Friday, 1 June 2012

An 'amazing' giveaway!

About a month ago, I took Luca to visit Amazement, an animal farm with mazes and walks in the Yarramalong Valley (around an hour from Sydney). There was something about the place and about Gennie, the owner, that made me want to find out more. I felt compelled to write about the story there, so I did.

The four of us went back and spent another glorious day there. Here's an extract from the piece I wrote in the current issue of Breeze magazine (these are my own pictures here, but you'll see ones taken by a proper photographer in the magazine!).


‘Bunny World is open!’, hollers Gennie. Her warm voice is heard  everywhere and my four-year-old leaps over to the rabbit and guinea pig enclosure. There, he takes turns with another little girl in fondling Cricket, the guinea pig and three ten-day-old baby rabbits. 
It’s kid heaven everywhere you look. Frizzle hens and their chicks run for shelter underneath the barn, and another little army – Silkies, this time – scuttle around the herb garden. While the kids are trying their hardest to get a good look at the curls and the balls of fluff, we stumble across beautiful white geese standing guard under a tree outside the farmstay.

A Muscovy duck takes us past the Hen Hotel. The Colonel, a fine plump specimen of a turkey, wanders close by and stands head to head with my 17-month-old, who wants to investigate his wrinkly red wattle. The Colonel seems just as intrigued and follows him about, edging away if his hand comes too close, but sticks around for a fit of toddler giggles.

Meanwhile, we’re told we can let ourselves in to see Blackie, an adorable miniature pony, who loves a good brush. We’ll come back later for the sheep race, but first there’s fun to be had in the Lilli Pilli maze and on the ‘bounciest ever’ spring-free trampoline in the games courtyard. 

The cafĂ© in the Barn lures us in, and while we wait for our food, Archie, Gennie’s English pointer, comes to greet us. ‘Peter, my late husband, used to call him an English pointless,’ Gennie says, ‘but he’s rather good for silky ear therapy. Stroke his ears and he makes everything all better.’

We eat zucchini fritters made with eggs from the Hen Hotel, and tomato bruschetta that have a nice kick from homegrown chillies. It’s fresh, zingy and full of flavour. Desserts are an absolute treat, with homemade crumble and bread-and-butter pudding. This is exactly what I want to eat with my family if I haven’t packed a picnic. It’s the sort of food I cook at home. What’s so good, though, is that picnickers are more than welcome to bring their own and sit in the barbecue area.
It’s 12.30pm and Gennie announces the start of the sheep race. Children gather with their parents to watch Nellie, Lamb Friday and Lamb Sunday race along through tractor tyres. It’s a real spectacle and tremendous fun – for young and old – with lots of cheering from Gennie and the kids, who were very happy to feed the sheep (and all the other animals) afterwards.


The idea to create a special day out for families started with Peter and Gennie’s very popular giant Ned Kelly maize maze in 2006. ‘We wanted to build a place where families could go and play and run around, where they could spend time together and relate to each other in nature - not at the movies or in Westfield,’ Gennie says. 
‘Spending several hours together in nature can really lead to magic,’ she continues. ‘It’s quite extraordinary watching the children as their fathers join in the quiz trails. It’s really important for dads here, because families who play together stay together. That’s what Amazement is all about.’
But for now this magnificent place is up for sale and Gennie wants to go back to her life as a creative artist and actor. She was Deirdre Chambers in Muriel’s Wedding and she’s had major roles in Packed to the Rafters, All Saints, Stingers and Home and Away. Gennie’s talent is also in storytelling performances for children aged 5 and over with stories such as Cake and the Magic Milking Stool and the African Spider. ‘What I’d also love to do, once I have clean fingernails again, is write a book on Archie’s stories,’ she says. ‘It might be called Archie’s Diaries!’
Gennie hopes to sell to someone with a heart for families and relationships, someone who can take it to the next level. ‘My heart is still here and I wish I could just hang out with the people that come and visit. But I’m also fairly hooked on being an actor.’
After we wander around the ponds and spot the elusive crocodile, the four of us grab a two-seater trike and ride past horses and paddocks to a place where Christmas trees grow and liquid ambers sing with brilliant autumn colour. 
There’s so much to see and so many opportunities for families to explore, whether it’s discovering a child’s delight in baby chickens or doing a puzzle in nature. Just make sure you catch the magic before it’s too late.


You can read the full article here

But I'm guessing you just want me to get on with the giveaway! Well, Gennie is very kindly giving away two family tickets into Amazement, each worth $50. To enter, 'like' Amazement here, and leave me a comment below telling me what family time means to you.

The winners will be chosen through Random Number Generator. Good luck!

Update: This giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to Tricia and Jane! 

Please can you both email me: findingthatplacecalledhome(at)gmail(dot)com
Hoping you both have a magical day at Amazement in the Yarramalong Valley. A genuine thank you to everyone else who commented and entered.


  1. That place looks so lovely. What a great time you guys much have had there. Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I hope that Gennie finds new owners that will continue to care about creating beautiful family memories and connections in such a special place. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I'd never heard of Amazement. It sounds perfect! I'd love to visit.

    For me, family time means truly relaxing and having fun. And for me the 'truly relaxing' is easiest when we are in some way connected to nature.

    Thank you for sharing this place.

  4. Thank you for sharing. We will definately be making a visit here. Family time is precious :-)

  5. Family time to me is the most special time of all, times of laughter and fun :-)

    loving your blog,

  6. Amazement sounds fantastic! Family time means just being together as a family and enjoying each other's company without the day to day pressures of life surrounding us :)

  7. What an awesome place!

    Family time for us is togetherness, smiles, cuddles and lots of laughter! We get most of that from spending quality time with our cherished boys. Best of all, they sleep better at the end of the day! :)

  8. Amazement really is amazing! Its been a while since we've been there & it really is time we went back!

    Family time to me means teaching my kids something new,
    Watching them enjoy something for the first or fiftieth time,
    Rolling around on the ground laughing till our sides hurt,
    But most of all it means that as a family we communicating face to face (instead of smsing or messaging),
    Sharing smiles & stories (not fighting over ipods & ds's),
    And actually spending time together as a family (not with friends, on the computer, or at the shops & movies)!


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