Uncle Billy's Retreat continues after 22 years

BIG BUSINESS: Uncle Billy's Retreat, between Ben Lomond and Guyra, started in 1995 and owner Sue Atkin is not slowing down just yet with farm stays becoming increasingly popular across the country. Photo: Rachel Baxter.
BIG BUSINESS: Uncle Billy's Retreat, between Ben Lomond and Guyra, started in 1995 and owner Sue Atkin is not slowing down just yet with farm stays becoming increasingly popular across the country. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

FARM stays are becoming increasingly popular with city folk, and even locals, looking for an escape from the day-to-day hustle and bustle.

Uncle Billy’s Retreat, near Ben Lomond, tapped into the market 22 years ago – and owner Sue Atkin has no plans of slowing down.

“We had the water to begin with, with an irrigation dam, but we were looking for something to make extra income,” she told The Argus this week.

The Merino sheep and cattle farmers started the retreat in 1995.

“We started off pretty small with one cabin and eventually it just grew,” she said.

The farm has featured on the Great Outdoors and Getaway.

Even Australian actor Garry McDonald was a regular visitor.

“He loved trout fishing and came with fishing guru, Steve Starling, and they came a few times and wrote a brilliant article,” she said.

“It gave us a real boost.”

Mrs Atkin’s three sons are still fairly involved in the property.

“Mark runs fat lambs mainly and Rob owns land nearby and runs cattle and some Merinos and a few fat lamb … John lives in Guyra,” she said.

“Today we’ve got two main lake areas with cabins.

“There’s a big lake where we started our business and I’ve got two cabins down there and a separate amenities block as well as a big shed which acts as an entertaining area.”

Over the years the retreat has been a popular destination for weddings and birthday parties.

However, most of the business is for small groups or individuals looking for a quiet escape to fish.

“Rainbow trout and a few yellow belly (golden perch) show up occasionally,” she said.

“We put those (perch) in about 22 years ago and occasionally somebody catches one.”

Each year Mrs Atkin purchases trout from Ebor’s Trout Hatchery to stock the lakes – with 1000 put in just last week.

The main dam has a row boat and Mrs Atkin said only fly-fishing is permitted. 

Fishing clubs also have competitions at the retreat including the South East Queensland Fly Fishers Club.

To book call (02) 6779 4216 or visit their website www.unclebillys.com.au