Ever since we began building and inhabiting cities, we’ve been using country escapes as a way to recharge, reconnect and slow down. From peaceful fishing trips, to invigorating mountain hikes to lazy lakeside long weekends, there’s something inherently restful about heading somewhere remote and letting the beauty of nature envelop you.
This winter, consider a rural minibreak to take some time out and embrace our briskest season. Whether it’s country cooking classes or landscape photography workshops that take your fancy, run for the hills and start exploring.
The Agrarian Kitchen, Tasmania
This beautifully situated farm-based cooking school is 45 minutes from Hobart in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley. Housed in a 19th century school house set on five acres, The Agrarian Kitchen offers paddock-to-plate cooking experiences for participants run by Rodney Dunn, former food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller, and his wife Séverine Demanet.
Many of the ingredients used in The Agrarian Kitchen’s cooking classes come from the property’s extensive vegetable garden, orchards and greenhouses, along with local suppliers. Choosing from a range of wonderful classes over winter, learn how to prepare and cook a pig from nose to tail, discover the secrets to winter smoking, snuffle out the best ways to cook with truffles or uncover the ins and outs of winter braising. Soup lovers will delight in a class dedicated to distilling the essence of a good broth, while and the Birds of a Feather class offers a weekend of back-to-basics plucking, preparation and cooking of poultry.
Churchill Island Heritage Farm, Victoria
One for the school holidays, the heritage farm on Churchill Island takes you back to a bygone era of wagon rides and historical homesteads. Connected to Phillip Island by bridge, it’s the perfect precursor to the crowd-pleasing Penguin Parade and is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.
Farming activities for children include cow milking, sheep shearing, whip cracking and working dogs demonstrations. Don’t miss a chance to meet the highland cattle, sheep and baby animals on the farm and explore the famous wetlands for some bird-spotting with the little ones. Combined passes to visit the heritage farm, penguins and nearby Koala Conservation Centre are available to purchase.
Glenmore House, NSW
Another one for the country cooking fans, this rural property just an hour’s drive south-west of Sydney near Camden is an oasis of country charm. Lovingly restored by owners Larry and Mickey Robertson after discovering the 19th century farmhouse over 25 years ago, Glenmore House is now home to kitchen gardening days, seasonal cooking days and special events.
This August, guests can learn the foundations of establishing their very own organic kitchen garden. From crop rotation and soil preparation, to pruning, companion planting and nixing spring/summer pests, this comprehensive class leaves no stone unturned. Capped off with a lunch from the garden that may include a hearty winter soup, a salad of crunchy leaves and edible flower petals and some freshly picked fruit, it’s a delightful dose of the country just moments from town.
Arkaba Station, SA
This upscale farm retreat dwarfed by the breathtaking backdrop of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges offers a truly luxurious way to experience the Australian outback. Guests stay in the 1850s homestead that perfectly embodies its ‘wild bush luxury’ tagline, and can participate in a number of activities including 4WD trips, wildlife viewing, mountain biking or simply reveling in the magnificent setting of the private wildlife conservancy.
For photography fans, a four-night retreat is running in October with Australian travel photographer Richard l’Anson. The retreat will focus on how best to capture the many photo opportunities the landscape presents. Participants spend two nights at Arkaba Homestead and two nights sleeping out under the stars.