An off-grid cabin on a remote Queensland cattle property has fast become a popular tourist destination as holidaymakers look to escape to the bush.
Bloodwood Cabin is 600 kilometres from Brisbane and several hundred kilometres from the coast in the North Burnett region.
But its location on the Bonnie Doon organic beef property hasn’t put guests off.
Since farm owners Carly Baker-Burnham and Grant Burnham listed it in July 2021, it has been consistently booked out.
“It is surprisingly successful, we were concerned people wouldn’t travel, but they absolutely are and loving it.”
Farm stays are experiencing a boom in Queensland as holidaymakers seek refuge from high-density vacation hotspots as overseas travel remains difficult because of COVID.
Drawn to the country for its space, they are taking time to look up at the stars and learn more about where food comes from.
This has been a big win for farmers looking to supplement income and help bring tourist dollars to regional towns.
The glamping style cabin was designed by fifth-generation farmer Ms Burnham-Baker and was built using sustainable timber sourced from the property.
Mr Burnham said they wanted to share their slice of paradise.
“We love where we live and we don’t want to be greedy and not share it,” he said.
“Things that we take for granted like dry grass or a bluegum tree and a bird singing in the morning, they are just an amazing thing and when we see it through somebody eyes that aren’t used to it, we realise we are living in a pretty special place.
Shift in who’s coming to stay
A few hundred kilometres down the road, Taabinga Station near Kingaroy in the South Burnett has been offering farm stays since the 1990s when severe drought impacted the area.
The cattle property and vineyard has been in Michael Leu’s family since 1887.
He and his wife Melissa Barnett offer accommodation in the multiple dwellings on the farm, which has played a vital role in helping maintain the property’s history that dates back to 1846 when the land was first settled.
For years there was a steady flow of guests: mostly young families with young children.
But not anymore, things are busier and different.
“Since COVID we have had a change in demographic with a younger cohort coming up, singles, girls weekends,” Ms Barnett said.
“Farm stays are the perfect place to discover how all that happens.”
Mr Leu believes the European style farm stay holiday, where visitors drink and eat from the region they stay, could become more important in Australia.
“They are looking for an experience, milk doesn’t just come from a carton,” Mr Leu said.
“In the old days, city families always had a cousin in the bush.
“Those days are properly gone, and people are looking at other ways to get their families out into the country for a while and see how it all happens out here.”
While tourists bring financial assistance to farmers that offer farm stays and the towns around them, it might also potentially bring workers into the community to fill employment gaps.
North Burnett councillor and Gayndah Orange Festival president Dael Giddins said the region needed tourists and workers.
“So for people coming through as tourists, they may then come back, or talk about us and we may get people that want to come out here and work in our regions,” she said.
“We need those workers as well as tourists.”
Farm vacations here to stay
Visitors to rural Queensland are expressing a keen interest in understanding where their food is sourced and are making new discoveries like the wines of the South Burnett.
While these changes are linked to COVID, Ms Barnett feels they could now be part of Australian culture.
“I think there is now a turn to the west,” Ms Barnett said.
“People are looking over the mountain and seeing what’s on the other side and really enjoying that old fashioned road trip with the family or friends.”