There’s nothing more exciting than the first official, Cottage offsite camp for our junior REEFies!

The camp begun at the crack of dawn on Tuesday the 10th of October, when staff members Jess, Troy, Bill, Foxy, Natalie and Sean arrived at the Cottage to pack all the camping gear, food and the bare necessities into the buses before driving over two hours to the small town of Ballarat, where our Yuille Park and Forest Street kids were eagerly waiting!

After the usual hugs and greetings were made and their bags were stowed away, we hit the road and ventured down through the Otway National Park to the small coastal town of Cumberland River. For the past few years, we have been lucky enough to take our REEF kids to Cumberland River Caravan Park for a short, yet enjoyable stay. It is here where we can embrace the camping lifestyle for a few nights and enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors, while teaching our REEF kids to build friendships, tackle their fears and step outside of their comfort zones.

Upon arriving we unpacked all our gear and pitched our tents. After exploring the campsite and enjoying the magnificent and natural scenery that surrounded us, it was time to get into our swimmers and wander off to some nearby waterfalls for a dip! Swimming in the natural springs that are below the Cumberland Cascades truly was an experience like no other. Amongst the large rock face cliffs, the lush green forest and the natural wildlife, we were truly in paradise.

For the next few days, we split into two groups and rotated around different activities. From fishing on the Lorne Pier, hiking to Lower Kalimna Falls to swimming in the ocean and the rivers or building rock towers along the sand, there was always something to keep us busy.

During the night time, we would stare in awe at the beautiful night sky and see the stars and planets shining so brightly above us. We were even lucky enough to explore a local bat cave one night, after a short hike, a tough climb over some big boulders and a tiny squeeze through the cave opening, but we can assure you it was well worth it once huddled inside admiring this ancient and hidden gem.

Of course it wouldn’t be a true camp experience without some delicious campfire treats like marshmallows, roasted choc-bananas and home-made damper!

Thanks again to the Cumberland River Caravan Park for having us and a special shout-out to our awesome 1st year REEF kids for really making the most of their first camp away from the Cottage. We can’t wait to see you again in two weeks time!