If you grew up in Sydney and are of a certain age, you’ll know at least one thing about Jamberoo: it’s the place where you can control the action. That was the tantalising promise (and catchphrase) of Jamberoo Action Park, a theme park two hours south of Sydney. I was never lucky enough to visit as a child and forever wondered about this magical place.
If you drive from Sydney to Jamberoo Valley Farm Cottage, the theme park is one of the landmarks you pass. It’s a short distance from the two-bedroom guest home (which can sleep up to six people) set on a 65-acre working permaculture and polyculture farm in the Kiama hinterlands. And I suppose the same ethos applies here – the level of exertion is firmly in the control of the guest.
You can hand-pick produce and herbs from the cottage’s garden or collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken pen to make a feast in kitchen. From Monday to Saturday, you can join the staff in feeding the pasture-raised and grass-fed beef cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, or – perfectly suited to our desired level of exertion – take a soak in the Swedish hot tub that’s built into the wraparound timber deck. It’s the ideal spot to drink wine and take in the views of the attractive escarpment. In summer, the water is unheated so guests can enjoy a refreshing plunge.
The cottage’s farm supplies produce to The Botanica, a very pretty farm-to-fork restaurant in Sydney’s Vaucluse. Executive chef Perry Hill spends time working with the farmers, which he says helps ensure the best produce for the restaurant. At the moment he’s sourcing mustard greens, rainbow chard, mizuna, garlic, beetroot and snow peas, among other things, all grown using permaculture practices. “I think [permaculture] is important, as these days the majority of the population are city-dwellers and there is a general disconnect [from the] waste we produce,” says Hill.
“Permaculture reminds us that it’s possible for us to live harmoniously with the surrounding environment,” he explains, “recycling all the energy within our reach and understanding that animals within the landscape are vitally important in regenerative agriculture, and there is a fundamental connection between our soil and our health.”
Staying on the farm helps convey that message, when you see firsthand the effort it takes to get even seemingly simple things such as herbs on the table.
You can spend your time marvelling at that concept in front of the cottage fire, or jump in the car to visit the tiny town of Jamberoo, where the kooky Jamberoo Pub is worth a stop for a beer (there’s also live music and $12 pizzas on Thursday nights). If you’re feeling active, Carrington Falls is nearby (with three lookouts), there’s bushwalking at the Minnamurra Rainforest, or you could head to the coast to check out the spectacular Kiama Blowhole. Just west of Jamberoo in the Southern Highlands is the very cute village of Robertson, which was the setting for Babe and is home to a heritage-listed railway station, the Roberston Cheese Factory and the Big Potato.
Prices start at $420 per night with a two-night minimum stay.
Jamberoo Valley Farm
185 Wallaby Hill Road, Jamberoo