Dreams do come true
After completing the cabins, decorating them, and dreaming of what be, the Country Mile Escape story truly began. In Easter 2017 I welcomed our first guests to Country Mile Escape. I was excited to finally be open, relieved I had achieved the goal of opening, and nervous about what the guests would say as I hoped they saw my vision of offering a boutique secluded and tranquil luxury stay on a country property.
The first couple of years of opening the business were like any new business finding our feet and trying to create something that was unique and different from all the other businesses in the district. During 2017 and 2018 we welcomed guests and slowly and steadily the business grew. During this time we developed a better understanding of how this type of business works and how to keep getting better. We were open to all the feedback guests gave and changed our ideas along the way so that the Country Mile Escape story was able to grow.
Then came 2019 and the ‘dry spell’ that we had been having became a full-blown drought and our region suffered. This was a challenging year for us and it was particularly disheartening for me as I struggled to maintain my beautiful gardens and find sufficient feed for the farm animals. Every week, we fought to keep our 100 cows and calves in the paddocks we leased in the surrounding area well-fed.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Canungra and the nearby regions in the Scenic Rim were hit by bushfires, and things quickly spiraled out of control. The local and interstate firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the fires, but they soon realised that they needed more assistance. Helicopters and water bomb planes were brought in to fight the numerous fire fronts and keep the scrublands from igniting. The situation was dire, with the enormous 747 water plane flying from dawn to dusk in a desperate attempt to save homes and an evacuation and aid distribution centre set up at the Canungra Showgrounds with many locals helping in any way they could.
Our cow paddock was right in the middle of this chaos, and we feared that the fire would burn away the remaining grass, causing us to lose our cows. While we worried about our animals and our property, and our neighbours, we also needed to think about guests. As you can imagine, guests were too scared to venture out to our area due to the risks from the fires and smoke, which had quite an impact on our business for that year.
As the new year of 2020 approached, we were slowly getting back to normal, and guests returned when the floods hit in March. While the rain was a welcome relief after the drought and fires, it was again difficult for guests. After the rain subsided and the flood water receded we had fresh green grass everywhere, my gardens were revived and looked beautiful, and the animals were back thriving again. With the property looking fabulous we soon had guests visiting us and leaving lovely reviews, which helped remind us just how the landscape is often rejuvenated after such events.
Just as we were thinking nothing more could happen, along came the pandemic, and then Queensland locked its border to the other states for months which meant guests weren’t likely to be traveling. During this time we learned about how to improve our social media and reach potential guests through other avenues than Airbnb. Once the QLD border opened we discovered a silver lining in all the stress of the first year of Covid-19. After the lockdowns ended, we were amazed at how much interest people had in discovering what amazing things there were to see and do in Canungra and the Scenic Rim region. As a result, we were fully booked, and our business began to thrive again.
2021 and 2022 brought new challenges as Covid was still a concern and the La’Nina weather patterns impacted on us but in a good way. The rain creates its own problems for the animals, as well, and we aren’t able to complete anything that needs to be done. The plus side of it is, it was always green, with fat-content animals and a beautiful garden and our property thriving..
In March 2022, the rain and flooding came again and we lost the only bridge to get back in and out of Little Flying Fox Rd for seven days. A couple that was staying with us had an extended stay for a couple of days until we could organise an “Unexpected Exit” to get them out when the creek was safe enough to cross in a special vehicle. The locals had rigged up a flying fox to get supplies across the creek during this time, so the valley was definitely living up to how it got the name of Flying Fox Valley. The guests thought it was an experience of a lifetime, I was convinced that if they left a review it wouldn’t be good. The review they left for me was lovely and I relaxed a bit after reading it.
Over the course of the last six years, I have acquired the valuable trait of resilience and embarked on a journey of discovery in a field in which I had no prior experience in. While I continue to learn and evolve, I remain committed to improving the offerings at Country Mile Escape to enhance our guests’ experiences. Myself and the family are a resilient bunch and love what life’s challenges bring us. This is what life on the land is, you take the good with the bad and keep doing your absolute best.
And the Country Mile Escape story continues in 2023 as we dream of another cabin and hall/barn for our annual food and music events.