Authentic: Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
In a word, authentic pretty much sums up our time spent at Cheyenne Wilderness Retreat Farmstay. Absolutely everything about this place is authentic.
Cheyenne is an 1800 acre working cattle farm perched on the edge of Macleay Gorge. It is run by the Blomfield family, Alex and Nick, along with their three children, who are the fifth generation on the property. Sue and Burgh, Nick’s parents, also help out with the day-to-day running of the farm. It was Sue and Burgh who started the farmstay on the property.
You get a feel for just how genuine your hosts are going to be well before you even step foot on the property. We received a text message from Alex while still exploring Walcha, asking us to let her know when we were leaving town. She knows how long it should take and sends out a search party if you haven’t arrived in time! It’s roughly 40 minute’s drive from Walcha, down country roads before hitting gravel with 15km to go. It’s a pretty good gravel road, but caution is definitely required.
Cheyenne is at the end of Winterbourne Road. Just follow the signs and you can’t go wrong. Upon entering the property, there’s still another couple of minutes, past corrugated iron sheds and grazing cattle (and if you’re lucky, like we were, to arrive in calving season — a few calves as well!), before arriving at the homestead to a waiting Alex.
We were booked to stay in the Garden Cottage and Alex showed us around then left us to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. The Garden Cottage is fully self-contained, with kitchen, dining area, laundry and lounge room, complete with a wood-fired combustion heater that was crackling away, warming the entire cottage. With three bedrooms, there’s enough room for the whole family. Topping it all off, there’s a deck out the back with stunning views over the gorge and the valley below.
Also on the property are two other self-contained accommodation options. The Homestead Wing with wrap-around verandahs sleeps four, and Bimbimbi, which is perfect for larger families and groups.
Next up it was time to head out with Nick and his boys, Oscar and Hugo, in their modified 4WD buggy. That’s the great thing about Cheyenne, you can do as much or as little as you like. If you want to really immerse yourself in farm life you can, but on the other hand, if all you want to do is curl up with a good book, then there’s always that back deck.
For us, there was no way that we were going to miss out. Did someone say FOMO? I jumped in the front of the buggy, while my wife jumped in the back with the boys. During our drive, we took-in the amazing views from the highest point on the property, gave the cows some lick, checked-in on the pregnant heifers, mended a fence and filled the water troughs. I also got the low-down from Nick on new farming methods that have been implemented on the property in recent years. In time, Cheyenne will become 100 per cent organic. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife while cruising around. We were lucky enough to spot a couple of wedge-tailed eagles, wallabies and heaps of parrots. Approaching sunset, we made it back to the cottage just in time to feed and put away the house animals.
Even though the accommodation is fully self-contained, you can go into full holiday mode and let Alex prepare your meals for you. This can be organised prior to your visit, with Alex sending out the menu via email in the days leading up to your arrival. We decided to take full advantage of this offer during our stay. Roast lamb with all the trimmings is hard to pass up at any time, but when it is done over coals in a camp oven then there really is no question. Followed up by a self-saucing chocolate pudding, I was pretty glad that I’d had an active day exploring the farm. After dinner, we were treated to a bit of spotlighting with Oscar, as the local brush-tailed rock wallabies came to visit.
On the edge of the gorge, you’ll find the firepit and gazebo. This is where I found myself very early the next morning, waiting for the sun to rise and cast shadows deep into the gorge. Being a bit of a fire technician, I couldn’t help myself to get a little fire going, keeping me warm as the eastern horizon started to glow. If we were staying longer, I could definitely see the firepit as somewhere we could spend a bit of time, enjoying a nice glass of local red. The view across the gorge as the sun peeks out from behind the ranges of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park is nothing short of magical. I was told by a reliable source that it also looked pretty good through the large bedroom windows, while still tucked up in a warm bed!
After breakfast (thanks again Alex!) we were taken to the “Blomfield Historical Museum” by the curator, Oscar. Housed in its own special shed, the museum contains items from Australia’s early farming history to fossilised rocks and a blacksmith’s forge. If you’re lucky, Oscar might even play the bugle for you. Not to be outdone, Hugo then took us on a tour of Burgh’s machinery shed. Containing a WWII Chevrolet Blitz, along with several old tractors and various other engines. Burgh’s collection is pretty damn impressive!
With so much to see and do at Cheyenne, (did I mention there is a walk to an abandoned graphite mine on the property), it would be easy to spend a full week on the property. That, was our only problem, we weren’t staying for a week! Guess that just means that we’ll have to come back. Until next time…..
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