Camp Curumbene has been on my ‘must see list’ of camp visits for some time and 2015 was rapidly coming to a close. I managed to nail down Ian Clarke, owner of the camp for a quick trip to tour it- I am so glad I did.
Ian has a background in teaching and moved into the camps sector over 16 years ago when he and his wife Roz purchased Camp Curumbene. The camp is located in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria; this large area has a massive belt of vineyards spreading for as far as the eye can see (they were mostly big wine house owned vineyards). The vines in themselves make a nice contrast of green in the dry golden fields this time of year.
My drive up from Melbourne was impressive enough as I passed through a lunar landscape of hillsides, littered with giant granite boulders many of them looking like sculptures. I immediately banked the location for future reference to bring my family back again. I even spotted a Stonehenge type sculpture far up on one hillside, making me curious enough to do a U-turn and investigate. No signs indicating anything and the stone that was resting on top of the rock pillars (well over my height) would have been many tons in weight. I pondered, just how was it built? Aliens? I was not familiar with this area at all, passing through very pretty townships of Romsey, Lancefield, and Heathcote (where I got caught behind thousands of Great Victorian bike riders, who had just passed the 400 km mark of the journey – good on them though!). These small towns are incredibly pretty and have maintained many of the heritage style facades.
The camp is built on the banks of the very dry Lake Cooper. Home of the Victorian Water Ski Association, however, they are unable to do any water skiing due to the non-existence of the wet stuff. Ian, immediately on my arrival, takes me down to the dry lake for a look. He is keen to show me the environmental issues that the salinity has caused. The dry lake has a circumference of 25 km and for its entirety has an outer rim of dead Carp carcasses, literally millions of them. Yes, disgusting Carp, but Ian pointed out that he was present when the Carp beached themselves. It all happened in a matter of hours and nothing could be down to save them. The lake had water in it at this stage; in fact the lake filled up in the floods of 2011 and only completely dried out this year. The Carp sensed the salinity increasing in the water and beached themselves to escape. Ian brings all the campers down to the lake to discuss many environmental issues facing all areas from over farming and irrigation- a great initiative.
When they first took over the camp it was reasonably baron and had very few trees. Not now, it is like an oasis for birds, insects and wildlife. They have laboriously planted over 30,000 native trees in 15 years on the 120 acres. They are doing their bit not only to assist with the salinity issues, but by introducing flora and fauna back to the area.
The camp has 130 beds spread over 11 rooms and one lodge. Loads of activities, such as volleyball, tennis, low ropes course (which I particularly liked as it was an interesting 9 element course set amongst the native vegetation), flying fox, abseiling and indoor climbing wall, to mention a few. I also liked the canoeing area, a large dam. It had a Pirate-like island in the middle, built well away from the main camp, it felt isolated. I like that.
Thank-you for your time Ian, it was nice to get to know about how Camp Curumbene operates.
2016 is set to be a big year of getting out seeing even more of our members & hopefully re-visiting those we’d visited a couple of years ago. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year.