- 26 October 2022
- Posted by: Canberra Innovation Network
- Category: General News
Matthew and Angela Smith have officially opened their Alpaca Visitor Experience Centre at their farm in Murrumbateman, offering everything from a tour with the alpacas to craft classes to birthday parties.
Angela said some of the alpacas had been specially trained to be calm for selfies, making sure visitors can share their experience on social media.
The couple had spent two years getting the centre from concept to reality, having to battle COVID, weather and supply delays, to see it rise up on their property, Blackwattle Alpaca Farm.
But they got there in the end, with spectacular results and not too much collateral damage.
“We’re still married and we’re still standing upright,” Angela said, with a laugh.
Yass Valley Mayor Allan McGrath helped to officially open the centre, which has already been nicknamed Blackwattle HQ.
Jak Alchin, with Star-Lord the llama and Aquaman the alpaca, is in charge of guest experiences at Blackwattle Alpaca Farm.
Angela said she and Matthew were now ready to welcome visitors for a unique experience, adding to the wine and chocolate trail already established in Murrumbateman.
Before the centre was opened, Angela worked from a shed without any windows that was part of their home. The brief for the new centre was lots of windows to take in the beautiful rural views. The facility was built with the help of a grant from Destinations NSW.
“It means a lot to us because our business has now grown to the point where it’s moved away from the house so we get that work-life balance,” Angela said.
“But we also have a facility that is purpose-built for our business, which is fabulous.”
Blackwattle Alpaca Farm owners Matthew and Angela Smith at the launch of their new alpaca experience centre in Murrumbateman.
She told the launch that she woke up eight years ago and decided to she “wanted to be an alpaca farmer”.
Matthew has had a long career in the military, while Angela had worked in retail for 18 years and health and safety for 10 years.
They created a craft shop and had visitors to their farm in a small-scale way, but the new experience centre has opened up the tourism possibilities of the property.
Matthew said people could walk and feed the alpacas and llamas, there were crafting and spinning classes, and space for birthday parties and corporate events.
“We also encourage school groups,” he said.
“The network we have in Canberra to have ag and textile students come out and get those farm day experiences as well.”
The farm has more than 60 alpacas, five llamas and “the occasional kangaroo”.
It is a working property and the animals are shorn to provide the yarn, which is dyed. The farm shop includes products made from fibre from the herd.
Angela described the alpacas and llamas as “delightful time-wasters” and beautiful to be around.
Also attending the launch was Canberra Handmade Market owner Julie Nichols, who also lives at Murrumbateman.
Julie said the Blackwattle Alpaca Farm was another reason to visit the area.
“It’s a fabulous day out. It’s really not that far from Canberra but to be able to come out here and do birthday parties and pat the animals and learn all about it. Grab some chocolate on the way home past Murrumbateman Chocolate Company,” she said. “It’s just a great addition to the area.”
Blackwattle Alpaca Farm is at 315 Patemans Lane, Murrumbateman.
Article originally posted by The Canberra Times and written by Megan Doherty