James stands proudly on his mound and surveys the area. We approach his pen and Caity and Kyle, two volunteers come up to greet us. James is a llama and we are told he loves to go searching for his girlfriend in another pen. It is rumoured he may even have two, but Katrina, the owner of White Ridge Farm, only gives them "dates" when the time is right. So for the rest of the time, he stands on his mound and comes up to the fence, eager to interact with human little ones and big ones alike. Our lovely volunteers give us more information on how we can tell a llama from their cousins the alpacas. Llamas are mainly pack animals, whereas alpacas are bred for their wool. Llamas have banana like ears, and alpacas have pointy ones.
Caity and Kyle are two of thirty volunteers whose ages range from 13 to 81. The main condition for being accepted as one is a love of animals, and I must say this was so evident talking to the two of them. Caity has been there over a year and Kyle a few months. He has great interpersonal skills and enjoys meeting all the visitors to the farm. He also happily looks after the many animals on the farm. Caity is keen to share stories of the animals, which will fascinate and delight you as they have their own personalities and quirks. Here they are with James!
This is a family run farm; purpose-built as an educational and recreational farm and it is run by the friendly Katrina and her husband David, who greet us on arrival. Various members of the family help out and all have a lot of information to share, a big smile and a willingness to show you everything that the farm has to offer. One big square of bitumen paths with large and well-tended pens, of the most engaging animals, as well as some birds, a play area, trampoline, picnic tables and chairs and even an educational area for school groups or parties. The animals come from many sources, some are rescued, some come from breeders in Queensland, others have been brought to the farm.
There are multi-coloured ones in their pen and a couple of real characters. A goat called Hansel and his sister Gretel were playing one day. Somehow his horn got knocked off and did not grow again making him the only Uni- horn on the farm.
There is a frisky three-legged goat who did a lot of jumping over fences, and lost one of his legs, but seems to manage just as well on three as on four. They poke their heads through the fence and seem very happy to feed from your outstretched hand. Just beyond are the piglets and the hens, bantams and all types of strange and fascinating fowl. The piglets are full of energy and chase one another around and if you get in the way they will scramble all over you.
The hens, ducks and Polish bantams are real "lookers" ranging in colours, feathers, beaks, snoods and wattles. This one you could say has had a bad hair day or perhaps spent hours trying to get this look. What do you think?
In an interactive pen, there are varieties of sheep and a few calves. Another volunteer I met was running through some of the cattle breeds and to me they all sounded like steak, Wagyu and Angus, but do not tell the calves I even thought that, please.
There are various types of sheep, Dorset Down girls with light faces all a bit of a mystery to me but if you want to find out more just spend a little more time in here. Baby goats are bleating and waiting to be fed and you can watch and help in pens that you can enter. A miniature horse called Adi who was rescued and a Donkey called Pete who loves to be petted on the neck stand waiting for attention in their respective pens.
There is a small but interesting selection of birds and my favourites were the Kakariki, native parrots from NZ, the name meaning "small Green parrot" in Maori.
We stopped to have a picnic and enjoyed watching the animals from where we were sitting. After lunch, it was time to hop onto the Tractor and the Cart and Katrina took us for a ride in the eucalyptus forest where the children were encouraged to find many hidden objects on the trees and in the undergrowth.
It's a short little ride but a lot of fun and the children were thrilled to look for all sorts of strange items. I won't spoil the fun and tell you where they were or what they were. You will have to discover them all by yourself or perhaps with some help from the children.
On our way out we spent a few moments jumping on the old jalopy parked in the middle of the farm and then heading off to meet Gypsy, the resident Camel with big romantic eyelashes and soft under chin down on her neck. She is only 3 and will be fully-grown at 5 but already towers above us all.
The farm is delightful and the people who run it do so with a passion and energy, which translates into lines of volunteers wanting to come and work here. The sense of commitment by all is only too apparent.
It is easy to find and well signposted with ample parking and in my view has very competitive prices for what it offers. It is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm and there is no need to book. Groups and schools can visit too. This is the ideal place for a child's birthday party or a class outing, though for these events, it would be good to give them a call and sort out the details.
We travelled there from Brisbane in 50 mins. It is 8 mins off the Bruce Highway. My family joined us from Caboolture, which was 5 minutes away.
For more information on this educational and well-run farm, go to www.whiteridgefarm.com.au