Just how did the first ever Paleo Camping Retreat go?

What happens when 3 modern cave-people who like good food, natural movement and spending time in nature get together and plan a weekend of fun for a group of people?

This!

10 people, 2 nights out in the country, camping in tents, surrounded by bush and wildlife, eating delicious healthy food and playing…

Otherwise known as the Paleo Camping Retreat 2015!

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2015 Paleo Camping Retreat campers and hosts – Primal A Team!

The 3 all-things-primal-loving hosts:

Me – Aimee Clark

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Clint Bauer

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Dan Barrett the Aussie Paleo Chef

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Where was this unique event held?

Well what better location than the beautiful Sunshine Coast, just past the hinterland, in the country town of Kenilworth.

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And we bet you’re wondering how an event like this came about in the first place?

Well late last year we caught up with Dan the Aussie Paleo Chef from Canberra while he was in Brissie for a cooking event. We all got along like a house on fire and became instant good friends. A couple weeks later he invited us to host a camping retreat with him, incorporating all the things we love and are passionate about. We took all of about 10 seconds to ponder the offer and give our response of… Hell yes!

How could we turn down as opportunity like that, when it was something we’d already wished we could do ourselves but knew we needed another awesome primal team member to actually make it happen?!

So it was official, we were going to host a Paleo Camping Retreat! Woo!

We set the date for 1-3 May and worked hard to plan the event and get lots of great sponsors on board. The week leading up was exciting, Dan was flying up on the Thursday, it started raining in the region over the middle of the week and then when Dan was on the plane flying up Thursday morning, we spoke to the owner of the property the retreat was being held at who told us there was going to be some serious flooding come Friday. So we made the sad decision to cancel the retreat. Boo! Poor Dan found out as soon as he landed!

We told our campers the bad news, sat down and worked out a new date…  July!! A couple more months to wait, we could do that…

It was hard waiting, again! But eventually mid-July rolled around, Dan was back up here and it was actually going to happen. It did rain a little during the week, of course, but nowhere near as much as last time thank goodness! Mother Nature just had to tease us didn’t she!

Day 1:

We spent Friday setting up the camp at the private Kenilworth property, with the day not going quite to plan and Clint ended up having to drive all around the Coast trying to collect food and other items, and didn’t get back to the campsite till late in the afternoon when our 7 campers were arriving. So Day 1 was a bit of a shemozzle but we got there. We helped our campers who were bringing their own gear set up their tents and beds, and had tents and beds set up for the others. We had already started a fire to get coals happening for the Roo Tail Stew Dan was cooking up for dinner. Our campers arrived to a nice smoky sunny welcome.. the best way to start a camping weekend!

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Because our day had gone way off track, we didn’t get to sit down and properly welcome everyone until late, and no one felt like doing much that evening, so we sat around the fire, waited for dinner and started to get to know each other.

What a great bunch of people we had… 5 adults, some Clint and I already knew, some we didn’t, and 2 teens created a diverse and interesting group of campers. Dan was looking forward to meeting everyone for the first time.

The stew for dinner was delicious, and really healthy, full of fresh organic produce supplied by Garry at Sunshine Organics, with local kangaroo tail supplied by a local chef and farmer. Then everyone was treated to paleo marshmallows to toast over the fire! One camper in particular, Shannon, told me she was so excited about these, even having a dream about them that night! She said she’d loved marshies growing up and was so happy to find a really healthy version of them. I was stoked to hear that of course!

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Browning the roo tail pieces on the fire

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Only lanterns and fire for light – such relaxing ambiance

Hot stew, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a fire to warm us up

Hot stew, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a fire to warm us up

The sky was a little cloudy so star gazing wasn’t an option but this cloud cover meant we’d be enjoying a warm night in our tents.

Day 2:

Us hosts were up at 6am to get a big cooked brekkie happening and slowly our campers started rising. Actually some took a little longer to get themselves up and out of their snugly warm sleeping bags, so I decided to walk around yelling loudly, threatening to eat all the fried eggs, bacon and sausages if they didn’t hurry up haha, that got ‘em up!

We boiled some water on the fire so folks could make a hot cuppa for themselves. We had Montville Coffee, Planet Organics teas and chocolate to choose from. As well as delicious raw and cinnamon creamed honey from Hello Honey Australia, and creamy coconut caramel and chocolate spreads from Niulife to create some magic in a mug. YUM! Along with the cooked goodies, and paleo granola from Analuca, brekkie sure was a feast!

Shannon enjoying a hot cuppa first thing

Shannon enjoying a hot cuppa first thing

We needed by be ready and raring to go by 8:30am for our guided Bush Tucker Tour with the property owner Graeme of Witjuti Grub Bush Foods Consulting. He walked us around his land and educated us about native bush foods. At that time of the year there’s not a lot of fruit available so he bought out some frozen foods for us to try on top of the few things we found on the walk. Some were sweet while some were sour. Ok I lie, most were sour! Bush foods are very rarely sweet, most have a tart flavour. Although strangely enough the Finger Limes that were fruiting all over about 3 bushes near our tents were actually quite sweet. A few of us were squeezing the ‘caviar’ out and sucking it down.. not what we’d expected. We expected to be pulling fish faces! So that was a nice, and tasty, surprise. I was stoked so many Finger Limes were available because I was using them in my Gelatin Demo that day.

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The bush tucker tour and chat begins

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Picking bush foods right off the plant

Native berries are often have very striking colours

Native berries often have very striking colours

Can't remember what this fruit was called but it was actually really sweet and tasty

Can’t remember what this fruit was called but it was actually really sweet and tasty

Bush foods for us to try

Bush foods for us to try

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Native Aussie foods are typically sour and tart as opposed to sweet, and these two aren’t quite sure what they think of this fruit!

After the educational start to the day, we served up morning tea with some Cave Foods and At One bars, Analuca trail mix, gelatin lollies made by me, nice cold Coconut Groove coconut water, and tea/coffee.

Healthy snacks for morning tea

Healthy snacks for morning tea

Next I gave my Gelatin Demo to a few eager beavers wanting to learn about gelatin, it’s benefits and how to use it. I made Finger Lime Panna Cotta (find the paleo panna cotta recipe here) which was for dessert that night. Those not watching had some free-range time to chill out. Some played, some read, some walked. Graeme stayed for the demo and was interested to see how bush foods can be used for healthy paleo dishes, yay, spreading the paleo love!

Clint was keen to get everyone up and moving after lunch so he took a Primal Play Workshop, teaching games and movements to help get the body and the mind working while improving fitness and having fun. Stick throwing/catching, medicine ball throwing/catching, Up Down No Hands, crawling, wrestling, tiggy, combo’s, it was a great mix of movements. Most campers hadn’t ever done that sort of thing before and one in particular, Nicole, got up and gave wrestling a go with Clint. She really stepped out of her comfort zone which was great to see!

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A game of Hip Tiggy gets the heart rate up and the laughter started

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Tog O War is fantastic for all-over strengthening

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Getting some coordination training in with throwing and catching a stick

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Weighted throwing and catching using a medicine ball (or a rock) is great too

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Tiggy through the camp ground!

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We moved to where the ants weren’t around and tried our hand at crawling

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Crab walking (or inverted crawling) plus a game of Crab Grab is hard but fun!

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Wrestling and rough-housing is natural for humans yet so many of us stop doing it past childhood, or never even did it during that time

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Nicole stepped outside her comfort zone and had a wrestle with Clint. We saw her confidence soar after that activity!

One of Clint’s favourite challenges to set is Facing the Flinch. Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation to build tolerance and comfort level. His challenge this time was for us to jump into the freezing cold creek!!

Putting on brave faces while Facing the Flinch in the cold COLD creek!!

Yes, it really happened, most of us did actually take a dip! It was so invigorating and another confidence-building exercise which is always a positive thing. I remember trying to walk out of the creek onto the bank and found it really hard.. my legs were going numb haha that was sure an interesting experience!

After that chilly activity we got changed, warmed up by the fire and watched Dan get dinner ready. We were looking forward to Eumundi Beef topside and veggies roasted in the camp oven, followed by Finger Lime Panna Cotta I’d made earlier.

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The sun is setting and a fire brings a bit of light while Chef Dan chats about what’s on the menu for dinner

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YUM! Roast beef, veggies and paleo sausages!

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The campers dig into the night’s mighty feast

The pumpkin may have ended up a little mushy in the camp oven, but it didn’t bother anyone, overall the meal was delicious and followed by the panna cotta and more marshmallows, after which we walked to another part of the property away from the firelight to star gaze and chat, and it was a pretty good night really!

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Toasting marshmallows over the fire

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Then scoffing them down!

Camper Ross, a talented photographer, set his camera up overnight and captured these beautiful shots of the stars…

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Star trail

Can’t see stars like this in the city!

Check out Ross’s other amazing photos here

Day 3:

The final day of the retreat <sniff>. The campers woke seeming happier and more relaxed which was great to see.

We wrangled up brekkie for them, of eggs, bacon, sausages, Dan’s amazing tomato sauce, granola and whatever goodies were left in the camp kitchen!

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Happy and refreshed campers

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The last of the Walker Farm Foods pastured eggs cooked up over the fire.. deeelish!

After brekkie we took some time to wander around the property, enjoying the sunshine and warmer temp. Some spent time sitting by the creek, some picked more bush foods and some played.

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Spotted! We wandered off for some free-range time while the sun was shining and came across a kangaroo hopping through the property

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View through the trees and smoke haze

Dan and Clint doing some primal movement after brekkie

Dan and Clint doing some primal movement after brekkie

We really wanted to pack as much fun into the last day as we could, so Clint set the Slackline up between a couple of trees and let everyone have a go.

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Looking ahead toward the end of the slackline is a good tip for keeping balanced and moving forward

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Nicole again doing something completely new and receiving lots of encouragement from others

Shannon's turn

Shannon’s turn

Playtime ended and we decided to have a bite to eat before we had to pack up camp. A few of us foraged in the bushes for leaves to use for tea and came up with Nettle, Lemon Myrtle and Aniseed Myrtle. Boiled up and strained, the flavour was amazing! Even our bush tucker guide Graeme gave it double thumbs up!

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Freshly picked and brewed bush tucker tea

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Tea maker extraordinaire..!

Fresh tea plus some snacks for the road, we ensured our campers had full bellies before they left to travel home.

Shannon, who writes the blog Eat Well Travel Often, actually made a video of herself doing something outside of her comfort zone… trying the bush foods tea and eating roasted crickets! Check out her video here

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Anne enjoying the ‘Classic’ jerky thanks to our friends at Griffin Jerky

One of the downsides of camping would have to be the packing up part! Even though us hosts wanted to take care of most of that for our guests everyone chipped in and helped, so it didn’t take long at all. The trickiest part was folding the pop-up ensuites! But Clint working in a camping store is well practiced so he showed Dan and Shannon the technique!

Hold your tongue in just the right spot and it's easy to fold up these things..!

Hold your tongue in just the right spot and it’s easy to fold up these things..!

Once the campers were all packed and ready to go we organised one last activity… a Forest Therapy meditation session.

We all sat by the creek while I took a guided visualisation meditation using nature around us, to really relax and rejuvenate the group. It’s the perfect way to use the healing properties of nature to the fullest and something we enjoy teaching to people whenever we can.

The ideal spot for some Forest Therapy

The ideal spot for some Forest Therapy

That, sadly,  concluded the first ever Paleo Camping Retreat on the Sunshine Coast! Our campers then said their goodbyes, to us and each other, and off they went back home to their regular lives.. but hopefully feeling happier and healthier from a great few days in the hinterland.

We think they enjoyed the retreat if the feedback they shared afterwards is anything to go by…

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We want to thank all of our open-minded and lovely campers and all of our amazingly generous and helpful sponsors, you all helped make the first Paleo Camping Retreat a success and yes, there will be another!

We’re currently planning another retreat for Autumn 2016. If you’re interested in coming along, register your details here.

The sponsor list:

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Walker Farm Foods, Sunshine Coast Spring Water, Hello Honey, RumblesPaleo, Wippells Organic, Cave Foods, Sherwood Rd Organic Meats, At One, Planet Organic, Natural Evolution Foods, Analuca, Evolution Screenprinting, Ecology Skincare, Tassie Tallow, Niulife, Broth of Life, Primal Collective, Coconut Groove, Noosa Basics, Griffin Jerky, Emmely Rackemann Health Coaching, Eumundi Beef, Montville Coffee, Sunshine Organics

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To stay up to date with what Dan the Aussie Paleo Chef is creating in the kitchen, follow him on Facebook here and next time you’re in Canberra be sure to visit his cafe Elemental for a bite to eat!

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To purchase your own bush foods starter kit for your garden, or to organise a tour for a school/community group, contact Graeme at Witjuti Grub Bush Foods Consulting here.

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We hope to see YOU at the Paleo Camping Retreat 2016 here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast!!

Aimee x

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One thought on “Just how did the first ever Paleo Camping Retreat go?

  1. Pingback: Our bug adventures – Part 1 | Under the Primal Influence

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