Complete Campsite Camp Out-Barkala Farmstay
Every year, the highlight of the Complete Campsite calendar is our annual camp out, where we get to spend a few days with our customers in a pristine setting in rural Australia. This year we decided to stay at the beautiful Barkala Farm, near Coonabarabran, in Central Western NSW.
The Camp Out is quickly gaining popularity amongst our owners, with 42 trailers and over 100 people attending this year. Because we had such a large group, our campground at Barkala was made especially to suit, with all the workers spending weeks clearing a paddock just for us.
Before we booked Barkala, we had heard all about how wonderful the place was, and when we arrived, we discovered why everyone who comes here falls under its spell. It is almost like stepping into another world.
Home of the famous Pilliga Pottery, Barkala is an 8000 hectare property nestled between the foothills of the Warrambungles and the rugged Pilliga forest. The farm is owned and managed by Maria Rickert and her family, who emigrated here from Germany 25 years ago after falling in love with the spectacular scenery-the intensely blue skies, the deep red dirt, the endless stars, and the silence of the bush. Barkala is an expression of the family’s ingenuity and creativity, with enchanting hand built ‘European style’ buildings throughout the property, and an octagonal ‘fairy tale castle’ as the centrepiece.
We arrived on Friday morning, impressed with the stunning scenery and wildlife (including wild emus and endangered birds). With the sun shining and a cool breeze blowing, it was a pleasure setting up camp. After saying hello to everyone, our little boys were getting restless, so it was time for a late morning tea and early lunch at the onsite cafe.
The cafe provides typical German meals such as sausage with sauerkraut and fried potato, as well as typical Aussie country fare. But they also have a fantastic woodfired oven in the middle of the cafe, where you can watch Maria’s son Johannes churn out delicious pizzas for lunch and dinner. We sat out in the courtyard and enjoyed our lunch while our boys played, fed the fish and patted the dog, admiring the beautiful artwork that was literally everywhere you looked.
Pilliga Pottery is Australia’s largest ‘bush pottery’, and is renowned for it’s unique lead light decorative technique, using clay sourced on site. Barkala is also an eco-friendly organic property, with power provided by solar, rainwater collected on site, and everything recycled wherever possible. The Rickerts are passionate about living in harmony with the natural environment, and do all they can to ensure their ecological footprint is light.
By the afternoon, everyone had arrived and it was time for Happy Hour. As the sun set over the camp ground, new friendships were forged around the bonfire and the weekend had officially begun.
After a few hours spent chatting and enjoying the incredible night sky, we all retired back to our trailers for a decent nights sleep.
On Saturday morning, some of us explored the walking tracks and points of interest in the area, some of us relaxed at camp, and some of us attended a fun pottery class on site. Led by local ceramic artist, Petra Meinking, we were taught how to make some simple terracotta drinking cups.
The lesson really highlighted the complete absence of artistry amongst the group, but for what we lacked in talent, we more than made up for in enthusiasm. We’re all very excited about receiving our ‘rustic’ cups, after the experts at Pilliga glaze and fire them for us.
Saturday afternoon was spent playing a few hotly contested games of Finska, before a wonderful Italian themed evening, catered for by our lovely hosts.
As usual, there were some very clever and creative costumes, but the Lemon Family took out the prize for their brilliant Mario and Luigi outfits.
We also celebrated Wayne’s 60th, with Maria and her staff providing him with a delicious German cheesecake.
As usual, it was a wonderful night, and we were again treated to a beautiful night sky (it’s no wonder that this area is known as the Astronomy Capital of Australia).
On Sunday, after feeding the farm animals, we met with a local Aboriginal Discovery Ranger who took us on a guided tour of some ancient Sandstone Caves.
It was an interesting and informative walk, which not only gave us a chance to walk off the previous nights excesses, but also gave us an appreciation of the local culture and significance of the caves.
After the walk it was time to pack up and head off-most of us went home but a lucky few were able to continue their travels throughout this magnificent part of Australia.
The Camp Out would not be such a success if it were not for our wonderful customers. Thank you to all that attended for your sense of fun, adventure, and friendship. And a very special thank you to Maria and all her staff for a brilliantly executed weekend away. Barkala has stolen a piece of our hearts and we can’t wait to return.
Katie James, and all the staff at Complete Campsite