Many families dream of having that country escape- the ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, a place where the kids can run free and the adults can "get back to basics". The vast majority of families have little hope of ever achieving what our hearts yearn for - or so we thought! There is however a way for a few of us to reach our goal, without the need to invest millions of dollars.
These few lucky families may spend their weekends horse riding, bush walking or bike riding through the magnificent countryside, having a game of tennis with friends on the floodlit all weather courts or simply relaxing around the pool. If they are feeling less energetic they may spend their day relaxing with a good book outside their unit, disturbed by nothing more than the local wildlife and the distant sounds of their children having the time of their lives! Children can enjoy the freedom of the countryside in a safe environment, allowing their parents to relax and simply let them be children.
This dream place, which is within affordable reach of most families is Hartley Valley Holiday Farm, at the base of Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains, a comfortable 2-hour drive from Sydney. Originally set up in the 1970's, Hartley Valley Holiday farm is NOT a time-share, but is a co-operative owned by the members of the farm. Each family buys a share in the farm and becomes a member of the company. They keep this share until they choose to sell to another family.
Each family also pays an affordable annual levy to cover the farmís running costs, including the salaries of the manager and farm staff. Once the annual levy is paid the member and their immediate family are entitled to use all the facilities the farm has to offer for no further charge.
Facilities enjoyed by members of Hartley Valley Holiday farm include horse riding (both instruction and accompanied trail rides), a competition-standard trail bike track, flood-lit all-weather tennis courts, swimming pool and much more.
Accommodation is self-contained, cabin-style accommodation, with 30 units sleeping up to 6 people in each unit. Securing your accommodation is seldom difficult, with some owners staying at the farm every alternate weekend. Peak periods are, of course often more congested than other times, but provided you are organised, you can usually manage to secure your accommodation. Hartley is a place where you can forge firm friendships, or, if you choose you can be more reclusive: the choice is yours.
Whilst insurance issues have wreaked havoc on many centres offering equestrian activities in recent times, Hartley Valley has managed to maintain the ability to provide this mainstay of the farm's environment. The company herd consists of approximately 35 horses, ranging from those suitable for the most nervous beginner up to those only suitable for the competent rider. Riders are graded by our experienced wranglers, to ensure they are allocated a suitable horse and remain as safe as possible.
Although television is available in the recreation room, it is seldom used, with children appearing to prefer the outdoor activities the farm offers.
More than anything, Hartley Valley is a place for families. Hartley Valley is where your children's dreams of owning a pony can come true. It is a place where parents can provide the community environment lacking in today's big cities. If there is a better way of fulfilling every childís dream, I have yet to find it!
It is a testament to the farm that many current owners originally bought their share back in the 1970s with some being passed from generation to generation. There are currently limited shares available for purchase. Hartley Valley Holiday farm is located at 2187 Great Western Highway, Little Hartley, NSW 2790. For more information please ring 02 6355 2244