I'm luxuriating in a full-body exfoliation, and it doesn't cost a cent.
In a verdant valley on the Gold Coast Hinterland, millions of fry – baby fish – surround us in a sparkling dam.
Initially, it's disconcerting: What is this smooth slick moving across my skin?
Then it starts to tickle, prompting the kids to squeal with delight. Finally I'm floating on my back, surrendering to the free beauty treatment.
This is one of the many unexpected pleasures of camping – or, in our case, the hipster version: pop-up glamping.
Last year, hubby's cousin created a music festival to celebrate his wedding, which coincided with New Year's Eve. He and his fiance hired an Airstream caravan, which served as a bar for cocktails in jars. By the end of the event, guests were covered in glitter, face jewels, and metallic tattoos.
The location, in the Numinbah Valley, is so lush and otherworldly, I expect to see fairies flitting between flowers.
Glamping Days has set up dozens of bell tents, which look like tipis. They're ideal for the 35-degree days, constructed of cotton, with mesh lining on the windows. The company pitches these beauties – complete with a queen-sized air bed, luxury linens, small side tables and fairy lights – before packing it up at the end. There are also self-inflating mattresses for the kids. The double pole tents are large enough to sleep four adults and four children.
It's clear that ''flash camping'' is no flash-in-the-pan.
Now there are dozens of companies, including Flash Camp, Soul Camping, Happy Glamper and the Avant-Garde Camping Co., creating villages using lotus, safari and Bedouin tents, some with outdoor ovens and hot tubs. Others offer toiletries and daily ''room'' service. Then there are the catering options, with everything from BYO to deliveries from paddock-to-plate specialists, Three Blue Ducks.
What a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors, with a group of family and friends.
Blink, a new ephemeral holiday service, takes it a step further. These fabulous folks will find you a parcel of land then build a customised ''hotel'' camp. You choose everything, from decorations to bed linen and contents of the pop-up cellar. Their aim is to leave no trace, hence the name: blink and you'll miss it.
The kids adore the down-to-earth nature of this holiday: doing bombies in the waterhole; snagging sausages off the barbie; and inspecting new and exciting water bugs.
Forget about electronic devices: the happy couple insists on no technology for the 48-hour festival.
Instead, the half-a-dozen kids who are staying at the campground spend hours sitting in the creek, throwing rocks at a log. I am not making this up. Apparently it's the best fun they've had in years. I loll nearby, sipping a G&T, as the cool clean water bubbles over my legs. (Think of it as nature's bathtub…)
Pop-up glamping is a quirky fusion of hipsterism, immersion, and ''slow travel''. It combines the pace of an old-style family holiday with modern creature comforts. As long as you don't mind the occasional creature nibbling at your toes …