Tobruk Sheep Station, Wisemans Ferry review: True-blue appeal

Read our writer's views on this property below

Nick Galvin has an experience that's as Aussie as they come.

I'm sitting on the veranda of the homestead at Tobruk Sheep Station, gazing at the sheep across the valley and mulling over that trickiest of questions, "Merlot or shiraz next?", when I notice something.

The sheep aren't moving. At all.

There are half a dozen of them about 80 metres away and they're standing absolutely still. I stare intently for what seems like minutes and detect not so much as an ear twitch. They can't be real. Cardboard cut-outs the lot of them. In fact, as galloping paranoia takes hold, I begin to think maybe this whole place isn't real.

From the stands of elegant gums around the rustic homestead to the whirring windmill and the single, perfect duck sailing serenely across the dam (clockwork, has to be), it's all too postcard-picture perfect. Then one of the sheep takes a tug at the grass, the duck quacks, a very realistic horse ambles up to the fence and the spell is broken.

This place will do that to you - you almost expect Hugh and Nicole to emerge from behind the shearing shed looking sheepish. It's as true blue as John Williamson eating a Vegemite sandwich on Australia Day. It's as dinky-di as . . . well, you get the picture.

No wonder, then, that Tobruk does a roaring trade among those who want an easily accessible taste of "real" Australia: international and local students, seniors groups and families. Whipcracking, bush bands, billy tea and boomerangs are all part of the appeal.

However, the place is practically deserted when we arrive. There are no groups booked in. Apart from a couple of stationhands and assorted horses, sheep, chooks and ducks, we have the place to ourselves.

The homestead is a roomy timber-clad affair with wide, covered verandas. There are three double bedrooms and a children's room with five bunks. This is ample space for two and possibly three families, with a vast living room to relax in. The emphasis is definitely on homely comfort. If you're expecting rural chic you'll be disappointed but we decide the place is the perfect bush weekender.

Advertisement

A big attraction for the children are the sweet-natured horses in the paddock beside the house. Seconds after we arrive, the children are off to commune with them and have soon given them names and invented a back story for each.

It rains non-stop for our entire 48 hours away, ranging from good old-fashioned Pommy drizzle to that level of precipitation described in less decorous circles as being like a cow pissing on a flat rock. The children are more than happy to slide around in the mud and the grown-ups are equally content to drink wine and stare at sheep.

However, by Saturday afternoon we decide it's time to take a look around the area - rain or no rain.

The farm is less than 10 minutes' drive from Wisemans Ferry, a pleasant spot with a few shops, an art gallery and a decent pub. We have set our sights on the famous Settlers Arms at St Albans, which involves a trip over the river on the ferry, much to the youngsters' amusement, and a slippery drive along a largely unsealed road for about 20 kilometres.

Even in the rain, the pub retains its charm and makes me nostalgic for England (or perhaps it's just the rain). I can only imagine how nice it would be sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon. But imagining is all I can do as the rain continues, forcing us to retreat to Tobruk, this time via the much quicker sealed road on the other side of the river.

As we return to the city the next day, my wife points out that the sheep are doing their Madame Tussauds act again. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I swear I see one of them wink.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Tobruk Sheep Station

Address 5050 Old Northern Road, Maroota.

Price $250 a night for a family of five, minimum two-night weekend bookings.

Bookings Phone 4566 8223 or see tobruksheepstation.com.au.

Getting there About 90 minutes' drive from the centre of the city and less than 10 minutes from Wisemans Ferry.

The verdict A true-blue bush experience in easy reach of the city.

Perfect for An old-fashioned family break.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Relax on the veranda, explore the farm, pat the animals, have a meal at the atmospheric Settlers Arms at St Albans.