Feeling lockdown city cave claustrophobic? Time to give the big smoke the miss? Now you can!
Here's how - with our Sydney Scoop 2021 lockdown escape guide to five NSW farm stays.
1. Edna Walling Garden at Markdale
At the heart of magnificent 2,550-hectare Markdale, a three-hour drive west of Sydney, is a renowned garden created by the legendary Australian landscape designer Edna Walling.
Spanning five acres of the property, the garden was started in the 1920’s and redesigned in 1949 by the pioneer of Australian landscape gardening Edna Walling. Acknowledged as one of the great gardens of Australia, Markdale is synonymous with Walling’s signature design – blending native plants and exotics, thyme lawns, informal garden pool, hand built paths, and integrating the house with a serene yet untamed garden. Walling was determined to use the glorious natural scenery of paddocks and hills to advantage, removing many of the existing hedges in the process. Today, silver birch, aspens, pineoaks, hawthorns, golden elms, golden ash and claret ash, spireas, viburnums and native eucalypts shelter and the garden without obscuring the view.
Beyond the historic garden, visitors can also mingle with the farm animals, spot wildlife such as wombats, and practice polo swings on a wooden horse. There's a two-bedroom stone cottage (with log fire), a four bedroom 1850's homestead or a beautifully restored six-bedroom shearers’ quarters, to choose between - all are equally lovely.
2. Gundooee Regenerative Cattle Farming
Winner of the 2021 Delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards, State Winner Paddocks Category, Gundooee Organics can be found nestled in the hills west of the Great Dividing Range, about an hour north of Mudgee. As the first certified organic beef producer in Australia, the cattle are pasture fed on native perennial grasses incorporating ethical and ecologically regenerative farming techniques, and the wagyu beef scores top flavour marks with food industry experts.
Gundooee is the perfect getaway for people wanting to meet the maker, and get up close and personal with all aspects of where quality food comes from, on a 100% Australian owned and operated family farm. The real treasure is learning about living soil, and how the Gundooee pasture is produced, walking among the cattle and live like a farmer. Don't stop there unless you want to because the area offers great mountain bike trails, bird watching, bush walks and native 100 year old Quandong trees.
3. Outback Life at Corynnia Station
There are farm stays and then there are red-dirt-under-your-fingernails outback experiences — which is exactly what Corynnia Station offers families wanting a little more adventure. An hour’s drive west of Griffith in the Riverina region, or a seven-hour drive west of Sydney, this 6,800-hectare property is a working sheep farm as well as a farm stay. Accommodation ranges from a one-bedroom 1930s cottage to a country lodge that sleeps 12. Take the farm tour to see the 19th-century shearing shed and the thousands of merino sheep, explore red-dirt country by bicycle, play boules and tennis, and finish the day star-gazing by the campfire.
Within the brown, flat, harsh and unforgiving landscape, the farmstay cottages are set within a lush oasis, a ‘labour of love’ garden created more than thirty years ago. The pool and tennis court, as well as outdoor seating and dining areas for guests, are located within the gardens. Accomodation offers four choices, a private suite in the 1930’s homestead, a 1930’s one bedroom cottage, a charming two bedroom cottage and the new, authentically Australian six bedroom lodge designed in shearers quarters in mind but with authentic style and comfort and suitable for up to twelve guests.
Six generations of the Lever family have lived on this idyllic farm on the Richmond River at Dairy Flat in the far north of NSW, a 40 minute drive northwest of Kyogle, or an 8 1/2 hour drive north of Sydney. As well as running as a fully-fledged dairy farm supplying milk to Norco, the last 35 years Dairy Flat has become a well renowned farm stay where families have escaped the city to find respite in the beauty and tranquillity of this genuine country setting.
Dairy Flat Farm Holidays has three country-style cottages and an expansive five bedroom homestead. There’s plenty to keep the family occupied, feeding the chickens, goats and lambs in the farmyard area, learning how to milk a cow and bucket-feeding the calves afterwards. There’s also a tennis court and saltwater pool.
Like your farm stay with a side of luxury — and horses? Look no further than the five plush cabins at Eden Farm Escape, part of the Eden Equine estate in Bilpin, just a 90 minute drive northwest of Sydney in the Hawkesbury region. The estate is a working horse farm, with its 36 lush green hectares home to 12 horses and ponies, along with alpacas, donkeys, goats and a flock of chickens that resides in Cluckingham Palace. The farm also has a dam for swimming, a fire pit and a barbecue area, and is dog friendly. The self-contained cabins have polished concrete floors, black kitchens and over-sized couches, with equine-themed art as the finishing touch.
Bilpin is defined by its local orchards, so it's also a good place for a spot of fruit picking. And while you're there, make sure to visit the famous and quirky High Hopes Roadhouse by Sydney Chef Sean Moran for a scrumptious and possibly also entertaining meal.