Summerland House Farm, the house with no steps at Alstonville in northern NSW
High on a green plateau near the historic village of Alstonville, in the northern rivers region of NSW, Summerland House Farm is one of Australia's most successful disability enterprises in Australia. Part of Australia's largest disability service provider - House With No Steps - the farm's purpose is to provide employment for people with a disability. And with an on-site café/restaurant, macadamia and avocado groves, plant nursery and free-ranging chickens, it's not only a booming success but also one of the most relaxing and rewarding places to visit.
The Farm Restaurant
Farm tours are great fun
I visit the farm restaurant regularly for either a quick cuppa or more substantial meals as the lush tropical surroundings offer a green oasis even on a hot day. Outdoor seating is nestled amongst the towering palms and indoor seating has a variety of seating options, especially big tables for family groups. And with a bountiful supply of fresh eggs right outside the backdoor, the business takes 'eco-friendly', sustainable farming, and 'green tourism' to new levels.
The Farm Shop
There's an on-site store
Right on-site the plant nursery and gift
shop offer hampers, local produce, fresh coffee beans, nuts, and plenty of bits that hard to resist, likely fresh roasted and salted macadamias.
Weddings, Parties, Picnics
over 1500 avocado trees
A 'high tea' experience is offered seven days a week. Or phone through for a picnic hamper
full of cheeses, dips, crackers and chocolates. The cost - $60 for two people - includes everything that any decent picnic should have - picnic blanket, cutlery, glasses, cushions, candles and even a take-home jar of pickles or relish. Then simply find a secluded grassy corner amongst the 172 acres of orchards.
Something for everyone
come and be surrounded by green upon green
Summerland House is a one-stop holiday destination. Jump on board the tractor and tour the Farm to find out about the ins and outs of avocado and macadamia nut harvesting. Then wander through the Packing Shed
to see how it all comes together before being sent off to retail venues. The Water Park
will keep the little ones busy for hours while mum and dad enjoy an uninterrupted cuppa. Plus there's Mini-Golf
and definitely don't leave without saying hello to the 'girls', Summerland's free-ranging chickens
. These eggcelent feathered friends roam the verdant slopes chasing insects and checking out what worm may be sliding by. And happy hens make delicious eggs. Just check out their ear-lobes. Yep, chickens have ear-lobes and the colour of the little fleshy bit will dictate the colour of their egg-shells. All that clucking, bokboking, and squarking isn't wasted either. They have around 30 different sounds to communicate with each other, from predator warnings to 'don't mess with me, this is my patch of green.'
fun to watch and fresh eggs to purchase
Founder Lionel Watts suffered discrimination himself when a bout of polio left him with severe disabilities. After that, Lionel had trouble gaining employment. He realised if this was happening to him, then it was happening to others too. Being a resourceful chap, he saw the emerging growth industry of avocados (long before it was the fashionable food to have smashed on toast). He managed to acquire land on the plateau in 1972 and House Farm was born. Today, 47 years later, over 90 people with disabilities have gainful employment. According to Lionel, employment is more than just a job - it's a way to learn new skills, get workplace experience, and meet new people. Over the years Lionel Watts has broken many boundaries. As Chairman of the Architectural Barriers Committee, Lionel campaigned for better wheelchair access for all Australians. The committee helped introduce parking permits and made it compulsory for all public buildings, footpaths and crossings to be wheelchair-accessible.