On the Farm

Summer 2023 Update

What a time of year here on the property, budburst in the orchard has arrived and all the birds are chirping and bees buzzing with the arrival of some warmer and much-appreciated longer days.

Much like our orchard, Spring signifies the start of our growing season, our hands constantly in the soil, bringing with it a renewed energy to look after all of the native gardens, fruit orchard and vegetable gardens.

The stars of the show, Rory and Ivy (Highland ‘Hairy cous’) are slowly shedding their winter coats, preparing for the warmer days to come. I’m sure many of our past guests have spotted Ivy kissing Rory’s face most nights just at sunset, but this is something to keep an eye on for our guests with upcoming reservations. Best spotted from the outdoor bath.

The goats and sheep have had haircuts and the chooks are loving all of the green cuttings that come with a ramping veggie garden and orchard. The goats are particularly happy at the moment, with their play equipment getting a big upgrade last week.

Apart from a few staples, we decided to rest our veggie beds this winter, so at the moment we are cooking heavily with veg that happily saw out the winter like silverbeet, snowpeas, potatoes, asparagus, artichokes, and of course delicious eggs from our feathered friends. Garlic is about to be pulled and hung up to cure in the shed and the strawberries are already in full flight too, in what seems to be a 7 month long season. The rhubarb (Rom just keeps multiplying it) is ready to be stewed and some of the cherry trees that were planted within a few months of our arrival at the property are now fully ripened. That said, there is a general understanding (now that the kids can reach the gate of the orchard), that none of them will make it to the kitchen.

Over the past 5 years since arriving here, we tried growing every vegetable under the sun in an effort to see what would thrive in our climate and soil. This year we opted to grow only vegetables that we love to eat so we can best use our space, whilst placing more energy into tending to their individual needs. As a family, we all love trawling the gardens for goodies so a lot of our snacking gets done outside, whilst pulling weeds or pruning.

Over the coming months, we should see the kitchen bench and meal times filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, pumpkins, jalapenos, red chilies, sweet potatoes, beans and blueberries from the veggie garden and hopefully a bumper crop from the more than 100 different varieties of fruit and nut trees, both in the orchard and around the property. We have had great success with growing berries such as boysenberries, blackberries and vined mulberries which all make for lots of berry-stained fingers. To be honest, the one thing we love more than anything is to see the kids of our friends and family filling their boots when they visit, so not too stressed if we only get to make a couple of jams like last year.

Between the goats, sheep, chickens, and worm farm, not too many of our cuttings end up making it to our three-bay compost system, but even without too much attention, we have managed to produce some ‘black gold’, which is loaded with worms and will go into the few beds as we remove the winter crops and get them quickly ready for some late spring plantings.

A bit of a back story….Phillip Island has had many incarnations over the past, and a good friend of ours, Linda Cuttriss, has done all the work for us, putting years of research into a wonderful (and concise) book called ‘Beyond the View: Phillip Island’s Landscape of Labour and Love’. For those of you who have seen the natural beauty of our Island home or are just interested to know how it has come to be where we are now, we encourage you to get your hands on this book and share it around. It certainly makes spending time here even more special and we really appreciate all the work she put into it.

Phillip Island’s history dates back over 40,000 years to the Bunurong people, the original inhabitants of the Western Port region. In its most recent history, we have seen Phillip Island used predominantly for farming both crops and rearing livestock. With over 700mm of average rainfall and good quality free draining topsoils in many parts of the island, it is a quality farming region, albeit with some challenges coming from the large number of local wildlife that also inhabit the paddocks. Many of the surrounding farms have invested in shelter belts for livestock and wildlife corridors dividing up areas of farmland.

Fortunately for us, when we arrived, our five-acre plot had a solid perimeter of mature shrubs and trees, many of which are native to Phillip Island. We had a good pack of magpies and ravens, plenty of swamp hens and some Cape Barren geese, as well as a week during spring where we would see a glorious crackle of yellow-tailed Black cockatoos chewing away in the tops of the hakeas dividing the orchard and the goat paddock.

In five years, and after being told by a local beekeeper we didn’t have enough ‘bee food’, we determinedly planted over 1000 native shrubs and trees in an effort to increase food and habitat for smaller birds and hoping to one day keep our own bees (now with two hives thriving) as well as be a happy hope to the native bees.
It now seems every week, we are noticing new sounds and spotting new wildlife on the property, none more so than smaller birds, most probably finding shelter in the many thick shrubs. We are certainly not qualified birdwatchers (yet), however, it is hard not to get excited about the sightings of Honeyeaters, Wattlebirds, Superb fairy-wrens, Blue wrens, Willy wagtails, Galahs and of course the very famous sounds of the hooded plovers flying past. In the past two months, it seems a couple of Kookaburras have also now made us home. Fun fact…Kookaburras mate for life. Hopefully, they expand their family so I can correctly call them a ‘riot’ in one of the next newsletters! To top it off, we are lucky enough to have front-row seats to watch a pair of wedge-tailed Eagles, (nested nearby) hunting most days above the paddocks surrounding us. It is normal to see these majestic birds working at two different heights, whistling to communicate.

This year, aside from the incredible pollination that our bees provide us all over our property, we have gratefully harvested enough honey for our guests to have with their sourdough or our muesli (made in-house) and we are so excited for you to try it. Now just not sure what we will do with all the 7 rhubarb plants I put in for the jam!! Haha

Located in the NW corner of Phillip Island, we are lucky enough to be located only a stone’s throw from one of Victoria’s most popular attractions, The Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks, which is situated within one of Phillip Island’s many protected nature reserves. Recently, the Nature Parks have successfully released Eastern barred bandicoots out into the wild, which quickly made their way to Five Acres. We have had many messages from our guests saying they were watching them at night on the grass, from the warmth of their outdoor bath.

On the farm, we are constantly learning, evolving, and coming up with ways to do what we do with less impact on our land. We take stewardship of this plot that we call home, with a great sense of responsibility to leave it in much better shape than when we arrived. We live, in what we think is paradise, with this land forever inspiring us.

On a personal note, we are blown away by the emails, reviews and texts from guests who have stayed with us. It means so much that you love your time staying with us and please know that we appreciate all of them.

Five Acres is set on a working micro-farm on Phillip Island.

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Guesthouse Rates

The below prices are current as at 28 October 2022. Prices in AUD and inclusive of 10% GST.

Prices for a single bedroom stay (sleeps 2 people):

$590

One-night stay midweek

$940

Two-night stay midweek

$1,040

Weekends (2 night minimum)

$690

Summer peak per night (23rd Dec – Jan 31st)

$720

Public holiday per night

$990

Moto GP per night

Additional guest bedroom (sleeps 2 people):

$200

Per night stay

Private Dining Space

Coming Spring 2022

Cabin Rates

The below prices are current as at 28 October 2022. Prices in AUD and inclusive of 10% GST.

$620

One-night stay midweek

$990

Two-night stay midweek

$1,080

Weekends (2 night minimum)

$690

Summer peak per night (23rd Dec – Jan 31st)

$620

Public holiday per night

$990

Moto GP per night