With the best of both worlds, there are full on farming activities and self contained seclusion on offer at this beautifully presented Exeter gem.
It seems fitting that the welcoming party for Exeter Farm Stay is of the animal variety. Angelique the alpaca hovers by a small flock of sheep grazing in the shade of eucalypts. She lifts her head and stares in the direction of our approaching car, committed to her guardian role but clearly not bothered by our presence.
The day before we arrived, a storm had brought down an enormous gum tree, which in turn damaged a perimeter fence, so hosts Ray and Jill had toiled for hours chainsawing the fallen tree and attending to repairs. A necessary part of farm life. Every day is different and guests are encouraged to explore and be as involved as they’d like, although vehicles and machinery are understandably off limits.
With a background in event management, Jill is perfectly suited to running a popular bed and breakfast with a side attraction of farm animals, and clearly loves providing for her guests. The self contained property is part of the main homestead building but has a private entrance and separate parking.
After a quick change into more farm appropriate footwear, we head off on our first adventure. One of the farm stay’s most popular activities is feeding the animals. We help load up the tray of an all terrain vehicle with lucerne, hay bales and a bucket of oats, and Jill takes us on a guided tour of the 140 acre property. Down near the dam, a tiny timber hut known as the Hidden Cabin is offered to guests who might like to sit quietly and ponder nature, boil the billy for a cuppa or enjoy a glass of wine. Jill provides the ingredients for the cuppa but it’s BYO anything else.
The utility lumbers up and over the hills, dodging large wombat burrows, to the cow paddock. With Jill at the wheel, guests are on gate duty, opening and closing as we pass through. The blue bucket containing oats for the sheep has been strategically positioned in the centre of the vehicle’s tray, out of the reach of enthusiastic cows, but one still managed to reach its nose in far enough to knock over the bucket and scatter the sheep treats everywhere, delivering just the right amount of country excitement for city guests.
Back at the apartment, there’s plenty of outdoor space to run around, kick a ball or explore the homestead gardens. Inside, there are two bedrooms (configured as Queen + King or Queen + Twin) and a beautifully appointed bathroom. The main living area has a lounge area in front of the slow combustion wood fire, a kitchenette with continental breakfast provided (including homemade marmalade) and a dining area overlooking the rolling hills of cleared cattle country.
A cosy courtyard is just the right spot for a sundowner or breakfast the next morning. Four resident chooks scratch quietly nearby, only two are layers to keep egg production manageable, and next to the chicken coop, a healthy selection of fruit, vegetables and herbs grows in abundance. We spotted strawberries and blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, thyme, mint and rosemary, but each season brings a different offering.
In between her impressive hosting activities, Jill also finds time to run the local Exeter Village Market (first Saturday of every month), which she bought in 2018. Originally from Melbourne and more recently Sydney, the couple downsized in the city and upsized in the Highlands where they’d owned a weekender for many years. They are passionate promoters of the area and provide a local’s guide to activities, restaurants and wineries. With very little improvement needed, the only plans in the wind are to put in a swimming pool for guests to enjoy in the warmer months.
Exeter Farm Stay is a whole of apartment rental at $250 per night for two guests and $350 for four guests. Minimum stay is two nights and a travel cot is available.
Rockleigh Road, Exeter; www.exeterfarmstay.com.au