Yes, you can milk a cow and collect the eggs but these farm stays offer a whole lot more. Belinda Jackson rounds up some of the country’s most memorable properties.
Billabong Ranch, Echuca
“It’s all about country hospitality, magic sunsets and camp-fire nights with a huge range of experiences,” say owners Kerri and Richard Acquisto. Billabong offers trail rides alongside the Murray River, which borders this pony-mad ranch. There’s also an animal nursery, archery range, pedal boats, minigolf and more. As well as horses, the 158-hectare farm is home to camels, pigs and sheep. The simple bunkhouse has family rooms and a communal kitchen.
Rivendell Farm Stay Cottages, East Gippsland
Overlooking the Tambo River, Rivendell’s former dairy is now the stylish three-bedroom Arkenstone Cottage, while Bag End Cottage started life as a water tank on this Angus beef farm and truffière. Owners Peter and Annette Thomas welcome guests’ horses and dogs or young visitors can play with the animals-in-residence. Fishing gear and bikes are available for snagging bream and hitting the nearby Rail Trail.
Bimbadeen, Phillip Island
There are 200-plus Angus cattle, alpacas Freddie and Eddie and 500,000 bees on this island farm, where guests are invited to take part in daily life. That might involve collecting and grading eggs from the free-range ISA brown hens, feeding the cows, riding on tractors or even helping with repairs. Tours begin or wind up with a paddock-to-plate barbecue featuring the farm’s own beef, eggs and other produce. The brand-new self-contained one- and two-bedroom retreats are eco-friendly and have gorgeous rural outlooks.
Yalooka Farm Farmstay B&B, Heathcote
The stars of this farm sanctuary just outside Bendigo on the Campaspe River are kids – baby goats, that is – born here from October to December. Collect eggs for breakfast, toast marshmallows over the fire pit, fish in the river, catch yabbies in the dams and have a pat and cuddle with the farm’s rescued animals. Accommodation is in a semi-self-contained two-bedroom unit that sleeps up to five.
Farm to fork is the motto, says owner Chris Balazs of this sustainable Angus cattle farm on the Golden Plains outside Geelong. It’s located beside a winery (for the adults) and has plenty of tame lambs (for the kids). At the on-site store, Artisan Butchery, guests can buy the farm’s grass-fed beef and lamb. There’s also a vegie garden they can raid before cooking up a feast in the kitchen of the renovated farmhouse, which sleeps up to nine.
Top image: Billabong Ranch
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