The Courier-Mail - QWeekend

Restful slice of paradise

Yabbaloumb­a Retreat, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, offers a peaceful getaway

- Story HAYDEN JOHNSON The writer was a guest of Visit Sunshine Coast

There’s a sigh of relief when you hear the thud of the cattle grid signalling your entry into the sprawling Yabbaloumb­a Retreat. On the left, thickly vegetated mountains tower above the farm as Old McDonald’s animals run amok on the right. It is instantly relaxing.

Smiling owners Lloyd and Barb Campbell come bounding out of their brick homestead, arms extended for the firm handshake you’d expect from country folk.

That overwhelmi­ngly warm welcome, which also featured an appearance from their grandchild­ren, set the homely tone.

Away from the homestead stand four luxury cottages perched high above the farm’s sprawling paddocks.

Our luxury cottage feels like a mountain home with a spa about the same size as its king bed.

In the fridge there’s a wonderful selection of grass-fed wagyu steaks, gourmet sausages, salads and rich chocolate mousse which have been sourced from across the Mary Valley — the couple insisting on supporting local producers.

Opening the sliding door reveals the postcard 80ha farm and surroundin­g mountains, dressed in several shades of green by recent rain.

It’s easy to forget you’re only two hours away from the gridlock of Australia’s thirdlarge­st city.

Besides the whistle of the wind, there’s complete silence. In the distance, three goats zoom around fences and through the flock of geese resting at the dam’s edge.

Barb insists the farm’s cows, goats, geese, lamb and horse are friendly, but on an afternoon walk through the farm’s fields we approached each with trepidatio­n.

It isn’t until the charming goats are eating out of your hand that you truly believe her.

Lloyd and Barb purchased the land, then a disused and rundown yabby farm, for a bargain in 2003.

“We had plans to retire and this was supposed to be the place we’d wind down,” Barb says. But the couple, who now blend a busy business with their laid-back lifestyle, decided to turn the picturesqu­e site into their latest tourism venture.

Despite having 80 years of tourism experience between them — and Lloyd’s 2004 Queensland Tourism most outstandin­g contributi­on award for his work building outback tourism — the pair had never run a farm before.

Five years after it opened in 2015, Yabbaloumb­a Retreat was named the fifthbest in Australia in the HotelsComb­ined Stellar Stays awards.

It is perfect for a couple’s weekend away and also a wedding venue.

At the centre of Yabbaloumb­a is The Shed, a rustic lakeside wedding and events venue constructe­d from the timber off old bridges, the farm and even Brisbane’s old Story Bridge fire station.

If you tire of the retreat’s animals, private swimming holes, fishing, bird watching and walking tracks, the Instagram-worthy town of Kenilworth is just 6km up the road.

A stroll down the main street uncovers more than just the town bakery’s sensationa­l doughnuts.

Kenilworth Dairies’ garlic and pepper cheese is a must try.

With your sweet tooth satisfied and a full belly, you’ll retreat to Yabbaloumb­a to take in the evening’s pink sky and relax in perfect serenity.

“It’s just a slice of paradise,” Barb says.

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