Farmers turn to tourism to make land profitable
THE joy of the open road is calling Queensland caravanners, who offer an alternative source of income for drought-stricken Southern Downs farmers, struggling to profit off their land.
The Egerton family run a small amount of sheep and cattle on their Ballandean property, but in recent years their two farm stay cottages have proven popular among tourists.
It’s not a huge surprise to Ben Egerton, who has enjoyed the beautiful views, plentiful fishing and action-packed 4WD tracks with wife Maple and two children, Felix and Poppy, for many years.
“The land works better, potentially, as a tourist site,” Mr Egerton said.
“We back onto the Sundown National Park, so the landscape here is very similar – rugged country with a very nice outlook.
“It gives people a chance to get away from everything.”
As coronavirus-related border restrictions create more opportunities for domestic tourism, the family has set their sights on expansion, submitting a development application for an additional 20 caravan sites.
“It would be a caravan-only campground, and we would request (guests) have their own toilet and shower to lower the impact on us and make sure maintenance is easy,” Mr Egerton said.
“Since the closure was announced it’s been really busy everywhere between here and Stanthorpe, so we hope our riverfront and how close we are to the wineries works well for us.”
The family, who co-own the land with Ben’s parents Judy and Michael Egerton, may one day even offer an exclusive truffle-hunting experience for guests.
“It cost so much to put in the (French Oak) trees, so we thought tourism could be another good way for our farm to make money,” Mr Egerton said.
“We’re trying to diversify.”