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AustralianFarmers

Low impact camping experience at Gilgooma

A father-daughter duo is embarking on a bold venture to offer curious visitors, a front row seat to a day in the life of a traditional farmer. From lamb-marking to planting winter crops, and even fencing – whatever is on the agenda is an open book.

Gilgooma located near Coonamble in north-west NSW is an 11,500-acre working property and now a farm-stay. Hire a cabin or book a camping experience and sit back to take in some bush magic.

Pip and Steve Goldsmith have decided to embark on the project as a means of diversification, but also education.

Guests have the freedom and space to stretch out under wide skies. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

Gilgooma is a mixed farm, growing grain and running sheep and cattle. The accommodation aspect will be a small percentage of the land, run by Pip who brings a corporate background to the venture, and Steve, who is an experienced farmer, may well find himself entertaining visitors with his very dry sense of humour.

What’s different about this farm-stay is that there is zero curation. It is a working property and Steve is happy to show any guests exactly what goes on behind the farm-gate.

“For a long time, I’ve thought of agri-tourism as a possibility. I’m considered anti-social by the people who know me. But I do enjoy company. And I’d enjoy the company of these strangers who might show up from time to time,” Steve explains.

The ‘Camp Kitchen’ at Gilgooma. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

“Seasonally, people are going to see different things here. We will experience another drought and it’s important to share that and what happens during a drought – or a flood.”

The property is next to the Pilliga West State Forest.

“It’s a picturesque area. My dad is laughing at me describing it as picturesque, but it is quite spectacular,” she shares.

“It’s a land that breeds ferals. Kangaroos, foxes, goats, deer – anything you don’t want on our farm,” interjects Steve.

“But if it’s not something that impacts your production, other people might have interest in it,” Pip laughs.

Insulated and air-conditioned cabins are available on the property. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

The site set up for visitors is about 10 or 15 kilometres from the family home.

“They’re not going to be under our feet! No neighbours. But if they wanted, we’d be prepared to go and get them and incorporate them into our day-to-day work,” says Steve.

“When I was a young fella, we had relations from Sydney. They came out. They knew where their food came from. Today, there are too many city people. They’ve got no idea. That’s something that I felt could be my little contribution,” he shares.

“There’s probably not a general understanding of how well most farmers care for their animals, their land and their country. We’re playing a long-game, and our livelihoods depend on it.”

Pip in the ‘Camp Kitchen’. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

Pip believes there is a genuine interest from people who want to learn more and they would be proud to show-off their operation. Mustering, drenching, noxious weed management and drafting are all on the agenda for visitors.

“You could go on for five hours. The day-to-day running of the property. There are two million jobs,” says Steve.

Pip wants to show farming in an authentic way and that means, dirt and all.

“When you get into the shower after a day in the sheep yards and the dust literally blows up off you, you’re blowing sheep yard dirt out your nose, you might be sore the next day from using muscles you haven’t used for a while. If we could somehow share that with people, I’d love to be able to do that,” explains Pip.

Making memories. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

Stay-tuned because Pip would also love to expand to events in the future.

“I’ve told her to learn to crawl before she walks!” Steve cautions.

“Yes, I have grand plans,” laughs Pip.

She’s thinking of long tables set up for a harvest lunch but admits her dad will be there to keep her in check.

Guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of the farm. Image: Kirsty Fisher Photography

“It’s an opportunity for us, for the wider community and the region. Regional Australia has such huge potential.”

Steve says he wouldn’t want to do anything else.

“I’ve got a desire to die here and leave it in a little better condition than we got it.”

While Pip says she was taught never to marry a farmer, it turns out she didn’t; she’s the farmer herself, just taking things in a slightly different direction.

Hear more stories like this by subscribing to the Telling Our Story podcast on iTunes (or wherever you listen to podcasts) and follow podcast host Angie Asimus on Instagram for more updates.

Angie Asimus

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