Host Spotlight: Sharing a NSW Escape of Eucalyptus and Waterfalls

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 something like a canvas tent, yurt, or cabin.

When Danny was a young boy, his dad often took him bushwalking and camping in Kanangra-Boyd National Park.

He loved those times, which led to him falling in love with the landscape and the lifestyle it offered. The sheer cliffs, the misty mornings on Mount Cloudmaker, the forest trails leading to stunning waterfalls and the Kowmung River—they all became etched into his memory bank.

So when a property came up for sale that would give him access to all of that again, investing was a no-brainer.

In 2008, Danny bought what he calls Rhapsody, a 10-hectare property on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

“I actually remember being out hiking with my dad one day and seeing a house,” Danny recalls. “I told him I would own a house like that one day. Now, 25 years later, here I am. Turns out, that house belongs to who is now my neighbour, and I have a log cabin on the farm next door.”

Photo by Hipcamper Travis Franklin

A bush getaway

About 180 kilometres—or a three-hour drive—from Sydney, Rhapsody is a world away from the hustle and bustle. Instead, Danny’s land sits at the end of an 8-km dirt road near the sleepy village of Gingkin and Kanangra-Boyd National Park.

“Not much happens in Gingkin,” Danny says, “and that’s a good thing.”

Here, Danny spends his days focusing on his little piece of paradise—his bush getaway set among granite outcrops and dry eucalypt forests. And with the Hollanders River running through the property, he swims and fishes for trout whenever he likes. This can all feel like a world away from his former career as an electrical engineer.

“I’m an outdoors lover, so I was in the army reserves as a combat engineer,” Danny says. “I started drifting away from the corporate world, and now working only part time, it means I can spend more time on the farm.”

Photo by Hipcamper Rob D.

Too good to keep to himself

Rhapsody now also provides an unexpected bonus: regular, substantial income via Hipcamp.

But what prompted the flip from trying to keep the land private to sharing it with strangers? A novel idea and work to be proud of.

“It all started when a friend wanted to run a yoga retreat by the river,” Danny explained. “It’s nice and flat on the river and very peaceful—perfect for a yoga retreat. But it needed work.”

Danny got going planting grass and clearing scrub, putting a lot of effort into fixing up the land for yoga. And after the retreat, he thought, “What am I going to do now?”

He turned to Google, looking to see his options for renting out the farm—which led him straight to Hipcamp.

“I created a profile—a very basic one—and put up a few photos. Within a few days, I got inquiries and then a few days later, I got bookings. Then I started taking it seriously.”

Photo by Jen and Dylan Borg

Hipcamp’s impact

Three years and close to 3,000 guests later, that step proved a huge success. Danny has found that his land attracts all kinds of visitors—families, small groups of friends, couples of all ages. Large groups occasionally book a stay to celebrate a milestone, and many come back.

Both of Rhapsody’s two private campsites—Wallaby Flat (for up to 100 people) and Platypus Flat (up to 25 people)—sit on Hollanders River.

“They are 300 metres apart around the river bend,” he says. “When you’re on one, you can’t see or hear the other.”

Much of the money made via Hipcamp goes back into property, especially into maintaining roads and adding facilities. It didn’t take long for Danny to realise that toilets were a must. He also discovered that picnic tables, chairs, and showers—even cold ones—are bonuses that attract more guests. And even better, he continues to steward and cultivate his land.

“I have a vineyard with shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes that needs to be looked after,” he says. “I’ve been making wine for the last three years just for myself, and I have an olive grove inspired by my Mediterranean culture.”

Photo by Jen and Dylan Borg

What’s next

Looking to the future, Danny has grand plans to build a chapel at Rhapsody, one that serves as a nod to his heritage and is open for anyone to enjoy. He plans to model it after a 1,500-year-old Mesopotamian chapel in the mountains of Iraq.

“My parents are Assyrians from Iraq,” he says. “Assyrians are an ancient people who don’t have a country anymore. There are not many of us left in the world, so I want to preserve some of our history.”

St. George is especially significant to Danny, whose grandfather once built his own chapel for St. George in Iraq. That building inspired the project.

“It will be a tribute to St George. I was also born on St George Day, so this is a project close to my heart,” he says.

Going the extra mile…literally

Danny’s love for his property and his passion for sharing it has grown since he began welcoming guests. So once a month, he leads guided walks to some of Kanangra-Boyd National Park’s most stunning waterfalls.

“It’s a six-hour circuit with some incredible rewards,” he says. “It requires a basic level of fitness and a guide because there are no tracks and it is easy to get lost if you’re on your own.”

He rates those times as some of his favourite experiences with the Hipcampers who come to stay with him. In fact, Danny says Hipcamp as a whole has been positive in that “generally the people are good and respect your property.”

His advice for other Hosts? “Be friendly and open to guests coming on to your land. They won’t be strangers for long.”

READ ON: A Hipcamp Staffer’s Waterfall Adventure Field Trip to Rhapsody

How to start earning money hosting campers on your land

Inspired by this Host story to start welcoming Hipcampers to help pay for property taxes, home expenses, and future dream projects?

Carolyne Jasinski is an Adelaide-based freelance writer, editor, guest speaker, tour host, and travel junkie. She has worked in print, online, and radio all around Australia and in Asia.

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