Ashley and Carly Clark always wanted a cattle farm. “One day, when our kids are older,” they said. Fate had other ideas. Carly was pregnant with their now three-year-old son, Maverick, when they had a garage sale that changed everything.
“Someone came to the garage sale and said they wanted to buy our house in Svensson Heights,” Carly said. “We laughed. We weren’t looking to sell, but it was serendipitous and forced our hand.”
They bought 160 acres on Splitters Creek at Sharon and started taking in rescue animals. “I grew up on five acres in southwest Sydney and I was always bringing home stray kittens from work,” Carly said. “My first job was collecting eggs from battery hens. I saw incredible cruelty and I thought ‘there’s got to be a way to farm animals that’s humane and sustainable’. We are a working farm here at Splitters, so any animals that are bred here from our rescues are sold and in the meantime visitors get the chance to interract with a range of rescued farm animals and their offspring.”
Splitters Farm has evolved very quickly to become an idyllic caravan and camping park. “Visitors to Bundaberg see the beaches, the cane fields, the macadamia orchards, but very few get to experience our naturally beautiful bushland, and we’ve tried to preserve that as much as possible,” Carly said. “We thought we’d start on the tourist park in another five years, but this growth has been driven by the wonderful people who visit us. They say their kids are off technology. They’re riding bikes, kicking balls and experiencing the animals. We’re attracting people who have never camped before.”
Carly said she got the same feeling when she worked as live events manager for childrens’ band, The Wiggles. “Every so often I’d go to a concert and the reaction on the kids’ faces was enough to keep me going for another year.”
When her first marriage ended, Carly and her two-year-old son moved from Sydney to Hervey Bay to be closer to her parents. She met Ashley at a local pub. The recently separated, farmer-turned-electrician had three children. “He was just a genuinely good, down to earth bloke. We really are the Brady Bunch,” Carly laughed. Carly worked as marketing manager for Auswide Bank in Bundaberg before she and Ashley started what is now one of the Region’s fastest growing agri-tourism businesses.