As farmers flip the way they work and we change the way we take holidays, there is a new crop of farm stays opening up around the country.
From helping harvest produce for communal meals to horse riding, feeding the chooks and learning about sustainable living, here are seven of the best farm stays around the country.
1. Mount Mulligan Lodge, Tropical North Queensland
Guests who visit Mount Mulligan Lodge may not get their hands too dirty, but when they leave it will be as cheerleaders for outback Australia (even though the lodge is technically in the Tropical North Queensland region). The new luxury lodge, which sits in the shadow of the 18km-long sandstone escarpment of Mt Mulligan, has recently undergone an overhaul by the team behind Daintree Eco Lodge and Orpheus Island Lodge.
Synch your stay with the pace of life in the 28,000-ha property and you might find yourself fishing for barramundi, learning about the everyday operations of a working cattle station or doing laps in the infinity pool. Guests at the lodge can find heritage at every turn, from exploring the pastoral history of the region, as well as the Indigenous ties to the land, which date back 37,000 years.
2. Grampians Nature Programs, Victoria
Part nature workshop and part farm stay, Grampians Nature Programs are hosted on a property owned by Jon Muir, one of Australia’s greatest living adventurers, and his wife, Suzy, a passionate permaculture expert.
This hands-on experience has its roots in sustainable living as, together, the couple share their knowledge of living off the land, tracking down bush tucker and foraging in the forest. They also partner with World Expeditions twice a year to coincide with kooyan (the local indigenous word for the March harvest) and petyan (the October harvest) to host a four-day workshop on organic farming, sustainability and animal tracking as well as collaborative art projects.
3. Bullo River Station, Northern Territory
Interior designer, author and stylist Sibella Court, of homewares store, The Society Inc., has stamped her signature style on this working cattle station and homestead located in the northwest corner of the Northern Territory.
Guests can stay in one of 12 rooms designed with interiors inspired by the palette Court has pulled like a silken thread from the surrounding landscape. The accommodation also includes huts perched on the clifftop and accessible only by helicopter. Pull on your Blundstones and don your Akubra: in between sipping Champagne, swimming in remote waterholes, and discovering Aboriginal rock art, you can whip-crack your way through a day working the land and experiencing station life.
4. Eden Farm Escape, Bilpin, Blue Mountains, NSW
Eden Farm Escape has batted the old-fashioned farm stay concept for six. After rounding one more bend on a narrow road near Bilpin, Eden Farm Escape comes into view. The retreat, which opened in 2018, comprises five beautiful self-contained bespoke cabins set on a 36-hectare patchwork green quilt.
In addition to the Eden Equine program, the evocative landscape promotes another kind of therapy: tranquillity and relaxation. Eden Farm Escape is part of Eden Equine, and, in an effort to lure visitors #backtobilpin, is offering all guests a complimentary equine therapy session with one of its 12 horses and ponies. There are also a number of farm animals onsite, including donkeys, alpacas, goats, sheep, pigs and cows.
5. Kimo Estate, Gundagai, NSW
Although it’s now relieved of the sound of snoring and excessive cursing, the Shearers Quarters at Kimo Estate, housed in an unapologetically rustic outbuilding, is still full of character, functioning beautifully as a farm stay. The estate, located halfway between Melbourne and Sydney and 10 minutes from Gundagai, will connect country people with city folk who want to stay somewhere with a distinct Australian accent.
While the farm stay can accommodate up to 32 people in its eco huts, cottages and shearers’ quarters, the 110-year-old property is also a working sheep and cattle farm. The eco huts that have slid onsite to Kimo Estate are an exciting option for the conscious traveller, as the high-end cabins are completely off-grid. We love that they are suffused with light and layered with cotton, leather and wood.
6. Eelah, Maitland, Hunter Region, NSW
Follow the hollow tinkle of cowbells on this 28-hectare cattle property and you will be led toward pastures where fat, happy livestock graze. While the notion of a countryside holiday has been around forever, the idea of agriturismo is catching on around Australia as farmers who have been doing it tough for decades find incentives to diversify and create experiences for hosted guests.
The Eelah guesthouse is located amid rivers of colourful native grasses that flow toward the entrance of this dinky estate, located in Maitland, in the Hunter Region. Stay in a modern architect-designed barn conversion that is suffused with light and features a fireplace and outdoor terrace. The original barn partitions have been reimagined as rooms that sleep up to five guests.
7. Burnside Organic Farm, Margaret River
The McCall family behind the Burnside Organic Farm present like a walking advertisement for sustainable living. Hang out with the family on the Margaret River farm for a week and you will want to be them: get your hands dirty learning how to make wine, see how food is grown in the vegetable gardens, collect eggs from the chickens and hear a how-to on harvesting honey.
Light the pot-belly stove in your bush bungalow, take a deep breath and relax with a Permaculture for Idiots book by the fire while you dream of emulating the McCall model of living off the land. The farm has been certified organic for more than 17 years and the family can help you plan your perfect holiday, which may or may not involve pruning the vineyard.