19 Jan 2018
Watch: Meet the Hassum family as they share their stories from the road.
Meet Michelle and Scott Hassum who like getting back to nature with their kids, Milla and Charlie, making quality time easy as they holiday in a tent.
Barefoot and at ease, the kids laze on bean bags in their tent setup at Australia’s lush, most easterly point.
Michelle and Scott Hassum like to get back to nature with their children Milla (six) and Charlie (10) when they can. They’ve spent Christmas at Mount Warning, in the Tweed Ranges of New South Wales, and chose springtime to visit Byron Bay from their home in Surfers Paradise – a relaxed drive along the big Pacific Highway. “It’s still away, but it’s got everything here,” Scott says.
They mainly camp during school holidays and like to choose places that don’t leave them dreading an epic trek back. “That can sort of put a downer on the holiday,” Scott says. “You’ve had a really good week, and then you’re stuck in traffic for most of the day.”
Usually, the Hassums like to hook up their gear. This time, they settled into their unpowered corner of the park with gas for the fridge and a trailer filled with the camping essentials. “Michelle lights this place up normally like a Christmas tree,” Scott says. After giving the unplugged holiday a go, they cosied up to the simplicity of it all and the chance to take a break (just for a breath) from all of the gadgets that zing, ding, and light up our world. “It’s nice because the kids can’t go on technology,” Michelle says.
The pressure to entertain is taken off of Scott and Michelle. The kids are guaranteed days of giggling and running amuck with new mates on the playground. “It’s very safe,” Scott says. “As soon as people pull up and they’ve got kids, you just give them a little bit of a nudge and the next thing you know they’re on a jumping trampoline.”
School holidays bring a lively atmosphere: kids reach for the sky on the jumping pillow and zip their way through the park on pedal carts. “We don’t need to go anywhere else. We’ve got the waterpark and the kids just love it,” says Michelle.
After years of practice, they’ve got their setup down pat. Milla bounds off dad’s lap, excited to show off their tent digs. “I bought the tent last Christmas. I call it the marriage saver,” Michelle says.
The Coleman Instant Up Tent is a quick-pitch that takes two minutes to transform it into the castle of their holiday (scout’s honour). “You don’t want to spend hours setting up,” Scott says. Everyone’s been there: frustrated, trying to put together a tent that has more poles than it could possibly need. Set up shop and the holiday can start even sooner, without the fuss of putting up your roof for the night.
Something they learnt along the way is to make sure to keep the birds out, too. Put your rubbish up high and don’t leave any food out for them to rummage through. Otherwise, you learn the hard way like the Hassums and find two ibises going to town on your caramel mud cake.
“Don’t be a rookie and get your stuff eaten by a bush turkey,” Scott says with a laugh.
After the kids tire themselves out from sunshine and splashing, the Hassums gather for dinner (Michelle’s got a wicked spag bol up her sleeve) and a few hours of quality family time. “We do family board games at night,” Michelle says. Pictionary is popular, but their go-to game is Speak Out which involves trying to say phrases like, ‘Pelicans love pollywog falafels’ - with a plastic mouthpiece. It leaves the whole family in stitches.
Camping envy is real. The Hassums make a family holiday look effortless. All you need is a good tent, a town next to the water and soft grass between your toes.
If you’ve got a story from the road travelling Australia we’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com
This travel feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.