Even though it's a city of almost five million humans, Melbourne also has lots of animals - and plenty of kid-friendly farms. Probably the best-known (and closest to the city) is the iconic Collingwood Children's Farm, but there are lots of other nearby farming experiences where children (and adults) can milk cows, feed chickens, ride ponies or play with baby lambs.
Collingwood Children's Farm is a "rustic riverside retreat that's beloved not just by children," writes Lonely Planet. It houses "a range of frolicking farm animals" that kids can help feed, as well as "cow milking and guinea-pig cuddles!" Set in a valley bordered by bush and the Yarra River, its bluestone farm buildings - now used as stables, a lambing shed and milking barn - are a reminder of the property's historic past when nuns from the neighbouring Abbotsford Convent farmed the land in the 1860s, reports the Weekly Times.
The farm's non-human population includes seven horses, two cows (milked each day in season), 14 sheep, 10 goats, 200 poultry (a good supply of eggs), four pigs and one donkey, with most of the animal's rare breed species (Leicester sheep, Berkshire pigs, Anglo-Nubian goats), explains The Weekly Times. And the Farm Café serves up hearty meals with a "paddock-to-plate policy," says Time Out - "everything is made from scratch and ingredients are sourced locally." When you stand in the middle of this little farm that is believed to be the oldest working farm in Victoria, says Mamma Knows North, "it is hard to believe exactly where you are in relation to the centre of the city."
Bundoora Park Farm is a council-run farmyard in Melbourne's northern suburbs that really has everything, says Mamma Knows North, including a walk-in barnyard "where you can pat the lambs and goats, as well as opportunities to cuddle the guinea pigs and rabbits." Take the kids on a tractor that rattles around the farm and its native wildlife reserves to see several different species of emu, kangaroo and sheep "right up close," reports The Weekly Review. "You sit on hay bales in the back of a cage trailer, so rest assured knowing that even if a kangaroo or emu were to arc up, you'd be quite safe," it adds. There's also a heritage village where you can "imagine what it might have been like to live in the 'olden days'," says Mamma Knows North.
Historic Chesterfield Farm, which has been a working farm since 1859, "is a green oasis in the middle of suburbia," writes Michelle Pountney in the Sunday Herald Sun. "Meet the pigs, milk a cow, feed baby animals, watch the sheepdogs work or take a tractor ride around the property." Or there's Myuna Farm, situated along the Dandenong Creek around an hour's drive from the city, which has regular farm animals as well as "a few unusual residents including buffaloes and deer, and native kangaroos, emus, and a red-tailed black cockatoo," says Pountney, not to mention snakes, lizards and turtles in the reptile house. Meanwhile, at Warrook Farm in Monomeith, kids can try their hand at "whip cracking, bottle-feeding calves, milking a cow, watching sheep shearing and learning about wool quality."