Wittacork Dairy Cottages
What could be better for a city slicker than a relaxing day or two in the country?
Leave Brisbane and drive for just over an hour, taking the Sunshine Coast turn to Maleny. Once off the Bruce Highway, the gently winding road provides spectacular glimpses of Mount Tibrogargan, one of 13 volcanic crags rising dramatically from the coastal plain.
But to truly savour the total splendour of the Glass House Mountains, formed some 25 million years ago and named by Captain Cook in 1770 after the glass furnaces of his native Yorkshire, drive to Mary Cairncross Park. Here you can enjoy the million-dollar view while savouring morning tea of mouth-wateringly delicious carrot cake and fresh cream.
Travel on through the charming village of Maleny to Wittacork Dairy Cottages your farmstay destination. Here, on a hilltop overlooking the spectacular blue waters of Lake Baroon, you can, if you choose, have an authentic farm experience or merely relax.
"You can have the most passive or active of times," says owner Robert Cork, explaining how this gorgeous retreat is ideal for both families or couples. "Join up with another family and you and the children can have the entire place to yourselves," he says, beckoning towards the two timber cabins. "Or come with a partner for a peaceful, romantic getaway, where you don't have to see a soul apart from one another."
You can cook for yourselves in the fully-equipped luxurious accommodation which includes large BBQ, microwave and stove, or venture to one of the many high-quality cafes or restaurants at Maleny or beyond.
At Wittacork Dairy Cottages you can merely watch or join in the activities of the only farmstay working dairy farm on the Sunshine Coast, as the mood takes you. Why not send the children to watch the cows being milked, feed the calves and Boer goats and collect eggs while you and your partner soak up the solitude, lazing on the deck of the cabin? Then you can all go on a stroll through the 100 acres of pristine, and private, rainforest, located a minute's walk away.
Gaze on magnificent Red Cedars (red gold), Black Beans, rare Python trees and towering Bunya pines. Wonder at staghorns, elkhorns and bird's nest ferns - epiphytes, plants that need a large tree trunk as a foothold.
See spectacular strangler figs, in various stages of growth. Germinating not on the ground but from high up in another tree, they send out aerial roots which start at the top and make their way down, growing rapidly once they hit soil. Multiplying and thickening over the years, the roots finally envelop strangle the host tree.
There are over 200 plant and tree species here, many of them rare or endangered.
Enjoy the cool, refreshing atmosphere, admire large colourful butterflies as you listen out for bird calls. Scrub turkeys run wild in the rainforest which is also said to contain goannas that are larger than Steve Irwin's crocodiles!
A rainforest walk has been constructed with wooden bridges and fences creating a narrow track to highlight the best with minimal damage to the rainforest ecology.
On the other side of Wittacork Dairy Cottages there are fantastic walks down to and around Lake Baroon. Here you can stroll for hours and not see anyone else. The only living creatures you'll come across are a few Friesian cows Rob has sent down to the beach for a holiday. "What other farmer gives his cows a two-month break each year?" he laughs.
A stay at a similar Farmstay property near Hamilton in New Zealand several years ago gave the Cork family the idea for Wittacork Dairy Cottages. "It was the highlight of our trip," says Rob, now delighted to be offering city slickers a slice of country life on his 300 acre property.
Each of the two timber cabins, constructed with the aid of a $20,000 grant from Dairy RAP (Regional Assistance Program), has been furnished with tender loving care. "We put into them what we wanted when we were on holiday with the children," explains Anne. That includes bunks for the children and a combined bath and shower, perfect for bathing toddlers.
Hosts Robert and Anne Cork love the place as do their three children. But, as with other small dairy farm holdings, additional income is necessary to keep it running. Anne works as an accountant in town."I'd rather be milking cows than sitting in front of a computer screen," she admits.
Rob worked as a consulting surveyor before returning to the land 11 years ago when his father died.
Their farm income has been severely affected due to the combined effects of milk deregulation and drought. The hills may be green but it's a 'green drought' - minimal rainfall keeps them that colour.
Since starting Wittacork Dairy Cottages in July 2002, Anne hopes she will soon be able to return to the farm.
And the more city slickers that want a taste of the country, the sooner that will be!
For more information
Robert and Anne Cork
Wittacork Dairy Cottages
Tel +61 7 5494 4369