Cruickshanks Cottage Farmstay

After driving to Brisbane in one day and spending 2 days wearing ourselves and the kids out at the Abbey festival we weren’t too keen to drive straight back to Sydney. So it’s a good thing we’d arranged to stop off for a 3 night farm stay holiday near Armidale on the way home.

We arrived at the Cottage at Cruickshanks at dusk on Monday (Adam and were very glad to find our hosts Anne and Mike had the wood burning combustion heater going and the cottage nice and warm for us. Anne left us to get settled in with the promise to return shortly with our dinner. The kids squabbled over who was to have the top bunk, Adam stoked up the fire and I laid down the law on sleeping arrangements.

A delicious roast chicken – Caitlin asked for seconds! – dinner duly arrived; crispy baked potatoes and sweet potato, buttered peas, gravy and, for dessert, individual dishes of apple and sultana crumble and a jug of custard to go with them. It was wonderful to have such a scrumptious veggie-ful meal provided at the end of a long drive and I think this may have been the point at which I decided we’d definitely be coming back in the future!

The middle of winter in New England may not have been the best choice of time and place for a farmstay holiday. Despite my packing instructions certain people had managed to come away on holidays without adequate clothing (and 3 of them forgot to pack their pjs, but we won’t talk about that will we boys?) but luckily we had all our viking gear with us so it was furry hats all round and lots of layers to keep the cold out. Nights were cold outside but we were kept cosy with the fire burning all night and electric blankets on all the beds. Anne brought us yummy cooked breakfasts at 8am thus ensuring we got our butts out of bed nice and early each day.

On Tuesday morning we headed off for a walk through the paddocks in search of the various farm inhabitants, first up were the horses.

One tall…

Caitlin and horse

…and a whole bunch small.

Saying hello

Miniature horse stallion – more on him later!

Miniature horses

After the horses had checked all our pockets for the treats we didn’t have we continued up over the hill to see some cattle and alpacas.

Unlike the horses, the rest of the inhabitants regarded us with suspicion,

A Black Angus watches us as we pass

Black Angus

and stalk as they would, the kids could not get them to say hello.

Scottish Highland calf hides behind a tree as the kids sneak up

That's as close as you come!

Calling and running for mum.

Furry calf

Scottish Highland cow – that’ll be mum we presume

Scottish Highland cow



During our stay the kids learned such exciting things as: on farms you must close any gate you open,

Caitlin on gate duty

Doing gate duty

sheepdogs may be working dogs but they still like a cuddle,

Caitlin with Wal

Wal the sheepdog

and feeding horses is hazardous to your fingers.

And your clothing – he just kept nibbling at whatever he could reach!

nom nom nom

Tom tried to feed a piece of apple to this fellow and ended up with his fingers getting chomped. He may be good at following weaving instructions but when mum is explaining feeding horses safely…not so much.

We had planned to visit Dangars Falls on Tuesday and have a picnic lunch there, but after we’d done the short walk to the falls and were thoroughly frozen we decided to head into Armidale and ended up at a Chinese restaurant for lunch.

Dangars Falls

Dangars Falls

Cold Mim

Damn it's cold

Chinese is Caitlin’s favourite cuisine

Caitlin anticipating Chinese food

On Wednesday we were lucky enough to be invited to see some shearing, so off we went for another hike through the paddocks to the shearing shed on the top of the hill. We were greeted by the dogs and then watched Anne and Mike working the sheep and getting them into the right pens outside the shed. Then it was inside to see the shearing.

The shed was built on top of the hill to give a better view of approaching weather – can’t shear wet sheep!
Shearing shed

Shearing is so undignified. Actually the kids were a bit distressed by the process, especially when they saw the occasional cut dripping blood. It’s good that they’re learning the realities of farming and how we treat the animals we use for food and clothing.

Craig the shearer

A fleece on the classing table.

classing table

Anne took pity on our frozen family and gave us a lift back to the cottage in the ute – I took the inside seat.

Ride in the back of the ute

And here’s the cottage.

The cottage at Cruickshanks

On Thursday morning we packed ourselves back into the car, collected a Border Leicester ram fleece that had been shorn that morning for Adam to practice his spinning with and fed all our food scraps to the chooks.

We also booked ourselves in for another visit at Easter next year, I’m looking forward to it already.

6 thoughts on “Cruickshanks Cottage Farmstay

  1. I'm shivering just hearing about it. Charlie's asked for a rainbow scarf, do you think Adam could whip me up a few balls of rainbow dyed wool? πŸ™‚

  2. This looks like so much fun (although I think I'd be worse than the kids about the occasional cuts). I'm learning so much! For one thing, I never new that you called a part of Australia "New England". It took me a minute when you were talking about it being the middle of winter in New England. We have a New England here and it's the middle of summer. The photos of all of the kids and critters are fabulous.

  3. Sounds wonderful. And it's made me think that I should look around for a farmstay somewhere near us; it would be an excellent holiday for us. Our girls are just at the age where they would enjoy the whole thing enormously.

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