Top of the bucket list for many families visiting the Highlands is to spend time on a farm, and just in time too! A recent survey by Primary Industries Education Foundation found one third of Aussie kids struggle to identify fruit and vegetables, and are confused about where their food comes from. Like not knowing denim jeans are made from cotton, a plant crop and being unaware yoghurt is an animal product. Time then perhaps to take the bull by the horns and introduce your brood to the country at these fabulous farm and bush stays.
Fairway Farm, Wildes Meadow Hardworking dairy farmers Judy and Don Warner have been welcoming guests to their 50-hectare Wildes Meadow property for more than 20 years. Accommodation is a fully self-contained unit which sleeps five with private entrance off the main house, and is a cosy and comfortable. But it’s the location and resident farmyard animals that keep their guests returning every year, and kids are encouraged to get involved, from getting up early to watch the milking to bottle-feeding the poddy calves and lambs. “Our biggest drawcard is we are a working dairy farm, so children can see milk does not come from a bottle,” says Judy. There are also dogs, chooks, lambs, ducks, peacocks and Shetland ponies to meet and picturesque dirt roads for bike riding and walking. Burrawang is a five-minute drive up the road. http://fairwayfarm.com.au/
Laurel View, Robertson Butchers John and Vicki Mauger know a thing or two about cows. The owners of Maugers Meats Burrawang and Moss Vale, the Maugers raise their cattle and sheep on this 120 hectares, which is also the location of their farmstay, Laurel View. In the family since the 1950s, this period property has lovely gardens, sumptuous furnishings and 360 degree views of lush Robertson paddocks. This is also a busy working farm, and kids are free to wander about and soak it all in. laurelview.net.au
Morvern Valley, Bundanoon Morvern Valley sits down a rainforest lane on 10 hectares of bush and cleared farming land near Morton National Park. There has been a guesthouse here since 1896, and owner Julie Peacock says staying here is “like returning to Grandma’s farm of yesteryear”. There’s a host of animals for the kids to get up close to including alpacas, horses, ponies, sheep, donkeys, peacocks, ducks, chickens, geese, foals, lambs, chicks, ducklings and giant rabbits. The three self-contained cottages sleep eight people each. Tyre swings, barbecues and hen houses for egg collecting complete the farm feel. Kids can also watch seasonal jobs that need doing such as shearing, and horse shoeing. Bundanoon is five minutes’ stroll away and Morton National Park, fabulous for biking and bushwalking, 500 metres the other direction. morvern-valley.com
Redleaf Farm, Fitzroy Falls Like Laurel View and Fairway Farm, Redleaf Farm, is a working farm, ten minute drive from Moss Vale. Home of the Sparke family, it is set on 110 hectares bordering state forest which includes a beautiful waterfall. The Sparke work hard, award award-winning free-range pigs and sheep and breed Highland cattle for beef. Stay in one of the property’s beautifully renovated train carriages, which sleep up to six and four respectively and the kids can truly let their hair down. There are chooks, ducks, geese, ponies and a creek with a flying fox and canoes and lots of places to bushwalk and mountain bike. For a taster, book one of Redleaf’s farm tours. Guarantee the kids will want to come back for a longer stay. redleaf-farm.com
SHED 85, Moss Vale: A five-minute drive from Moss Vale, hemmed by Meryla State Forest and Morton National Park and its endless bushwalk and mountain biking fire trails, Shed 85 sits on the 44-hectare property of Ed and Edwina Savage. Shed 85, with three bedrooms and open-plan living downstairs, sleeps six and is a great way to ensure a digital detox for all ages Cure your family of nature deficit disorder and let the kids wander around the farm to pat the ponies and silky chickens, see the cows and generally amble about, device-free. There are deer, wombats, kangaroos, kookaburras, wallaroos, echidnas, eagles and black cockatoos resident here, too. A lovely return to nature. shed85.com
Cliff House on Platypus Gorge, Paddys River Roger Fagan first laid eyes on this property along the Wollondilly River nearly 20 years ago and bought it on sight. Retired now, Roger and partner Nicky offer more than 10 different camp sites for tents and campervans along the river, and one privately situated self-contained barn house. With beds for six, Cliff House on Platypus Gorge sits above the Wollondilly and shares the space with wombats, kangaroos, wallabies and birds galore. If you are lucky, you might even meet the elusive platypus locals in the river. Take the kids’ bikes and their cossies. bowralglampingandcamping.com
Twin Falls Bush Cottages, Fitzroy Falls If you want to get the family enthused about the bush, biking is a great place to start. And Twin Falls is a notable launchpad for biking and bushwalking as the magnificent Fitzroy Falls are just a short walk away. Home of Olympian cyclist Brad McGee and wife Sharni, Twin Falls sits next to Morton National Park and has five cedar cabins, some which sleep up to six, on 20 hectares of bush. Guests are free to use the barbecue and pool area and kids will love the tennis court and trampoline. There is even a specially made kids bike track. Family members such as saddleback pigs, goats, chickens and ponies add to the truly relaxed country feel. twinfallsbushcottages.com