The Farmers

Sitting on the back veranda looking through the gumtrees, Allan and Darlene, reflect upon how two city-slickers, ocean loving, suburban people found ourselves owning a 36acre hobby farm in a small community called Bidwill. Located just outside of Maryborough in South East Queensland, this was a far cry from our sea faring lifestyle in North Queensland.

The “tree change” came about simply from a single Dragon Fruit cutting that spurred an interest in cultivating the species. Before we knew it, we had quit our jobs, sold the family diving business in Townsville, and headed south for a more tranquil life on the land. Little did we know that farm life isn’t always so tranquil, especially when you add a herd of cattle, hungry chooks, many varieties of fruit trees, a huge veggie patch and 2500 Dragon Fruit plants.

Set amongst the bush and bordered by Jumpo Creek, Allan’s avid interest in the humble Pitaya transformed into Bush to Creek Dragon Fruit. Our ideals and beliefs to farming borders on the holistic approach, allowing us to grow healthy high-quality plants and fruit. This does not mean we allow our cattle to happily graze on the Dragon Fruit plants in exchange for manure. Over time our lush pesticide-free plantation has grown to include 13 different varieties, producing highly nutritional and flavoursome fruit.

We aptly named our home “Cook-a-Barra Lodge” as it is not unusual to hear the resident Kookaburras laughing in the trees to the setting of the sun. Whilst Allan fires up the camp fire, we settle under the stars with family and friends to enjoy the tranquillity that the clear night sky brings. A short drive from the property brings us to one of many boat ramps in the area where we, and our trusty cattle dog Impi, escape the farm to hit our favourite fishing spots in the Great Sandy Straits.

Darlene is the cook of the family and the culinary delights she skilfully creates from our home-grown produce are enough to make any mouth water! Dragon Fruit of course, is often on the menu and Darlene has created recipes for cheesecakes, ice-creams, and fruit salads. Freshly caught fish, prawns and squid regularly make it back to the kitchen to be barbequed, turned in to curries, pies and an array of sumptuous meals seasoned with herbs and salads straight from the garden.

The new lifestyle has come with trials and tribulations, and many “what are we doing?!” moments. The drastic temperature changes and “near-zero-degree-days” have been a challenge along with cows escaping the paddocks, snakes in the yard, foxes in the hen house, sap-sucking moths in the fruit trees and nurturing a new-born calf from the brink of death. But as we sit here on the back veranda and watch the sun go down behind the gumtrees, we know that this is what it is all about. This is our own slice of paradise, our own Cook-a-Barra Lodge, and like ducks to water, we would not change a thing.