If you need to escape the pollution and pace of big city living, farm stays with kids are a good option. In South West Western Australia this can mean not only do the children get to experience hands-on interaction with baby animals and seeing a live farm in operation, parents can enjoy some of the best food and wine in the country without having to sit in a stuffy, expensive restaurant. For a family holiday activity that will be unusual and memorable for the kids, but oh so easy for the parents, farm stays are it.
Australia is well known for its strong agricultural industry. For families traveling with kids this means fantastic fresh food, animals to feed, ride and hug and huge spaces of vast open air for the children to just run free. Western Australia is by far the easiest way to access Australia with kids from Asia and has a good combination of the city of Perth and the glorious countryside of the state’s south west region.
[For more ideas on gourmet experiences in Western Australia with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story Western Australia's Gourmet Trail with Kids.]
Particularly for parents who have long wanted to explore areas like Margaret River, Pemberton or Walpole, a farm stay provides a self-contained option that’s close to these fantastic areas of interest, but are filled with family-friendly activities just for kids. Let the children run around and touch and feel some animals while you do nothing more than follow them around, glass of wine in hand. Perfect.
Billa Billa Farm Cottages, Walpole
Right next to the Walpole Wilderness Area national park is Billa Billa, an exclusive retreat of four recently renovated two-bedroom cottages that can house a maximum of 8 people each.
Here everything is designed with the feel of traditional farm life in mind. The cottages come with their own kitchens and wood fires and in the morning the kids are encouraged to help around the farm by feeding the chickens, ponies, cows, goats, horses and baby animals (including lambs and calves), collecting chicken eggs and generally embracing the fresh air.
If this isn’t enough animal interaction for them, kids are welcome to “adopt” a guinea pig for the period of the family vacation and keep it on a cage on the verandah for frequent cuddles.
Billa Billa is close to several nice walks and beaches and is a genuine retreat from the hassles of city living (television and mobile phone reception is unreliable which is a good way to break that screen addiction). They are particularly proud of their stunning valley which provides a glorious environment for the whole family to relax.
But perhaps the best bit about Billa Billa for parents traveling with kids? Every morning there are free pony rides for the kids and staff are willing to take supervision of the children during this time so you can enjoy a well-earned lie in.
BIG4 Taunton Farm Holiday Park, Margaret River
This working farm allows traveling families to stay on site and experience farm life for themselves in a peaceful, rural setting. They have a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets from barn-style chalets with full kitchen and fires to caravan and camp sites (that have access to the shared camp kitchen, free gas barbeque and laundry). There are three styles of cabin which can accommodate families of up to six people. Visitors do need to provide sheets and towels for the bunk beds in the chalets or these can be hired.
Because Taunton Farm can cater to a large number of families, this means that there is a huge space for the kids to run around as well as a playground and the enormous giant bouncing pillow (think something like a trampoline but gigantic!) – all fantastic places for the kids to make new friends.
If you need even more activity, the entire park has wireless internet access and the chalets come with televisions.
There is plenty of opportunity for the kids to interact with the farm animals during the daily feedings of the cows, goats, pigs, donkeys which occur every afternoon at 5pm.
Outside Taunton Farm it is a close drive to explore the nearby caves, surf beaches and, of course, the famous wine district of Margaret River where there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops to keep everyone satisfied.
Diamond Forest Cottages, Pemberton
Diamond Forest Cottages are such a family-friendly farm stay that they even allow visitors to bring their own pets; be they a dog, a horse or a cat. And there are plenty of other animals to greet you on arrival. To name just a few, there are goats, sheep, jersey cows, donkeys, kangaroos, chickens, peacocks, pigs, ponies, bantam hens, alpacas, turkeys and horses. Then there are the wild birds – including kookaburras, black cockatoos, spoon bills, blue wrens and black swans.
All guests are encouraged to join in to feed all the animals every morning: it is a favourite for the children and the young at heart. The animals are all accessible any time of the day however the morning animal feed is much more interactive, particularly when there are baby animals around.
There are four self-contained cottages on site with modern kitchen facilities, comfy reverse cycle air conditioning, private BBQs, TV/DVDs and even board games. There are plenty of countryside activities available on the 50-acre property if you want to partake in a rural lifestyle for a few days. You can walk through the Karri forest, canoe out onto the dam, fish for rainbow trout or take a hike in the Diamond State Forest.
There is also a communal games room with foosball and air hockey tables along with a television for the children, which is a good place to send them while you enjoy a quiet glass of locally produced wine with cheese and crackers while overlooking your stunning balcony views.
Diamond Forest Cottages are close to many other local activities such as the famous climbing trees, award-winning wineries with simply divine food on offer, Big Brook dam recreation area, 4-wheel-driving trails galore and the beautiful forests that make up the Southern forests region. Close by are the townships of Pemberton and Manjimup which offer both shopping convenience as well as tourist facilities such as 4-wheel-drive guided tours, informative visitor’s centres, great cafes, galleries and adventure parks for the kids to play.
Wherever you choose to go, a farm stay with kids in Western Australia is a fabulous mix of easy activity combined with good food and wine which will make for a great family holiday destination.
For more travel tips on animal interactions in Western Australia, see the suitcases&strollers story Whale Watching in Western Australia.
This story was sponsored by Australia’s South West