Diversification led Moree farmers to build tourist stay
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.
OUTBACK TOURISM: Jamie and Belinda Munsie created Faraway Domes as a source of off-farm income for when times are tough.
The dome is designed for a two person getaway in the outback.