Disclaimer: I stayed in ‘Heidi’ compliments of Happy Glamper, however all food, camping ground costs and travel were paid for out of the contents of my little brown wallet. Oh, the herbs at the camping ground were complimentary also. Please note that Happy Glamper did not commission this blog post – they simply asked for feedback on usability of their new Kombi Van and if you really want to know I suggested an extra blanket maybe for the deep winter months. I did this post of my own volition – and happily! Apologies for some grainy photos.
When the team at Happy Glamper put out the call on Instagram for someone to ‘review’ their latest addition, I couldn’t have replied fast enough. I’ve spent many a day ogling at their suite of luxe glamping accommodation based predominately on the Mornington Peninsula, I just couldn’t pass the opportunity up.
When I told anyone that would listen I was heading down to Capel Sound Foreshore to spend the weekend in a VW Kombi named Heidi, the suggestions starting flowing: you have to go here, and don’t forget to drive there, and I wonder if the Kombi would have enough gusto to get up that road? All fallen on my deaf ears, you see Heidi is stationary – I had quite a few people raise an eyebrow and wonder what was the point of staying in a stationary van? My answer to this; how many times do you see people driving around in tents? Gorgeous Heidi, in all her Dijon and cotton-white glory is simply a luxurious and cosy two-man metal tent. So now that’s settled, let’s move on (or not, as it were).
I had a choice of staying at Capel Sound Foreshore or Point Leo and I chose the former, simply because I was travelling solo and I’ve a wild imagination when it comes to mid-winter desolate camping grounds; I knew that Capel Sound Foreshore was just set back of the main highway and I could run for help should gremlins or headless horsemen sidle up to my little van demanding money or my soul. I know. I’m a chicken. Despite this, my chosen site was full of other worldly travellers and a few other Happy Glampers dotted around, a group of lasses in a bell tent and a young, in-love couple in the gorgeous Airstream parked right next door (I could tell they were in love because couples who aren’t in love don’t play quoits together). After some fiddly key action I reefed open the door to my weekend accommodation and was blown away – it’s everything any Kombi owner could dream, bright retro curtains held back with leather straps, beautifully mismatched floral and geometric bed linen and a plush velvet cushion that looked like a slice of an old log. At the other end of the van was a cute vinyl bench and small fold out table where a book on ‘life in a caravan, a game of pick up sticks and a battery operated lantern sat. My very comfortable home for the next 60 hours.
There are two keys for Heidi, one for the side door and one for the driver’s compartment, I didn’t bother opening the driver’s compartment but it would be a great place to store any additional gear – pillows, quilts etc. The roof, like all good kombis, extends skyward meaning that you can stand up inside or kneel quite upright on the bed. Above where you head is when you sleep is a shelf, fantastic for more storage and the perfect place for me to store all my camera gear. I lay there for a while waiting for Jessie to drop of my camp cooker and saucepans, thinking that I could very well spend the rest of my days travelling around Australia, just me and Heidi, like best friends since Kindergarten.
When Jessie turned up empty handed, no camp cooker in sight, I figured I would just live on hot dogs from Shorty’s a few metres down the road. ‘The cooker’s in the van!’ she wailed! where? I fully expected her to turn on the ignition and throw an egg onto the motor. BUT NO, for hidden under the cosy seating space was full-on mini kitchen! 2 burners, butane cans, plates cutlery, chopping board, mugs and cups and tea towels. It was a Christmas (in May) miracle.
The sun set on my little camp and I sat there in the cool air, cooking up a seafood paella and drinking a local shiraz (local, as in from Aldi about 500 metres away). I’ll admit, it was pretty cold by the time I went to bed so I crawled under the blankets and wondered how long until I was woken by frost bitten digits. Not even close, maybe a combination of the confined space and the toasty quilt, it was positively toasty in that camper. I slept like a baby sans the crying and nappies.
The next morning I woke to kookaburras and swaying trees, bounced out of bed, whipped out my little kitchen and made some chorizo and beans, and a make-shift latte on my camp stove. As much as I didn’t want to leave I set off to explore a bit of what the Mornington Peninsula has to offer.
Heading East I set off to Point Leo to see what I missed out on the night before, knowing that all headless horsemen would be fast asleep in the daylight hours. A ruddy coast line and not much happening in town apart from a few ardent surfers and some day-tripping photographers. This means that the surf shop at Point Leo does trade all year round, you just never know when you’ll need to get your hands on a bit of sex wax. There’s also a little coffee shop next door that’s open, presumably to keep surfers stocked with caramel milkshakes and Chiko rolls. The beach kiosk is very closed as it the surf lifesaver watch, so beware.
Tripping back west, I drove through the little hamlet of Red Hill – what a buzz! The massive Red Hill Epicurean with nightmare parking was way to busy to even contemplate and every second driveway along the main road appeared to be some kind of cosy accommodation situation. I was making a beeline to Ten Minutes by Tractor, its name from the distance it takes to travel by tractor between the three vineyards. Spectacular views and food to match (which meant nothing to me, as I was determined to do all my own cooking on this trip – no tractor degustation was to be had today. The menu though! Seared pork loin, smoked hock and black barley, confit pork belly and mustard cabbage. Or what about grass fed Cape Grim sirloin, open ravioli of beef cheek, sautéed mushrooms and bordelaise sauce? Crystal Bay prawns, risotto of cauliflower, bisque, dill yoghurt. I’m not even going down the dessert path but it appears to be very seasonal-fruit base3d. Serious soigne stuff going on here. They have a well-stocked veggie garden with mature fruit trees and a stunning variety of fresh herbs for kitchen use. The car-park was also well-stocked with beasts in the six figure price range. But don’t think you can’t roll up in your Datsun 180B, Ten Minutes by Tractor is very welcoming to everyone, no matter what taste in cars you have.
Further down the road I stopped in at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove and again with the choca-block full car park of Ferraris and the like. A beautiful vista surrounded by a sculpture garden and the winery is the setting for the annual Montalto Sculpture Prize, open to all sculpture artists. Wondering if the Datsun 180B could be a contender? There’s plenty to eat at Montalto, with the restaurant serving distinctly modern Australian fare with an Italian slant. With a place this stunning, picnics are also available to be booked with every detail looked after by the vineyard (seasonal from 1 October – 30 April from $90 per person).
I set back to camp, ready to fire up the grill and make cumin and sesame eggplant, a birthday gift from Gourmet Girlfriend, crack a bottle of red and have a leisurely walk along the beach. I took my dinner down to the beach and there, in the distance, were three little horses frolicking (and by frolicking, I mean standing there pretty darn cold) off I ran to take some snaps, turns out one of the horses was injured and was having some salt water therapy and his friends were there for support – cute or what!
One thing I haven’t mentioned along this trip was a niggling pain in my right top wisdom tooth and by 7pm that night I was in extraordinary pain. Through tears and darkness, I packed up my little Heidi and headed home for the comfort of a hot bath and a familiar pillow. So, so sad I had to cut my trip short – it was definitely a fantastic dip into the Mornington Peninsula and I plan to come back lickety split and stay in my beloved Heidi again.
You can contact Happy Glamper to make a booking of their fabulous suite of accommodation here
You can book Capel Sound Foreshore camping sites here.
Camp-side Beans and Eggs
1 clove garlic
1 onion diced
1 can cannelinni beans
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 chorizo, diced
herbs – parsley, thyme, chives
Fry onions and garlic until soft. Throw in chorizo and fry until all the beautiful flavours have been released. pour in drained beans and give a little shunt around to cover them in the oils from the chorizo then add tomatoes. Crack an egg on top and let cook through. Crusty bread – bang.