walks along the beach and fireside whittling. On the second day, however, we got hit by a downpour and took shelter under a fly we suspended between several trees. There, we huddled around the fire, listening to the sizzle of raindrops as they hit the flames, carefully rationing the remaining firewood until the next delivery arrived at 4pm. The children retreated to the tent, warm and dry, to spend hours happily playing ludo and dominos.
The wind died down a little, the fire is stoked and wet layers of clothing replaced with clean dry ones. At night we boil the billy one last time to fill hot water bottles, and sleepy children are tucked under cosy cotton sleeping bags covered with vintage woollen blankets.
Cold bones warmed with whiskey in our bellies, the parents sit around the fire, talking nonsense whilst listening to the soothing crash of nearby waves and the rush of the wind through the tall eucalypts, captivated by the glorious night sky and the green glow of the southern lights.
I take my cue from the children who are so happy to be here. Wet weather doesn't phase them at all, there are too many other distractions. Secret paths cut through the forest lead to the Land Of Sticks, and they are oblivious to the wet bracken that brushes against their clothes and chills their little feet. The shore is filled with treasures for beach combing and they find whopping big sea bird feathers and make quill pens and their own ink by grinding charcoal with water. I'm happy to watch their goings on, fortified with books to read and plenty of tea.
Puddles in the tent, wet socks and smokey clothes are all part of the charm of cold weather camping, "you smell like bacon!" cry the little ones. On the last day, after we've packed up the car, we take one last walk along the beach before we head home on the ferry. The wind blows cold and another southerly is approaching, bringing more rain. But I don't care, I close my eyes, feel the wind on my face and know that this holiday is perfect, because we're outdoors, it's peaceful and we're together and that makes it perfect, proven by the fact that no one wants to go home just yet.
And as ever, when I visit Bruny Island, I dream of living in a tiny shack, in a forest by the beach, just like this one, so I can walk along dark and moody windswept beaches every morning.