There are plenty of city kids who’ve never ridden a horse or collected eggs straight from the hen house, and even fewer who’ve actually milked a cow. But now, thanks to a dad who grew up in rural England eager for his kids to learn that milk doesn’t just appear in bottles or eggs in cartons and a weekend  farmstay, our tots can already chalk these up to experience.

A classic Australian farmstay, just 80 minutes from Sydney, where you can experience rural life on a cattle and sheep farm, Mowbray Park Farmstay offers a family break that ticks all the right boxes. Not only do they offer comfy accommodation, hearty meals and amazing facilities – including a kids club on weekends and during NSW school holidays – but a safe and relaxed environment for kids to interact with all manner of cuddly critters.

We’d no sooner arrived than we were bumping along on a tractor ride which had our kids in gleeful conniptions. At the end of our ride, a smoky campfire awaited where we cooked damper (which my son swore was play-dough and refused to eat) and drank delicious billy tea.  A wander around the extensive property to visit some horses, cows and sheep followed and kept the whole family entertained until dinner and a barn dance. Though it was past his bedtime, we were on holiday, so we broke the rules and let our thrilled pre-schooler stay up with dad to sing and dance with the other guests while I took the little one to bed.

After a contented sleep dreaming of sheep and a hearty breakfast it was back on the tractor to feed the animals.  In the nursery, a roomful of fluffy bunnies had my tot in fits of delighted giggles, as did the snorting pigs.  Feeding two very friendly donkeys kept both the kids busy, as did the alpacas (or “backpackers” as my son insisted they were called), but it was milking the very patient cow that proved to be the biggest hit.

Saving the best for last it was time, for the kids at least, to ride a horse. While the other grown-up guests headed off on a trail ride, we watched as a tiny Shetland pony was saddled up and duly rejected by both my thrill-seeking little ones for its full-sized pony pal, which had originally been designated for older children.  Looking like peas on a drum off they were led for their first ‘pony’ ride, chests proudly puffed out and begging for more when it was all over. In fact, we all enjoyed ourselves so much we’re making a family farmstay holiday an annual event.

A few farmstay faves

Mowbray Park, Picton, NSW

Experience a real slice of life on the farm with farmyard activities and a supervised kids clubs on weekends and holidays.

Lillydale Farm, Mt Barney Via Rathdowney, QLD

A family-friendly farm offering plenty of outdoorsy activities as well as farmyard fun 90 minutes from Brisbane.

Laurimar Glen Farmstay, Pipers Creek, VIC

A great spot for kids to participate in daily farm chores or simply hug a llama.

Settlers Rest Farmstay, West Swan, WA

Pull on your gumboots and experience life on the farm just 30 minutes from Perth CBD.

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About The Author

Parenting and travel writer Aleney de Winter, is mum to two frequent-flying tiny travellers, son Rafferty 4 and daughter Marlo 1. Aleney shares her top travel tips and tales of adventure as the editor of family travel bible Out & About With Kids magazine and on her blog www.boyeatsworld.com.au