Farm stay holidays gain popularity
Thursday, August 13, 2009, 8:24 pm
Tourist operators say farm stay holidays are gaining popularity for Australian families, which has benefits for drought-stricken farmers as well as families on a tight budget.
Janet Mitchell and her husband Eric Scoble run a 200 acre working farm Laurimar Glen, which doubles as a farm stay to supplement their income.
“The drought season has been horrific for the last 10 years and farm stay has kept it viable,” she said.
Ms Mitchell says while farm stay benefits farmers, it also gives families a chance to experience country life.
She says parents are able to enjoy the fresh air and not worry so much about where the children are and if they’re safe.
“They like to see their children happy and safe, interacting with animals,” she said.
“Many families have a cat or a dog but not many have llamas, deer, goats, horses, pigs, or chooks.”
Two adults and two children could expect to pay $600 for a week’s peak time farm stay at Laurimar Glen.
Ms Mitchell says food is the only thing not generally supplied, but barbecues, her most recent relishes, and freshly baked muffins are customary.
In contrast, a one-week vacation to Moreton Island, off Brisbane, at peak time may have previously been a family favourite, but it is no longer the cheapest or easiest option.
At $19 per night a family would pay $114 for a week’s camping permit on the island.
The ferry ride would cost $265 return without a trailer, adding an extra $220 for a trailer under four-metres long.
A vehicle permit costing $38.25 is also essential as using four-wheel-drive vehicles are the only way to get around the island.
There is also the week’s supply of fuel needed to take to the island, as fuel can no longer be purchased on the island.
If camping on the beach is dampened by bad weather, there are rental holiday houses from $180 per night to $3,000 for the week.
A March 2002 study by Tourism Queensland found families pay around $500 a week for farm stay accommodation and activities.
Farm stays are not only cheaper but easier to book without the having to book camp sites and setting up tents.
Farm stay pioneer
Some farm stays like Old Boyneside, in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains in southern Queensland, include meals for an additional fee.
Old Boyneside is run by Peter Curtain who is a farm stay pioneer, opening his farm in 1988.
Geoff Kitchen, operator of australianfarmstay.com.au, gets most of his business through international students.
He says he encourages more farmers each year to start up farm stay on their properties.
Mr Kitchen says he gets around 70,000 Japanese visitors a year but it would be a real benefit for Australian families on a tight budget.
He says children are fascinated to see milk does not just come from a store, but comes from cows.
“It’s especially good for city kids – it’s a revelation,” he said.
“If they want milk, they go to the supermarket.”