Sneaky Escape to the Avon Valley
We ducked away in July (2014) for a sneaky escape to the Avon Valley. After Googling farmstays near Perth, I came across Lavendale Farmstay & Cottages, near York. Just over an hour from home, it was the perfect place to get away from suburbia and breathe some fresh, country air.
On the way, we stopped for some lunch at a hippy-like cafe, Kinfolk Cafe and Wholefoods in Mundaring. Kinfolk offer gluten free options, homemade nut milk, fresh juices and healthy, wholefood. It's a quirky little place set under the patio and gardens adjoining a wellness centre and organic food store. It wasn't raining but it was still a little chilly so The Brown Fuzz was parked under a tree while we enjoyed our lunch (mushrooms on gluten free bread for me and sweet potato tower with bacon for Mr J) over a dodgy game of chess. Prices were average but the servings were generous and wholesome.
Upon arriving at Lavendale Farm we were given a quick tour of the grounds and a thorough run down of the house rules. Farmer Katherine has everything super organised and in it's place so that guests can check in with military-like precision. The Orchard Chalet is cosy but comfortable with an open lounge and dining/kitchen area, separate bedroom and ensuite. The chalet is solar-powered but has all the comforts of home and for a small fee, arranged at time of booking, The Brown Fuzz was permitted to stay and even allowed inside so long as she stayed off the furniture.
After unpacking our few belongings from the car we headed down to the shed just in time to feed the animals, . Mr J grew up on a farm, in country NSW, so feeding animals was nothing new to him, but Lavendale Farm offered a mix of animals: a goat, donkeys, horses, pigs, sheep, cattle, llamas, an ostrich, chickens and ducks. The highlight was feeding the ostrich, a slightly scary experience as you hold your hand out flat and hope that you don't lose a finger. My favourite of the animals had to be Fanny, the nanny goat. Once she was done feeding she stands up on her step to welcome a good scratch and a firm brush.
We'd worked up an appetite with all that feeding so we headed down the road to the Hotel Beverley for some dinner. The reception when we first arrived was less than welcoming. a bit like that episode of South Park, that coincidentally was on TV later that night, where the regulars say to everyone who isn't a regular, "We don't take kindly to your type 'round ‘ere". After ordering at the bar, we retreated to the less busy Dining Room and waited patiently for our food to arrive. The meals were simple and there wasn't a whole lot of options for the gluten and dairy intolerant but the serves were more than generous. I had the steak and steamed veggies and Mr J had a lasagne, which we suspected may have been from a packet, but went down nicely with his chips and salad. Unable to finish my 'country-sized' steak I took the leftover steak with me and The Brown Fuzz was only too obliging in helping to make sure nothing was wasted.
Back at the cottage we fired up the pot belly heater and settled down in front of the TV for the night. Before long it became obvious that the heater was designed for much larger space and we had to crack open the window to cool the place down. I like being warm but it was a little too warm even for me. By bed-time the temperature was just nice for me but Mr J had to stand outside in the cold winter air for awhile to cool down.
After checking out the next morning we headed into York for some breakfast at Jules Cafe. We'd driven past the day before and the place was packed. Friday morning was no different, a sign of a good feed. We sat outside with The Brown Fuzz and enjoyed two freshly made juices and some toasted sandwiches (gluten free bacon and egg for me and cold cuts and cheese for Mr J).
We took the long way home, heading north through Northam and Toodyay. We stopped by the Avon River on the way out of Toodyay so that The Brown Fuzz could enjoy a little freedom. She looked so happy racing back and forth through the long grass and swimming in a little spot where she was protected from the current of the river. The country in the Avon Valley is spectacular, especially during the winter months when the landscape is lush.
We passed through the Swan Valley for a late lunch of wood-fired pizzas at The Tap at Chapel Farm (gluten free, no cheese for me) and for some fresh produce, wildflowers and homemade conserves from Maggie's Place, before heading home.
We managed to cram a lot into our short getaway but we both enjoyed getting out and about. We'll definitely do it again before long.