A Family Farm Visit
It was fate that led us on this farm visit. The Dowerin Field Days are something that we as family look forward to each year. It’s a wonderful family day out, and gives us a chance to explore the countryside a little too. This year, at the last minute, we decided to stay the night up there instead of driving there and back in one day (a 5 hour round trip). Finding accommodation for two adults and three children is difficult at the best of times, but when you’re looking for last minute accommodation in a tiny country town, and all the nearby towns, at a time of year when thousands and thousands of visitors are expected… well, it suddenly becomes a lot harder.
But our lucky stars led us to “Mrs Rae” and “Mr Chris” the day before we left. And so, at the end of a long and busy day at Dowerin, our tired little family found ourselves driving further and further from the main roads and down wide gravel roads, out to a picturesque farm 45 minutes from Dowerin, near the town of Cunderdin in Western Australia’s beautiful Wheatbelt region.
When we arrived, we were welcomed warmly into the farmhouse, and then spoiled by our lovely hosts, who made us feel right at home. After sitting down for a rest next to the blazing fire in the lounge room, and being introduced to their adorable 13 week-old Kelpie-Blue Heeler puppy, Chocco, we were treated to a gorgeous roast dinner of home-killed lamb and vegetables from the garden, followed by a delicious pudding. Our children had warm baths, and then we settled in the lounge for a few very enjoyable hours of chatting and getting to know each other and learning about each other’s lives. We were able to show them our travel photography from around Australia and the world, and exchange stories of our travels.
The next morning, we took the kids out for an early morning walk around the farm, to explore and do some photography. The mornings are very chilly during winter in the Wheatbelt, so the kids were bundled up (our daughter borrowed a jumper of Mrs Rae’s, because she couldn’t find her own jacket).
For children who are so curious and adventurous as ours, the farm was bliss. There were old sheep sheds and machinery sheds to explore, there was seasonal farm machinery to look at and learn about, there was a little creek running past to splash in, the fields were lush with green wheat and yellow canola flowers. There was even an abandoned and decrepit house not far from the farmhouse to enliven their imaginations and to use as a setting for photography. The farm was incredibly photogenic, and its many different settings were used as the backdrop for hundreds of photographs. The walk wasn’t too long, as it was early and cold, and everyone was hungry. We returned to the house for breakfast, with promises of exploring again afterwards.
After being treated to a delicious breakfast, we went out to explore again. This time, we took the kids to see the chickens. Our children love chickens. They love to feed them, they love to catch them when they escape, and they love to collect the eggs. We spent some time around the chicken coop, talking and letting the kids play around the chickens. We got some fun photographs of the kids chasing and catching the chickens, and running around the coop. Then we decided to explore some of the sheds that were nearby.
One of the sheds was an old sheep shed, and although there haven’t been sheep on the farm for quite a while, the paraphernalia from those days is still there, including branding irons and even a whole bag full of wool in one of the pens. We walked through the sheds, with Mrs Rae explaining what some of the mysterious machines and equipment were and how they worked and when they were used.
We watched Chocco taking his first frolics through the cold water in the creek and we walked around the wheat fields, relaxing and taking our time, as you do in a place where time seems to stand still and peace reins supreme. The wheat crop was green and luxuriant, wet with overnight rain and morning dew, and the kids had the time of their lives running through the crop, hiding from Chocco and letting him chase them through the wheat, playing hide-and-seek. We stopped many times to take photographs.
Another visit to the abandoned house was exciting as we realized from the ornate ceilings and other little clues that the house would have been quite a handsome one in its day. Rummages through cupboards turned up yellow bottles of “Milk of Magnesia”, old medicine bottles and other little hints of life in the old house. There was even an old copper in the outdoor laundry.
After getting the kids clean, warm and dry, we spent some time relaxing in the warmth on the back patio. Chocco slept contentedly while Mrs Rae showed us her flower and vegetable garden and shared her knowledge of garden lore with us, even sharing a small piece of her garden with us by giving us some cuttings to bring home and plant in our own garden.
But all good things must come to an end, and so did our farm visit. With hugs and kisses and reluctant farewells, we packed up the car and went on our way, back along those winding, pretty country roads. We were only there for a short time, but it was such a magical, blissful, peaceful experience for all of us that we will have to return again!