Natures Echo

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Have you ever wanted to pat an alpaca, feed a lamb or cuddle a cow? Does the thought of eating freshly laid eggs and home grown veggies appeal? Maybe you just want a place to get away from it all for a few days …

To relax, unwind, enjoy life “off the grid” and breathe freely in a beautiful green valley in Pappinbarra, while knowing you have fully self-contained, gorgeous accommodation to retreat to when you need it. At Nature’s Echo, you can achieve all of these things. The Relf family will make you welcome, whether you want to enjoy a farm tour, or a more extended stay …

Hi guys! Introduce us to your family – what are your names, and how many of you live on the farm?

We are Mark, Cathy, Paige, Jordy and Oupi (Grandad) and lots of four legged friends – too many to name.  

You had a bit of an interesting journey before you settled in Pappinbarra. Why did you decide to leave Sydney and travel around “Woofing” for a year?

We migrated from Zimbabwe 17 years ago and lived in Sydney 10 years, before leaving and taking a gap year, travelling the east coast and homeschooling our two girls, taking time out, escaping the city and day to day routine.  

I had breast cancer a couple of years prior to this, so after all the treatment, we decided it was time to live our dream. Life is an adventure; we wanted try our hand at living in the country and being a bit self-sufficient.

We did Woofing (willing workers on organic farms) a few times, as we thought this would give us hands on for what it is like to live on a farm.

When did you settle at Pappinbarra … and how did you know the 160 acre property you chose was the “right one” for you as a family? 

We’ve been living on our farm for six years now. We settled on our land in Pappinbarra after looking for property while travelling in our caravan. 

There were a few criteria in looking for property; the main one being that it was not too far from a reasonable size town (Port Macquarie) for Mark to find work and school for the girls. We knew we wanted some land for grazing animals.  

Our farm is a challenge – and a bit of flat land would have been nice. However, the animals don’t seem to mind, and it helps keep us fit.  

At the time, this is the land that ticked most of the boxes. We love that we are off the beaten track in a lovely valley, hills surrounding us on three sides, and we look north through the valley. The best thing is the space; it’s our little piece of paradise. 

You have quite an array of animals and plants on your property! Please tell us about a few of them …

Mark says we are grass farmers, as without grass the animals would have nothing to eat! However, we do have a number of animals who help to fertilize and improve the pasture. 

There is our breeding herd of Dexter cattle, a flock of roaming sheep – who don’t respect fencing! My alpacas, who are a huge hit on farm tours and Rio, Jordy’s 17 hand horse.  

We also breed large white rabbits for meat, chickens for eggs and this year, ducks. 

We try to grow vegetables and had some success, and planted fruit trees, but the fires nearly two years ago burnt a lot of them. The fruit and vegetable growing is a year by year trial and error.

Our property is run off grid; we love that this makes us quite self-sufficient.  

You run farm tours; what does this involve?

We wanted to open our farm to others to enjoy what we have every day, to give them the opportunity they don’t normally have; firstly, visiting a farm, and then meeting and interacting with the animals, rabbits, dogs, alpacas, a friendly sheep and Rio.  

Of course, you can see the cattle, sheep and lambs that are out in the paddocks.

We like that others get to enjoy this space and we get to meet interesting people and share this special place where we live. 

The shed you originally lived in when you first moved to the farm has been converted to a beautiful guesthouse. What facilities are available in the accommodation for guests?

We have farm stay accommodation that sleeps up to eight; it is fully self-contained and self-catering. Everything apart from food is supplied.

How much involvement can guests have with your animals, gardens and farm life in general?

Guests, whether here for an hour or a week, are able to enjoy the day to day of living on a farm, and can help me do the feeding and chores morning and evening if they like. 

They can sample fresh eggs, and veggies in season. There is a huge trampoline, which kids and adults love; this gives adults time to put their feet up and relax and unwind and recharge. Guests are able to go for a walk/hike, visit with the animals, or play ball in the garden and explore.

What do you hope visitors who stay at your farm take away from the whole experience?

Just that: an experience! One where they can say, “Guess what we did!” … A selfie with Sammy the alpaca or a bunny … We saw lambs or had a cow cuddle!

Where can we find out more info/contact you?

You can find us on Facebook – Nature’s Echo farm stay or our website http://naturesecho.com.au

Thanks Cathy.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

Pics: Tracy Beveridge – Roaming Creatives.

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