Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion led Moree farm­ers to build tourist stay

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

YEARS of drought and un­re­li­able sea­sons forced War­i­alda gra­ziers, Jamie and Belinda Mun­sie, to start think­ing about an off-farm in­come.

Mrs Mun­sie came up with the idea of Far­away Domes, a way of di­ver­si­fy­ing and cre­at­ing an off-farm in­come, with­out leav­ing the farm.

The Mun­sie fam­ily built a self-con­tained ge­o­desic dome on the side of a hill on their 3642ha prop­erty, near Moree, NSW.

“The ac­tual dome we im­ported from China, we couldn’t find any­thing like it in Aus­tralia,” Mr Mun­sie said.

“It was some­thing so sim­ple and unique. We wanted to do it our­selves.

“The PVC came in a box and the struc­ture is pipe that screws to­gether in tri­an­gles. It took us a day and a half to fin­ish the build­ing once we had the deck done.

“The en­trance is it at ground level and it’s built into the side of the hill. It gives a won­der­ful panoramic view of the eastern side of our prop­erty.

“It looks due east over a val­ley and you can see 100km in the dis­tance. It’s won­der­ful spot for the early morn­ing sun­rise.”

Af­ter do­ing some travel them­selves, Mr and Mrs Mun­sie de­cided to get into out­back tourism.

“We’ve no­ticed how many peo­ple are be­com­ing in­ter­ested in the land and out­back Aus­tralia, so we de­cided to launch into that.

“Peo­ple who live in the out­back take it for granted, and peo­ple in the city don’t have the knowl­edge or op­por­tu­nity of how to go about com­ing out here.

“We hope to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for city folk to ex­pe­ri­ence it.”

Mr Mun­sie said the dry sea­son forced them to de­stock most of their cat­tle.

“We have mainly cat­tle, and we do a bit of ce­real and for­age crop­ping mainly for the live­stock,” he said.

“We nor­mally have 2000 head but over the last 6-8 months we’ve been de-stock­ing, sell­ing de­sired weight stock and not re­stock­ing. We re­duced our num­bers and con­cen­trated on our lower num­bers. We have about 150 head left now.

“We chose to sell rather than feed. We made that de­ci­sion early in the piece. But as the sea­son con­tin­ues it looks like it was the right de­ci­sion, although it will be ex­pen­sive to buy back into the mar­ket.”

Mr Mun­sie said the farm will al­ways be their main pri­or­ity, but they were ex­cited to be start­ing their side busi­ness.

“We plan on build­ing three of these domes, and de­pend­ing on how pop­u­lar it is, it may be­come a ma­jor part of our busi­ness,” he said.

“If the need arises the domes will sup­ple­ment the farm, but when things do im­prove it should cre­ate its own busi­ness and we can in­crease the num­ber of the domes. ”Mr Mun­sie said out­back tourism was in­creas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity and it was a great way for peo­ple to cre­ate an off-farm in­come.

“Farm stays, B&Bs and glamp­ing are all be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. It gives peo­ple more of a con­nec­tion with those who are in­volved in the re­gion,” he said.

“It’s a great way to get an off-farm in­come. It won’t suit ev­ery­one, but we’ve tried to keep it as sim­ple as pos­si­ble. Some peo­ple might come out for a quiet week­end and some might come out for a farm tour, you just have to cater for each vis­i­tor.

“We’ve only just opened about a week or so ago. We have half a dozen book­ings. But it’s a dif­fi­cult time now be­cause peo­ple have their Christ­mas plans. But we’re an­tic­i­pat­ing a pop­u­lar de­mand in the new year.”

There is plenty to do while stay­ing at Far­away Domes.

“There is bush­walk­ing, it’s quite a haven for wildlife, and down the bot­tom there is a nat­u­ral spring they can swim in,” Mr Mun­sie said.

“The whole thing should be an ex­pe­ri­ence and a bit of an ad­ven­ture. It’s for city tourists and even lo­cals who want to get away for a while.”

Visit www.far­away­domes.com for more in­for­ma­tion.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

OUT­BACK TOURISM: Jamie and Belinda Mun­sie cre­ated Far­away Domes as a source of off-farm in­come for when times are tough.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The dome is de­signed for a two per­son get­away in the out­back.

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