A haven for locals and travellers in one of Queensland’s most productive agricultural regions, Carly Clark’s farm stay business is the product of rich experiences, a love of small towns and a conscious focus on sustainability.
A mum of five, a wildlife carer and business owner, Carly grew up in rural New South Wales before transferring her life and her skills to her boutique farm stay business, Splitters Farm, in Bundaberg.
“I love a small town. I value the sense of community spirit and support we all have for one another,” Carly said.
“Bundaberg is fast becoming the destination known for its access to the unspoilt southern Great Barrier Reef however it still has a small town feel with a rich rural and agricultural industry that produces a large amount of Australia’s produce including macadamias, chilies, tomatoes, avocados and much more.”
Not only her home, Bundaberg is home to the multi-faceted business which Carly has created and built in response to previous life experiences.
“The farm stay has so many working parts now to it now. In addition to the rescue animals and being primary producers, we manage three tiers of accommodation, food and beverage, cleaning and with that comes leading and motivating a team,” Cary said.
“I guess I spend most of my week juggling all the balls and in my spare time managing the social media and marketing for the farm, sharing the stories of our beautiful animals. I find the educational aspect that I’m able to share with our followers through the daily ups and downs of the farm the most rewarding.”
Splitters Farm, its commitment to animals, the community and sustainability is a long way from Carly’s first job.
“My first job was picking eggs at a battery hen farm southwest of Sydney,” she said.
“It was a horrible place to work. I’d come home with bruisers on my legs from pushing the trolley, I’d be covered in chicken poo, lice and my hands would be cut up from the wire cages.
“My parents used to hose me off when I came home before I was allowed in the house to have a shower. The animal cruelty aspect of the farm was atrocious.
“I guess that’s where my love of animals began. I’d always be stitching up a duck that had been attached by foxes or finding forever homes for animals that didn’t have one.”
Carly’s career evolved in the media and radio industry where her background in marketing led her all over Australia working mostly in regional radio.
In 2006 she moved back to New South Wales as the Live Events Manager for The Wiggles.
“Sadly, I was forced to flee Sydney and leave my career five years later when I moved back to Hervey Bay with my three month old son to seek family support after being a survivor of domestic violence,” Carly said.
Since creating her business in Bundaberg, Carly has introduced initiatives to ensure a harmonious and sustainable relationship between the farm and natural surrounds as part of a commitment to creating a destination which is green and meaningful.
“To us, it’s simply common-sense to introduce practices that reduce our carbon footprint,” she said.
“The farm largely operates on solar, we recycle our precious wastewater to water crops in our orchard and grazing paddocks and we created our ‘Scraps 4 Splitters’ program to assist other farm and cafes with food and fruit waste removal that goes to feed our animals.
“We’re always looking for further ways to improve our processes and reduce our waste further.
“Our objective is to preserve and highlight the natural bushland and wetlands whilst offering a sustainable accommodation venue for our region and those travelling from afar.”
Carly said the business has taught her resilience, how to spot when an animal is sick or injured, and the value of water – plus what makes rural, regional and remote Queensland women.
“We’re incredibly connected to our communities, have multiple skills both on and off the farm and we work bloody hard but we party harder,” she said.
Outside work, Carly is kept busy with family, building a new home and a 1976 vintage spitfire convertible called Gerty.
“It has two seats and no room for groceries. It’s completely impractical however, when I drive her I’m a million miles away from farm life,” Carly said.
“We are currently building our forever home here at Splitters Farm and hope to celebrate this Christmas in our new house where all the kids get their own room.“
Visit Splitters Farm.
Story by Emma Clarke