It is such an incredibly beautiful morning. I woke to the smell of coffee and burnt wood of the fire. My eyes are lured to the fresh morning dew on the green grass outside, as I peer through the window of our cosy wood cabin. The sky is vivid blue. I see the slow drift of smoke covering the clear air outside emanating from my classroom, as it heats up for my day of online teaching. It is so comforting to see the rows of trees with their leaves turning a different shade of autumn amber, and I pause to reflect on the years we have been fortunate enough to have this piece of paradise, and how lucky I am to be here. I do so appreciate how giving this place is, so generous with its warmth, its sunshine and its purity.

I have been a witness and a part of the many years of Charnwood since its inception with Auscamp in 2003. Together with John, our children are growing up here, lucky to have tasted a slice of country life to enrich their suburban lives. I have watched many groups of people; of all ages arrive escorted by the colourful king parrots with anticipation in their hearts. Then when their time comes to leave, some depart through the gates with tears in their eyes. Many groups of people come back year after year with a loyalty rarely seen these days. What is the magic at Charnwood that enchants us to this day? What is the secret of its appeal? Silent retreats, family reunions, youth group camps, Weddings, music festivals, school camps, birthday parties and so much more happens here. This is a place where memories and friendships are made, where figurative and literal bridges get built and a place where we all are free, as a community and as a family to be together, immersed in nature as stunning as ever. Remote from the hustle and bustle, we feel far away from it all even though in essence we are so close, only a mere 3-hour drive away from the inner city.

It is so symbolic that we arrived as the first Autumn leaves fell and leave as the winter arrives. This period of time has been a milestone in the cycle of life at Charnwood. Even as the uncertain times continue to unfold around us, Charnwood is our solid rock, always there; giving and protecting.  We have had this precious time to transition into a next phase, to regroup, pause to smell the roses, and redirect our energies.

Our new maker space has taken off with all that it offers and our cosy cabin after the flood, yes a flood, is back to normal. Brand new hand-made Table tennis tables, new signage and fresh coats of paint are evidence of the countless hours of hard work put in by our Auscamp staff. They indeed gave our Charnwood the tender loving care it richly deserves. More wifi and data accessibility has allowed for greater connectivity and here we are at the dawn of a new era.

It is late afternoon and I pack up my laptop in the classroom, bid adios to the relics of stuffed birds and dead snakes over my head (this was once a real science classroom) and I walk onto the deck and watch the setting sun streaming through the trees. I see the canoes waiting to be taken into the lake for a paddle. I hear the flurry of birds overhead and the laugh of a kookaburra. I see the campfire loaded with firewood nearby hungry for people and toasted marshmallows. I step into the kitchen and dining room and hear the voices of countless happy year 9 campers of years gone by, singing while they communally prepare the evening meal.  Memories of good times come flooding back to my mind and I reassure myself as I walk back home to my cosy cabin, that the good times will return in the not so distant future when we open up again. I am so content to have had this time up here, yet I know that it is only finite and that soon you all will be back to taste the magic that Charnwood offers and that right now she misses you and longs for your return,

Andrea Gore

May 2020