No matter how many times I have been to Morpeth, I don’t think I’ve ever thought that I would see a group of American Bison comfortably grazing the paddocks of this beautiful little country town. But here I am, on a Saturday morning, hand-feeding carrots and hay to these woolly giants. They feel almost prehistoric, they are massive in size and feel like descendants of woolly mammoths!
Sarah-Jane and her partner Luke (or ‘farmer Luke’ as the kids called him) own a working hobby farm, set on just under 100 acres in the heart of Morpeth. They invite tourists and families to come experience something that is a bit of a rarity in Australia, hand-feeding American Bison.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather upon our visit and standing out on the farm in the morning sun hearing all the birds and animals, one cannot help but feel fortunate to be out on an actual farm, something we’ve only ever admired from our car whilst driving by.
As we reached the farm, we were welcomed by Sarah-Jane who grabbed the girls to go fetch a trolley to haul a bail of hay out to the Bison.
Carrots in hand, we were led down to the paddock and received a brief on these woolly giants. Sarah-Jane is passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about these animals, I don’t think there was a single question she could have missed by our curious 6-year-old visitors today.
These American Bison are not shy and are amazingly friendly. They knew we had food and waited eagerly for us at the fence. I wasn’t sure our girls would be brave enough to jump right into feeding them by hand, but Sarah-Jane has a way of putting you at ease and showing you just what to do.
We divided out the hay and each of the bison got a carrot, and wrapping their tongues around your hands for a carrot is not something to be alarmed at, this has been taught to them by their owners, as feeding bison by hand is not something you should brave when encountering one out in the wild.
In-fact Sarah-Jane advised us that American Bison are in fact more deadly than grizzly bears in the United States, and this just made them even more of an enigma.
Once the feeding was done Sarah-Jane took us down to the stockyard where the bison are cared for, de-wormed and check-ups are given. The kids got to walk through the gated stockyard as if they were bison themselves, itching to climb up all over the gated enclosures. Think of it like a glorified playpen out in the countryside!
No sooner were we finished when we heard the rumble of a tractor, Farmer Luke decided to impress the girls and bring out the roaring red tractor, an absolute novelty for city-dwellers such as ourselves!
The farm is absolutely beautiful, and we ended our tour with a walk out to see the beehives next to beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s an enriching experience and one that is merely a 20-minute drive from Newcastle City centre.
Good to Know
Location: Morpeth, NSW
Tour Details: This family-friendly experience run for 60 minutes and cost from $20 / person.
Jenna moved to Newcastle from South Africa 3 years ago, which has allowed her to experience the city with a fresh perspective. As mum to a wonderfully wild daughter who shares her passion for fun and adventure, they spend their time getting to know the city mostly on foot and bicycle, which affords Jenna an opportunity to bond with the city more intimately. Follow Jenna’s adventures on her Instagram account ‘Newy Kind of Life’ in which she shares her passion for Newcastle and its lifestyle through her photography and writing.