Feeling the need for a bit of a family retreat or a hideaway from the madness of modern life? Bellingen Farmstay is an ideal place to spend some tech-free time. Immerse yourself in the clean air and clean environment of this little slice of heaven on the Kalang River in New South Wales.
Why are farm stays so good? Like many families, we're always on a tight budget so we want the best value for money. We can't afford designer homes with chef-prepared meals - so one of our favourite places to holiday will always be farm stays like Bellingen Farmstay. Farm stays are affordable and allow you to enjoy farm living. You can slow down, unwind, and spend time living as a family in spacious and peaceful surrounds.
The farm stay accommodation consists of a mud brick house in a duplex format and a small cabin just up the hill. Both units in the duplex are fully self-contained and very private - as is the smaller cabin. The duplex units share a beautiful lawned space overlooking the river valley. The kids can kick a ball, play quoits, or run around while you sit under the wide verandah awning taking in the serene environment. Mind you, it's more likely the kids will be off exploring the fenced farm-yard area. This area has an orchard to explore, guinea pigs to feed, a tyre swing to play on and heaps of space!
The units have full bathroom, laundry and kitchen facilities so self-contained living is easy. The kitchen has an electric counter-top oven and hotplates, a fridge freezer, plenty of cupboard space, and all cutlery and crockery and cookware is supplied. Some consumables are on hand for convenience, but you'll need to purchase/bring what you normally require to run your household while you are staying on the farm. The old gas BBQ is a bit dated at the time of writing but it's the easiest and cheapest cooking option.
There is a TV but you're not likely to use it. You'll be too busy soaking up the vibe of the farm stay and the kids will be too busy playing outside (or helping with the cooking and cleaning for a change).
There's also decent mobile data coverage at the farm for the digitally connected people. I'll let you decide if you want to tell the kids that.
In the family units, there are two bedrooms, one with a double bed and two single bunk beds in the other. Heating and cooling is largely achieved by the sun and the mudbrick construction but there are fans for the hotter days and a wood fire for the colder nights. The open plan cabin is as it says - open plan.
The 22-acre farm is perfect for roaming and exploring (there's also plenty of excellent walks into Newry State Forest nearby). Have a picnic, go fishing or try kayaking on the beautiful Kalang River with direct access to the water. Two kayaks and safety gear are all on hand for your use.
Usually, the kids can participate in animal feeding in the mornings though this is on hold for a short while. The kids can still see the guinea pigs and interact with the chickens and cows that roam the farm or just run around inside the farmyard area. Photographers and bird watchers will love Bellingen Farmstay and the opportunities it provides for both.
Things to do nearby
Bellingen Farmstay is in the Kalang River Valley. It's about fifteen minutes from Bellingen via paved roads or twenty minutes from Urunga and the Pacific Ocean via dirt roads through Newry State Forest. Both are pleasant drives that wind through tall forests and undulating farmland, crossing wooden trestle bridges over tiny forest creeks before finding main roads.
A word of warning about the road to Urunga. It's an excellent dirt road - if you can avoid all the potholes. It's all very two-wheel drive accessible nonetheless.
Urunga is a beautiful seaside town on the mouth of two rivers, making it an ideal place to enjoy fresh seafood at Anchors Wharf Cafe on the Kalang River. Walk out to the ocean along the Urunga boardwalk or drive south to walk out along the famous V-wall breakwater at Nambucca Heads. Go horse riding in Valery or explore the myriad day drives you can take to places like Gleniffer and the Promised Land. Take a drive along the Waterfall Way up to Dorrigo and visit the rainforest centre and skywalk. Head up the motorway to Coffs Harbour (only 40 minutes away) to see the Big Banana and enjoy all the attractions a city the size of Coffs can provide.
Bellingen is a special little town with plenty to see and do amid a real sense of community. Make time to walk along Hyde Street and explore the town. There's heaps of stores with all sorts of things to explore and fantastic dining options like the Federal Hotel and Qudo Café and Sake. You can stock up on everything you need in the way of local food and drinks at the supermarket, butcher, bakery, wholefoods store or bottle shops.
Fiona and Brett - the owners of Bellingen Farmstay - have been living there for nearly twenty years. They're welcoming and accommodating hosts who'll make sure your stay is a comfortable and memorable one. They'll introduce you to the farm when you arrive to answer all your questions and even set up a campfire for you (in season). The biodynamic ethos of the farm has brought it to life through hard work and organic and sustainable practices. The whole place is chemical-free. You can actually feel the natural and relaxing vibe, free from some of the nastier trappings of modern life.
Fall asleep to the sound of frogs in the creeks and dam nearby - it's so quiet sometimes you'll hear fish jumping in the river a hundred metres or so away! Wake up to the soothing sounds of cows, kookaburras and all kinds of rainforest birds. Enjoy sipping your coffee as you watch the morning mist rise from the valley and breathe in the clean air you can only find in places like Bellingen Farmstay. Spend the day relaxing and exploring the farm. Maybe you'll head out road-tripping the beautiful Coffs Coast region before returning to your comfortable cabin in the woods to do it all again the next day!
The rates at Bellingen Farmstay are very reasonable - the open plan cabin is a bit cheaper. It's definitely the best value for money we could find (and we did a lot of searching). It's so good that we recently returned to stay even longer, almost two years later. You can find out more about the farm stay experience at Bellingen Farmstay here. You can also book all the accommodation at once and make it a special retreat for extended family or groups.
It's said that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. Bellingen Farmstay is one of those investments.