How this Australian cattle farm gives your kids the education schools don’t
Every year thousands of parents face the same conundrum: what do you do if your children are desperate to go camping, but you would rather eat glass?
For generations, such parents merely grit their teeth and suffered for the love of their children, but finally, a happy solution presents itself in the form of Wallaroo Outback Retreat, a 72,000-acre Australian cattle farm some 160km north of Roma towards Carnarvon Gorge.
Here, among the towering eucalypts sits Justin and Pauline MacDonnell’s retreat – eight luxury safari-style tents (each one containing Posturepedic beds covered in high-end linens), six bathrooms with scorching hot water and working toilets, a rustic campfire and a timber lodge kitted with a full working kitchen (ice machine included!), dining area and yes, WI-FI.
It’s glamping the way it should be, explains Justin. “The problem with glamping is that often there’s a lot of ‘glamp’ and not much ‘ing’ so we’re intent on offering both.”
For parents intent on living the life to which they’d like to become accustomed, this means curling up with a pre-ordered camp oven dinner while watching the wallabies and red-neck kangaroos hop around just across the way, but for the kids? Well, let’s just say they’re likely to receive an education of a lifetime, covering important topics such as:
Life in the Outback
It’s perfectly normal for children to believe the whole world is not too dissimilar to the 10km urban patch they walk and ride through each day, but nothing gives them perspective quite like listening to stories around the campfire about everyday life for their contemporaries out in the outback.
Watch eyes widen as they ponder having to drive hours to have a simple play date, get a flight to the “local” hospital or attend school by sitting in front of a computer in their living room. A stay at this Australian cattle farm will give them a clear understanding of just how large and diverse our country really is.
Indigenous history and culture
There’s no better way to learn about the world’s oldest living culture than by taking in the Aboriginal art sites around the station as part of Boobook Ecotours‘ Wallaroo tours.
Of particular interest is Rainbow Cave, a precipice sandstone formation with an 80-metre façade – many parts of it covered in handprints dipped in ochre and stencil work. Here, kids can listen to stories about Dreamtime and Indigenous life, as well as hear about ancient burials and curses, helping them to better understand the connection the traditional owners of this country have with the land.
Australia’s native flora and fauna
To see a couple of sad kangaroos behind a fence at the local zoo, or to observe them bounding freely through cycad-filled gorges while gliding possums swing from trees interrupt your sunset views?
In an area filled with up to 500 species of flowers and countless (and at times, cocky) native animals, spending time with one of Boobook Ecotours‘ experienced ecologists will give your child the lowdown on exactly who and why he or she is sharing her backyard with. Something to think about as you enjoy sunset nibbles over spectacular Arcadia Valley together.
Learning new skills
Whether it’s cattle mustering, lighting a fire or overcoming a fear of spiders and snakes, there’s no better way to pull yourself out of your comfort zone than by trying something radically different to your day-to-day life.
Get down and dirty together in the mud, get in among the animals (there are over 1,800 cows on the station ready to take your call), and embrace a new way of life – even if it’s for a few days.
And of course, such is the loveliness of the MacDonnells that you’re likely to sob in their hair as you eventually say goodbye to both them and this idyllic world they’ve created for others to enjoy.
Lesson learned as the kids watch on in horror? Never underestimate the fragility of the human condition. It’s safe to say your parenting work here is done.
Converted to #farmstaylife? Consider heading out to Shandonvale Station.