What do you do when you have nine children and find yourself suddenly unemployed? If you are anything like Colleen Adams, you have a brief panic and then set your sights on what’s next.
One year ago, Colleen and her husband, Daniel, were managers of a horse stud in the NSW Upper Hunter but the owner sold the property and they suddenly found themselves looking for new opportunities. With a stroke of luck and a serendipitous matching of skills, the family soon found work at another thoroughbred stud, but it came with the challenge of relocating their entire family to the Eurobodalla.
“We knew the area and we had connections in the region,” says Colleen. “We were up for a change so we all headed south.”
Once her husband had settled in at work and their children were enrolled in local schools and off to university in Canberra, Colleen says she needed to find herself something to do.
“I am not one to stay at home – I like to be busy,” she says.
With their children’s ages ranging from 10 to 23, with triplets in the mix, busy may be an understatement, but on meeting this warm and relaxed person it is easy to see she clearly takes life in her stride.
Despite having absolutely no previous experience in managing a campground, the resourceful, self-described outdoor type applied for a job to manage Belgravia Leisure’s campsites in the Eurobodalla. Colleen says she knew that after wrangling nine children and living a busy farm life, the challenges presented by managing a campground were not going to be a daunting task.
Australian leisure management company Belgravia Leisure operates Eurobodalla Shire Council’s three campgrounds along the NSW South Coast, at Moruya North Head, Dalmeny and Mystery Bay.
The company operates health clubs; caravan and campsites; and golf, aquatic and sporting venues in partnership with more than 70 state and local government authorities at 180 locations across Australia and New Zealand.
Initially working just a couple of hours a day at the Moruya North Head primitive campground, Colleen was later assigned to work five days a week at Dalmeny campground, which is one of the most relaxed and beautiful campgrounds on Australia’s east coast.
“I just love working here, I could not be happier – no matter what I am doing, every time I look up I get to enjoy this,” says Colleen as she waves her arm towards the beach frontage with stunning views over the ocean to the north, stretching along Dalmeny Beach and Eurobodalla National Park to Potato Point.
“As well as that, everyone here is pretty happy because they are on holidays. We all just love being here looking at the view.”
The Dalmeny campground, which has powered and unpowered sites and is located just across the road from the local shops, was busy during the peak summer period. Colleen says with COVID-19 forcing people to travel within Australia, there are a lot more first-time campers turning up.
“We still have the regulars – the people who have been bringing their families here for years – but it is great to see people enjoying a camping holiday,” she says.
Colleen has also noticed an increase in the number of young women travelling on their own.
“They are so confident and full of adventure,” she says. “It is great to see them here so independent and resourceful.”
Reflecting on the big changes after leaving the Hunter Valley to her life as a campground manager in the Eurobodalla Shire, Colleen says: “Our whole family loves living here. I don’t think I could live anywhere else now. We have been spoiled.”