21 Feb 2019
Watch: Gather 'round the camp cooker as we chat to jesse, passionate foor fan & camper
Childhood memories keeping family camping traditions alive.
For many regular campers, it’s our memories of childhood and family traditions that keep us on the road and teaching new generations the ropes of caravanning and camping. This is certainly the case for Jesse Bickerton. The Geelong resident has long been travelling the Great Ocean Road regularly throughout his whole life, staying at Kennett River Holiday Park for as long as he can remember. Now, he’s continuing the tradition with his friends, family and their own kids.
“We started coming here when I was eight so that was about 22 years ago now,” he says. “I remember Santa bought us our very first big double tent…he actually came and set it up in the backyard for us. It’s pretty mind boggling what Santa does, actually. Then we came here solidly every year around Christmas for about 10 or 11 years, so now we’ve come back to the family campground. It just feels comfortable. It’s important for us to bring our own kids back here now.”
This trip, Jesse and his friends and family make up eight adults and seven children in total - one big happy family making the most of the natural surrounds and re-living traditions that are still much-loved in their memories.
“There’s all those little things that you remember about being here, like what we used to call the Flintstone Chairs. Everyone that would come here would know about these rock pillars that were built out like chairs. You could stick your feet in and pretend you were the Flintstones.”
He says it’s not just about the destination, but the journey too - the group of friends hoping their children will form the same sweet memories of the road they remember. “We were in the country when we first started coming here - Maryborough in the middle of Victoria - it was a pretty sweet three-hour journey,” he says laughing. “I have some great memories from it though for sure. We used to drive the Commodore down here… I remember there is something about being in the Commodore on the Great Ocean Road - it’d start curving and you’d get a little bit car sick but all my memories are great regardless.”
One of the joys of coming back to their old family park is continuing on with all their familiar campsite traditions. “Because we came here all the time, you’d end up meeting everyone and getting to know everyone and going over to everyone’s campsites and sharing Milos every night. By the time I was 16 or 17, we knew all the kids our age. Some of them still come here today like us.”
Jesse’s campsite rules? Slow down, sit back, enjoy nature, play games and cook. “I think it’s especially important when everything is especially fastpaced in life, to come down here and say ‘hey, look over there - look at the koala’, have a swim, watch the rolling tide, figure out if you want to play with some other kids…it gives you imagination and goes a long way in slowing down their life.”
He says games are a great way to teach kids how to socialise and make friends, and stay clear of technology. “We used to play lots of fire games, and I learnt to juggle at this park, too. One girl taught me to juggle when I was a kid, and then she made me juggling balls from rice and a tea towel from her camp kitchen. She knitted them. Amazing.”
He says cooking is a great way to bring people together back at camp, too. “Cooking is my way to show love. I love cooking my slow-cooked lamb ragu. It’s a big ol’ lamb shoulder
and some veggies - it’ll cook for the whole day. For brekky, we just go super simple. I do like a brekky wrap with some halloumi, sausage, bacon, spinach and cheese - gourmet, and my secret barbecue sauce as well.”
Yummo! We’ll see you at the Weber for brekky, Jesse.
This story from the road was published in G’DAY Magazine.