July 5, 2020 / By The Weekender Travel
At The Weekender, we often come across incredible people running incredible businesses in regional Australia. One such person is Lucy Etheridge, from Yarrawalla Farm. Together with her parents, husband and young family, Lucy has taken on the mantle built up by four generations of the Etheridge family of farming their land in Gruyere with a focus on engaging in socially and environmentally responsible practices.
Today the farm is dedicated to growing wine grapes, running premium beef and lambs, and providing bespoke farm stay accommodation. We asked Lucy to share her thoughts on life on the farm in Yarra Valley.
What do you love about living in the Yarra Valley?
I love being part of a vibrant, rural community, with the rolling green hills and the farm-based lifestyle. We are proud to be able to share what we do and grow with people who visit.
I also love the focus on sustainable practices in our community. Since the 1970s, we have replanted over 20,000 native trees and grasses with the help of organisations such as Landcare, Ribbons of Green, Land for Wildlife, Tree Project and a Stream Frontage Management Program. The increase in biodiversity has resulted in a thriving insectarium for the vineyard, shelter belts for livestock, a healthy creek and a bush block to help protect native wildlife habitat.
Where are your favourite places to visit?
Bush walking in the surrounding hills is great. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve lived here, each season the views and natural environment continue to take our breath away!
There are also three main roads that meander through the Yarra Valley, with lots of places to visit nestled around them. Visiting the Four Pillars Distillery is a given, as is Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Yarra Valley Dairy and Oakridge winery. There’s also the very popular Healesville Sanctuary.
One of our favourite things to do, and something we always recommend to our guests, is to visit the small producers and artists who are ‘by appointment only’. The experience they offer is very authentic and such a lovely way to get a sense of what makes the Yarra Valley heart beat.
Tell us about your farm and what makes a stay there special?
Our family have lived, worked and breathed ‘Yarrawalla’, and the Yarra Valley, for four generations and we love sharing it with our guests. We love that folk who visit are instantly relaxed by the soft views over the paddocks to the hills, and everyone comments on the soul and warmth of the cottage. The birdlife, cattle, sheep and vineyards surrounding the cottage just make the country escape all the more real.
It’s a very private and quiet place to stay, but with world renowned food, wine and concerts at your doorstep. It is a lovely place to return to and unwind after visiting the area.
Any hidden secrets/tips for people who are visiting?
You don’t need to bring a thing when you stay in the Yarra Valley ... seriously! We have delicious providore stores such as Kitchen & Butcher in Healesville or the Providore at Meletos, beautiful art galleries, live music, lots of op shops and antique stores to fossick through, an excellent independent bookshop called Verso, and numerous award winning cellar doors and restaurants.
The Yarra Valley will have you fed, watered, clad, educated and entertained for as long or short as you choose to stay! Oh, and we have an awesome music and movie scene throughout the year at The Memo in Healesville. But we don’t mention that too loudly because it’s a bit of a local secret!
Where would we find you at 10.00 am on a Sunday?
The biological farmer clock is alive and well here! At 10am any day of the week we are coming in from the vineyard or paddocks to put the kettle on for a cuppa … probably with a cheeky treat from Healesville’s Habituel Bakery in hand.