Kookaburra Cottage, Bobs Farm review: Sheep thrills

Read our writer's views on this property below

A friendly farmer and a barnyard of animals entertain Natasha Wallace's family.

This part of the honeymoon is all about cheap thrills. We've spent some child-free days in a penthouse on the South Coast and now we're heading north to Bobs Farm with the little ones for the rest of the holiday.

The thrills are there from the beginning.

On arrival at Kookaburra Cottage Farmstay we're told there are two ways to get to our Cow Cottage. My husband, Nick, opts for the cross-country route.

He engages four-wheel-drive with a snigger and we girls bounce and shriek as the vehicle careens down the hill. This is the first of our cheap thrills.

Later, as we settle into our three-bedroom farmhouse, I meet the man who the kids will soon affectionately dub Farmer Scott.

"I had a goat called Natasha," he quips as we shake hands. "Very fertile. She gave me many babies. All the others died but she kicked on, my Natasha."

Introductions aside, we love Farmer Scott and the laconic, blunt musings he shares with us over the next four days.

Our cottage is perfectly suitable: large and basic but tidy in an old-fashioned way. Our girls, Cleopatra, 4, and Violet, 22 months, are delighted with the two large containers of toys and the Barbie scooter, not to mention the crate of gumboots, which they come to regard as must-have farm fashion.

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One room has a double bed, another has a queen and the kids' room has two bunks and a single bed with an extra mattress for the floor.

There is a bookshelf in their room with plenty of picture books and an array of large teddies and a pile of fluffy blankets in animal prints.

Everything is adorned with some beast, from the tea towels to the wall hangings: "Raising kids is like being pecked to death by a duck," one says.

There is a large, open-plan dining area and kitchen, with all the necessary appliances and crockery, and a lounge with a wood-fired combustion heater, television and video player but no DVD player.

The west-facing verandah is so wide it holds a ping-pong table, a barbecue, a dining table and an old lounge setting. It overlooks the farm's paddocks - no other cottages are within sight - and we enjoy pink and purple sunsets over dinner.

Our cottage has its own chicken coop - with a playhouse above it - and each morning the girls rush down to collect the eggs.

Other furry friends - Jenny the pony, sheep and goats - gather around our fence line for a pat and a feed.

Despite the unrelenting drizzle on the day we arrive, we don raincoats and gumboots and join Farmer Scott and his wife, Louise, at the main barn. We crowd into a small shed with a gaggle of children who take turns holding chicks.

Farmer Scott whips out one of two diamond pythons housed in a glass cabinet and wraps it around Cleo's neck. She doesn't flinch as it winds its way around her body.

Next we feed the cows chunks of bread from a wheelbarrow and the kids have a go at milking - or drinking it fresh as Scott squirts them in the face. More cheap thrills.

Then Farmer Scott takes us on an unforgettable tractor ride, as he attempts to drive over every pothole and cattle grid in sight.

As we hold on to the metal cage to stop from falling down in the small wagon, I recall five days of madness as a backpacker when a bunch of Brits and I were herded about a tulip field in the southern Netherlands like animals to earn a few dollars for planting bulbs while strapped into a harness.

For several weeks afterwards, Violet warns strangers in the street about Farmer Scott's "bumpy tractor" and I later notice he boasts on his website: "Caution: Madman at Controls."

Bob, a friendly black labrador, follows us as we meet and feed the rest of the menagerie: Ernie the donkey, Bacon the pig, Al Paca and Kerry Paca, and a gaggle of geese, turkeys, chickens and ducks at Duck Island, a scrubby, swampy rise that we access on a makeshift plank.

Violet points at Farmer Scott's T-shirt bearing a picture of a donkey. Thankfully, she can't read what it says: "Hung like a ..."

Kookaburra Cottage is set on 14 hectares of bush at Bob's Farm, about 15 minutes' drive from Nelson Bay and 40 minutes from Newcastle.

There is plenty to do nearby: wineries, a barramundi farm, beaches and holiday attractions including Toboggan Hill Park and the Australian Shark and Ray Centre.

Our favourite beach is Dutchmans at Nelson Bay, a gentle white-sand bay fringed by casuarina and eucalyptus trees.

Virtually next door to Kookaburra Cottage is Murray's Craft Brewing Co. This is well worth a visit, if not just for lunch, then to enjoy home-style cooking matched with local wine and beer, or to sample the wines and beer and the hazelnut liquor.

On the way back to Sydney, we drive via 32-kilometre Stockton Beach and its famous sand dunes for some four-wheel-drive fun. But we're greeted by a bizarre sight: thousands of dead birds lie on the shore.

It's apparently a yearly occurrence when migrating birds miscalculate the distance and fail to make it to land. The kids are spooked - no cheap thrills here - so we jump back in the car and head south to Sydney.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Kookaburra Cottage

Address 3465 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm.

The verdict

A genuine farm experience, relaxing and great for kids.

Price

From $100 for a cabin or guestroom in the main farmhouse for two adults (extra for more adults and children) to $180 for each of the three-bedroom cottages (price includes two adults and two children but each cottage sleeps up to eight). Midweek and long-stay specials are available.

Phone

4982 6379, see www.kcfarmstay.com.au.

Getting there

Take the F3 freeway, follow the signs to Hexham and the Pacific Highway. Turn off to Tomago, then to Williamtown and Bobs Farm (a locality, not an address).

Perfect for

A farmstay near the beach and other attractions, such as wineries and shopping. Parents should be careful to keep children away from deep puddles and stormwater drains on the property.

Wheelchair access

Yes.

While you're there

Visit local wineries, Dutchmans Beach, Nelson Bay and Stockton Beach (you'll need a permit to drive on it).