How to recover after Christmas

Do you realise that there are less than 2 months to go until Christmas is here?

The lead up can be exhausting, with parties, shopping, gifts to buy, food to cook, people to catch up with, cards to send…..

By the time Christmas Day is over, most of us fall into an exhausted heap.  Well, that’s a luxury for those of us who don’t have to worry about holiday drop-ins and surprise visitors.

If ever there is a time to recharge your batteries, it’s the post-Christmas time.  That’s when you need to get away and find some peace.

(We still have vacancies at the moment so book your cabin while they are still there)

Can you imagine how delightful it is to wake up in the morning, stretch in your comfy bed and realise that you don’t have to get up at all, if you don’t want to?  What a luxury!

Can you imagine how peaceful it is to take a picnic pack with you and walk through the country grass to picnic to the sound of cows mooing in the distance, and the wind gently rustling through the leaves?

starry skyEven better, picture yourself lying on a rug on the ground which is still warm from the day’s sun, surrounded by darkness lit only by moonlight.  Such serenity!  Up above you is a huge sky filled with shimmering and twinkling stars. You haven’t seen stars until you see them in a country sky.

Of course, there are shops and restaurants and people nearby if you want them.  But the choice is yours.  No one will intrude on your special time.

If you remember how tired you felt after Christmas last year, you know you should take a break. Think of your health, and think of the peace of mind and body you could have if you came to Annie’s Cedar Farm Cottages.

Christmas is fun but recovery is bliss. Book yourself a recovery break now.


Merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas

On behalf of everyone at Annie’s Cedar Farm Cottages, I want to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

We love Christmas and I have been known to sing Christmas carols at the top of my voice as I do my daily work, much to the amusement of people around me and the possible embarrassment of the family.

I love the Aussie version of traditional carols and this one is a favourite.   Do you know it?

Dashing through the bush in a rusty Holden ute,
Kicking up the dust, Esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It’s summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.


Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day,
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a dusty Holden ute.


Here’s another one that I love and hope you do, too.  It’s Deck the Halls Aussie style.



Have a very Merry Christmas and we will see you in the New Year.


Carols by Candlelight

With theChristmas festive season not too far away, now is a great time to highlight some local Carols by Candlelight events that you can go along to when you stay with us.

Wallan Carols by Candlelight takes place on Sunday 9 December at the R. B. Robson Stadium, Windham Street Wallan.  The event starts at 4.00pm with food and drinks available and then the music begins from 6.00pm with Santa arriving at the end of the program at around 8.00pm.  This is a free event and you can also bring along your picnic basket and rug to sit under the stars as you sing along.  For more information follow this link for Wallan Carols by Candlelight.

Another event is Mill Park Carols by Candlelight which takes place on Friday 14 December at the Redleap Reserve, Redleap Avenue Mill Park.  Entertainment will be provided by a choir with over 50 members as well as the Diamond Valley Brass Band.

There will be plenty of activities for the kids and no doubt Santa will arrive during the night.  Food and drink will be available or you can bring your own picnic rug and a big strong voice to sing along to the carols.  For more information follow this link for Mill Park Carols by Candlelight.

One of our favourite events is Carols by Barnlight at Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary, 365 McHarg’s Road, Willowmavin (Just out of Kilmore)  The carols will be held on December 8th from 4pm – 8pm and yes, it is really held in a barn.  Take a farm tour and hear the animal’s stories before settling into the barn for carol singing!  You might even meet HipHop Bob nwith his smiley snout.  Find out more at the Edgar’s Mission website.

We are looking forward to Christmas, aren’t you?

Come and celebrate an early Christmas with us and join in with the local Carols by Candlelight.  You will enjoy it.  Book a cabin now.

Horse Riding at Upper Plenty

This is a perfect time of the year for some outdoor activities and horse riding is a fantastic way to experience the great outdoors.  Uncle Nev’s Trail Rides is only a few minutes away from us and worth visiting the next time you stay with us or are in the area.

Rides go through many of the open plains in the area as well as through the State Forest of Mt.  Disappointment.  You don’t have to be an expert rider as they cater for all skill levels from beginners to experienced and with over 60 horses to choose from you will also be matched up with a horse of a suitable temperament.

As they cater for kids from 8 years old this is great way for them to experience the surrounding bushland in a unique way.  Get to see many of Australia’s wildlife such as wombats, wallabies and kangaroos.

There is a great choice of riding adventures depending on your level of experience. Rides can also be arranged at twilight where you can get to see the spectacular sun set over the Upper Plenty area.

Also, the Great Australia Pub Ride is another great opportunity to ride through the scenic landscape and arrive at one of the local pubs where you can relax while you have a meal.

You can also bring you camera along so you capture some fantastic pictures.  Check out Uncle Nev’s Trail Rides and get to experience and enjoy the great outdoors of Upper Plenty.

Keeping our cows happy.

We love our animals and spend a lot of time caring for their health and happiness.

Some of our guests and children can be quite surprised at the amount of work involved in caring for farm animals, especially cows.  They think the cows look after themselves and feed from whatever they can find in the paddock.  If you are not familiar with farm animals, that is a logical conclusion.

In fact, there is not enough food in a paddock to feed cows for very long, despite the amount of grass that seems to be growing. Not all of the grasses are edible and some, like clover and bracken fern, can be quite dangerous to cows.  Some grasses are more nutritious than others, too.

That’s why farmers feed their cows every day.  We keep our cows healthy and happy by adding hay to their diets.  When you stay with us you can help us feed them.


Like any other animal, cattle need immunising against disease.  They have an immunisation schedule which begins in infancy, just like human babies do.

Our cows are also drenched periodically to help protect them against intestinal worms and parasites.

Lining up for drenching

The best way to tell that our cows are healthy and happy is to look at them.  You can tell if they are carrying too much or too little weight.  Changes in the texture of their coats will tell you that something is wrong so we check them regularly.  Our cows virtually tell us when they need extra help.

Cows are big, lumbering creatures with gentle faces and gorgeous big, brown, innocent eyes.  They wouldn’t hurt a fly and one of the things I love to do is to watch them with their young.  Cows have distinct “moo’s” and after a while it is clear when they are calling for their calves or telling us to bring out the hay!

When you stay with us at Annie’s Cedar Farm Cottages, you will be able to help us feed the animals and get close to them.  Working with these beauties is an experience you will never forget.

Lemon Myrtle- An Aussie Favourite

One of the things I love about living in Upper Plenty is the fresh smell of the bush around us.  The natural bush is very fragrant and I enjoy the different scents that float in the air throughout the day.

One of the Australian plants that I love is lemon myrtle.  Lemon Myrtle is as versatile as the day is long, and is a native Australian tree. It features in many Queensland backyards, from Brisbane to Rockhampton, and provides a substance that is used for cooking, through to herbal remedies.

Aesthetically, lemon myrtle provides a stunning tree for the garden, producing gorgeous flowers that not only offer a beautiful bouquet for a room, but also a let off a distinct, yet delicious fragrance.

Its dried leaves can be used to fragrance a drawer or wardrobe, or even a pair of smelly shoes.

They may also be used to brew a delicious lemon myrtle tea, which can be consumed immediately, and hot, or to create a refreshing cool drink that can last for days in the fridge.

Dried and ground leaves can readily be added during cooking to enhance the flavour of a meal. They add a unique lemon/lime flavour that is particularly good in spicy or chicken, fish, and rice dishes. They can also be used for baking, in breads and cheesecakes for example.

Their oil is extracted using steam distillation and can be used in an oil burner or added to massage oils for use. Lemon myrtle oil and extract is also used as an ingredient in a number of beauty products, from face and body creams, to lip balms, to salt scrubs and bubble baths.

Essentially, it is a multipurpose plant that contributes to many areas of the house and household, and is wonderful for relaxation.

Lemon Myrtle Iced Tea


4 large lemon myrtle leaves
1-1 ½  cups boiling water
2 litres cold water


Place leaves in a bowl. Add boiling water to cover leaves and allow to cool for 1 hour. The water will turn a rich tea colour.

Add leaves and coloured water to a bottle and add cold water and drink as wanted.

Extra cold water can be added to the bottle over the next few days without diluting the flavour.

Wherever you are in the country this Easter, I encourage you to go outdoors into the fresh air and enjoy the wonderful things Australia has to offer.  You never know, you might spot the Easter Bunny having a siesta beneath a gumtree in your local park!

Happy Easter to you!

(image from Bullock Creek Nursery)



The Marysville Cookbook

You might be wondering what Marysville has to do with Annie’s Cedar Farm Cottages so let me tell you about it.

Back in February of 2009 much of Victoria was battered with bushfires fanned by gale force winds and incredibly high temperatures.  That day is now known as Black Saturday.

The fires that threatened Upper Plenty, Wallan and surrounding areas was the same fire that ran up and over the mountains and to Narbethong and through Marysville.  Our side of the range was saved due to a wind change but that cost Marysville dearly.  The town was virtually wiped out.

The Marysville Cookbook was created by Heather Samsa, whose parents were burnt out in Marysville.  Originally the book was a gift to the residents of the town, most of whom had lost everything.  Heather said “The township needed something that was theirs and theirs alone. So I created the “Cookbook for Marysville.”

The book was so popular that people began asking to buy a copy so now it has become a fundraising tool, sending $10 from each copy back to the town through various community ventures.

It could so easily have been any of us and any of our little towns that was wiped out.  This is such a simple way of helping Marysville to rebuild that we want to encourage you to buy a copy of the book.

You can read more about the book here and order your copy here.

It’s just over three years since that horrible day but there is still a lot of rebuilding to be done.  You can’t replace a lifetime in a few years but we can make a difference.


Growing your own vegies.

Have you ever stood at a garden bed on a warm summer’s eve, after a long hot day, with a hose (from your water tank of course!) or a watering can and experienced the meditation of watering your crop?

Growing your own vegetables and herbs is not only great for your wallet but also the environment, your health, as well as teaching the kids about the circle of life. Food doesn’t come from a supermarket!

There is something extra special about a salad prepared from the spoils of your own vegetable garden. And a delicious pasta or curry tastes so much better when the herbs were picked only minutes earlier.

Whether you have a balcony, a courtyard or a standard residential block you can still have a go at growing your own produce. Vegetables can be grown in floor or hanging pots, small garden beds, or you can go the whole hog and plant enough to service the whole family’s needs if you have the space. Better to start small though, but don’t be surprised if you get addicted to the taste and the satisfaction of eating vegetables fresher than you can source anywhere else.

We’re lucky to have lots of room in which to plant.  We’ve just planted some vegies so we’ll let you know how well they grow.  (We just need to keep the kangaroos out of them!)

Start by working out what crops are suitable to be planted in your area and when, decide what you think you would enjoy growing and eating and how much space you need and can spare. There is no point growing chillies for example if no one in the household likes them! And some creeping plants like pumpkins need lots of space and are not suited to small areas. Planting guides are easily accessible on the web and you can sign up for reminders to suggest what you can plant and when, based on your location.

However you look at it and whatever your motivation, growing vegetables at home is a great idea. Your tastebuds, your body and the environment will be sure to thank you so why not give it a go?  We can compare produce!

(image by Michaela Kobyakov)


Happy New Year!


On behalf of the team at Annie’s Cedar Farm Cottages, I want to wish you a happy New Year for 2012!

If you are planning to use fireworks, or know that others will be lighting crackers in your area, I want to remind you to put your animals in a safe place for the night.  The sights and especially the sudden loud banging noises scare animals so much that they run away in fear.  Dogs are particularly sensitive to the noise so keep them safely inside your home or a place they can’t escape from.  Protect your pets.

It will be lovely and peaceful out here on our hills but, if the night is clear, we have a lovely view of the fireworks going off in Melbourne city.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Wherever you are, stay safe and enjoy bringing in the new year.

May 2012 be a year of blessings for you and your family.



The Top 5 Reasons to Run Away Midweek.

Why is it that whenever we think of getting away or making a break for freedom, we plan it for a weekend?  There are 7 days in a week, not only 2.   Why set limits on those other 5 days?  In fact, I’ve got 5 great reasons for you to make your escape a midweek adventure instead of weekend trip.

Annie’s top 5 reasons to run away midweek.

1.  No one expects you to do it.

Isn’t the point of getting away from it all exactly that – away from it ALL?  No one will expect you to be gone during the week so that means no one will come looking for you.  You’ll get the peace you really want.  (Just leave your phone turned off!)

2.  Everyone else goes on the weekend.

I hate being in a crowd when I want a break.  The noise, chatter and even their proximity is enough to rob me of my energy.  I love to sneak off when no one else has.  By doing that you get the place to yourself.  There is no fight for rooms, no queues to stand in for meals, no high-pitched giggling in the room next door at midnight.  Mid week means you can do everything at your own pace.

3.  Midweek specials.

Most dining spots and many of the tourist attractions offer midweek deals because their numbers are down.  Take advantage of this and save yourself money.

4.  Availability.

There is more likely to be accommodation available midweek than there is at the weekend.  That means you can pick up and run away at a moment’s notice.  No planning, no booking ahead, no juggling the diaries.  Just up and go.

5.  Shhh, it’s a secret.

We offer midweek accommodation specials.  Shhh.  Don’t let everyone else know or we’ll be booked out!  We’re close enough to Melbourne that you can set off after work and be here before dark.  Ask me about our midweek specials!  Mention ‘midweek special’ in your enquiry.

There is something really naughty about running off midweek, isn’t there?  It’s a great feeling – like playing truant from school.  Midweek escapes have a whole different feel about them that make it a fun break.  And just think.  By the time you get back home you will still have the weekend to look forward to.