Stay on a luxurious farm in Australia
Days on Australian farms are often associated with long working days in dusty heat. For most rural Australians, this is still the way.
But for travelers, farm life has become a little more pleasant.
A tourism movement Down Under has brought together authentic outback experiences and luxurious accommodation.
Guests can saddle up a horse and muster cattle –- or even take a helicopter flight -- before a night of fine dining.
There are plenty of places to hang out with sheep and cows in style.
Burrawang West Station, New South Wales
The Australian tradition sitting around a campfire reciting bush poetry lives on at Burrawang West Station.
The minimum booking here is for 10 people and apart from the best of Banjo Patterson, itineraries include hot air ballooning, indigenous cultural experiences and professionally guided astronomy.
The exclusive retreat is located on a sheep station in central New South Wales' Lachlan River Valley, a one-hour flight from Sydney.
Burrawang West Station, from $1,000 per night (two nights minimum) including meals, beverages, activities and transfers, www.burrawangwest.com.au
Spicers Hidden Vale, Queensland
Spicers Hidden Vale is only a one-hour drive from Brisbane. So to accommodate city slickers after a more refined version of "The Man From Snowy River," the farm has placid horses to ride, along with some tennis and croquet.
Rooms and suites have king-sized beds, TVs and minibar while top-of-the-range suites have spa baths and large plasma monitors.
Spicers Hidden Vale, from $279 per night including breakfast, www.spicersgroup.com.au
Spicers Peak Lodge, Queensland
This farm might appeal to those who prefer watching grazing cattle from a distance, meanwhile lazing around a pool sipping cocktails.
Spicers Peak Lodge has a country club feel and guests don’t go to sleep hungry. The tariff includes a seven-course degustation dinners.
The 3,600-hectare working cattle property is surrounded by the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park.
Spicers Peak Lodge, from $1,190 per night including meals, accommodation and beverages, www.spicersgroup.com.au
Bullo River Station, Northern Territory
Some 800 kilometers south of Darwin, Bullo River Station is deep in the outback.
The station was once the home of Aussie author Sara Hendersen, who wrote about the trials of running a 200,000-hectare station as a single woman. Her daughter and son-in-law, who are equally as passionate about the land, now run the station.
Activities include cruising the Bullo River Gorge, fishing and aboriginal rock art tours.
Bullo River Station, from $800 per night including meals, beverages and activities, www.bulloriver.com
Bamurru Plains, Northern Territory
Located west of Kakadu National Park on Swim Creek Station -- a 303-square-kilometer coastal buffalo pastoral property -- Bamurru Plains is a Top End bush camp.
It’s an Australian safari in the wilderness.
The theme here is gourmet bush tucker and wildlife, especially during the wet season when the surrounding floodplains are full of water buffalo, magpie geese, Brumbies and saltwater crocodiles.
Getting there by four-wheel drive is half the fun, but those in a hurry take a helicopter from Darwin.
Bamurru Plains, from $930 per night including meals, beverages, activities and return flights from Darwin, www.bamurruplains.com
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Rawnsley Park Station, South Australia
Fourth generation Aussie sheep farmer Tony Smith has successfully converted the family’s 3,000-hectare sheep property in the Flinders Ranges into a tourism venture.
But the shearers are still on show here, demonstrating their hard yakka before guests. Other outdoor activities include flights over Wilpena Pound, mountain biking, horse riding, nature walks and four-wheel drive tours.
Eco villas are decked out with leather couches to chill out at the end of a hard day's watching.
Rawnsley Park Station, eco villas from $360 a night, www.rawnsleypark.com.au
Angorichina Station, South Australia
A stay on Ian and Di Fargher’s remote 65,000-hectare sheep station in the Flinders Ranges is a "true blue" Aussie outback experience.
The station is bigger than Singapore, which means following Ian Fargher around as he checks on sheep, musters horses and feeds the working dogs is a long day.
To get to the local Prairie Hotel at Parachilna for a beer, it even takes a flight in Ian’s Cessna.
Angorichina Station, from $750 per person per night including meals, beverages and activities, www.angorichinastation.com
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Arkaba Station, South Australia
The 24,000-hectare property was established in 1851 and has been a working sheep station every since. Its woolshed was built in 1856 -- and shearing still takes place in August each year.
These days it's also an upmarket farm owned by Wild Bush Luxury; the station offers fine food and wine and boutique accommodation.
Activities include scenic flights and hot air ballooning over Wilpena Pound, mountain biking and four-wheel drive trips.
Arkaba Station, from $790 per night including meals, beverages and activities, www.arkabastation.com
El Questro Homestead, Western Australia
El Questro started off as a cattle station in 1903 but found its niche as a wilderness park in 1992. Its remote location in Western Australia’s Kimberley region is part of its appeal.
Accommodation varies from camping, air-conditioned riverside bungalows at the Station Township, tent-like cabins at Emma Gorge Resort to the upmarket Homestead, which hangs over the Chamberlain River.
El Questro Homestead, from $1,939 per night including meals, beverages and activities, www.elquestro.com.au
Home Valley Station, Kimberley Region, Western Australia
Owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation, Home Valley Station is a working cattle station that also has an onsite tertiary academy to train local indigenous people in pastoral and tourism pursuits.
Guests camp or stay in the self-contained Grass Castles cabins.
After horse riding and half-day cattle musters, the Dusty Bar & Grill serves food and drink before a nightly session of gathering around the campfire and listening to the didgeridoo.
Home Valley Station, Grass Castles from $450 per night including breakfast, www.hvstation.com.au
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