The Great Aussie Bush Camp History
The Great Aussie Bush Camp began life as a theme park and movie studio, started by entrepreneurs and pioneering documentary film makers, Mike and Mal Leyland. Mike and Mal migrated with their parents from England to Australia at age 5 and at age 15, Mike won a trip to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne after entering a cartoon drawing competition. He took with him a 16mm movie camera that his father purchased for him.
Mike and Mal’s future as documentary film makers really began with their careers in the media. Mike became a news cameraman at television station NBN at age 21 and at 18, Mal was working as a cadet at Newcastle's The Sun newspaper.
Their first regular television series, Ask the Leyland Brothers, aired on Australian television between 1976 and 1980, and again from 1983 to 1984. With few other documentary series of this type, the show often provided Australian viewers with their first look at outback Australia and in that sense, the series was amongst the first authentic documentary films about Australia. The series helped define who we were as Australians at that time, how we thought about ourselves as Australians and hinted at things to come for a burgeoning nation.
Leyland Brothers World
In November 1990 the Leyland Brothers opened the Leyland Brothers World theme park near Tea Gardens on the Pacific Highway north of Newcastle, New South Wales. The site included the now iconic 1/40 scale replica of Uluru as well as amusement rides, playground, a roadhouse, museum and a 144 student capacity bush camp.
Following the collapse of the theme park and the attached movie studio, the site continued as an outdoor recreation centre.
The Great Aussie Bush Camp - New owners and a new lease on life
In January 2009, family members Sarah and Brad Love and Simone and Brad Higgins, purchased the site - which had been operating for 21 years as an outdoor education centre - with the intention of rejuvenating the well known Great Aussie Bush Camp. With considerable experience in childcare, business development and a passion for excellence in everything they do, the new owners developed a strong foundation for even greater success in the future.
Less than two years later, The Great Aussie Bush Camp had established itself as a leader in outdoor education within Australia, while simultaneously entrenching itself in the local economy.
Each year around 35,000 children, as well as teachers, attend The Great Aussie Bush Camp. The emphasis is on providing memorable teaching and learning experiences in a family friendly atmosphere and removing the hassle that principals and teachers normally have to face when planning school camps.
The Great Aussie Bush Campacknowledges the importance of building its business based not only on quality of service, but on the historical significance and authentically Australian nature its location offers. This combination of outstanding facilities, great service and a rich heritage makes the camp unique amongst other outdoor education providers.
However, being authentic also extends to the type of camp experience provided. The comfortable living quarters are not so removed from the surroundings that students miss out on the ‘back-to-nature’ living experience. This is consistent with studies from both Deakin and Monash universities, which show that students’ experiences and learning acquisition are enhanced by a more genuine ‘bush experience’ such as that on offer at The Great Aussie Bush Camp. Alternatively, those camps offering a less authentic bush experience largely miss the intended benefits of outdoor education.
The amount of investment in the Tea Gardens site alone over the past 3 years is indicative of The Great Aussie Bush Camp’s commitment to educational excellence and their intention to be a long-term leader in its field.
The Next Chapter - One Great Aussie Bush Camp - Two Great Locations!
Building a reputation takes time but in just three short years, The Great Aussie Bush Camp's iconic branding and reputation is already being recognised as leaders in providing tailor made, curriculum-centred outdoor education programs and activities that offers schools stress-free organisation, great service and a family friendly atmosphere. With so many schools now wanting a Great Aussie Bush Camp experience, it was only a matter of time before another location was needed to keep up with demand.
In January 2012, another Great Aussie Bush Camp experience was added to the original Tea Gardens location. So now even though there's only one Great Aussie Bush camp experience, there's now two great locations to choose from.
The new site at Kincumber, located on the beautiful shores of the Broadwater on the New South Wales Central Coast, has been an instant success, offering schools an alternative experience that's just as authentic, educational and challenging. It even has some brand new activities that are unique in the school camps and outdoor education industry.