Read our writer's views on this property below
A week in the country proves a perfect tonic for Hannah Edwards.
I admit, I'm a bit nervous as we let ourselves into a gated paddock to go exploring at SOULitude Farm. At first the herd of about 10 cows are munching on grass and seem preoccupied, but it's not long before the bovine ambush begins. A silky black cow is gambolling towards me, while another is flapping its truly enormous tongue out at me.
I quickly open the gate to an enclosure keeping the cows out of the dam and shut it tight behind me. I am being held hostage by three enormous, completely friendly cows. I eye the surfboards lying next to the dam – could I paddle to safety? Meanwhile, my partner is in hysterics at my antics and my six-month-old is captivated by a pair of pretty white butterflies. My hairy captors quickly get bored and mooch away. Over the coming days I learn to love those curious cows, mostly while watching them from the farmhouse's verandah.
We're in dairy farm country in Hannam Vale on the mid-NSW coast and that means plenty of lush rolling green hills studded with gorgeous old farmhouses. SOULitude is our very own farmhouse for the next seven days and, as we are desperately in need of a bit of peace after a tough month, it doesn't disappoint. A long hallway leads past four bedrooms to a comfortable open-plan sitting and dining area and then on to a large kitchen. Crisp, whitewashed walls, hung with colourful quirky paintings – mostly done by the owners, are offset by deep dark, hardwood floorboards. They extend out to the wrap-around verandah that has extensive views of lush farmland and forested hills. Living in a small two-bedroom unit in Sydney, I instantly get house envy and wish it was mine.
We had stocked up on groceries before arriving (the closest major supermarket is in Laurieton, about a 20-minute drive away) and we could easily spend the entire next week staying put at the property, eating fruit fresh from the trees, lazing on the swing attached to a jacaranda, and communing with the cows.
But it's not long before we head out to explore. We take a trip into the Coorabakh National Park where we sit by the water hole at pretty Waitui Falls, check out a viewing platform across the Comboyne Plateau, and walk a fair way up Big Nellie, a dramatic volcanic plug with a sheer cliff-face. On another day we drive about half an hour to the pristine Crowdy Bay National Park. The cliff-top walk between Indian Head and Diamond Head is a highlight of the trip. One morning, as the mist is still lifting, we take the steep drive up North Brother mountain for spectacular views across coastal lakes and out to sea. Also recommended is a drive to see the enormous Bird Tree and other leafy giants at the top of Middle Brother National Park.
While we keep busy with bushwalks, there always seems to be time for morning tea. There are giant home-made scones in the nearby village of Moorlands or head to the delightful Dunbogan Boatshed for excellent coffee and locally made Baba Lila chocolates.
Returning to the farm each evening, exhausted and with an increasingly muddy car, we put the baby to bed, light a roaring fire and crack open a good red wine.
SOULitude Farmstay, 4 Brother View Lane, Hannan Vale NSW.
From Sydney, fly to Port Macquarie or Taree and drive south to Hannam Vale. Or a four-hour drive from Sydney.
A low season, seven-night stay is $1000. Low season nightly rates (minimum two-night stay) are: $160 Sunday to Thursday and $200 Friday and Saturday. A peak season seven-night stay is $1120. Peak season nightly rates are $180 Sunday to Thursday, and $220 Friday and Saturday. A separate cleaning charge of $50 is payable for all stays.
Those in need of a bit of solitude, with only a few cows for neighbours.
Phone 0449 133 933; email email@example.com.