On the weekend we had the absolute privilege of staying in one of the Luxury Safari tents at Tanja Lagoon Camp for a couple of nights. More ‘glamping’ than camping these tents have all the comforts of home including a private ensuite bathroom and kitchen, without losing the feeling that you’re getting closer to nature. In fact, being perfectly positioned on the edge of a beautiful saltwater lagoon it’s hard not to feel completely surrounded by nature. Hundreds of birds above in the tall gums sing in chorus with the frogs and the distant roar of the ocean, whilst kangaroos graze lazily nearby.
We’d heard about the magic of Tanja Lagoon Camp from the people that we are house sitting for. Before we’d even left Adelaide they’d let us know about a fantastic opportunity happening at the camp nearby, that we were keen to get involved with. The camp is on private property that borders with the Mimosa Rocks State Forest. In a joint effort to increase the habitat for the small numbers of endangered Potoroos in the area, the property’s owners had been granted over 1000 trees to re-generate a corridor of land that had previously been cleared to provide grazing pastures for cattle. In return for work helping to plant some of the trees, accommodation in one of the Luxury Tents was on offer, and best of all, families with children were most welcome to join in.
Even though we’d been told that Tanja Lagoon Camp was a beautiful setting, I just don’t think that we were prepared for the full sensory experience that we were in for. From the time that we arrived the sounds of the abundant wildlife intertwined with the scent of the fresh sea air and forest. We stepped out of the car and did a complete 360 on the spot. ‘Wow!’ was all we could muster, both speechless, Simon and I just grinned at each other. We get to stay here, in this heavenly place in a jaw-dropping Luxury Safari tent, and all we have to do is help plant trees on a sunny winter’s day?? Surely there must be a catch we thought.
But there was no catch at all. We worked happily all afternoon with the warm sun on our backs planting the small native trees. Loz our host, was extremely welcoming and informative. Along the coast there are 21 lagoons like the one at Tanja. They are formed when the sea floods into a river valley at high tide. The shifting sands form a wall at the ocean’s inlet, trapping the sea water in like a dam. These are sometimes open and sometimes closed to the sea, for the first time in years, the lagoon and Tanja was open when we visited, meaning that the water had all drained away back out to the ocean. This rarely happens at this particular spot, and in a few weeks the sand will shift again, filling the lagoon and closing the inlet for a few more years, such is the cycle of nature here. Whilst it did mean that kayaking on the lagoon was out of the question this particular weekend, luckily we were here to plant trees, make friends, and take in the wilderness, so it didn’t bother us at all.
In fact, we loved Tanja Lagoon Camp so much we offered to go back again soon to volunteer on the property even without a stay in one of the gorgeous tents! In just a couple of days we were completely awed by all that this unique holiday spot has to offer. We followed one of the bushwalking tracks to Middle Beach where the waves on the tide shift the sand to open and close the inlet to the lagoon. The track took us though a cool forest with enormous towering trees and soft moss and ferns under foot. Then at the end of our short walk, we were rewarded with a beautiful sandy beach and the rolling waves on the crystal clear sea. Late afternoon when we arrived, there were kangaroos grazing on the grass where the forest meets the sand, and what a precious gift that sight was!
Despite staying at Tanja Lagoon Camp in the middle of winter, we slept warmly in the strong Safari tents erected permanently on decking. Our beds were divine; comfortable and luxurious after our energetic day. The tent even had an inside and outside heater to take the chill off of the night air, and a lovely warm shower to wash away the days grime from our tree planting and bushwalking. The fully equipped kitchen and barbeque made it a synch to cater for our family before we retired around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and chatting with Loz. Meanwhile, our kids all played together with flashlights in the dark. As a side note, I loved the fact that the kids could play outside, from dust until dark without me chasing them with the insect repellent, (both our two are tasty to mosquitos). Tanja Lagoon Camp doesn’t have any mosquitos! Who’d have thought that you could camp on the edge of a lagoon without being carried away at dusk by hungry insects?!
In bed at night, Simon and I lay awake chatting about how privileged we felt to have had the opportunity to share this outstanding patch of Australia with such lovely hosts for just a couple of days. We are excited by Loz’ and huband Sam’s vision for how this very new holiday destination will evolve over the seasons to come. There is so much naturally on offer here for the guests already that really, their job is make the wilderness accessible to their guests whilst barely leaving a mark on the environment. Since both are passionate environmental educators, we know that they will rise to the challenge admirably.
Who’d have thought that a weekend planting trees would have introduced us to one of our new favourite places on the planet? Tanja Lagoon Camp and the surrounding beaches and forests really are that special, and we can’t wait to go back again soon.