How This Host Went From a Single Event to Thousands of Bookings

Landowners across Australia are partnering with Hipcamp to earn extra money by connecting their properties with folks looking to stay and camp outside. All you need to get started is a flat spot where someone can pitch a tent or park a caravan, or a structure (such as a yurt, canvas tent, or cabin) for them to spend the night in.

Halfway between Mackay and Airlie Beach, Hipcamp Host Katie Ann M. and her partner Jason have created a piece of paradise in the Australian bush: Hold It Flats. Queensland writer Christine Retschlag talks with Katie Ann about their property among the gum trees.

Katie Ann caring for her land. // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

Tell us about your land and what makes it special.

“We’re on 48.5 hectares and use about 7 hectares of our property for camping, with 50 sites. It’s quite hilly but with a flat area where everyone camps that leads down to the O’Connell River. You can swim here, as the crocs don’t come up this far. There are wallabies, possums, sugar gliders, and abundant bird life.”

A view from the walking trails behind the property. // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

Tell us about how you got started with Hipcamp.

“We’ve been running a 4WD event at our place every Easter for the past 13 years, which is part of the Far North Queensland (FNQ) Offroad Challenge. The event attracts 35 competitors and between 1,000 and 1,500 people who camp here for it. My brother is a camper and told me about Hipcamp. Because we have all the facilities here we thought, ‘Why not?’ There’s a flat place on the course where drivers hold the accelerator. That’s how we came up with the name, Hold It Flats, which we opened as a campground in 2018.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

What sorts of guests do you typically host?

“Ninety-nine percent of people are really good. They feel privileged that we’ve opened up our property. While the majority are families, we have everything from 18-year-olds who turn up with a swag to grey nomads in their caravans. We’ve even had a massive Winnebago and a full coach decked out. We see some pretty amazing getups.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Daniel Duong

“Get your kids out of the cities and away from electronics and let them swim and play a game of cricket and have a good time. We’ve had a lot of single, older women stay here as well, and it’s safe.”

Guests can add on a crate of firewood to enhance their camping experience. // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

Tell us about the Extras (good, experiences, rentals) you offer.

“We listen to what our guests want, and we try to deliver it in the form of Extras. We sell firewood, do laundry, store your caravan if you have to drive elsewhere, have a dog-minding kennel with 12 beds, and people can even order coffee, which I deliver in the morning. Everyone loves the option of having a fire going at their campsite, as so many places don’t allow it.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Daniel Duong

Why is sharing your land important to you?

“We like to show off what we’ve done. We haven’t stopped working on the land since day one. It’s a pretty nice place, and this has been a great success. Once we started getting really busy, I cut back to three days a week at work, teaching at Mackay, which is 150 kilometres round-trip every day. I don’t need to go back to work—it’s given me a full-time wage. At the moment, we are putting all of our profits back into the business.”

“I don’t need to go back to work—it’s given me a full-time wage.” –Hipcamp Host Katie Ann, Hold It Flats

A flat riverfront camping spot. // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

How do your Hipcamp listings differ?

“We have three different listings. Our riverfront sites, which are one metre from the river, are prime real estate. Our grassed flat sites are just back from the river, and our track side sites are near the 4WD tracks.”

Amenities include hot showers, toilets, lockers, and a communal kitchen. // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

What have you done to upgrade your land and experience over time?

“We started with 20 sites and now we are up to 50 sites. We originally had two toilet and shower blocks, and we’ve now built another two toilet blocks. We’ve got a camp kitchen, a barbecue, sinks, and a table.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Daniel Duong

What is your most memorable experience with Hipcampers?

“We’ve met some amazing people, including a retired Mackay couple who look after the place when we want time off. During the COVID lockdown, when it was only essential travel, we met a young couple from Germany and France who stayed for a month because they couldn’t travel anywhere. We have stayed really good friends with them.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

Do you have any advice for fellow Hipcamp Hosts?

“Go for it. You have to be dedicated and listen to what the campers want and provide what they are asking for. Most weekends, I have people checking in on a Friday or Saturday. It’s a full-time job, as we want to do the best we can and meet each camper and see what they need.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Robinson

How to start earning extra money hosting campers on your land

Want to earn extra income to help pay for property taxes, home expenses, and future dream projects? Learn more about becoming a Hipcamp Host.

Brisbane-based journalist Christine Retschlag loves writing about quirky characters and strong, smart women around the world. Her writing has appeared in The Australian, News Ltd Escape, The CEO Magazine and Signature Luxury Traveller amid a swag of travel tomes. She’s won a host of awards for her work including the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award for Travel Journalism and the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) Best Travel Blog. She reckons she won life’s lottery being born in sunny Queensland.

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