Camping on a Lush 44-Hectare Farm in Northeast Queensland

Treehouses, glamping spots, campsites and caravan sites all around Australia are becoming the new normal for people seeking accommodation outside the cities. Broadsheet reporter Kelly Pigram spoke with private landowner and Hipcamp Host Brian Maher about signing up his property to the platform – and what happened next.

Born and bred in regional Queensland, Brian Maher takes certain things about his 44-hectare property, Maluka Park, for granted.

“People turn up from the city and they say, ‘You can see the stars, they’re so beautiful.’ We’re like, the stars are out every night,” he says. Likewise, he can’t believe people bother to walk up the hill just to sit down and watch the sunset. “It’s something we see every day, so it’s no different for us. But people from the city love it.”

The property is near the Imbil State Forest in Queensland, where Maher has lived all his life. In December last year, he and his wife Jeanna listed Maluka Park on Hipcamp, an online platform that connects people to unique outdoor experiences. It launched in America back in 2013 and has since expanded to the UK, Canada and Australia. You can jump on and book a campsite, cabin, treehouse, glamping spot or space for your caravan in locations all around Australia—from a spot by the creek in the Byron Bay Hinterland to a blueberry farm in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. It’s a way for private landowners to easily make some extra cash off their unused land, and for travellers to book previously unavailable accommodation.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kate Murray

Maher says it was his daughter-in-law who encouraged them to get involved.

“We’ve had a lot of friends turn up and camp along the creek because it’s so nice,” says Maher. “So we had been looking to put some cabins or something on the property for many years now, but it’s an expensive job. When this Hipcamp thing turned up, it sounded perfect.”

He collected a few shots of the property he had taken throughout the seasons and created a listing. Since then, he’s had over 70 bookings and the property has racked up rave reviews.

“It’s been a good experience,” he says. “Everyone’s real nice, they all behave themselves and it’s a good bit of extra income for us.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kate Murray

The Mahers’ kids and grandkids have grown up fishing, swimming, kayaking and snorkelling in the beautiful Yabba Creek, which runs through Maluka Park for about 500 metres and is surrounded by lush green grass. That’s where they’ve set up 10 campsites—far enough apart you won’t run into anyone, but families are also welcome to camp closer together. They’ve been so popular that Maher is taking it up a notch and building a barbecue area with a roof. Elsewhere on the property, there’s a deer farm, a rainforest (about a kilometre of dense trees and a walking track), a small waterfall and an entrance lined with trees that change with seasons. Recent floods have wreaked a bit of havoc on the grass, but Maher is already working hard to rebuild and hopes to have it up and running in a few weeks.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kate Murray

Reading through his five-star reviews on Hipcamp, Maher is amazed at how much people love his property. Before we go, he throws in a mention of the fireflies. They swarm in the thousands in the bush, and his guests couldn’t work out what the pinpricks of light were—one suggested they were people shining torches through the trees. “It’s something we see every day,” he says.

Sitting in my inner-city Sydney apartment, I’ve already apologised twice for the noise of the A380s flying overhead. I tell him I can understand the appeal.

“Yeah,” Maher concedes. “There’s different stuff out here.”

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kate Murray
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kate Murray // Hosts Brian and Jeanna on their land.

This article was originally published on Broadsheet in partnership with Hipcamp on 7 April 2022 and has been republished with permission.

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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