Relax And Recharge at a Two-Night Carriage-Stay In The Southern Highlands

By Melissa Fine, ellaslist

Wake up amongst the gum trees in an old-school, refurbished train carriage at Redleaf, a 270-acre property in the Southern Highlands. 

If you're looking for an adventurous alternative to camping, this is it. The carriage-stay concept is the brainchild of Katrina and Sam Sparke, who with their four kids, have called Redleaf their home for nine years. While at a collectors junkyard in Sydney's North West, brainstorming how they could share their unique way of living (TV and Wifi-free!) with city-dwellers, they came across what they now call the '343' - an abandoned silky oak timber guard's carriage. This now resides at Redleaf, where the Sparkes' have brought its beauty back to life with plenty of sanding, polishing, and patching up with locally-sourced river oak.

The Carriages

"The carriages are both quite different and offer a perfect family escape", Katrina says. Standing on its original wheels, Carriage 343 (above) is now solar-powered, and features an 1890s-style tin-pressed ceiling, a marble bathroom, and all the goods to keep you cosy on cooler nights: a velvet couch, plush pillows and quality linen. Perfect for a family of four, the 343 comes with a queen bed and two single bunk beds. There's also plenty of surrounding space if you have older kids who are keen to camp out or stay in a swag, plus a BBQ if you're keen for a sausage sizzle. 

A stylised second carriage, the 1238 (above) from the 1920s, features original sliding doors and lies closer to the house, and so is isn't solar-powered. It sleeps five thanks to a king bed and a triple bunk, with the main bed taking up the entire main bedroom. The kids will love stepping back in time as they play by the original train seat on the other end of the carriage, where there's also a kitchenette, and outside, a porch complete with a BBQ and lush paddock views.   

Outdoor Activities 

The property boasts a creek area with a jetty to bomb off, a tire swing, kid-friendly flying fox, canoes, and even a fire pit BBQ for the colder months (and for roasting marshmallows!). There's also some great mud for the kids to play in. Keep your eyes peeled for cows, sheep, alpacas, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, a turkey, horses, dogs, peacocks, and if you're lucky, an eastern grey kangaroo! "Plus there are kangaroos, wombats, possums and even wild deer and foxes", Katrina adds.The property is also close to bush walking and mountain biking trails, so you can skip the treadmill or exercise bike and get fit in the fresh air. 


Book for a minimum of two nights via Stayz or Air BnB, or better yet, book straight through Katrina ([email protected]) for a more personalised experience; she can customise your meals for you if you have certain dietary requirements, and can organise everything from swags to a farm tour and bushwalk guide. Carriage 343 can be booked from $350/night, and Carriage 1238 from $300/night. 

Getting There

Redleaf Farm is just a 1.5 hour drive from the city, so is no trouble getting to with a car full of kids! The Carriages are about 12km for the train station, "but I'm happy to collect guests from there if they like!" Katrina adds. 

Since opening in October 2017, many families have headed to the Carriages at Redleaf for a true Aussie camping experience. If you feel like it's time for you and the kids to switch off and reconnect with nature and each other, this technology free carriage-stay might be just what you all need.

First image courtesy of Visit NSW. 


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