With so many distractions in the city, urban families don't often have the chance, or are willing, to venture to the 'sticks'. However, there's much to love about the country, from crisp air to fresh produce plucked straight from the soil. Do your kids know where their scrambled eggs come from? How about the milk used in their babychinos? With stunning natural surrounds, animal encounters and removal from technology, farm stays have much to offer the 21st century family.
Unlike ultra-modern hotels, a stay on a farm often feels as though you're bunking with distant relatives. There's nothing more comforting than warm, down-to-earth hospitality in sharing a homestead with your resident hosts. Whether you prefer rustic self-contained cottages or a bed and breakfast style arrangement, many estates are well appointed so you won't need to forgo any creature comforts, rather benefiting from homey extras such as sun rooms and fireplaces. It's not camping, after all. Enhance your experience by leaving the iPads at home to make the most of the great outdoors.
All the best bits of a farm stay can be found, naturally, out in the paddock. A far cry from queuing for rollercoasters, kids will love donning gumboots and getting their hands dirty. Activities such as bottle-feeding baby lambs, milking cows and collecting eggs add an educational element to your holiday as they help young ones understand where their food comes from. Hint: not out of a packet.
Living off the land is just one part of a farm stay's appeal. A host of activities, including bush walking, wildlife spotting and tractor rides will get the kids off the couch and into nature. And the best bit for parents and any impatient rug rats is that you don't have to spend all day in the car to reach these rural pastures.
Unbuckle the Granite Belt in Queensland
Find out which is the best farm stay for your family
A few hours' drive outside the city fringe awards Sydneysiders and Brisbanites rolling hills and wild open fields in which to roam. Kanimbla Valley near the Blue Mountains is a popular getaway, with an abundance of horse-riding trails, while south-east Queenslanders will have their pick of regions to explore. The wintery delights of the Granite Belt and its prolific vineyards offer something for all, as does the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and its concentration of dairy farms. Melbournians can enjoy a country escape in nearby Ballarat or Kyneton, while those in Tassie are naturally blessed with a spread of ranch experiences across the state.
For a farm stay a little more off the beaten track, Rawnsley Park Station is a working sheep station in the Flinders Ranges, six hours' drive from Adelaide. Every budget is catered for, from basic cabins to glamorous eco villas, and the kids can keep occupied with a host of pastimes including mountain biking. Similarly, Home Valley Station in the Kimberley offers the ultimate Aussie Outback holiday complete with fishing excursions and walking trails within a landscape of towering gorges, billabongs and sunburnt fields.
Out in the country, the air is cleaner, the food is fresher, and there's nothing more rewarding than returning to a cosy abode and enjoying hearty home-style fare, prepared with ingredients likely sourced that day.
A farm stay holiday is something the whole family will remember for years to come. Who knows? A weekend of fresh air may inspire you to pack up city life and embrace a 'tree change'.