Perfectly Palm Creek Estate

Image source: Photographer Wavell Bush

If you think you’re familiar with every natural wonder on the Sunshine Coast, think again. Georgia Beard explores the idyllic landscapes, immersive experiences and paddock-to-plate delights that await at Palm Creek Estate.

Take a country drive through the green pastures and scrublands of Yandina Creek, and you might emerge into a pocket of paradise.

Planted in a ridge-protected valley, paddocks sprawl and vineyards stretch over the hills. Trails wander up into the tallowwood forests towering above, and creeks lined with piccabeen palms murmur around the glade.

This blissful hideaway is Palm Creek Estate, once a plantation and now home to a multi-purpose venue and nature escape.

Owners Anna and Austin Smith and their three children settled on the 85-acre property in 2008, searching for a secluded country lifestyle close to the beach.

When they first visited, the couple found nothing but a bush track and the overgrown remnants of a dairy and vegetable farm. Clearing the land was a daunting task, but these two were born and bred on farms – Anna with thoroughbreds and livestock in Victoria and Austin from a Station on the One Tree Plain in Western New South Wales. They knew the meaning of hard yakka.

After demolishing the collapsed cow shed and removing five truckloads worth of debris, the family planted passionfruit vines, lime and lychee orchards to sell at local farmers’ markets.

Their work echoed Palm Creek Estate’s history from the 1950s, when the original owners transported milk and veggies to Tewantin in horse and cart.

Once the couple began using their land to host private parties, including a paddock-to-plate event with Noosa Eat & Drink Festival – Anna and Austin realised the property’s potential.

From the lofty barn to the open bar, even the bathrooms, the couple built the venue from the ground up. With help from their now-adult children and a neighbourhood of dedicated tradies, the venue is now open and taking bookings.

While Palm Creek Estate is only taking bookings for private functions right now, Anna and Austin dream of opening the property to the public on weekends with on-site staff.

“There’s high demand across the board, from weddings to private functions and lunches; to wellness retreats and nature-based tourism,” Anna said.

“I think with the way the world is and what we’ve all had to go through in the last couple of years, people’s minds have changed. They want to get out, have more time with their families and friends and enjoy spaces like this.”

Our Hello Sunshine Sunday Soirée was one of the first events hosted in the newly-finished venue and we took Anna and Austin’s blank canvas and transformed the space into a yellow-draped celebration of local produce, chefs, bakers and makers!

“We have a diverse cross-section of people,” Austin said. “We’ve got the opportunity to bring them all here and let them celebrate. The Sunday Soirée was the perfect example of that. They came, they saw, they ate, and all the boxes were ticked.”

Anna and Austin’s versatile and immersive vision for Palm Creek Estate has been set in motion, encouraging guests to enjoy the property with a myriad of experiences.

Homegrown food is at the core of the venue, allowing local chefs to showcase their craft with a dedicated kitchen and outdoor BBQ for long lunches, wedding feasts and other dining experiences.

The couple plan to recultivate their vineyards and convert a paddock into an indigenous veggie and herb garden, where chefs can harvest tucker for on-site food events. Can you get any more paddock-to-plate than that?

“Our nature-based activities will be educational, interactive and allow people access around the property,” Austin also said. “It may be as simple as walking to various picnic sites on trails with a hamper backpack.”

The plans include experiences where a chef and barman might take a small group to spend half an hour gathering passionfruit, limes or lychees and come back to learn how to make a dessert or cocktail.”

Anna and Austin are set to build four cabins in the creek valleys, where visitors can stay and enjoy the full extent of the estate’s activities. They’ve even received interest from film crews to shoot on location and musicians to record and perform music in the barn.

The Estate’s ability to flourish as a venue depends on environmental sustainability, so Austin’s agribusiness group, Horizon 5, is regenerating areas on the farm.

“We’re taking out all the exotics and weeds, rehabilitating the flora and fauna in the area and replanting natives,” Austin said. “We’ve also put in ten bird boxes of different sizes and shapes, even though we’re overrun with biodiversity.”

Anna added that the property was now a safe location for rehabilitated animals, having recently released koalas from Australia Zoo into their eucalypt corridor.

“We want to have ecologist associates and an indigenous botanist on board to identify and explain the different flora and fauna we have,” Austin said, mentioning ochre painting as another part of their First Nations immersion.

“We aim to have a range of safe walks adjacent to the creek beds to look at some of the magnificent root structures, waterfalls and rainforests here on the property. Guests could be able to identify plants with or without a guide and mark off what they’ve seen.”

Forest walks may take guests all the way up to the ridge outlook, where views sweep unbroken from the coastal sunrise to the in-land sunset.

In every orchard row, beside every creek and under every tree canopy, you’ll discover a natural haven you never knew existed. Palm Creek Estate is open for immersion, and there are copious experiences to come.

“We’re growing organically,” Anna said. “The vision is endless and forever evolving.”

We can’t wait to see what unfolds!

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