With NSW interstate travel on the horizon, now is the time to start planning. And, if you’re anything like me and are looking for somewhere to stay that’s out-of-the-norm, you might want to consider a farm stay.
Fortunately, from vast cattle stations, to charming hobby farms and luxurious, historic estates, NSW is filled with them. Here are 10 of our favourites.
Ba Mack Farmstay, Mudgee
At Ba Mack Farmstay near Mudgee, a 3.5-hour drive northwest of Sydney, kids will have the chance to make friends with 300 merino sheep, horses, pigs, dogs, cats and more. They can learn how to groom and saddle a horse, feed the animals and bake scones for afternoon tea in the homestead kitchen. The farm can host two families at a time, sleeping in either the rustic cottage or a restored ‘red rattler’ train carriage. Adults can check out Mudgee’s boutique wineries while the children attend the complimentary Kid’s Club held daily.
Starline Alpacas Farmstay Resort, Hunter Valley
Around 200 alpacas roam the grounds at Starline Alpacas Farmstay Resort, a small property nestled between the wineries of the Hunter Valley, a three-hour drive north of Sydney. Feed the alpacas straight from their hand, as well as feeding chickens in their coop and adult sheep. There are more than a dozen cottages and suites on the property, plus a swimming pool, spa, sauna, tennis court and children’s playground.
Byron Bay Farm Cottages, Byron Bay
Just 10 minutes from Byron Bay, Byron Bay Farm Cottages is a perfect base for families to enjoy the quintessential farm activities while making the most of Byron’s beautiful surrounds. The property is used for cattle grazing and has a strong commitment to sustainable farming and conservation. Its six ridge-top cottages boast sweeping views over the hinterland and ocean. Collect eggs, walk among the cows and greet the friendly horses, then try kayaking or fishing on the lake or walking through the rainforest gully.
Jambaroo Valley Farm, Jambaroo Valley
Just two hours’ drive south of Sydney, Jambaroo Valley Farm is a working permaculture farm with luxury cottages overlooking the South Coast’s Jambaroo Valley and ocean. Guests can pick fresh produce from the kitchen garden, collect eggs for breakfast and feed friendly cattle, sheep, chicken and pigs. Accommodation highlights include indoor and outdoor fireplaces and a gorgeous Swedish hot tub.
Highland Lodge Farmstay, Jindabyne
Part farm stay, part ski lodge, Highland Lodge Farmstay is perched high in the Snowy Mountains just outside the town of Jindabyne. The property is open all year round with kid-friendly activities such as collecting eggs, picking vegetables, exploring the fields and playing in the playground. Finish your days toasting marshmallows over a roaring campfire.
Kimo Estate, Gundagai
Proving that a farm stay doesn’t have to mean roughing it, Kimo Estate in Gundagai, a four-hour drive southwest of Sydney, is a working 2,800-hectare sheep and cattle farm dotted with luxury accommodation. For a romantic getaway, book well in advance for JR’s Hut, an eco-friendly cabin with 360-degree views of the river and farm. For family accommodation book the six-bedroom Shearers Quarters, a true rural Australian experience with an open fire, outdoor decks and BBQ.
Mowbray Park Farmstay, Picton
Just over an hour’s drive southwest from Sydney in Picton, Mowbray Park Farmstay offers families a choice of a number of lodges and cottages and a full program of supervised farm activities. Enjoy feeding nursery animals, tractor rides, milking cows and whip cracking. Other activities on offer include horse riding, canoeing, archery, tennis, fishing and mountain bike riding. It’s one of the few properties that’s also open to day visitors.
The Woods Farm, Jervis Bay
At The Woods Farm in Jervis Bay, a three-hour drive south of Sydney, there are eight individually styled homes for guests to choose from. Each contains three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and all the essential mod cons of home. There’s plenty to keep kids busy — from free bikes to giant yard games and a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool. Keep up close with the farm animals, including miniature goats, horses, alpacas, cows and chickens.
Amaroo Cottage Farmstay, Bathurst
At Amaroo Cottage Farmstay near Bathurst, a three-hour drive west of Sydney, guests are encouraged to get involved with the real (and sometimes dirty) work of running a farm. That means mustering stock, lamb marking or shearing, depending on the season. After the chores are done, there’s time to spot the abundant native wildlife or stargaze on skies uninterrupted by artificial light. Accommodation is in a three-bedroom self-contained farmhouse with a continental breakfast basket on arrival.
Hanericka Guest House, Yerong Creek
Hanericka Guest House, between Wagga Wagga and Albury in the Riverina region of southwest NSW, is a small farmyard that has been welcoming guests for almost 30 years. There’s plenty of hands-on farm work to be done — sweeping out pens, putting down fresh straw, making up milk powder for lambs and collecting eggs. Learn to ride horses, jump on the back of a tractor or enjoy a swimming pool and tennis courts on the grounds.