March 2, 2020 / By Sophia Collins
Recently, The Weekender caught up with Jade Miles from Black Barn Farm to find out her top tips for a great weekend in Beechworth. Black Barn Farm is a biodiverse orchard, nursery and learning space in Stanley.
What do you love about living in Stanley?
Everything! The volunteer-run post office in the old schoolhouse. The walk through the bush and past chestnut orchards to pick the kids up from the school bus. The multi-generational orchardists who, despite now being retired, are willing to share their knowledge and stories of their orcharding life from 'back-in-the-day'.
The absolutely distinctive 4 seasons - all four are utterly different and whip you through the year very quickly. The feeling of arriving in a hamlet which has somehow avoided the worst of the last 40 years but retained the best. The light at dawn and dusk - it feels warm and honey-like even when it's freezing.
Where are your favourite places to visit?
There are many but the usual haunts are very local, very family-friendly and usually very simple:
Murmungee lookout is only a few kilometres up the road from us and makes for a beautiful family bike ride through the bush to a perch high on top of the plateau overlooking the valley below and framed by the nearby mountains of Mount Buffalo and the Warby Ranges. We often pack a picnic and a cold cider and head up with the kids to meet friends. We actually got married there so it holds a special place in our hearts.
In summer we head off the Stanley hills with kayaks and tyre tubes, and with picnics stuffed into dry bags spend an afternoon floating down the Ovens river (Bright, Porepunkah and Markwood are all good drop in points). We take a bike to help us with the car shuffle at the other end, but when the days are long we can get a full day of work in the paddock in and then head down at 5 for a twilight float.
Mount Buffalo, a quintessential micro heaven for nature lovers. We camp, hike, ski, kayak, bike ride and just breathe. It's raw, wild and bigger than us in its beauty and feels a world away from our everyday farm life despite it only being a 45-minute drive along the beautiful Ovens Valley.
Any hidden secrets/tips for people who are planning to visit?
Bring your bikes (even if you don't ride much at home) there are so many rail trails, mountain bike parks, bush tracks and cycle-friendly businesses in this part of the world that you'll kick yourself if you don't.
Come in all seasons - they are totally different experiences.
Eat a fresh apple picked straight from one of our trees (we promise you'll fall in love with apples again).
Keep it simple in your packing - there's nothing the region doesn't offer - great coffee, interesting retail, easily accessible fresh local food, an abundance of local wine, great op shops and junk shops.
Where would we find you at 10am on a Sunday?
In reality - either at the kid's soccer match or in the orchard mulching, pruning, training or harvesting (depending on the time of year), nursery planting, digging, weeding, labelling (again its seasonally dependent) or running one of our events/workshops (if its spring).
In my dreams - riding my bike between Stanley and Beechworth on one of the bush trails, heading to The Collective for a warm chai tea and a read of the paper before (winter) heading home to light a bonfire or (summer) heading to Lake Sambell for a swim with the kids and friends.
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