DIFFERENT INCOME: Gavina Lee, owner of Lee Farm Stay in Booie.
DIFFERENT INCOME: Gavina Lee, owner of Lee Farm Stay in Booie. Rhiannon Tuffield

Tourism a smart move for South Burnett farmers

BOOIE businesswoman Gavina Lee and her husband started up the Lee Farmstay in 2005, when the dairy and beef industries proved challenging.

Originally dairy farmers, they moved into beef cattle when deregulation hit them hard and eventually sold their herd two years ago as a result of the drought.

"It was just too dry and we were buying food for the cows to keep them alive and it wasn't worth the money we put in," Mrs Lee said.

"We decided it would be a good decision to start up a farmstay because we thought it would be a good idea to have a stable income and get city people to experience life on the farm."

As the agriculture industry continues to be a slippery slope for many, some farmers have turned to the tourism industry as a way to supplement their income.

Mrs Lee's husband has since died, and she now runs the farmstay as her main income, as well as breeding puppies.

Visitors are able to take part in farm activities and stay at the property's idyllic cottages.

Carolyn Stone is another farmer who has taken advantage of the market, creating the Passchendaele Farm Holiday business with her husband.

The 7500-acre property is still a working cattle property, and Mrs Stone said it was a good way to bring in extra income.

"The idea of diverting into another kind of income stream was because we don't have access to a lot of water, we rely on dams and entirely on the rain," Mrs Stone said.

"So it was looking at what other options we could do.

"I think many farmers have to go out and find a second income as a way to keep them comfortable and help them through the tough times.

"It's a good way to grow our community."

Airbnb boost

WHILE Airbnb is commonly used by those who visit cities, one local farmer has now used the accommodation website to her advantage.

The Bunyip Farms Farmstay in Maidenwell welcomed guests for the first time in 2000 and has been used as a farmstay ever since.

Owner Kathy Hall recently branched her services out to Airbnb, a website for individuals to list, find and rent lodging and said it has helped her bring her clients during the quieter seasons.

"I've only been on there since January so it's a bit of an experiment at the moment," she said.

"I think you've got to be open to new ways people look for accommodation."

Ms Hall said the website had exposed her business to a larger client base and helped bring in extra income.

"I've had three lots of guests in an off time which I wouldn't have otherwise had," she said.

"It just tides you over a lower income month."

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