East MacDonnell Hideaway
I love Station Stays. The opportunity to check out a working property, learn about the land from the owners and sit down and share a meal at the end of the day with the family is a great way of experiencing Australia. On my last trip, I stumbled across many amazing Station Stays and one that I was truly lucky to discover was Hale River Homestead at Old Ambalindum.
I was warmly welcomed by Lynne, who with her husband Sean own the property. Lynne takes care of the accommodation side, with the help of her daughter Sophie and grandson David. Cooper is the youngest and has a few years yet to grow into an outback cowboy like his brother David.
Situated 115km north east of Alice Springs on Binns Track (Arltunga Tourist Drive), Hale River Homestead is popular as a weekend getaway for Alice Springs locals. And why wouldn’t it be? The accommodation options are numerous. You can roll out your swag, open up your camper trailer or park your caravan in the campground in either the unpowered section or under the trees in the powered sites. Road access is suitable for 2WD vehicles, so even if you own a motorhome there will be a place to park.
If camping isn’t desirable, you can book into one of the four self-contained options. The bunkhouse is perfect for a group, the Gen Shed is ideal for a couple, for families the Cottage will suit you and if you want to truly experience some history with a little bit of opulence, the Homestead is the place to stay. Linen is supplied in all the self-contained accommodation.
Dating back to the early 1900’s the Homestead is beautifully set up and the perfect place to relax in peace and quiet. The large country style kitchen took me back to my childhood and I reminisced about my Nana pulling a tasty roast leg of lamb with all the trimmings from the Aga oven, pots rattling on the gas range and all of us gathering around the kitchen table, drooling as Pop carved the meat. I slept like a log in the queen sized bed, just one of the many bedroom setups available.
The Cottage was once the residence of the head stockman, although I doubt they would have enjoyed as much comfort as you get now. The country style kitchen will feed the family easily. The Gen Shed once housed the motors that provided electricity to the property but has been turned into a modern retro bush apartment. The property is now solar powered, making this a real eco-stay.
What I loved so much was the different outdoor ‘rooms’ available. There were so many places that were perfect for a morning coffee, a place to read a book or just sit and watch the birds that call the magnificent gardens home.
The Workshop is the main hub of Hale River Homestead. With a fully licensed bar, you can enjoy an icy cold beer or a glass of wine while relaxing on a couch or playing a game of pool. With options for breakfast, lunch and dinner or just a freshly made coffee and cake, you won’t go hungry or thirsty. They also cater for weddings, birthdays, tour groups and even the staff Christmas Party. When I wasn’t chatting with young David, I was able to get a start on reading one of the many novels that adorn the bookshelf.
Things to do? Arltunga Historical Reserve is just over the range, Ruby Gap is a great 4WD adventure, bush walks, total relaxation, sit by the fire or enjoy a swim in the best pool in the NT. There is an iconic windmill positioned perfectly for the amazing sunrises and sunsets that you will witness at Hale River Homestead.
I most enjoyed sharing a wonderful dinner with Lynne and her family and fellow travellers in The Workshop. The only disappointment was that I my visit was so short and didn’t really get to explore the property and surrounds as much as I would have liked.
Contact: Hale River Homestead
I stayed at Hale River Homestead courtesy of Lynne and Sean Leigh.
For more information and to book accommodation and activities, I suggest you check out the Northern Territory website.