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“Fell short of our expectations”

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Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 25, 2012

We attended for a group weekend where one of us was celebrating a birthday.

The property must have been amazing in its day but sadly is now extremely tired and run down. We stayed in the Barkers House and the room was huge but so dusty and dirty with cobwebs, peeling paint, damp patches on the ceiling, and very very old, musty decor. It was really sad to see what could have been a great room so very dated and worn and basically very 2 star. The bathroom was newer but very cheaply done and the hot water ran out after about 2 minutes so you had to be quick! The windows were also painted shut so no chance of airing the room either. There were no bedside tables nor table lamps either which was a shame if you wanted to read in bed.

Downstairs in the huge room with the snooker table there was a really tired, damp, musty aroma. Everything was very dusty and old and the kitchenette such as it was, just reeked of mildew and you would certainly never want to use it for anything. Nor was there any cutlery or crockery. The old couch in the TV corner was filthy and smelly and everything just looked tired and forlorn.

What a terrible shame for such a grand old house to be let to just crumble and fade. It made us really sad. The rooms were not looked at by the staff in the whole 3 days, and nor did anyone come and clean the common areas either which was pretty bad.

However, the absolute worst thing of all was yet to come. We were woken at 3am on the first night by a small but very loud barking dog which went on for nearly an hour!. We couldn't believe our ears, since we had been assured that no dogs are allowed on the property! We eventually dragged ourselves out of bed to try and track down the source and it would appear it was in fact the owners' dog who also live in the Barkers House, in the room adjacent to ours. We were pretty upset so we asked staff to investigate but they obviously didn't do anything as the same thing happened the following night, only at 2.30am!

You know, if we weren't paying $700 for a weekend, perhaps we wouldn't have minded so much, but when we were already very disappointed in the accommodation and then woken two nights in a row you can't help but feel ripped off. We told the woman when we checked out, both about the toilet and the barking dog but she didn't write anything down or seem to care at all and didn't offer an apology never mind a discount!

Other than that, the pool area was nice but the pool was not clean and the hot tub was just filthy. I think when you have lots of small children around, you have to be expecially careful about hygiene in pools and spas and it was severely lacking. I just hope none of the little kids got sick from the spa particularly, because it reeked of urine. Again, a wonderful area which has just been left to go to ruin which is sad.

The baby animals area again was a repeat of all the above. The poor animals were kept in boiling hot sheds and basically standing in filth. Some of the rabbits in the cages had terrible weeping infected eyes and yet were not kept apart from the others. The water sources in each cage were dirty and polluted and the ducks were so thirsty they were fighting each other to drink from the hose which we turned on for them because no staff member seemed to have done anything for days.

The food was, like other people have said, highly processed - tinned fruit, frozen hash browns, eggs from factories (we specifically asked about eggs from the farm but were told they don't use anything from the farm as it's all just for show...!), tinned pineapple, "supermarket" plastic bread for toasting for breakfast, no spreads of any kind, just plastic individual servings of Meadowlea... It would've been so nice to have had proper healthy food, farm bread, milk, jams etc. Extremely disappointing.

The staff seemed to be very confused about things and forgot to serve people at each meal, and then cleared plates while people were still eating which was awkward. They were just young and sweet but had obviously had no training whatsoever which was a shame. There was a huge mix up when we went to pay as well, the woman seemed to have no idea which room was which and again, it was awkward and embarrassing.

We have been on lots of farm stays and this was definitely the worst. I just wish I had a couple of million dollars to donate to the owners because this place needs it really badly.

I feel that the place was very overpriced in its current state and the staff desperately need training plus the tariffs need to be revised otherwise they are running the risk of alienating future guests.

Sorry guys - you lose our vote this time.

We would not return if the property was in its current state

Room Tip: Barker house rooms are dreadful - especially Room 8 or anywhere near owners' apartment because o...
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank Goochie_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, General Manager at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded November 28, 2012

Hi Guy's sorry it all fell short for you, by now you would have had my letter so I wont go over things again. Once an experience is firmly anchored in the bottom half of the glass that's where it stays.The 2 million would be great so I'll keep an ear out for lottery wins!
I support my staff 100% they always aim to please our guests, junior wait staff do there best and they are learning so we are patient with them through this process on the the Saturday of your visit two of our staff had volunteered their time with me at a Starlight Foundation event, that's the type of people we have here. I certainly disagree with your view about the animals , they are there for the kids during the day, the birds roam free and when no one is on the farm the animals are out grazing. It's a fine line between 'free range' and Fox attacks which are a constant problem here.
We do use our own eggs but the amount produced is small compared to demand. If you want to actually know where the eggs come from I can direct you to to our free range supplier, as I said when the glass is half empty... we do our best with meals, the meat is from here most of the time. We are not allowed to supply you milk from our cows we would certainly like to produce more food and have some projects underway already.
I concede that Barkers needs a face lift, it was grand no doubt 138 years ago it is one of our projects for 2013 it is a long list, your friends were here two years before we took over & would know many things have improved since then. Let me clarify about dog's, we have them it's a farm like many working farms outside dogs are not what you want around. The little companion dog for Mrs Couch was in the wrong place that shouldn't have occurred and we need to ensure this is not repeated
I think your review is harsh, yes the place is old and we have a lot of challenges keeping up with infrastructure, all of us here are very passionate about what we do we believe that we are heading in the right direction. I don't expect you will redeem the Day Visit voucher we sent already but would really welcome you back to spend some time with you. Blair & Jacqui

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123 - 129 of 139 reviews

Reviewed November 4, 2012

Great farm stay for families from Sydney. It is only 90 mins from Sydney compared to a few hours for some other farm stays we looked at.

We went up Friday lunch and came back Sunday late afternoon.

We had the Alverna lodge with 2 other families- 6 adults and 5 kids all up. Tones of rooms and space for everyone.

The accommodation is very basic, but honestly we weren't in the room much. We cooked BBQ's outside and ate everything in the picnic area just behind the lodge.

Kids loved the bonfires and toasting marshmallows each night.

There are tones of activities throughout the day for kids, and extra things like archery, tennis and canoes if you want something different.

Really recommend this place.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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Thank tcollins321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, General Manager at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded November 25, 2012

If we can meet your expectations we are delighted, if we can exceed them we are rapt!
I know I have a bit of work to do in Alverna and it's moving up my list (which by the way is huge) but as you say it is about the outdoors, the kids and some old style fun. Hope you can make your way back here sometime soon we will have some new things to experience. Thanks Blair & Jac

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Reviewed October 8, 2012

We spent two days and nights at Mowbray Park and it was wonderful. The management and staff make you feel so welcome and at home. The kids (9 & 10) absolutely love the farm and animals and all the activities on offer that you could wish for. Mowbray Park is a working farm and the opportunities to learn about looking after the environment and proper management of animals (while having so much fun) make this a unique and rewarding experience.

Highlights for us were the trail ride on the horses, the baby animal nursery, the hearty country cooking, damper and billy tea around the camp fire and the bush dance after dinner. The history of the farm and its buildings is fascinating and extensive.

The staff are excellent; friendly and helpful while being unobtrusive. The accommodation is basic, clean and comfortable – exactly how it should be on a farm. Mowbray Park is a breath of fresh air literally and metaphorically. It would be difficult to find a better value, more enjoyable destination for a family holiday or short break. We will definitely be back.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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8  Thank Parkes42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, General Manager at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded November 25, 2012

Hey Shane, was so good to catch up with guy's before you left , it really was the sort of weekend we enjoy as well. When people engage as you do it makes us all feel that what we do and how we go about it is resonating with people. Number one is to have fun with the kid's perhaps experience something that reminds you of your childhood? but if along the way we can talk about and demonstrate aspects of agriculture then why not it's important. Hope to see you again soon. Cheers Blair & the Mowbray gang.

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Reviewed October 5, 2012

Just came back from a two day, one night stay at Mowbray Farm and what an experience.
No husbands, three mums and 11 kids under 11 and two teenagers there was something to do for everyone. From the booking to arrival, activities, accommodation and departure everything was fantastic. Yes there was a snake but big deal, the owners and all the staff were aware and did track and catch it. In the warmer weather you have to expect this. At no time did we feel that any of the kids or us were in danger! The accommondation was dated but it was clean, roomy, and VERY child friendly. Don't go there expecting it to be the Hilton beacuse it's not. It it is a "working farm" which needs to be appreciated The tractor rides, feeding the animals, archery, horse riding, tennis, THE POOL!! bush dancing it had everything you could want to entertain the kids. Our kids even felt safe enough to go to activities by themselves which is a big ask for city slickers like us! If you are looking for an extremely relaxed environment where the kids are just fully entertained all day and you don't mind the complete outdoors then this is for you. We highly recommend it, worth every cent!!! Can't wait to go again! Thank you Blair and Elise for your hospitality and for teaching and showing the kids and us mind you just how wonderful farm life can be!

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Dianah F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, Owner at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded October 6, 2012

Hi Everyone,
Didn't we have a good time, you guy's were so into everything we had to offer it really makes our day as well. That snake was real nice and there is no way we would harm it, we just made the area safe and kept going. Glad you enjoyed coming to the farm and appreciate your understanding of how it works and how we work. Look forward to you coming down again. Cheers from Blair and the whole Mowbray gang.

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Reviewed October 1, 2012

Just came back from staying at Mowbray Park Farmstay with our kids over the October long weekend. Mixed feelings about the whole thing and am wondering what it would have been like with the owners on site instead of apparently attending a wedding.

Our kids loved every minute especially the daily routine of tractor ride, nursery, feeding animals, pony ride, lunch, pony ride and other daily activities in the afternoons before dinner. They had no trouble eating the food three times a day as they quickly got used to there being no other options!

As parents, we enjoyed just turning up for meals and not having to think about what we were having - we just ate it. Pity that most of the meals were so processed and seemed part of a bulk purchase instead of freshly made in the kitchen. Thinking this is because there seemed to be just enough staff to do everything that needed to be done for food and activities all day. Would have loved fresh farm eggs for breakfast and more effect to produce home cooked mains and desserts.

If you are thinking of going you must prepare yourself for the fact that the accommodation is tired. Our beds/room was clean but the bathroom needs a new shower curtain and exit mould attack(!) as well as a new sink because it was difficult to use it every day with all the cracks/marks in the bowl.

The kitchen in our house was extremely basic - a communal fridge, a sink (that always had loads of dirty dishes), a bench that was covered with something that looked like a door (??) and a tall cupboard.

Would have been nice to see the staff empty the bins and clean/tidy the kitchen daily!

The common room of the house we stayed in was regularly filled with kids and it was great to see them all get along.

If you need anything in your room changed, you need to ask as they don't come to the house to check on anything. Day 2 we asked and we had to get it our selves because they were busy!

Staff seemed stressed out and minimum in numbers covering all jobs.

Yes there was a snake in the playground - didn't see it but was told by other parents not staff.

There was also a bon fire two nights we were there - kids from one of the houses kept playing in the fire without their parents with them. Some of us had to tell the kids to go back to their house and get their parents as there were no staff around to say it for us.

If you are looking for a relaxed holiday where the parents get together over a wine and beer at night and then band together during the day to make sure all the kids are safe, you will enjoy this holiday.

We made it work for our family and relaxed even if it wasn't what we expected.

Would we go again - not sure. Would try another place first to see if the hospitality and food is better as parents have needs too!

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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Thank HolFam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, Owner at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded October 3, 2012

Hi HolFam,
I was at a wedding (best man duties) and it was really hard to be away on such a busy weekend, Jacqui and I like many in our industry have our breaks when most others are back at work. I'm proud of how our great staff managed during this time, we were not only away but then a couple of others were not able to be there that certainly made things difficult. I'm glad the kid's enjoyed themselves thats what we aim for but the real progress for us is in taking on board the things that you were not happy with. The little kitchen area is not where we would like it yet but it is much more useable than it was so this is a project we hope to start this year, as for us not dropping by each day I'll follow that up as it's meant to be done.
Most the meat that is served at the farm is from the farm, we have two projects to help with vegies, aquaponics and a horticulture area these will be seasonal of course but a great source of fresh food. We use local growers as well so I'll have a look back through and see what was served during your stay. I dont provide staff to supervise kids at the (evening) camp fire, parents have to take that one on themselves. We do aim for a high standard on interaction and engagement I think we get close to this, if we can address those other areas then I think we are worth a return visit, thanks for your feedback and safe travels. Cheers Blair

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Reviewed September 30, 2012

We have just returned from a 3 day stay at Mowbray during the school holidays. I will caveat the review by saying that my son had an absolutely wonderful time and, like most family holidays, if your kids are happy then you are happy. I was wavering between average and poor but in fairness I think average is the most accurate but we did have some concerns and disappointments. I would also caveat by saying from looking at the reviews its seems usual hosts Blair and Jacqui were not there during our stay - this may explain a lot.

Firstly, positives:
- beautiful area
- large attractive property - although buildings and common areas fairly run down
- scheduled activities great to keep kids occupied
- bush dance on the Saturday night was a highlight - the musician great and wonderful with kids
- very helpful and easy booking process
- easy drive from Sydney
- my son enjoyed playing with other kids in kids club which was a nice idea to let parents have dinner alone/with new friends
- attracted a lovely mix of families - met some great people - nice atmosphere

But the negatives
- having a great booking process and a call en route to see how we are doing, on arrival things seemed a little less friendly and quite rushed and perfunctory
- property must have been gorgeous but is now fairly run down - less noticable if the rooms had been a little cleaner. Our small one in Barkers was very very dusty, cobwebs on (high) ceiling and someone else's water bottle and toy car under bed etc etc
- the lounge there smelled very musty - maybe no one had been in there for a while
- anyway you certainly don't come to a farmstay for the accomodation so not such a big deal but....
- food was at best acceptable. Breakfast probably the best although lots of processed and bought foods throughout (all cakes/deserts from packet - my carrot cake still frozen); tinned spaghetti for breakfast, fish from packets, potato croquets etc etc.
- again don't come for the food but might have expected a little more home cooking and to not hear the cooks moaning about the numbers of people, problems in kitchen (our table was next to it)

Our main issue though was the staff. Perhaps without their boss there they were unsure/unbothered but whilst the activities were fun they seemed to be carried out with some disinterest and it all seemed a bit 'vague' with many families arriving and being unsure of what and where to go as things were not explained. Not much enthusiasm and very much going through motions. Like I say kids still enjoyed things but could have been so much better as all the elements are there. I also had a couple of safety concerns. First night in kids club (which is very very tatty and dusty and room full of random old chairs stacked up in corner) I picked up two large pairs of adult scissors and a frayed electrical (not plugged in cable) which was just lying around. During our time there there was also a red bellied black snake in the children's playground. It is the country, so snakes are part and parcel BUT the young girl's notified very clueless as to what to do and then taped hand written signs saying playground closed (not mentioning why which may have been helpful) after a while during which time I stood there and shooed children away.

So, all in all, yes my son had a great time, the activities were varied and fun, the setting is beautiful and the bush dance a highlight but would I return? Never say never as my son had such a wonderful time but it would be with some reservations. Let's hope most of the issues were due to usual management being away as it is a gorgeous setting.

Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
Thank AvalonQueen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, Owner at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded October 3, 2012

Hi AvalonQueen,
Thanks for sending through your feedback, it's where the real progress occurs. I'm glad it was good for the kid's and that many things were good and you got something from that. For our business to move forward though I need to focus on the things that did not meet your expectations. My being away (best man at a wedding) put a lot of pressure on our staff, all in all they did well. I like to think we are in the energy buisness that is we have to 'have' it and deliever it realiably. We source much of our food from this area, the meat consumed is from the farm most of the time, will go back through and have a look at what was offered.
We will have our post holidays de-brief as we do and all feedback, verbal and written goes into the pot, there are certainly things I need to address. Not sure what to make of the 'snake' incident we have red bellied blacks and they slither 100 miles to get away from noise so wouldnt think a kids playground much appeal! Have had a good look in the area and is long since gone.
I can see that we were close but fell a bit short, we want to fill the gap and have you come back.
Cheers Blair

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Reviewed September 24, 2012

Our family of seven spent three days here in April 2011, staying in the charming Barker's Lodge. The estate took me back to a time when the air was fresher, things were simpler and people were nicer. From the moment we arrived, we were well taken care of (the cook even prepared an off-menu dinner for us as we forgot to stipulate certain dietary restrictions, without a word of complaint). The kids were happily occupied from dawn to dusk (the Bush Dance evening was a treat for the kids). The owners and staff couldn't be more gracious; the owner Blair even allowed my brazen seven-year-old a trot on his personal steed just because she wouldn't stop asking! This is the kind of rare place where you and the children can freely roam the spacious grounds and do almost whatever catches your fancy. I would dearly love to return for a longer stay, and can only hope the place and the owners and staff will always maintain that special charm that made this a great escape from the city for all us.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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Thank ecclezia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blair B, Owner at Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays, responded to this reviewResponded October 3, 2012

Hi Ecclezia,
Thank you for your kind words, we had fun and both Sam (my horse) and I were delighted that we could bring so much joy to a childs day. I am lucky I have staff here who share the passion for engagement with all things rural, farming is a tough life but rewarding.
Tourism can also be tough but when we see the reactions from children, the delight of the parents you just want to do it right every single day.Thank you for coming to stay with us and I hope you can make it back some time. Cheers Blair

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Additional Information about Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays

Address: 745 Barkers Lodge Rd, Picton, New South Wales 2571, Australia
Location: Australia > New South Wales > Picton
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Picton
Price Range: $75 - $182 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Mowbray Park Farmstay Holidays 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mowbray Park Farm is a genuine working farm, we produce Beef and Sheep. Our pasture fed Beef is part of the 'paddock to plate' experience at Mowbray Park Farm. We have an activities program that runs from 9.15am until 4.30pm daily then camp fires at night. Horse & pony rides, animal nursery, cattle feeding, milking, the list goes on we have a 9.5km recreational running / mountain bike track. En-suited family rooms, dorm lodges for schools, conference room, dinning room, free parking and WiFi. Authentic experiential tourism alongside real farmers. ... more   less 
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