Balingup Heights - A Little Bit of Magic

As a parent I am always on the look out for experiences which will immerse the kids in nature. Getting them out and about exploring forests, rivers, the beach or the bush is our priority. So when we stayed at Balingup Heights, a farmstay in Western Australia’s South West, it was such a beautiful and immersive experience I had to sit down and interview it’s owners - Deb & Brian Vanallen.

 Deb & Brian Vanallen moved to Balingup Heights almost 9 years ago.

Deb & Brian Vanallen moved to Balingup Heights almost 9 years ago.

 Country homestead, Balingup Heights, South West, WA

Country homestead, Balingup Heights, South West, WA

 Jack gets some love from Deb.

Jack gets some love from Deb.

One of the things that makes the place so special is that Balingup and the surrounding Blackwood River Valley “is a little off the beaten track.” The area is nestled amongst “rolling green hills, quaint historical towns, fabulous local wine and produce” says Deb & Brian. Driving through Balingup in spring, the area is a lush intense green, a contrast to the dry brown hues of the West Australian bush. The road opens to a hilltop and when you drive through the gates of the farm the road winds past a persimmon orchard, rabbit holes and resident sheep wandering the paddocks.

 When I first arrived at Balingup Heights, I remember walking up the driveway full of flowers and garden trinkets, opened the front door and was greeted with the smell of chicken pie baking in the oven. I thought it was the perfect country weekend away.

When I first arrived at Balingup Heights, I remember walking up the driveway full of flowers and garden trinkets, opened the front door and was greeted with the smell of chicken pie baking in the oven. I thought it was the perfect country weekend away.

 Lavendar, irises and roses grow in Deb and Brian's front garden.

Lavendar, irises and roses grow in Deb and Brian's front garden.

Deb & Brian moved here in September 2009 with their two daughters, Asha and Mia. “Our reasons for moving were diverse but included a wish to move to the country, a desire to break out of our comfort zone and do something completely different and we wanted to own and operate our own business!” 

“We’re both easy going, like meeting new people and open to trying new things. A desire to ‘do something new’ was one of the main motivations for our move . . . and we’ve met plenty of fabulous people and experienced plenty of new things!

 What farm wouldn't be complete without chickens. 

What farm wouldn't be complete without chickens. 

 Collecting eggs is the highlight of any farm stay with kids.

Collecting eggs is the highlight of any farm stay with kids.

Like any business it has its up’s and down’s but Deb and Brian have persevered and learnt from it by reflecting and trying new things. “We’ve had plenty of challenges over the last eight years but we’ve approached these challenges together with a positive mind-set… We’ve been patient and persevered, often trying new approaches until we got it right. We know it’s important to reflect every now and then, and realise that we’ve learnt from the challenges.”

Deb and Brian say running a home-based business has allowed them to spent more time with their daughters than if they had stayed in ‘traditional jobs.’ “Although we work hard, we have more flexibility and we can often combine work and family-time, and have fun while we’re doing it!”

 Jack the resident sheep follows visitors on their tour around the farm.

Jack the resident sheep follows visitors on their tour around the farm.

 Visiting the horses is the first stop on the morning feed.

Visiting the horses is the first stop on the morning feed.

 Deb and Brian take guests around the farm each morning to feed the animals.

Deb and Brian take guests around the farm each morning to feed the animals.

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When asked about what they love about living here, there is so much. “Waking up each morning to this spectacular view. Each season offers its own unique beauty, however when we have a heavy mist which settles in the valley below, we feel like we’re on top of the world!” Guests can pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and watch the sunset over the valleys of Balingup and stay until the stars light up the night sky. “The night sky is simply stunning. On a clear night, we often take a walk out to the look out. The view of the milky way is awe inspiring.”

“We love the local festivals and events and we have really enjoyed getting involved in the local event committees. It’s been a great way to get to know lots of local people.”

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 Morning sunlight and mist amongst the treetops.

Morning sunlight and mist amongst the treetops.

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To Deb and Brian community means “feeling a sense of belonging, celebrating diversity, working together towards common goals, loving where you live, caring about the people, supporting each other through tough times or in a crisis.” They know they can ask for help when needed. “Balingup and all of the surrounding towns have been extremely welcoming. We’ve never felt like outsiders or newcomers, in fact, our experience has been the opposite where the locals have always been delighted to see new people move into the region.” Balingup is a community that is close-knit. A community where everyone helps each other out, supports each other and gets involved.

Balingup Heights offers guests a unique experience. With the cottages  dispersed around a 46 acre hilltop forest, each cottage offers privacy and seclusion.  Guests regularly report that to stay is to have their ‘own slice of heaven’.”