Folly Farm - an accessible oasis in Olinda

30 August, 2017

In May this year, my wife and I decided to take a brief break from city living and head to the hills with our little Westie, Lily. We wanted to spend the night away, just to break our routine, hence chose the Dandenong Ranges, which is approximately an hour east of Melbourne, depending on the traffic. 

Using Spire’s accommodation database I found ‘Folly Farm’, an accessible and pet friendly accommodation listing in Olinda. I must admit, I was quite apprehensive at first, as it can be difficult to find fully accessible (and pet friendly) accommodation and I have often experienced disappointment with other accommodations in the past. I telephoned Folly Farm and explained my situation and apprehensions about the premises being accessible and pet friendly to Belinda, the owner who alleviated my concerns, so I made a booking.

A ramp to a large balcony, with sweeping views of the picturesque surroundings.

We drove to Olinda along the winding roads of the Dandenong Ranges, and discovered that Folly Farm is only a few minutes’ drive from the main shops. As we entered the rustic driveway and veered right towards an old gate, we caught a glimpse of our beautifully nestled cottage amongst the gardens. With blueberry fields, an alpaca enclosure, and a view of the surrounding mountains, we realised this place was something special. It was everything Belinda had described on the telephone, and more!

A ramp led us onto a large balcony, with sweeping views of the picturesque surroundings. The extensive size of the balcony allowed my wife, my dog and I to move around easily, without getting in each other’s way. We could fully absorb and appreciate nature at its finest.

The cottage was open-plan and had a living, dining, and bedroom area. It was charmingly furnished and generously illuminated, which gave off a feeling of comfort and relaxation. The modern gas-log fire kept the cottage warm, and the freshly cut flowers on the table gave us the country feel we wanted. There were three doors that lead into a kitchenette, a double spa-bath, and a sizable bathroom which contained an accessible shower, toilet, and hand basin.

After a brief rest, Belinda showed us around Folly Farm’s amenities and all that was on offer in the surrounding regions. She also recommended some local eateries and shopping locations. We ventured out to buy some food for the night, and enjoy the beautiful rural sunset. Upon returning, we were greeted by Belinda’s husband, Robert, who welcomed us and gave us a brief history of the cottage, which he, as we learnt, has built himself.

Open plan-style room, with bathroom spaces and a kitchenette.

Post dinner, as we settled in the room for the night, we continued to find little surprises we had not previously not noticed; such as port-wine and chocolates in one corner of the room, and marshmallows in the other. There were slippers and bath robes in the wardrobe. Breakfast ingredients had been laid out on the kitchenette bench, including a country-style bread loaf, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon rashers – all of which we devoured the following morning.

Generously spaced accessible bathroom.

My wife took full advantage of the spa bath, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and I took the liberty of filling (on numerous occasions) the two champagne glasses that were strategically placed in the bucket next to the spa bath - a merry time was had by all.

Waking up to a warm cottage, and sweeping window views of the morning fog surrounding the mountain tops made me want to pack my suburban belongings and move to the country. Maybe one day!

Breakfast done, we packed our bags and said farewell to our overnight oasis. Belinda met us at the gate and offered to take us to the alpaca enclosure to feed her little beauties. There we met Indy, a two-month-old alpaca who my wife fell in love with, and wanted to adopt or kidnap! . After feeding the alpacas and taking many photos, we drove back to Melbourne, and back to our urban life.

The cottage at Folly Farm is wheelchair friendly and very accommodating. The kitchenette was slightly unsuitable for a wheelchair, but as Belinda mentioned, she would be willing to assist if assistance was required. I did not venture too far from the cottage grounds in my wheelchair, so I cannot state the degree of difficulty in accessing the cottage's surrounding grounds. Depending on one’s level of disability, some may require assistance, while others may not. Being a C5 quad, I would most likely require assistance in some parts.

Folly Farm is a hidden gem, tucked away in the stunning surrounds of Olinda. It provided the perfect overnight getaway for us and we instantly fell in love with it and all it had to offer. We have raved about it to friends and family, so they too can experience it. The hosts are fantastic; warm and accommodating, and always willing to assist and ensure our stay was as pleasant as possible.

We will definitely be returning!

View from the patio.

John Theodoropoulos is an Information/ Peer Support Officer who has been with AQA Spire since 2000. John acquired a C5 incomplete SCI in 1992, whilst playing Aussie Rules Football. He is happiest when travelling overseas, driving to different places within Australia and spending quality time with his wife and and their West Highland Terrier, Lily.

Tags: Blog, Travel & Leisure