Farmstay Victoria: How to choose the perfect farmstay experience
With most of Australia’s population living in the city, staying on a farm (‘farmstay’) is becoming an increasing popular holiday option.
Farmstay Victoria-style is easy to achieve. For the most part, Victorian land is quite fertile. It therefore suits farming of crops, fruit, vegetables, and animals. Typically these are in driving distance from Melbourne for a night/weekend or longer.
To help you narrow down your farmstay Victoria options, we have identified six key points to consider.
1. Farmstay household facilities
For many of us, the idea of getting away from it all in a charming farmstay property holds a lot of appeal.
But the level of household facilities in a farmstay Victoria property can make all the difference. Some farmstay accommodation is very basic with little more than beds and basic furniture. Other farmstays offer city comforts in a country environment.
Given the higher popularity of farming in years gone by, many farmstay properties are older. This can sometimes be an advantage if the accommodation is, for example, a historic homestead. Old or new, make sure you ask about bed linen as this is typically NOT included.
Check heating and cooling too. Since we’re talking farmstay in Victoria, temperatures can vary enormously from season to season. For cooler months, farmstay Victoria properties are likely to have an open fire. This can provide a nice setting for an enjoyable evening inside.
2. How many people can stay under the one roof
Like other holidays, a break at a farmstay Victoria property can be made all the better if you can share it with friends and family. This is particularly where the emphasis is on peace and relaxation.
A number of the accommodation websites seem to identify 10 or more people as being a ‘group’. Yet, if this is what you’re looking for, you’ll find that many farmstay Victoria options cannot accommodate that many people. If you’re just travelling with a smallish group of friends or immediate family, then this is not such a concern.
Apart from the number of beds, keep an eye out for the size of the living areas. A number of farmstay houses were built with a depression-era mindset (think small). You’ll probably be more comfortable and relaxed if there’s room to spread out a bit.
3. Scenery and serenity
Scenery and serenity can really make or break the farmstay experience. Have a think about your own expectations. Does a farmstay bring you thoughts of rolling hills and green grass, chirping birds and mooing cows?
While many farmstay properties do offer this magical experience, others provide only land that is flat and dusty. Photos on the website of a property are a good place to start, but farm land can be very different in summer and winter.
Serenity is an expectation for most people when they think of a farmstay experience. Guests often comment about the serenity on good farmstay properties, given city-based people are living in increasingly high density locations. As a good indication of what you’re going to get, check where the closest house is. Ask the owner or check google maps – the further away the better.
4. Cooking facilities
While some farmstay Victoria properties offer meals (typically a cooked breakfast), many guests prefer to self-cater or eat out. Even if you largely eat out, it’s useful to have facilities to prepare your own breakfast or have a glass of wine before dinner. You probably won’t want to go out for every meal, especially as farmstay properties can be some distance from local shops.
In this regard, you’ll want to know what the farmstay cooking facilities are like. How big is the fridge at the farmstay property, does it have a freezer? Is there an oven, a microwave or a cooktop? What about a dishwasher?
If you’re staying as a group, are there big pots for you to cook for your crew. What if you want to go on a picnic somewhere – is there an esky and storage containers? A well-cooked meal at a farmstay adds to the experience. Just make sure the kitchen is up to it.
5. Farm activities
Apart from the serenity and wide open spaces, farmstay Victoria can offer a range of farm activities. These are particularly popular for families with younger kids. In Victoria, a hands-on, full-on farming experience (think Jackaroo/Jillaroo) is certainly not the norm.
What is possible is helping out with a range of farm activities including collecting fresh eggs, feeding animals, and milking cows or goats. Droving animals is not typically a daily activity on farms –farmers prefer to leave the animals alone. However, you may be able to arrange to see some cows milked or sheep shorn.
Farm activities may extend beyond livestock animals and can include bird watching or discovering/caring for native wildlife on the property (depending on its size).
6. Non-farm activities
Apart from activities involving animals, check out the range of non-farm activities available. Often guests on holiday are just looking to chill out, and good farmstay Victoria properties know this. Some properties provide a games room, table tennis, TV/DVD, a movie/book collection, or puzzles, cards and board games.
Outdoor options include play gym equipment, balls and bats, or a sandpit – especially for kids. More active opportunities include bush-walking, fishing, or mountain biking. While few farmstays will have a swimming pool, some may have a beach nearby or a large, swimmable dam. Find out whether swimming towels are available, to reduce your packing required.
Finally, it’s worth having a look at what kind of tourist attractions are nearby as these can add to the experience.
Farmstay Victoria is a great option for city-slickers looking to experience something different when taking precious leave. To maximise your chances of having the perfect farmstay experience, do your homework on the property’s facilities, size and setting.
So what’s been your experience? Have you ever stayed on a farmstay in Victoria, or looked into it? Please let us know your experiences.
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