In the heart of Victoria's Western Districts, the tiny town of Willaura relies on wool growing and cereal cropping for financial survival. East of The Grampians, the town is surrounded by plains with lakes and swamps which attract a range of waterbirds. There are ducks, waterfowl, native hens and brolga. It's a bird fancier's heaven.
Catriona Rowntree was delighted to meet Deb Bain, founder of FarmDay. The national event is Deb's way of helping city folk develop a better understanding of farming, farming families and their lives.
Deb's focus is on encouraging farmers to become involved with school-aged children to teach them about the origin of the food and drink on their table every day. She works hard to match families with a farm family who will enjoy spending the day showing them around. Children's ages and travel distances are also taken into consideration.
Deb remembers the day when almost every city family knew someone on the land, and country holiday visits were the cause of great excitement. Sadly, those days seem to have slipped away, and many city children truly believe their food originally comes from a supermarket.
It's probably a good idea for parents to remember FarmDay, as well as being entertaining, is educational and the source of meat products is described as it is. There's no point in children seeing cute animals without being told how their lives will probably end.
Catriona visited farmer Anthony Kumnick who was delighted to be part of Deb's FarmDay and opened the gates to his property Greenvale in Willaura. The 465-hectare sheep and pig farm was established in the early 1850s, originally spanning 24,000 hectares. The Kumnicks breed Wessex saddle back pigs, a rare breed. There are only around 120 registered sows in the world.
They welcomed Catriona and the Clayton family who are city slickers and once the meet and greet was done it was a matter of putting on the Wellington boots, rolling up the sleeves and going to work. There were pigs to be fed they are served a grain mix and organic apples. Eggs had to be collected and the chickens fed. Cattle and sheep are hand fed from the back of a ute.
Feeding the animals builds up an appetite and city families take food along for lunch, morning or afternoon tea to share with their host family, and it's not unusual that friendships are struck and families keep in touch.
Greenvale Homestead offers accommodation for up to 21 in the main wing of the sprawling sandstone homestead for groups of family and friends. It has five queen/double bedrooms with original features and a bunk room.
There is a large dining room, living room, entertainment room and scullery kitchen. A patio with barbecue and wood-fired pizza over overlooks gardens, tennis court and house dam. An additional property sleeps four.
Contact them about themed packages, girls' weekends, boys' weekends and wine tasting and gourmet weekends. They also host conferences and weddings.