EYEING all the fancy pamphlets, websites and facebook pages will certainly help attract visitors to the Mudgee region, but you have to experience the silo glamping at Melrose Park, to gain a real Mudgee outdoor accommodation experience.
Tent stays are a feature in the district with Elizabeth and Patrick Brennan offering that accomodation style, however, for a more adventurous and close to nature farmstay experience, the Brennans offer their silos to guests.
Professor of Health Science at University of Sydney, Patrick with his wife, Elizabeth and their four children came to Australia 11 years ago and had ventured over the Sandstone Curtain to Mudgee during a farmstay holiday five years ago.
"When I travel I'm always interested in looking at property and Melrose Park happened to be on the market," Elizabeth said.
"Walking up the front steps and looking back, the view of the Cudgegong River valley and mountains in the background was a scene to be believed. It was sold to me immediately."
The property, now only 100 hectares and at the base of Mt Frome, was originally settled by William Bowman, who had extensive acreage throughout the Mudgee region back in the mid to late 1800s.
The double-brick large home was built in the 1870s, according to Elizabeth and entertains high ceilings of 4.3 metres. It had been a dairy during the 1950s and a deer farm in the 1990s, but now the property has opened for visitor overnight stays.
"We were keen to share our lifestyle with others so converted the old dairy towards the front of the property to a small country cottage we named Deer Cottage accomodating a couple quite comfortably," Elizabeth said.
"It has its own contemporary kitchen and small garden and our farm animals come to the fenceline and love being fed carrots."
Walking up the front steps and looking back, the view of the Cudgegong River valley and mountains in the background was a scene to be believed.
After a fox found her chickens a tasty delight Elizabeth looked for a more secure coop and thought whether one of the three grain silos would suffice.
Discussions with Patrick framed an idea that would help finance the upgrading and renovations the homestead required, maybe a farmstay, Airbnb accommodation concept.
So the chicken coop idea went flying and the conversion of the silos to accomodate guests began.
Grain was emptied out and double doors were cut out of one side on each silo.
These were replaced by rounded sliding doors of corrugated iron taken off the old house roof and recycled.
The grain funnels on each floor were filled and cemented over and an outdoor space is filled with 27 tonnes of gravel to make a wonderful fire pit area.
Sharing with nature
"When each door is opened they frame a wonderful view looking up to Mt Frome," Elizabeth said.
The first silo is the living area containing kitchen, dining and lounge, while the second is the master bedroom with double bed, electric blankets in colder months and a small potbelly stove.
The third is the bathroom with shower, toilet and vanity.
"In the bedroom you can sleep with the doors wide open and guests often wake up in the morning to a row of cows looking over the fence while chewing their cud," she said.
"In summer the open doors catch the breezes.
"Up there is so quiet and peaceful and at night by the fabulous outside fire pit you can toast marshmallows and gaze at the night sky.
"To me these are a little bit of creature comforts without changing the atmosphere."
The construction took four months and the first guests arrived in 2016.
Nearby, the Brennans also converted the property's cow shed area into a marvelous entertainment area utilising plenty of space for dining, dancing and bar room.
"This lends itself well for wedding receptions or celebration parties.," Elizabeth said.
Upwards of 20 deer still roam the acreage with Damara sheep and a small number of goats.
A neighbour's cattle graze on the slopes in payment for farmwork on Melrose Park, and the small animals are the family's own paddock to plate meat supply.
Airbnb also handles reservations.