Ducks, horses, sheep, goats what are you waiting for?
When you live in the city, even one like Sydney, which is full of water and greenery, it is easy to forget how important the country is to our existence. Out of sight, our food bowl is better known for the things miners dig out of the ground to power our ever increasing energy demands, than for the food it provides to sustain us.
Mowbray Park, not 90 minutes from the CBD, is a farm stay holiday experience designed to reconnect you with the land. Nestled amongst verdant green hills and lush fields, this working farm is the perfect place to experience farm life. Although primarily a tourist attraction, the farm itself is a going concern, and behind the pony rides and cuddly animals, people are busy growing food, raising cattle and nursing sick horses. The farm itself serves to create a sustainable tourism business, and the passion for sustainability in everything they do is evident when you speak to manager Blair.
They pack it in at Mowbray Park and keep you and your kids entertained all day with all manner of things farm related. It starts with an early morning tractor ride down to the paddocks, where goats and llama's can be fed and the pigs can be seen wallowing in their mud holes. Here you are surrounded by slices of typical farm inhabitants. Hens cluck about importantly. A gaggle of ducks amuse the crowds with their morning bath routine and the donkey is so typically donkey-like, you expect him to start speaking with the voice of Chris Rock (Shrek).
A nursery with rabbits and guinea pigs give kids the opportunity to pet and cuddle little animals, and everyone gets a turn to feed the calf milk from a bottle or milk the cow. Before you know it, it is time for pony rides. Four gorgeous work ponies line up and patiently ferry little people around the paddock. In the next field, horses munch grass and wait for riders in the dappled morning light. (A separate fee for horse riding applies).
After lunch (we went self-catering, but a meal option is offered), there is time for a quick swim and some archery in the field below, before it is back on the tractor for damper making and a refreshing cup of freshly made and "swung" Billy tea. The damper is hot and sweet, filled with sticky syrup and quite delicious, and the tea is the best I've tasted.
In the evening a barn dance keeps kids amused. They are invited on stage to sing and perform, and several group dances are arranged. We all join in with the hockey pokey and various other side-ways toe-tapping, feet shuffling, partner swinging hoedown moves. Nearby a fire crackles and after the mandatory rendition of Waltzing Matilda, we roast marshmallows and look at the stars.
And that was just Saturday. You can do it all again on Sunday too, but we opted for playing in the pool and swinging on the rope hung in a nearby tree.
By the time we get home, I am completely puffed out. The kids are still buzzing with excitement and I am asleep before they are, exhausted from our little taste of farm life, but with a greater appreciation of what it means to be a farmer in this land of ours.