When people visit the Blue Mountains, they tend not to make a beeline for Bilpin. Better known for its apples than luxe retreats, it’s usually overlooked in favour of tourist towns like Katoomba and Medlow Bath. So it makes sense that Eden Farm Escape – a 90-acre expanse of land about a 90-minute drive from Sydney – wasn’t originally intended for public visits.
“We originally bought the farm as a getaway from the hectic city life,” Deborah Goodman, who co-owns the property with her partner Michael Chturmer, tells Broadsheet. (They also own the Sydney bakery chain The Grumpy Baker). “We needed a sanctuary where we could decompress, particularly with our youngest child Noa who has multi complex issues.”
They bought Noa a pony and found he became calm and focused when he was around the horse. “We did further research on the effects of equine therapy,” says Goodman, “and were very lucky to meet our equine psychotherapist, Sammie Nadine.”
The couple wanted to share the positive effects of equine therapy with other people, so they partnered with a charitable organisation that assists children who have experienced trauma. They added several self-contained cabins to the property to help fund scholarships to get more children into the program, which is run by an on-site equine psychotherapist and an equine manager.
While its purpose is charitable, Eden Farm Escape is also an easy and affordable Sydney getaway. When Broadsheet visits, we stay in Savannah, a neat studio cabin with wooden floorboards, a log fireplace and huge balcony with views of the bush beyond. The design is less bush cabin, more boutique hotel. The TV has Foxtel, and there’s a Nespresso machine and walk-in shower. The kitchen and bathroom are kitted out with Thank You toiletries. And no matter which window you look out, it’s hard to avoid views across the rolling green paddocks and out to the gum trees. The cabins are spread far apart, so lack of privacy isn’t an issue.
“There really is something for everyone,” says Goodman. “Peace and quiet, open spaces and bushwalks, nature, wildlife, an abundance of farm animals to visit and feed, horses to ride. Read a book on your deck and soak up the views, swim in the spring-fed dam, or go fruit-picking.”
While the cabins are spacious and luxe enough to make staying in an inviting prospect – the kitchens are equipped with everything you need for long lunches and big dinners – it’s worth venturing out for a wander around the farm, which is at guests’ disposal.
Along the way, you might bump into goats, cows (who have a penchant for escaping and roaming the property), miniature donkeys, and Sir Russell, a 120-kilogram rescue pig. Guests can dive into a dam specifically created for swimming (read: no eels) or book in for a riding or meet-and-greet session with one of the 12 horses that call the farm home.
If you feel like heading off-farm, there are a number of cider cellar doors within short driving distance, including Bilpin Cider and Hillbilly Cider. Many of the nearby apple orchards offer seasonal fruit-picking, and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah is perfect for a serene stroll.
Eden Farm Escape is at 13 Hanlons Road South, Bilpin. Cabins sleep between one and 10 people, and are priced from $300 to $650 per night, with an additional cleaning fee (they’re all dog-friendly, too). All profits go towards scholarships for children to enter the equine program.