Fun for young farmhands
IT’S just gone 5pm and a deep chill is setting in at Bungaree Station. As the sun disappears, a bonfire crackles outside our apartment and the air is filled with the guttural mews of farm animals settling down for the evening.
Beside me, however, the excited squeal of a three-year-old is piercing the calm.
Come on, let’s go-o-o-o,’’ she implores, jumping up and down, oblivious to the cosy charms of the fire. Let’s go . . . now.’’
There’s nothing to do but follow her past the station’s grand 1840s homestead to the lawn where four adorable lambs are waiting for their evening bottle. These little tykes, hand-reared after being abandoned by their mothers, are more than ready for their dinner.
The lovely Irish farmhand, Phoebe, rattles her pail full of beer bottles that have been filled with milk formula and topped with rubber teats. The lambs leap and bleat, pushing each other aside to be first.
My city-dwelling daughter has rarely experienced a greater thrill. Phoebe shows her how to hold a bottle and she bravely offers one to the biggest lamb, a smile plastered on her face. For urban children, this is the ultimate adventure holiday. Apart from feeding lambs, Bungaree Station offers farm jobs, including grain-feeding some (very tame) grown-up sheep (a bit scary for a small person), tossing pellets to geese and a resident kangaroo (complete with joey in pouch) and hand-feeding the doe-eyed pet deer that roam the property. There are also dogs and horses to admire, ducks, cockatoos and other birds to watch and a small orchard to check out.
About 140km north of Adelaide, and a five-minute drive from Clare, Bungaree Station is at once a working farm, an excellent tourist facility for families and a historic landmark. The sandstone homestead is still lived in by the Hawker family (matriarch Sal is the property’s present host), descendants of the G. C. Hawker who settled the area in 1841.
The property is dotted with significant heritage buildings including a church, cemetery and station store, the last crammed full of dusty flotsam ranging from old tools to soaps and healing potions. There’s room for 48 guests in suites or cottages with quaint names such as the Stallion Box and the Lodge. Our three-bedroom apartment, the Courtyard, is modern and in great order. Hearty breakfast provisions include delicious farm bacon and eggs, juice and bread.
For the children, though, there’s no doubt the animals are the star attractions. After a few days on the farm, our daughter returns to the city with what we call farm face’’: rosy cheeks, chapped lips and straw in her hair. It’s been an adventure she’ll remember forever. Elizabeth Meryment Elizabeth Meryment was a guest of Bungaree Station and Tourism SA.
Rates for heritage rooms start at $55, including breakfast. More: (08) 8842 2677; www.bungareestation.com.au.
Not so sheepish: Bottle-feeding lambs