Some places just feel so good! What all our campground-finder tools and detailed maps can’t tell us is the energy of a place and how we’ll be received. Each parking spot, campsite, caravan park or home has a different impact on us — some are repellant while others encourage us to linger longer.

Camping at The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
At The Channon, our peaceful view in the morning is across the valley where a small herd of cattle are keeping the grass from growing out of control.

So when we drove into The Channon Village Campground on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t really know what to expect. Handily located adjacent to Coronation Park where the craft markets are held every second Sunday of the month, I saw little more than parking spaces adjacent to the tree-lined 30-metre-wide driveway that leads to a private residence. But it’s so much more than that!

Camping at The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
We choose a site adjacent to an established fireplace and close to the amenities block. Later I move the bus to keep its solar panels charging.

Camping at The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
At $10 per adult per night — including water, toilets and (cold) showers — this is an affordable campground for our family! Many other places charge for children and an unpowered site costs us around $50/night.

Camping at The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
A camp-kitchen sink is out the back of the amenities block. I particularly appreciate the availability of a recycling bin which allows us to properly sort and dispose of our rubbish.

Hugh and Nanette Nicholson, The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
The campground is owned and operated by Hugh and Nan Nicholson who live at the residence on-site. The welcoming ambiance of this place is largely due to their friendly nature where every interaction is a pleasure!

The campground is an easy walk to into the village, and I often saw Hugh or Nan cycling past. They brought us vegies from their garden and stopped to share stories with us. I later heard from a friend that Nan was a significant force at the Bentley blockade, and she and Hugh have written books on local rainforest trees.

Brioni feeding a horse, August 2014
Brioni takes some fresh treats down to Solly the horse. Soon after we arrived, Nan informed us that the animals were friendly and invited us to interact with them.

Delaney playing lego, August 2014
The girls set up our tent as a playzone and spend hours playing with their small collection of lego — using head-torches to continue even after dark!

Aisha playing with fire, August 2014
The girls love having a fire at night again! There's something so compelling about watching the flames dance.

Koala with baby on its back, The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
One afternoon, while simply enjoying the scenery, I turn my head at a noise and discover a mama koala climbing a nearby tree!

Koala with baby on its back, The Channon Village Campground, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
It's very special to encounter a wild koala so close — and with such a cute baby!

The appearance of the koalas was exciting enough to notify everyone — Hugh, Nan, all my girls and the other Brisbane-based unschooling family camping nearby! We crowded around, taking pictures, until — after kindly posing for a decent length of the time — the mama koala climbed into the obscurity of the very top branches.

Later, Calista was buoyed by her visit with the horse and asked politely if she could ride her. I passed on Calista’s request to Nan and later was called out of the bus by the girls excitedly calling that Delaney was riding the horse! Solly is an old, placid horse and was an excellent introduction to horse-riding for my girls. (I’m still wondering if I’m going to get away without having at least one horse fanatic among my daughters…)

Delaney riding a horse with Nan Nicholson, The Channon, August 2014
Delaney — being the most enthusiastically vocal — receives the first ride. After that, the girls reasonably take turns in order of age — an example of effortless self-organisation.

Calista riding a horse with Nan's help, August 2014
With Nan to talk her through the feel of the horse under her legs, Calista soon relaxed into the ride.

Brioni riding a horse with Nan, The Channon, August 2014
After Brioni mounts, Nan explains that she can hold onto the reins or onto Solly's mane. Even the short lesson in mounting the horse was valuable, and I appreciate how effortlessly our children gain a range of experiences while we travel.

The Channon Village Campground has a lot to offer travellers, and appropriate off-road parking for big rigs is only a fraction of its attraction. When we drive back to camp at The Channon again, it’s hard to say what will be the greater draw — the peaceful campground, the handy location to the markets or the effervescent company of our hosts!