(image: Etienne, Kirsty, Steve and ‘Mr’ in the creek rapids at Nightfall – quite the place for workers to spend summer lunchtimes)
The weather gods are smiling on Nightfall. As the days fly by we’re making great headway, completing the last critical jobs before the coming summer storm season again brings rain to the site of Australia’s newest luxury camping experience.
Last week we breathed a sigh of relief as the plumbing/drainage pipes were approved by the council inspector and safely ensconced in the ground. The frame for the last tent is up and as I write Steve is putting the finishing touches to rock retaining walls and drainage behind the tent deck platforms.
The kitchen gardens are coming along nicely too, now thickly spread with organic sugarcane mulch to help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture (a little ironic after the months of mud). We’ve also sown oodles of wonderful seeds to make sure Nightfall‘s diners have on hand the best possible choice of just-picked local organic produce. Heirloom varieties are another of our passions, so look out for some interesting tomatoes and capsicum over the next few months.
Occasionally we are asked why it’s taking so long to build Nightfall’s luxury tent accommodation and camp infrastructure. Aside from the rain which plagued the first eight months of construction, the reason is that Nightfall is a labour of love. A cliche perhaps, but it’s also true.
You can buy off-the-rack kit tents on the internet and throw them up in a couple of days. Beautiful tables, chairs, couches, light fittings taps and more abound. But all of those quick ready-made items just didn’t fit with our vision for Nightfall. So, yes it’s personal – a truly bespoke concept, which takes time to shape and evolve in its own unique way.
Our retreat and tent design are a blend ideas from some of the world’s best tented safari camps, coupled with input from architects, eco-tourism gurus, sustainability experts and others. The 62m2 tents are almost 100% built by us: we bring in the builders and plumbers when it’s essential but on the whole Steve and his boys cut and weld the six-mm thick steel frames; together with our wonderful friends and neighbours we stand them; then they’re fitted with canvas walls, sewn by the girls and I. We’re all involved in fitting-out the camp, hand-crafting the more creative furnishings and decorative ‘found-in-nature’ features.
(images – standing the last tent with the help of friends and neighbours, Etienne checking levels and making adjustments the old fashioned ‘chock’ way, Heidi concreting in the footings)
This arrangement comes in part because it’s difficult to secure tradesmen in regional Australia and because of the cost of labour for such delicate and detailed hand-built work. Long ago Steve and I made a life-style decision not to max ourselves out with a huge mortgage. At times I curse the resulting tight budget. More often than not I realise it is what makes us all the more resourceful, creative and true to our desire to truly live the Simple Life. I also appreciate how lucky I am to be married to a man who can do almost anything.
If you’ve ever brought to life a big idea you’ll appreciate the complexities of progressing something this huge to finish. Project managing the entire development ourselves and doing most of the building is akin to a wildly erratic roller coaster ride. Our journey swings sharply from excitement and satisfaction as each task is ticked off, to days when the perceived enormity of what’s still to do remains daunting and overwhelming. In those moments it’s hard to focus and keep track of the seemingly endless lists of things that need to be done, things that need to be ordered, things that need to be revised, and then more of the above all over again.
The saying ‘Just Do It‘ often comes to mind at the point. And so here we are, taking baby steps into the final stages of building Nightfall. Look out soon for an opening date!