We had been looking for somewhere to go for a few days R & R between Christmas and new year that wouldn’t mean we had to re-mortage the house. The coasts would have cost thousands or were already booked out so we cast our net wider and found a gem of a destination in Lee Farmstay, just outside Kingaroy.
It was a fabulous place to take in the simpler things in life; glorious sunsets, childrens’ giggles, quiet nights and fresh produce.
We stayed at this homely farm 15 minutes out of Kingaroy for 3 nights, enough time to make ourselves cosy, for the kids to become comfortable with the animals and for us to really explore the surrounding area.
Our cottage was spotless and more than comfortable. It had all the amenities you’d expect plus some you didn’t, like our own spa bath and fireplace. The farm itself had plenty of things to do: trampoline, swings, sandpit, pool, sauna, a dam, bikes, oh and of course, the thing we’d actually come for; the animals.
When I booked I had actually forgotten that our middle child was afraid of animals. Probably thanks to some aggressive sheep and goats at the Ekka, he’s pretty much run scared ever since of anything fluffy, furry or feathery, no matter how cute or placid. So about half an hour after submitting my credit card details, I had a ‘uh oh’ moment where it suddenly dawned on me that this 4 days away might turn into a lifetime of therapy for poor John. Either that or it would cure him.
On the first day, he was certainly excited to see the animals, especially if they were behind a fence or paying him no heed. But once the horse snorted at him and the chickens ran at his feet (that’s where he threw their feed!) and the dogs wanted a scratch he became quite jittery and clearly didn’t want them in his space. Enter our wonderful host Gavina.
She basically runs the farm on her own after her husband passed away just a few months ago. She employs a few farm hands on different days but the bulk of the daily hard work falls on her shoulders. She has such an incredible way with the children. John was holding her hand, giving her cuddles and sitting on her lap immediately, like a bee to nectar. She gave everyone, adults included, such genuine attention and the boys bloomed with it.
By the final morning, you would have thought they were old farm hands.
They knew how to feed the sheep, horses and fowls, which chickens needed releasing and which stayed caged, could collect the eggs with ease, put the water in the cages and feed the guinea pigs. John even surprised us all by succeeding in catching one.
It must have rubbed off on the adults too. Stephen looked so much like a farmer that one of the new guests actually thought he worked there!
Probably the only cause for concern for the boys by the end were the dogs. Cute little white balls of (burr-riddled) fur, most of them – and there were about 7 in total – were subdued and happy with a tummy tickle.
But then there was Sparkles. The killer death puppy. Totally excited and excitable – and that was just the boys! There was much screaming and fleeing (pardon the pun) when Sparkles was out, but Gavina realised pretty quickly that it probably wasn’t best for either dog or boys and mostly kept her indoors when the boys were on the loose.
Helping with the animals was at 8am and 4pm each day so we still had most of the day to fill with other activities. And for travellers accustomed to a bit of driving, there was plenty to occupy us.
The first full day we spent up in the Bunya Mountains National Park. It’s about an hours’ drive away through some varied countryside. On the day of our visit it was dark, cool and wet due to the drizzle but we all thoroughly enjoyed the short walk we took on the circuit track, taking in the imposing Bunya pines.
Dandabah (the village at the heart of the national park) is known for its population of resident wallabies and indeed they are everywhere. Although not tame, you could get fairly close before they bounded off into the scrub.
That afternoon afforded us a spectacular sunset. Stephen went off to photograph it at the dam while the kids, Mum and I sat on the deck marvelling in the splendour of the sky.
On our second day we took a shorter drive, out to the Bjelke-Petersen Dam and then up to Mt Wooroolin, the lookout on the outskirts of town. Of course, Kingaroy is famous for producing peanuts and no trip to the town would have been complete without a visit to the Peanut Van to sample the scores of flavours. All of this, plus finding a few geocaches along the route, made for a pretty full day.
On our final morning we ordered the ingredients for a cooked breakfast. Gavina brought us over warm home-made bread, fresh child-collected eggs, bacon, bacon and more bacon, own-grown tomatoes, grapes and Lee farm honey as well as bananas, kiwi fruit, butter, jam, juice and of course peanut butter.
We stuffed ourselves silly before our morning farm ‘chores’, waddling up to the coops like the ducks themselves. Not only this, but we had enough of the feast left over for morning tea and lunch as well.
After feeding all the animals for the final time, it was time to say goodbye to Gavina and cottage number 3, and head home to Brisbane. On the way, we stopped off briefly in Nanango to feed Connie at Hannibal’s bucket, a giant drag bucket from a mining crane. And I do mean giant. The boys were un-enthused about getting out for a photo op, so I drove the whole car into the bucket for the photo. And that was something that John spoke about all the way home.
All in all, the farmstay was a fabulous escape from the post-Christmas city chaos. We loved the experiences afforded to us all and hope to go back when Connie’s old enough to grapple with some chooks.