Business: The Cocky’s Wife & Callubri Station Farm Stay Nyngan
Callubri Station, Nyngan is one of the most unique farm stay venues in the country, fusing history and modern sophistication to create an unparalleled travel experience.
Steeped in more than 140 years of history, the property was purchased by the Armstrong family in 1878, and has a long association with Merino wool and lamb production.
As a fourth-generation custodian of the property, Michael Armstrong’s dedication to the land and fervent love of farming is clear. Wife Angie Armstrong was raised on a small family farm in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne, and grew up surrounded by inspirational food. Together, their commitment is to deliver a unique travel experience and showcase the inner workings of a modern-day family farm that provides guests with a glimpse into rural Australian life not often accessible to outsiders.
The farm-stay venture started when the couple noticed what friends and family loved about visiting their corner of the world. The harsh, yet alluring landscape between Nyngan and Tottenham provides the perfect canvas for an authentic farm experience. An escape to Callubri Station fuses together rugged, bush romance with the rustic charm of family farming history.
After initially setting up the business, the Armstrongs were then able to put their own unique spin on some time-honored pastimes for their guests.
As a family-operated venue, Angie and Michael Armstrong are not big on boomerang throwing, baby animal petting or cultural shows.
“Actually, we’re not big on big at all,” Mrs Armstrong said. “We’re all about authenticity.”
Instead, signature activities feature collaborations with local artists, massage and wellbeing practitioners, Indigenous bush tucker experts and Country Women’s Association master bakers.
Angie and Michael share a passion for good food, the land and inspiring an authentic experience with urban communities.
Among the features of the property are a magnificent dining space for up to 120 guests rising from the historic shell of a wartime Officer’s Mess and transported to the property after World War II for shearers’ accommodation. This historic building blends well with the rustic beauty of the 19th century woolshed which can be used for weddings and functions. There is accommodation for up to 10 guests, a 6 metre mineral pool with swim jet, communal lounge area and air-conditioned meeting spaces, providing all the comforts of home with a taste of life in rural Australia.
Guests are able to explore the 11,500 hectare farm along with a behind the scenes visit to local primary producers and dine on a range of handmade dishes prepared using local produce.
Founded in 2010, The Cocky’s Wife grew from humble beginnings in the old farm kitchen to incorporate a busy café in the main street of Nyngan and a fully mobile catering business servicing events of more than 500 guests.
Now returning to their Callubri roots, the Cocky’s Wife crew are excited to embark on their next adventure to unite their passion for good food, the land and sharing an authentic experience with urban communities. With nine years’ commercial catering under their belt, the team is nothing short of passionate.
One of the key success factors behind the business is the connection with local producers and community groups. Their catering menus showcase the strengths of regional products such as locally grown lamb and beef, Little Big Dairy products, free range eggs from Hamilton’s Pride, local jams and honey, cheeses from High Valley, bacon and ham cured and smoked in Dubbo and wines from both the Orange and Mudgee regions.
“We are also avid promoters of the amazing indigenous ingredients our country produces and hope to begin sourcing these closer to home as the local production of these amazing flavours develops,” Mrs Armstrong said.
In 2019, the combined farm stay and mobile catering businesses will launch their new events and wedding venue The Shearers Quarters, and custom-built accommodation Sky Suites.
The new development will feature five luxury king suites soaring over nine metres in the air overlooking the rustic Woolshed and Shearers’ Quarters dining hall.
The new venture promises to be a flagship development for the region and is already attracting both national and international interest. The catering and event side of the business offers up to 12 casual positions with each function and the farm stay will provide a number of ongoing employment opportunities for local staff to develop a unique combination of hospitality and farming skills.
Involvement in the Regional Platters program has given the business exposure, along with feature articles in Graziher Magazine, Western Magazine, Daily Liberal, Nyngan Observer, The Land and local news publications.
The Armstrong’s passion for food and agriculture runs through everything they do and they like to surprise guests by going the extra mile.
The tyranny of distance certainly provide a challenge but it also gives guests a sense of remote wilderness and exclusivity that you just can’t get from a hobby farm on the city outskirts. There is an amazing opportunity to connect on a deeper level with city clientele through first-hand experience.
Another challenge is curbing their own enthusiasm which sometimes involves biting off more than they can chew!
Callubri Station offers guests a glimpse into the sunburnt country of yesteryear. Located in the awe-inspiring expanse of the Western Plains, the property is a genuine blend of sustainable agriculture, pristine landscapes and luxury tourism.
The Armstrongs’ goal is to work towards a greater shared understanding between urban and rural communities and a continued drive towards holistic and sustainable farm management.