If you’re looking to escape the city lights on a rural getaway, the Mudgee region, with its rolling vineyards and relaxed country vibes, has fast become one of the hottest destinations for Sydneysiders to take a load off without crossing state borders.
However, a getaway is only as relaxing as the place you rest your head. If you’re really looking to unplug, Glenayr Farm is the place to book. With four modern glamping bell tents set in the spacious fields of a 320 acre working sheep farm, you can get the best bits of camping without the effort, gear or expertise to set it all up yourself. A couple of gentle, free roaming cows may even let you approach them for pat (the sheep are a little more timid), and you may catch sight of some kangaroos hopping their way down the back paddock.
The cotton canvas tents have plenty of room to stand up (the ceiling height is three metres) and enough space to lay out a suitcase, even with an elevated queen bed (a rather comfy one with feather-soft pillows) and other furniture. The styling is muted, organic-feeling, and like something out of a bohemian daydream, complete with a feathered dreamcatcher. Your own private hanging egg chair by your tent is the perfect spot to curl up with a book as you watch the shadows of clouds slink their way across the expanse of grassy hills.
Just half an hour from the town of Mudgee (even closer to some wineries) and about four hours if you’re heading straight in from Sydney, Glenayr Farm is not too far away from civilization yet feels well and truly off-the-grid. Head through the farm gate and follow a winding dirt road hemmed by thickets of thistles to find your accommodation amongst the sprawling paddocks. You’d probably feel more confident taking it on in a 4WD, but the small two-door car we slowly, slowly took on the unsealed road with managed just fine (with a little anxiety, and a self-satisfied pay-off of accomplishment). It’s definitely a road best approached for the first time in daylight.
Once you’re settled in, you can take a walk around the fields, which are covered in rich scatterings of wildflowers in the warmer months, with flashes of purple and yellow. Take a seat by the dam and sip on your bounty from the nearby cellar doors as the sun sets over the rippling water and grand, silhouetted trees. It’s very likely that you won’t have mobile phone reception at the farm (unless your phone network provider starts with a ‘T’ and rhymes with ‘elstra’), which is also a WiFi-free zone. So text anyone necessary before you arrive, and lean into the communication detox. In the evening, nest up by the bonfire – and pre-book the wood-fire hot tub if you fancy a soak (group bookings only). If the cinema of the stars doesn’t hold your focus, in the common room there are stacks of movies, books, board games, a pool table and a darts board to keep you occupied.
With just enough spacing to ensure privacy, the glamping tents are ideal for a solo or romantic couples getaway. You can choose to keep to yourself, but you might find the best part of your weekend is the conversations that happen around the bonfire with the small crop of fellow glampers. If you’re travelling with a bigger group, you can even choose to book out the entire campsite, giving you free reign of the communal areas, barbecue, and common room (where you’ll find the showers, toilets and fully equipped kitchen with staples like tea, coffee and cereal).
One of the best things you can do here is, well, nothing much at all. But you’d be remiss not to spend a day cellar door hoping the region’s wineries. You can self drive, but if you’d rather not draw straws on who will be the designated driver, one of the local shuttle bus services can pick you up. If you’d like the cellar doors to come to you, Steph from Exclusively Mudgee can arrange that for you, along with a platter of local produce that will fill you up and bottles to keep. Groups can pre-order a paddock to plate lamb roast cooked by local ‘farmer George’ ($350, feeds eight).
Glamping tent bookings start at $200 a night or $250 on weekends, minimum two-night stay. Glenayr Farm has also introduced Luxury Villas away from the campsite, starting at $450 per night for two people. Find out more and make a booking at glenayrfarm.com.au.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our guide to how to spend a weekend in Mudgee.