YOUCAMP.COM – BACKYARD BLISS
With Youcamp you can boil your billy in a private paradise, dotcom entrepreneurs Prue and James Woodford tell Unsealed 4X4
A few years back, around a campfire, during summer holidays on the south coast of NSW, Youcamp.com was conceived. We were enjoying a night under the stars with friends. We had miles of space, dogs and kids around our feet, guitars playing, and food cooking. It was truly excellent camping.
But at the exact same moment we knew that we were extraordinarily lucky because at that time of year most south coast tourists are squashed into van parks and crowded national park camp grounds, or pitching their tents illegally and parking campervans in public carparks. Our camping experience was so different because we were camping on our own private property. We began to wonder how many other people had land that they would be prepared to share with responsible visitors, and we also suspected that there were plenty of travellers who wanted more unique and authentic experiences.
Many travellers do not want ‘McCamping’. Some want peace and quiet, some want to be allowed to make noise, some want their dogs, others to go nude. Some want to fossick or fish, hunt for ferals, climb mountains, four-wheel drive or enjoy flowers and wildlife. The flipside is that landholders are looking for new income streams. We set to work to create a way to bring campers and private landholders together. There are now 50 categories that people can search for on private land so they can have the exact experience that they are seeking.
We wanted the website to be dead easy to use – for both campers and landholders – with no commissions, memberships or time-consuming online forms to fill in. Our mission was to create a whole new frontier of camping in Australia – thousands of new campsites on private land. We sent the site live in early 2013 and waited to see what would happen. It took a few months to iron out the wrinkles and work out exactly what people were looking for, but we quickly realised there was a HUGE appetite for good, interesting campsites that were not crowded
Youcamp.com is now at the end of our first year and we already have over 22,000 Facebook supporters and more than 200 private properties that people can visit. Recently, Youcamp.com won a big national social media competition organised by PayPal, and we are now wanting to start pressing governments (especially local councils) and insurers to make it easier for landholders to share their properties with campers.
Here are a few of our
favourite private properties:
Wild Valley, Victoria
This is one of our most popular private properties, with excellent, eclectic landholders who have embraced sharing their land. Best of all, it’s only a couple of hours from Melbourne.
Lorella Springs Station,
With more than 100kms of coastline, river systems and waterways, huge chasms and gorges, wetlands and swamps teeming with wildlife, this unique, remote Australian outback property sprawling over 4000 square kilometres offers four-wheel driving, bird and animal watching, exploring, swimming in crystal springs, pristine fishing and remote wilderness adventure tours.
Belowra Camping Area is situated on private property on the banks of the magnificent Tuross River. Belowra has been owned by the Thomson family for four generations and is adjacent to the Wadbilliga National Park. Access is from the coast via Bodalla and Nerrigundah (one hour), or from Cooma via Numeralla and Badja Forest Road (one hour 30 minutes – 4X4 recommended). The camp offers free form camping, undercover cooking area, bush shower, long drop toilets and firewood is supplied. Swimming, walking and relaxing under a stand of tall casuarinas are the main activities. Bring water craft to ride the gentle rapids.
Satinwood, near the town of Kenilworth, enjoys magnificent rural views, surrounded by ranges of native forest. There are plenty of places to walk around the farm, which is undulating to hilly, or simply set up camp by the creek and enjoy the serenity. Your unobtrusive hosts are out and about tending to the farm, and you may even feel like learning some new skills in farm life!
Spring Creek Falls, NSW
Twelve kilometres north-east of Tenterfield,
Spring Creek Falls is a 100-hectare slice
of rugged Australian wilderness, boasting:
– 1km of cascading waterfalls
– 2kms of creeks
– 4kms of walking/riding/driving trails
– Rainforest pockets, deep valleys, rocky ridge tops
– Bushranger caves
– Bird life galore … lyre birds and black cockatoos
– Resident wildlife includes wallabies, echidnas and water dragons
– Swimming hole at the waterfall
– Valley sunsets like you’ve never seen
Coward Springs, South Australia
On the Oodnadatta Track between Maree and William Creek, the outback oasis of Coward Springs was a stop on the old Ghan railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs. The site was constructed in 1888 and abandoned before the line was closed in 1980. Greg Emmett and Prue Coulls have been there as your resident hosts since 1991. They have built facilities, planted hundreds of locally native trees, restored the heritage buildings and much more. In 1998 the site (which includes two houses, two in-ground rainwater tanks and a bore that serves as a natural spa) was added to the South Australian Heritage Register. The campsites are in the shade and shelter of historic trees including date palms; other sites are amongst more recently planted native trees. Facilities are built from recycled railway materials with some surprising details, including artwork. There’s also camel safaris and a museum where you can study the area’s natural and cultural history.