THERE is a multitude of getaways in the Gladstone region and Harmony Farm in the Boyne Valley is one of these hidden gems.
Run by Dennis and Betty Martin, the farm is on 160 acres with access to 1000 acres from the neighbours, and it joins a national park on the other boundary.
Mr Martin is quite the greenie, growing food off the land and appreciating the properties of wood.
"The whole point is an environmental education place, to help people see that we can live in harmony with nature. We don't have to burn everything to bits," he said.
"Most people seem to think grass is the only thing that's important. I couldn't possibly live without trees.
"That's what we've been doing for the last 30 years, keeping the fire out of the rainforest.
"And you know there's plenty of examples here, what differences you can make in just 30 years."
What seems like a huge job of maintaining the land is barely work for Mr Martin.
"What I'm trying to do is help kids in particular get a taste of country," he said.
"Some people… they look at the farm and think it's all work.
"No work, no worry, no weeds and no waste. Work is only what you make work.
"Work here keeps me fit. It's a whole attitude thing. If I can just help kids catch a glimpse."
The farm has plenty of horses, which Mr Martin wants to use more for trail riding.
"We've got about 14 horses. They range from ponies up to ordinary horses," he said.
"I believe there's a real market for it with the number of people in Gladstone. My main concern is to get young people out in the great outdoors.
"You know even in the middle of the summer, it's quite pleasant riding in the rainforest."
- Horse riding - Half a day $35
- January 16-18 - Horse camp
- A-frame house available to book
- Timber appreciation workshop end of February
- Discover more of the Harmony Farm story at harmony-farm.org.
Leah has a passion for horses and is happy to pass on her skills
GLADSTONE girl Leah McGrath has a knack with horses.
She's working with owner of Harmony Farm Dennis Martin on building activities for visitors.
"She breaks the horses in and she's going to teach people some of the finer skills," Mr Martin said.
Ms McGrath grew up around horses and her family used to run the El-Shaddai ranch locally.
"I love it. I've grown up with it. I couldn't imagine it any other way," she said.
Horse-riding is rewarding for all ages.
"Some people and some kids have natural horse sense," Ms McGrath said.
"They know what to do through common sense. Some more gentle people seem to get along with horses a lot better.
"A lot of the times kids can be a lot more confident, even if they haven't grown up with horses.
"They just don't have the fear of the unknown whereas adults do."
While fun and eye-opening, the farm is a growing experience.
"It's something for kids to have to accomplish. A responsibility - that's basically what Dennis wants to do, give kids responsibility."
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