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Published October 7th 2015
Fun farmstay in Port Stephens
Feeding the animals at Kookaburra Cottages photo from Kookaburra Cottages website
If you have young kids and are looking for a break away from the city smoke, you won't go far wrong with a stay at Kookaburra Cottages in Bobs Farm, Port Stephens.
I wanted to take my kids for a farmstay because I was disappointed by their total disinterest in the animals when I took them to the Easter Show. They took one glance at a cow and ran straight to the Ferris wheel. I promptly decided to correct this dismal state of affairs. I could not stand by while my kids thought milk comes from a carton and eggs from a box - I also wanted to correct my kids' lack of appreciation for the hardworking farm animals who provide so much of what they eat.
Kookaburra Cottages is a small hobby farm ideally suited to families with young children seeking a farm stay, and it is a lovely low key destination to introduce your children to a wide array of furry friends.
What is the accommodation like?
There are two 3 bedroom cottages - Cow and Casuarina cottages, and 4 one-bedroom cabins, which have an additional bunk bed in their living areas if you want to squeeze kids in. The cabins are all located together around a central outside entertainment area, so are a good option for small families wanting to holiday together but with their own separate cabins. The cottages and cabins are themed - so as we stayed in Cow Cottage, we had a cow clock and cow bed spreads in our cottage.
Main living area of Cow Cottage, photo by Harlequin Photography, from Kookaburra Cottages website
The accommodation is basic, but comfortable, with all the things you will need for a family holiday here - including gum boots in all sizes for when it rains. This place does get very muddy when it rains, so we'd recommend bringing your own gumboots for comfort if you are visiting here during a wet period.
You don't need to lug a big box of toys with you when you holiday here, as the owners have thoughtfully placed a big basket of toys and books in the kids' room, filled with things like xylophones, dolls, bears and a toy tractor or two.
The farm has a pig, an alpaca, numerous goats and sheep, calves, donkey, ducks and chickens, and guinea pigs running around underneath the cottages. The owners run a tour of the farm every day where kids staying on the farm get to feed the calf, sit on a donkey, feed the sheep and goats, feed the ducks, and have a crazy tractor ride which is really bumpy, which the kids will either love or be terrified of!
At the time of writing (October 2015), it is $210 for two adults and two children per night to stay in either Cow or Casuarina Cottage. The cabins are $110 per night per couple, with a $30 per child additional cost.
My kids are still talking about Cow Cottage six months later. They keep asking to go back! As well as being a great little farmstay, it's a convenient location for sightseeing some local attractions in the area. It's a few doors down from the Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounter, which is well worth a visit (see my other review), and Murrays Brewery is just around the back of the farm, which is well setup for tourists with great food and drink and a big area for the kids to run around in. It's also a short drive from the main Port Stephens area, which has many attractions including whale watching at certain times of the year.
Did this experience change my kids' views of farm animals? While they found the pig too smelly and the duck pond too muddy, they developed a love for feeding the goats, sheep and chickens and were excited to look for eggs in the chicken coop every day. In my books, my mission to educate the kids about farm animals whilst still having a great time was a big success, completely attributable to the great setup this farmstay has.
1) Bring mosquito repellent if you are coming in warmer weather - the animals, water and mud are the perfect combination for these annoying creatures to multiply, and sand flies are also a problem in this area. Provided you spray, you should be fine.
2) The cottages are great. We stayed in Cow Cottage, and loved the deck with a comfy sofa and table tennis space (even if the table was a bit warped) and our own chicken coop out the back. The cabins are a good budget option, but be aware they are significantly smaller than the cottages. In our view, the extra space in the cottage was well worth the extra cost.
3) In the winter when it's cold, chickens go "off the lay" which means they won't lay eggs. (Who knew? I didn't) It's still a great time to visit. There is a wood combustion heater in each cottage which will keep it toasty warm and which can be used to toast marshmallows (another highlight of our stay). It is worth noting that the bedrooms themselves don't have heaters. While they are connected to the main area so the heat from the fire will warm the bedrooms to a certain extent, on cold nights the bedrooms can be on the chilly side, so warm nightwear is recommended. The owners supply plenty of blankets and doonas too.