Camping, when the weather is perfect is truly magical and this year’s Easter at Barham was no exception. Good Friday saw the boys and I loading up the Trusty Nissan with our swags and eskys of food to join our friends at the annual “Oster Easter Camp” on the bank of the Murray River.
Max, Sam and Henry, along with Max White, in true Huckleberry Finn style, loaded up the tinny with tackle boxes, fishing rods and the family dog and motored up the river to meet me at our camping destination.
The two Maxes helped us to observe the Christian Easter tradition of eating fish on Good Friday by reeling in a 61cm Murray Cod late in the afternoon. Max Barr cooked it to perfection on the barbeque and it went down nicely with some hot chips (also cooked to perfection) from the Riverside Café.
The number of campers at this year’s Oster Easter Camp totalled around forty children and adults, mainly surviving on a subsistence diet of hot cross buns, bacon and eggs and chocolate. People travelled from far-flung places like Mount Martha, Koondrook and the outer suburbs of Barham to attend the four days of festivities and relaxation.
When it comes to relaxing, a camping trip is hard to beat; once you’ve set up your camp you can please yourself as to how you’d like to spend your time. The evenings were spent sitting around the enormous campfire and yarning, staring into the hypnotic flames of the campfire or looking up and admiring the spectacular night sky. The children organised games of “spotlight tiggy” that kept them entertained until they were ready to crawl into their swags later in the night.
There were no shortage of activities to choose from during the day; the river provided fishing, knee-boarding behind the jetski, scenic barbie-boat rides and mud-sliding down the banks. While at the campsite there were skipping rope competitions, clay-target shooting, walks along the riverbank and tours to Mardie and Glen Gray’s 12 Good Eggs free-range chook farm next door.
Camp ovens and barbeques got a thorough workout during the four-day break and Pete Hird’s loaf of bread cooked in a camp oven was a taste sensation and crowd favourite… almost proving man could live on bread alone...
The camp itself was the venue of the hotly contested competition – “My Camp Kitchen Rules”. Five teams pitted their culinary skills against one another, producing entrees, main meals or desserts that were assessed by the four impartial judges. Ellie, Caitlin and Ruby were the eventual winners with their outstanding “Easter Egg Surprise” – a magnificent creation of Easter eggs buried in a rich chocolate fudge filling and encased in a sweet biscuit crust (I wish I’d thought of that).
The mythical rabbit paid a visit on Easter Sunday with foil covered chocolate eggs and rabbits causing blood sugar and energy levels to peak. Later that afternoon as the sun was going down behind the Murray River red gums, I sat in my deckchair and couldn’t help but think how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world.