Springfield Farm, Avoca, New South Wales © Springfield Farm
Australia’s prettiest farmstays
Rediscover the simple life at these idyllic Australian countryside retreats.
By Freya Herring
For many of us, life on a farm looks pretty sweet – all that fresh air and homegrown food, not to mention all those adorable animals to look after. Of course, life on the land is actually hard work, so it’s lucky that you can get all the fun highlights during a farmstay. From milking cows and churning butter to frolicking about with miniature donkeys to doing absolutely nothing, here’s where to find your perfect – and prettiest – Aussie farmstay.
Stay on a farm … near Adelaide
A 30-minute drive from South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, Mylor Farm is a cute-as-a-button farmstay. Its six hectares (15 acres) is kitted out with vegetable and herb gardens, a fruit orchard and even a tree fort. Up in the gum trees you might see koalas quietly dozing or eating (their two favourite pastimes) or one of the 40 bird species that call the farm home. You’ll also spot plenty of kangaroos, too. Guests stay in an elegant, three-bedroom stone cottage with a large verandah, its interior decorated in calm, muted colours. There’s a fireplace in the living area for the cooler months. Feel free to help out in the veggie garden or choose to just relax and enjoy the blissful surrounds.
Founded in 1843, Hutton Vale Farm is sustainably run, producing wine, wool and free-range, natural-pasture lamb in the rolling hills of South Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region. A stay here can either be at the so-called “Hutch Hilton”, a four-bedroom cabin with a lounge and indoor/outdoor kitchen, or in the more deluxe J.H.A. Stone Cellar, a two-bedroom villa situated in the oldest building on the site.
The farm is only a 100-kilometre (60-mile) drive north-east from Adelaide, but there’s an airfield if you fancy arriving in style.
Stay on a farm … near Brisbane
Set in the dramatic landscapes of Queensland’s mountainous Scenic Rim (home to a UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest and no less than six national parks), Tommerup’s Dairy Farm is just over a one-hour drive from Brisbane. The farm has been in the Tommerup family for six generations. Guests staying at one of the two 19th-century cottages can partake in daily milking, as well as feeding the cows (including bottle-feeding the calves) and smashing pumpkins for the pigs to eat. Truck-crazed kids will love watching the milk tanker swing by.
If you’re looking to live out your authentic farmyard fantasies, then Bunyip Springs is the farmstay for you. It’s near the small Queensland town of Maidenwell, a 2.5-hour drive north-west of Brisbane.
Here you can milk the cows and hand-feed the alpacas. Or you can groom, feed and even ride the horses (led by farm staff). You can even take a dip in the natural springs before settling in by the campfire to gaze at the stars in the evening. Choose from two cute three-bedroom timber cottages or a two-bedroom unit, all with fireplaces or wood-fired stoves.
Stay on a farm … near Canberra
Ever dreamt of waking up among a vineyard, the whispering winds the only sound you hear? Then Naked Cubby Co, a vineyard farmstay in Majura, just 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the nation’s capital, Canberra, is your dream come true. Each of the two stylish glamping pods offers something different: hilltop Edgar has breezy, sweeping views over the top of Mount Majura Vineyard, whereas Frank is cosy and sheltered, nestled at the bottom of a slope.
Don’t miss the chance to taste the wines at the cellar door (you need to book ahead), and don’t take the naked bit seriously: it refers to stripping away the outside world, rather than your clothes.
Stay on a farm … near Darwin
If adventure is your middle name, then look no further than Bullo River Station, in the Northern Territory’s East Kimberley, some 800 kilometres (500 miles) south-west of Darwin (driving here takes about 10 hours, or you can fly or come by chopper). The station is situated in the lush lands where the Bullo and Victoria rivers meet, not far from the Western Australia border, and you’ll stay in one of 12 high-luxe-meets-outback-rustic rooms in the homestead. Life on a 200,000-hectare (500,000-acre) working cattle station is never dull. You can try your hand at mustering or feeding calves or work up a sweat in the dust of the cattle yards. Other experiences include a guided tour of Miriuwung-Gajerrong rock art or cruising the Bullo River.
Stay on a farm … near Hobart
Go all in and milk the cows, separate the cream and churn the butter. Or collect the hen eggs and make damper (a traditional Aussie bread) on the campfire before taking a tour of the orchard and vegetable garden. The town of Penguin is only eight kilometres (five miles) away if you fancy visiting a penguin rookery.
When it comes to farms, Curringa, near the town of Hamilton, a one-hour drive north-west of Hobart, is the real deal. The property encompasses some 300 sprawling hectares (750 acres), producing meat and wool via 3,000 resident sheep (who’ll most likely wander past your door). Farm tours include activities such as sheep-shearing and working the farm dogs, and either afternoon tea or a proper farmer’s barbecue (or there’s always the farm café).
With everything from two-person luxury studios to large family cottages – all pretty and modern – Curringa Farm caters for just about everyone.
Stay on a farm … near Melbourne
With an orchard, manicured grounds, sweeping valley views and even its own truffière (truffle orchard), Rivendell is as picture-perfect as it sounds. Some 300 kilometres (180 miles) from Melbourne in the East Gippsland region, Rivendell has two self-contained cottages. There’s the gorgeous three-bedroom Arkestone cottage, and an intimate one-bedder created out of an old water tank. There’s also a luxurious spa for those who don’t fancy getting their feet muddy checking out the property’s cows, horses and chickens. There’s an onsite restaurant, too, where you can taste seasonal produce straight from Rivendell’s gardens.
Expect the sounds and smells of a farm but in your guest room (located in the owners’ 1920s farmhouse), it’s all about relaxation, with a fully stocked minibar, big comfortable bed, wood-fired stove and waterfall shower. A manicured garden contrasts beautifully with the surrounding Aussie bushland.
Stay on a farm … near Perth
Hiding out in Western Australia’s picturesque Southern Forests region, Diamond Forest Farm Stay, 300 kilometres (190 miles) south of Perth, has a range of quaint timber cottages that are perfect for families. Kids will love it: there’s a petting pen of chickens and rabbits to keep them occupied. They’ll also have the chance to feed the farm’s 100 animals, meet the rescue kangaroos, go canoeing on the dam or fish for trout for dinner.
Choose from two types of bungalows: two-bedders with outdoor stone baths, or one-bedders, built from rammed earth and reclaimed wood. Get a tour of the farm to meet the pigs, cows, geese and chickens, learn about biodynamic gardening or just hang out with Hunter the border collie.
The farmstay is the lovechild of Sydney restaurateurs Sean Moran and Michael Robertson of Bondi Beach’s revered Sean’s, which uses much of the farm’s produce. You’d be wise to take up the cooking classes while staying in the main house, or pop into the nearby High Hopes Roadhouse, run by the same team, for modern takes on classic Australian fare.
Springfield Farm is located in the tiny town of Avoca in the Southern Highlands, a 90-minute drive south of Sydney. Here, you can go on a tour of the vegetable gardens, mushroom farm or beehive with “Farmer Pete” (co-owner Peter Barge), or do an intensive permaculture retreat over a weekend to learn how to re-create Springfield’s veggie gardens when you’re back home.