Yes, you can milk a cow and collect the eggs but these farmstays offer a whole lot more. Belinda Jackson rounds up some of the best in New South Wales.
Cedar Creek cottages, Wollombi
“Guests can taste the grapes straight from the vine and are welcome to explore the 550 acres of farm, organic vineyards and hillsides,” says Laura Heslop, fifth-generation owner of the eight-hectare Stonehurst Cedar Creek estate in the Hunter Valley. Each self-contained convict-brick, timber-slab or sandstone cottage has a wood fire and spa bath and the rate includes a hamper with breakfast supplies. Half an hour up the road, the interactive Hunter Valley Zoo will delight the kids with keeper talks and the Meerkat Encounter.
Ba Mack Farmstay, Windeyer
With its motto of “connecting children with animals”, this 115-hectare merino farm near Mudgee gives children the chance to shake off the adults every afternoon at Kids Club. They can feed lambs, groom horses, pick fruit from the orchard and bake goodies in the homestead kitchen with owner Julie McLeod, who includes homemade afternoon tea and on-lead horserides in the tariff. Accommodation is in a two-bedroom cottage or a restored “red rattler” train carriage containing a piano.
Honeycomb Valley farm, Nabiac
The special thing about Honeycomb Valley Farm, on NSW’s Mid North Coast, is how quickly and completely you get into farm life, says owner Anna Campbell. The farm’s animals include stingless native bees (sign up for the Meet the Bees experience), miniature Galloway cattle, dairy goats and Dorper sheep, plus there’s a heated pool and a dam with pedal boats. Stay in the four-bedroom farmhouse or a two-bedroom cottage.
Yarramalong Valley Farm Stay, Wyong Creek
Get back to basics yabbying in the property’s dams but balance it with a stay in a timber farmhouse designed by noted Australian architect Richard Leplastrier. Collect eggs and feed ponies, sheep and alpacas, all while staying 25 minutes from the Central Coast’s beaches. The farmhouse sleeps up to 15 in four bedrooms and there’s a cubbyhouse and trampoline outside.
Image: Rebecca Warburton
High Country Trail Rides and Farm Stay, Oberon
Ride a horse along trails high in the Blue Mountains or pull the throttle on a quad bike if that’s your style. As well as meeting the farm animals, kids can burn energy playing air hockey and table tennis or bouncing on the in-ground trampoline. The self-contained cottages – one has two bedrooms, the other three – have log fires, and a nearby high-country hut is the place for camp-oven cookouts. The Jenolan Caves are nearby.
Farm Club, Moss Vale
They call their cows cool, horses happy and chickens clever at Farm Club near Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands. Accommodation is in a homestead, cottages or the Cowboy Bunkhouse (coming soon). You can taste the farm’s produce in the licensed café then work it off with a walk around the property, visiting the animals on the way.
Tobruk Sydney, Maroota, Hawkesbury River
Looking for an outback experience without a drive inland? At Tobruk Sydney, set above the Hawkesbury River, you can watch sheep being mustered and shorn and try your hand at cracking whips and throwing boomerangs – with billy tea and damper included. The three-bedroom homestead sleeps 12.
Eaglewood B&B and Alpaca Stud, Murrumbateman
Happiness is hugging a baby alpaca – and this alpaca stud and farmstay obliges. The self-contained cottage sleeps a family of four, the spa on the deck overlooks the beautiful Brindabella mountains and the watering hole is frequented by kangaroos. Breakfast (with eggs from Eaglewood’s free-range chickens) and a farm tour are part of the package.
Brindabella Station, Brindabella
The childhood home of My Brilliant Career author Miles Franklin, this historic homestead has two self-catering cottages on a working farm that runs sheep and Murray Grey cattle. Located 60 kilometres south-west of Canberra, there’s plentiful birdlife, walks in the national parks on its borders and superb trout fishing.
Elm Cottage, Tumut
These four dog-friendly, 4.5-star cottages overlook the Goobarragandra River, which flows through this cattle and sheep farm. Learn to flick the wrist for some of Australia’s best trout fishing, go for a bushwalk or trail ride in the Snowy Mountains (perhaps even spot some brumbies) or swim in the river that is less than 20 metres from the main cottage’s front door.
Top image: Tobruk Sydney
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