Read our writer's views on this property below
Angie Schiavone sleeps under canvas but behind glass doors at Umina Beach.
I'm not a fan of portmanteau words, which blend two words to make a new one. "Brunch" is an exception because it's delicious, but "chillax" is pointless, "Brangelina" is annoying, and the lesser-known, ridiculous "crozzle" (for crossword puzzle) is the worst I've heard. Then there's "glamping" for glamour camping, which as a word does nothing for me, but as a concept sounds fun.
In the hope that it will be fun we book a Safari Palm Treehouse at Ocean Beach Holiday Park in the NSW Central Coast town of Umina. This is despite being a couple, not a family, and thus not the park's target market. But the glamping tent, with things tents don't usually have - beds, TV, fridge, ensuite, a raised verandah with built-in barbecue - has us hook, line and sinker.
At check-in, we're given a map to help us navigate the maze of villas, cottages, cabins and caravans (and kids riding pedal-powered go karts) to the back corner of the park, where a row of six good-looking tents, the Safari Palm Treehouses, stand proudly among tall, bird-abundant, native trees. Alongside these, tucked a little more privately among the trees and raised a few metres off the ground, is the Palm Treehouse itself: part-tent (canvas roof and walls), air-conditioned, more spacious than its neighbours and with sliding glass doors and windows.
A padlock secures the outer zippers-and-canvas door. We enter a neatly laid-out space: high-ceiling, queen-size bed and single bunk bed at the back, two-seater lounge facing a bench with tea and coffee-making facilities and a fridge with a TV on top. Another zip-up doorway leads to a more-stylish-than-expected bathroom, with corrugated walls and canvas roof, a toilet, spacious shower, sink, mirror and towels draped on the rungs of a wooden ladder.
There's no denying the novelty value is high - but apart from that (and the fact that opening a window involves zips, hooks, Velcro and a trip outside) it seems our glamping tent is not all that different to a freestanding cabin. So, we wonder, what's the point?
A family of four is staying in the tent next door, so I ask their opinion. They say they'd planned to go regular camping but the weather was looking likely to turn bad, and this seemed a fun and far easier alternative. They are clearly happy with their decision.
We realise later that another highlight of these tents is that the sounds of nature are easier to hear through the canvas, so it still feels like you're out among it all.
I sit at the table on our verandah, unwinding and surveying the scene. The Zen moment is shattered by the startling arrival of a rainbow lorikeet. The vibrant green-feathered bird perches on the seat beside me and looks at me as if to say, "What's with the yelp, why did you pour that drink over yourself, and do you have anything I can eat?" More lorikeets fly in to join the discussion, before departing in search of someone who could satisfy the last part.
We head off to explore the park's facilities: the pool (super kid-friendly, with a waterslide and separate wading pool), games room (we ignore the arcade games in favour of table tennis), and giant jumping pillows (ok, maybe we do fit the park's target market, being kids at heart). We follow a sandy path from the park to Umina Beach and stroll along the shore.
Later, along Umina's main street we find a few cafes, an old-fashioned butcher (supplies for a barbecue), a bike shop named Pushy Galore, and Bremen's, a pie shop that claims to have The Best Pies in the Universe. Included in its range is the Flaming Ron, made with what Guinness World Records once declared the world's hottest chilli. We consider trying it, until Ron himself convinces us to choose the terrific beef burgundy instead. Next time we'll be braver . . . maybe.
The rain begins as we arrive back at our tent. It pours all night and sounds loud against the canvas roof, but not loud enough to drown out the TV. Ah, glamping, we do enjoy your perks.
Weekends away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.
VISITORS' BOOK Ocean Beach Holiday Park
Address Sydney Avenue, Umina Beach.
The verdict Bucket-loads of fun.
Price Safari Palm Treehouses from $235 a night; Palm Treehouse from $320 a night — for up to four people, minimum two-night booking Friday- Saturday.
Bookings Phone 1800 611 522, see oceanbeachholidaypark.com.au.
Getting there By car: take the F3 Freeway, turn off at Gosford/Woy Woy exit and follow the signs through Woy Woy to Umina. It's about a 90-minute drive from Sydney. By train: Newcastle-bound North Shore line trains stop at Woy Woy station. Buses available from Woy Woy and Gosford train stations to Umina. See busways.com.au. Wheelchair access No.
Perfect for Families and the young at heart.
While you're there Visit Umina's extensive Peninsula Recreation Precinct, take the World's Hottest Chilli Pie Challenge.