Station Stays around Australia

A road trip around Australia opens up so many possibilities when it comes to where to park the van. It could be a free campground in the middle of nowhere, a clifftop spot with the ocean below or a sprawling cattle station where the sheep have the best views. Some of our most memorable stays were those outback stations, out in the middle of nowhere. In some cases, miles and miles from anywhere.

Don’t expect five star luxury, although you could get five million. That’s up in the heavens of course. This is big sky country where the night skies will dare you to dream. During the day it’s a dusty, red earth, pack your white clothes away kind of landscape. But it gets under your skin, in the best possible way. It’s wholesome, soul cleansing and it may leave you yearning for more.

Here are five of the best we stayed at on our travels.

EDEOWIE STATION

Edeowie Station in the Flinders Ranges was one of our first stops, within the first week of hitting the road. It’s on the western side of Wilpena Pound near Hawker and is a typical station with powered and unpowered sites, bush camping and shearer’s quarters. BUT there’s so much more too.

The serenity was palpable. The mountains magnificent. Can you see me hugging the tree above? The backdrop looked like an artists easel. At night we dined under starry skies, warmed ourselves by a campfire and listened to the sound of nothing. The next day we got a mud map to the 23kms 4WD loop, exclusive to the property, and the adventures continued.

This is part of what I wrote in my journal that night. “... It’s so beautiful here. We have power, water, awesome views of the Flinders. Drove to the ruins of old Edeowie township, which is only accessible from this station. We saw eagles, sheep, kangaroos running wild, had a big fire tonight, a gorgeous sunset, steak and red wine for dinner. Life is good and I feel infinitely grateful.”

FARINA STATION

Farina was our next stop after the Flinders. It’s an outback station which is more like a ghost town with its streets of ruins with stories to tell. It’s fascinating to walk these dusty lanes and read of how life once was here. I wrote about it in July last year, both here on my blog and in the RV Touring Guide.

And did I mention the underground bakery? It’s the most remote pop up bakery in Australia, only open eight weeks of each year. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Farina is Latin for flour.

We loved the ruins, the atmosphere, reading about its history and the peaceful ambience in the station campground. And as for that bakery …

From my journal “The bread looks delish, but so did everything. We bought a wholemeal chunky loaf and two huge apple turnovers.” And then the next day “we started our day with breakfast of egg and bacon pies and coffee at the Farina bakery.” Nothing beats supporting local bakeries, especially when they’re only open for eight weeks in a year!

BARN HILL STATION

Barn Hill is basic and rustic, a working cattle station located on the west coast not far from Broome. The owners are casual and welcoming and off peak you can park where you like. There’s guinea pigs and goats and the shower and toilet facilities are genuine Aussie outback, i.e. you can see the stars from the showers, so be prepared. Pizza night is always popular and we enjoyed long walks on the beach and met some memorable characters, like the happy, tipsy guy up on the cliffs and Glenda the retired nurse from Bairnsdale, who we sat with whilst eating our pizza. We still keep in touch.

From my journal: “Although we don’t have a view from our van it’s a short walk to a truly magnificent beach, backed with red cliffs. This place has a great vibe, it’s very rustic, it’s busy, its a farm but we’re on the coast. Had a swim, a long walk on the beach and a fun chat with a very inebriated bloke up on the cliffs at sunset.”

That’s the thing with station stays. You’ll meet the most authentic people. At the Barn Hill market the following morning I caught up with Glenda again, bought a hat I didn’t need and chatted with the stallholders, many of them regulars to the market. One woman had sold up everything and been on the road for five years. She said she’d never been happier.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Seth Godin.

When we step into unfamiliar territory we’re confronted with new ideas and ways of thinking and that’s when we can create something new. We hold life in our own hands and are more master of ourself than at any other time.

BIG VALLEY HOMESTEAD

Big Valley is just ten minutes from Margaret River, nestled amongst the hills of a family owned working sheep farm. It’s so friendly and we were welcomed with a buggy full of freshly made scones and jam. On some nights there’s live entertainment and various food vans that visit. It’s a great base to explore all the wineries and attractions of the area.

The sites are huge and they have the cleanest and quirkiest shed amenities. And the best outdoor camp kitchens. The drinking water was so fresh and there’s green hills for miles.

We made friends with our neighbours, that’s me and Mary above holding a chicken that was hanging around our vans. That night Soul Cocina food truck was at camp so we ditched the idea of cooking the local roast chook for dinner (only joking) and enjoyed a night of Latin inspired soul food.

MT IVE IN THE GAWLER RANGES

Remember I mentioned those places that are miles from anywhere. Well Mt Ive is one of them. It’s remote, really remote. And it’s a slow bumpy corrugated road to get there. You’ll know you’re getting closer when you spot the submarine.

On arrival we meet Sally and Panda, the young couple running the place. The vibe is super casual and we find out they’re looking for more workers. “We do everything here” Sally says, “from reception to cleaning to serving drinks in the bar”. The offer is tempting.

For three days we devour the red earth and big outback skies. We camp near the outdoor gazebo, perfect for alfresco dining. And every night we’d head to the Spinifex Bar for drinks with the staff and other travellers.

During the day we explored the epic four wheel drive/mustering station tracks on this massive property. A highlight was a visit to the spectacular salt Lake Gairdner. I wrote a feature article on this area which was published in the August 2022 edition of 4×4 Australia Magazine.

From my Journal ” Love the red earth, the big skies, the landscape and the vibe. And I’m oh, so very tired tonight, I can hardly keep my head upright.”

Funnily enough, although we didn’t take on the work at Mt Ive we were later offered another station job at Merna Mora Station in the Flinders Ranges. There are jobs everywhere throughout Australia for those willing.

Now we’re at Halls Haven in the Grampians. It’s not a station stay but it has a warm welcoming vibe, cosy self contained units, outdoor fires and it’s surrounded by mountains and wildlife. Winter has been unpredictable these past three months we’ve worked here, so we never quite know what to expect when we wake up. Sometimes it’s cloud covered mountains and rainbows that lift the spirit and other mornings we’re dazzled by a glowing sunrise that reminds me how precious life is.

Outside Coco the cow stands waiting and there are kangaroos everywhere. You can tell by all the roo poo outside our van. Gotta watch out for the piles of emu shit too! But hey, that’s life.

There’s nothing pretentious about life in the Australian countryside. It’s as authentic as it comes. Whether you’re travelling or just thinking of a getaway, why not experience the real essence of this vast land and and stay at a station or two.

Wherever you are, look up and bask in the gifts given to us by Mother Nature. They’re bountiful, timeless, uplifting for the soul and free to us all.



47 thoughts on “Station Stays around Australia

  1. These are fantastic, Miriam. I would have been tempted to stay for all eight weeks the bakery was open! I’m watching a tv series at present called ‘Darby and Joan,’ about a couple on the road. Some of the scenery is incredible, so I can see why you enjoy your travels so much.

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  2. Great story Miriam, really enjoyed reading this one! We love Station Stays also and they have usually been our favourite stopovers. We spent many nights in Big Valley as we explored the Margaret River region before deciding to settle there. Its probably our most favourite campsite. Barn Hill was another favourite. We haven’t been to the Flinders or Gawler Ranges so will keep these in mind. I have been to Farina, but it was in the 1970’s, just ruins then and definitely no bakery!

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    1. Hi Bob, glad you enjoyed this one. We’ve loved all our station stays and I can see why you loved Big Valley so much and settled in the area. It was the epitome of country hospitality. Still, I think my favourites were in SA. The Flinders is really something very special. Hope you get there one day.

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  3. It sounds as if stations are what we refer to as campgrounds in the US? Anyway, it looks as though you’ve been having a fabulous time, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and making new friends. My husband and I prefer to vacation in areas that aren’t densely populated….I have a feeling we would love the outback! And sometime, I’m going to find out. Congrats on the publication, too!

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    1. Thanks Ann. I’m almost certain you’d love the outback. And who knows, anything is possible, one day you might just make it out here, and we’ll show you round our beautiful country. How good would that be!

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  4. So, soooo, loved my tour through all of the stays and stations Miriam.. The scenery breath-taking and such wonderful people too you met along your journey…
    Life is most definitely for living and you share the joys of BE-ing Miriam as you embrace the Now of life.. Which is how life should be lived…
    You captured the spirit of the land and for me here in the UK our tiny Island you also give us a glimpse of the truly Expansive Grandeur Australia has to offer…
    Just spectacular…
    Many thanks for sharing all of your photos, I enjoyed looking deeper into them and from one tree hugger to another… Much love dearest Miriam..
    ❤ ❤ ❤

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    1. Aww, thank you so much Sue for your lovely words and for looking closely (and commenting) on my many photos. I love it when people really immerse into my writing as I try and bring Australia to life. Big thanks, love and hugs to you, my friend and fellow tree hugger! Life is.definitely for living! ❤️💚

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  5. A passionate commentary of your station stays Miriam, your talent for storytelling and photography will for sure allure many to take that venture into your magnificent vast land of Australia 🇦🇺❤️🎶💃 sending you much love❤️

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  6. I love everything you touch on with this post ~ the cleansing of the soul at the heart of it all. Generally I would always choose a campground on a clifftop with the ocean, but you make and show perhaps the best choice would be a sprawling cattle station where the sheep have the best views 🙂 Amen to that. You really have a way of creating something new and beautiful ~ authentic as it comes. Beautiful and wish you many more happy trails ahead!

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    1. Thanks so much Randal. I think every type of camping has its magic, whether it’s cliff top or on a station. Wishing you more of the magic that comes from the gifts of Mother nature. 💚

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  7. Miriam, you and your hubby seemed to have stepped into the perfect life for the both of you. I am so impressed and so so very happy for you! What a way to live! If I could I would in a heartbeat! You found your place called HOME. You look so happy, so free, and loving every single moment you experience! Beautiful Miriam, look at you now!!!!

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    1. Oh Amy, you’re so right, both hubby and I feel such a sense of “rightness” about how our life is unfolding. Thank you for your beautiful words and well wishes. We have indeed found our version of home, in fact my next post will embellish on that! Much love to you my friend. ❤️ xx

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      1. Many of us have begun to step into our true purpose, Miriam. I know I have and even though I’ve yet to see or know where I AM going with what is opening up, it feels absolutely perfect what is transpiring. I know you know what I AM talking about. Much love to you!!! xoxoxoxo

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  8. I love this post, Miriam. Your words and themes of freedom and exploration spoke directly to my heart. This sounds like something I would enjoy immensely! Your desert, especially the red earth, reminds me of this area. And the stations offering work are much like the hostels in this country. I took advantage of one of those offers for 7 months one year while road tripping the American Southwest & Pacific Northwest. It was an unforgettable experience! Many blessings on your continued explorations! 🌞

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa! I’ve no doubt you’d enjoy our outback with its red earth, station hospitality and beautiful big skies. Your road tripping sounds fabulous. It’s certainly a liberating way to live isn’t it. Enjoy your day/night! xx

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