Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm...

The home of television's favourite show, "Harry's Practice". See the animals, feed the animals, talk to the animals!

Dr Harry Cooper's Hobby Farm

A Chance in a Lifetime

Have you ever idolized someone so much you just feel like crying when you were told that you can actually have a chance to meet him or her in person? Well that was what happened to me when I had the chance to meet up with Doctor Harry Cooper, Australia’s favorite vet at his place, Arcadian Downs or better known as Dr. Harry’s Hobby Farm.

It all started when my husband told me that upon my arrival in Melbourne that he’ll be taking me over for holidays to Tasmania as a Christmas present this year. I was ecstatic as I have been dreaming of traveling there ever since I stumbled upon the stories of Dr. Harry Cooper when I did a search on the net years ago. Dr. Harry is not only a vet, he’s an accomplished writer, having written three memorable books on his working experiences with animals since his early days as a vet in NSW. He then went on to Great Britain and put into writing his vet experiences while he was there meeting up with their farm owners. In his books, Dr. Harry also wrote about his experiences during the filming of “Harry’s Practice”, a TV program that he produced himself. Being a respected television personality, Dr. Harry has successfully filmed his own show, “Harry’s Practice” as well as being on Australia’s Channel Seven’s, “Burke’s Backyard” and “Better Homes & Garden”. Dr. Harry was also one of the guest speakers on “Talk to The Animals” on many occasions as well as being appointed as an ambassador to one of Australia's top animal food brand, “Supercoat”. Latest of his strings of achievement lies in being able to provide others a “personal feel” of life on a working farm by opening up his private residence in Relbia to the general public and christening it as “Dr. Harry’s Hobby Farm”.

I guess I was so drawn to Dr. Harry mainly because he wrote such great books on his experiences with animals. After digging up so much about him on the net, I was intrigued. I rushed to the bookshop and bought his books and read them one by one without stopping. Tears flowed down my cheeks most of the time as the stories were so vividly described, I felt as though I was at the scene witnessing the story unfold. Upon finishing the last book, I told my husband that Dr. Harry is my idol and I wished that I could live on his farm and get to know the man in person. At this point most people will asked, why is Ann so interested in this man? Well, for those who really know me, they will tell you that I’m a true blue animal lover. Show me a hideous creature and I can immediately tell you that I’m in love with it. Nothing in the animal kingdom scares me, instead they fascinates me to no end. Cats and dogs being my favorite as these are the two kinds that I grew up mostly with back in Malaysia. When I was working in the corporate world years ago, my staffs used to accuse me of having more compassion toward animals instead of human beings. My replies were always the same on those occasions. I’m more tolerating towards animals because God gave them lesser brain capacity thus unable to think like we humans do. We can think and decide what course of action to take to come up with the best solution but they act base on experience and gut feelings. Most of the time, the animals are at our own mercy, always being taunted and picked upon by humans who lacked in compassion. Being human beings, we should be their guardian, ensuring their safety as well as longevity but instead we hunt them to death, got rid of those we thought were pests until they became extinct. No traces left of them for our children to see and learn about. I had wanted to become a vet but mom was against the idea as I was the only child and being a single parent, she did not want me to venture into something that could potentially hurt me in any way and being bitten by an animal during the course of work was considered a crime in her mind. There is no way that her only child was going to become a vet. So being the dutiful daughter, I continued my studies in other areas, came out, worked for local as well as international corporations until four years ago when I decided that enough was enough. I hate the corporate world and its politics. I was not happy with where I was at that moment and decided to give my corporate days a rest. I packed my bags and decided to embark on a pet grooming studies but luck was not on my side. I enrolled myself at a place that did not put their students’ advancement as their main interest. They tend to belittle our compassion rather than giving us encouragement and we felt as though we were being suppressed in more ways that one could imagine. Instead of helping us to build a growing interest in pet grooming, they were killing it bit by bit via harsh words that could shame us to no end. So after months of hard labor, working on customers dogs without pay, a few of us decided that we are much better being on our own and quit the place. We know that deep down that we have the skill and are sincere in our interest so we started doing home grooming, providing services to others at a slightly cheaper price without compromising the grooming standard as well as quality. People began to accept us and business grew with the support as well as word of mouth advertisement from the existing clientele. From there I went on to pursue my interest in dog breeding and show handling in order to have a wider knowledge in the canine industry. I found that dog breeding was harder than cats’ (I breed Persian for 5 years during 1993-1998) as they do not tend to clean their young ones as much (and also cats uses the litter box and dogs don’t). Nevertheless I kept on learning more about it through books, the net and together with my partner at Drunasty Kennel, Madam Lee, we had produced Champion Line Silky Terriers with great temperament, sound proportion as well as great showmanship to excel in conformation show.

So here I am, a very contented person happily surrounded by animals who love me unconditionally as well as a loving husband who provided me with encouragement and support to see that I can achieve my dream of having a great kennel and if possible an animal farm in the future as I had told him ever since that I will only die happy if I had lived my live on a farm surrounded by animals of different kinds. All I want is to teach and share my love towards animals with the younger generation. Thus, it is of no surprise that Dr. Harry became not only an idol but also a person whom I look up to the highest esteem. Dr. Harry is living the life that I had wanted and he gave me so much inspiration through his stories that I kept continuously mentioning them to those around me. For example, when my brother in law, Michael Gurrie took us to the greyhound race when we were in Hobart, I told him the story about Billy, a greyhound that Dr. Harry had operated on and after recovering, continued to make both his owner and Dr. Harry proud by winning races after races.

During our Tasmanian trip, we were staying with Michael, Clara & Jake Gurrie at OneCollins Apartment, right smack in the middle of Hobart where a walk to the mall only takes 3 minutes and Salamanca Market, 5 minutes. The night of the 4th day of the trip, my husband told me that he has planned to drive us to Launceston early the next morning so that we could visit Cataract Gorge in the morning and spend the afternoon at Dr. Harry’s Hobby Farm. I let out a loud shriek and without haste went to our room to pack our bags, just in case we have to spend a night in Launceston.

Needless to say, the trip to Launceston was nothing less than beautiful. Cataract Gorge lived up to its reputation being one of the most beautiful places that I’ve been to with flower gardens blooming and tame Peacocks gracefully flaunt their beautiful tails to visitors wanting to take their photos (actually they were kind of annoyed at us humans invading their peaceful slumber urging them to move around the garden in hope to snap a few shots worthy of our future brags to friends and family back home). The chair lift was fantastic, moving slowly among tree tops giving us panoramic view of the place from high above (my brother in law insisted that he was scared but I rather enjoyed it instead). We walked across the grounds leisurely absorbing in the breathtaking view of the area, taking photos here and there as a memento of our trip. We left Cataract Gorge with a heavy heart but look forward to a more interesting outing at Relbia.

The drive to Relbia from Launceston took about 10 minutes and after a wrong turn to locate Relbia Road, we were on our way. Dr. Harry’s Hobby Farm is situated at 699 Relbia Road, Relbia and once on the right track, you just can’t miss it. A big signboard of  Dr. Harry and his animals greeted us at the entrance of the farm. Unfortunately, a sense of fore-bidding crept onto us as it was largely stated at the bottom of the sign that “only visitors that had made reservations will be entertained”. Oh Lord, I told my husband that we were doomed but being the practical man that he is, he calmed me down and slowly drove the car into the premises. Upon parking, we were greeted by a small pack of dogs, obviously pets of Dr. Harry. They were so happy to see us, they barked merrily and even licked my palm when I sat beside the fence to introduce myself. I could make out 2 Italian Greyhounds, 2 Shih Tzu X Maltese and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. One of the Shih Tzu X Maltese even walked and turned on 2 hind legs for me. I was in heaven just by looking at them.

My husband told me that the most logical thing to do at that point was to make our way towards the café and enquire about the tour. The café staffs were very friendly and informed us that they can book us to follow the next tour at 2pm. Luck was on our side and we gladly accepted their offer. After paying for the fees and a bottle of Cascade Boysenberry (Cascade is made in Tasmania), we made our way to the front of the garden and sat on a wooden bench under a tree. The atmosphere was very calming and the view scenic. I made my way to a rose garden along the fence of the café where Dr. Harry had laid headstones in remembrance of his faithful pets that had been called to grace God’s animal heaven up above. I read the stone laid out for Rosie and silently crying, I said a prayer for all the animals there, wishing them well and happiness in God’s loving embrace. After that I made my way to ladies to wash my face and freshen up for the upcoming tour. 15 minutes to 2pm, a lady drove up the pathway and said hi to us. After parking her car, she made her way over for a chat and introduced herself as Donna, our guide for the day. Donna mentioned that Dr. Harry was away and in his absence, she will guide us along the tour that will start from the entrance of the parking area at 2pm. We told her that we will be there on time and with that she bid us farewell and make her way to the café.

10 minutes to 2pm, we made our way towards the car park. We could see Donna waiting patiently under a tree and made our way over. Donna told us that another family of 4 will be joining our tour. We chatted while waiting and before long we had found out that Donna works part-time for Dr. Harry. The rest of the days in the weeks, Donna works as a tour guide up Cradle Mountain and around the area of Freycinet. Donna leads an active life-style and being an active participant in the hospitality industry, it was no wonder that she is able to maintain a great conversation going with us, people that she had just met. Both Nick and I felt so much at ease as though we have known her for years. We talked, we joked, we shared stories about pets and our passion towards animals. I can see that Donna truly enjoys what she does for a living and secretly I wished that we could just trade places just for a day….

Before long a station wagon pulled over and out came two bouncy kids, Jessica and her younger brother Nicholas followed by their parents. With the 6 of us in tow, Donna started the tour by briefing us on the history and background of the farm. Arcadian Downs was a name that has been in Dr. Harry’s family for years. It started with his father naming their property in NSW and Dr. Harry wanted to carry on with the family tradition by continuing to use it at his property in Tasmania. The whole fame is made of 65 acres of land, divided into pastures for grazing, breeding, an irrigation pond, hatchery, a family home, gardens, training area, a small petting barn called “The Touch & Feel Nursery”, a fully licensed café called “The Clucky Chook Café”  and plans to build many more attractions in years to come.

The tour started with us walking towards the horse paddocks. We were introduced to a few Welsh Mountain Ponies but I could only remember the names of two of the studs there, Mr. Sand Man & Rebel. Mr. Sand Man sniffed at my fist and once satisfied, allowed me to rub his face and neck area. With heavy lidded eyes, he listened carefully at what I was telling him, sometimes nodding his head as though he agreed with everything I said. He was a great charmer who wanted a lot of attention and was not happy when a few mares tried to dodge him out of the way in order to receive a few pats on the head themselves. On the way out of the horse paddock, Donna pointed towards the top of a slope where a black mare was grazing. She told us that his name is Rebel and he looked proud, majestic, his black coat glistering under the sun.

From the horse paddock we went on to visit the dog kennel where we met Scarlet, Dr. Harry’s Border Collie and a few Miniature Fox Tenterfield Terriers. Dr. Harry’s farm is also a place where he breeds dogs, mostly Shih Tzu X Maltese and Miniature Fox Tenterfield Terriers. We were later introduced to Missy, the latest addition of Miniature Fox Tenterfield Terrier that Dr. Harry had purchased a few weeks ago. She’s a great puppy with remarkable markings and temperament. Each one of us had a chance to cuddle her and she was more than happy to lie down in our arms succumbing herself to gentle strokes on her head. What a life!

We then moved on to The Touch & Feel Nursery where we were introduced to the miniature pigs, sheep and lambs, baby Rex Rabbits, Dalmatian Guinea Pigs, Mice & a few Goldfish swimming in the tank. Each and every one of us had a chance to hold the animals. Unfortunately, one of the mice found it interesting to bury itself in Jessica’s hair! She was so ticklish she ended up with tears in her eyes due to laughing so hard. The mouse was rescued and Jessica ended up with a baby rabbit which she cuddled and kissed non stop.

From the Touch & Feel Nursery the tour took us to the cattery where Dr. Harry’s wife, Janie, breeds her show blue eyes Siamese, green eyes Burmese and Oriental cats. The Devon Rex, is a breed that is ideal for those who loves cats but are allergic to them. This is because the Devon Rexes tend to shed lesser hair thus deposit less allergen-laced hair around the house. Since the farm is an actual commercial farm where breeding programs are actively pursued, you can see that most of them are kept in pairs, hoping that the mating process will produce good litters. Each individual cage is kept clean and with enough room to roam both inside the sheltered area as well as excess via a flap door to the outdoor area where they can scratch at the post as well sunbathe and enjoy the outdoor view. Here at the cattery, we were allowed to cuddle the kittens that had their vaccination shots. They were so soft and loved to be stroked under their chins and bellies. One of them even dozed off on my lap and was reluctant to be placed back into its cage. The little fellow looked at me with accusing eyes for waking it up and I just had to apologize for my actions. Nick laughed at me and said that I’m nuts…

Next Donna took us to the hatchery and showed us the process where fresh laid eggs were placed in the incubator and once ready to hatch, the chic inside will peck on the shell, crumbling it to pieces so that they will emerged into this world. Newly hatched chics were wet and they will stay in the incubator for a day before being transformed to another holding area before being sold. Donna also showed us the difference between fertile eggs and those that are not.

From the hatchery area, Donna took us to the pens where different breed of chooks and birds are being confined. Dr. Harry, once decided that he was going to pursue his father’s interest in chooks has gone all out to secure solid stocks of  Polish, Houdans, Bantams,  Sicilians Buttercups, Faverolles, Phoenix & Yokohamas poultry to be kept at his place as they are becoming rarer nowadays. He even has a flock of Ice Pigeons that lives with the chooks. Apart from that, Dr. Harry also has turkeys, geese and ducks to complete the picture. All cages are carefully labeled to indicate the different breed and physical attributes. For example, the Houdan, on of the earliest French breed fowl, has a large body and typical leaf comb. Interestingly, they also possess an extra toe on both legs. The Ice Pigeon on the other hand, is a pretty unique breed as they seem to have the same color throughout the entire body except on the wings and tail. The ones that Dr. Harry has also displayed another unique physical attribute which were the feathers on their feet. Very interesting indeed! Just outside the barn, there was a holding area for baby ducklings as they were still too small to be allowed roaming access at the irrigation pond that hold about 450 trouts. Birds of prey like eagles and hawks loves to feed on ducklings and chooks so they are kept nearer to the barn, well protected until they are big enough to venture outside.

Next Donna introduced us to Wilma, the Cooper’s pet pig. She’s a sweetie of probably more than 250kgs and loves to roll in the mud to cool her-self down. She came running to Donna expecting a treat like a slice of bread and a gentle head rub. She listened to Donna attentively and grunted her replies as though having a conversation. She wasn’t happy when we said goodbye but we had to leave back to her mud rolling activity as our tour was at the end.

Walking back to “The Clucky Chook Café”, we walked past the irrigation pond and stopped to admire the view. Ducks of different breeds paddled lazily on the surface in search of a treat of two that were lurking underwater. Horses grazing on the opposite field with their tails whipping against the wind and the sound of birds chirping away merrily really made the farm a very relaxing place to be. I told Donna that I would love to work for Dr. Harry even if it’s only for a day. All I want to have the chance to fully embrace life at a farm and be close to the animals. Donna’s reply to that was, “Take a number, there are hundreds of others who are also waiting for the same thing”.

We stopped to wash our hands with soap at a garden basin so that we would not contaminate the café. We chattered while having refreshment and I told Donna that  it was my greatest desire to meet up with the man himself. My wish was granted just minutes before our guided tour ended. Donna said that Dr. Harry had just returned from one of his trips and will be joining us soon. True enough, not long after that, Dr. Harry made his way over and we got our chance of a lifetime meeting the great man himself.

Dr. Harry was full of stories and we audience were captivated by his animal tales. He is such a natural story teller even the kids looked at him in awe. When it was time for us to talk to him individually, he attentively listened to what we had to say. He gave us advices and tips and even gladly posed with us.

When he told me that all those stories were exactly what he had experienced and true to every word described, I told him that I believed him 100% because no one can unfold a story in the way he did it because they came from the heart of the storyteller himself.

A humble and friendly man, Dr. Harry entertained us with stories from his travels, shared with us his passion for animals and even took the time to introduce to us other places of interest around the area. He told me that I should continue to pursue my interest in animals and even take up a course to be a show judge if I have the time. I truly had a great time at the farm. It was one of the best adventures that I’ve had and definitely one that I will remember a lifetime!

We would like to thank our guide, Donna, for a friendly and wonderful tour of the property. To Dr. Harry and the rest at the farm, thank you for the wonderful time we had and may God continue to bless you with all the good things in life.

699, Relbia Road, Relbia, is where you are,
We made our way there from oh so very far,
Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm is our destination,
We were bursting with excitement over the anticipation.

At "The Chook's Cafe" we bought our tickets,
Then sat on a bench by the wooden pickets,
With Donna as our guide we started the tour,
It was so much fun we hardly notice the hour.

Horses, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats too,
Too bad there wasn't a cow that says moo,
Life is peaceful & good at this little hobby farm,
Where animals are sheltered from danger nor harm.

We met the man and he was so great,
Seems like nothing in this world makes him afraid,
Dr. Harry, Donna and the rest of the crew,
For all our memories and lasting impression that'll always stay true,
Take care of yourselves, we bid you farewell with a big THANK YOU!

Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm opens to public at an entrance fee of AUD20 each. You can get tickets via the Launceston Tourism Information counters in the city or at the "The Chook's Cafe" itself. Each tour was over 1 ½ hours each and everyone will get a chance to meet Dr. Harry if he happens to be at the property. The property itself is a beauty with lovingly tended flower gardens full of roses, irises, daffodils and many more that I could not name. Definitely a trip that will have a lasting impression.

Additional Information On Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm

Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm, set in 65 lush acres only 20 minutes from the heart of Launceston, Tasmania, features an array of all your favourite animals. Beautiful gardens featuring over 1,300 species of roses and many spectacular shrubs and trees.

On a personally guided tour of Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm, you will see the horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, pigeons, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese & budgies. (Animal attractions may vary according to seasonal availability and breeding times). Cuddle all you want in Dr. Harry's Touch & Feel Animal Nursery. Watch the chickens hatch right before your eyes and witness the animals breeding.

How To Get There

Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm is situated at 699 Relbia Road, Relbia TAS. Coming from Launceston, turn off Old Hobart Road, 2nd street on the left past Franklin House. 7 kms from there onwards, on your left.

Other Information

Enjoy delicious meals and light refreshments at The Clucky Chook Café, overlooking a lake covered in water fowl. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch, morning & afternoon tea, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. (No need to worry about getting hungry!).

This is a walking farm, walking shoes are recommended. Souvenirs are available.

Booking Information

For those interested in booking a tour on Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm, please contact the Tasmanian Travel Centre at Corner St John & Cimitiere Streets, Launceston TAS, Australia (Ph: 03-6336 3133). For group bookings, fax to (03) 6391 8200 or email meloralimited@bigpond.com. ALL BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL. Transport can be arranged, please call 0437 132 227. VIP tours by arrangement. Tours commence from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October to May.

Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm reserves the right to cancel or vary tours without notice. Dr. Harry may at times be unavailable to personally conduct the tours due to television or media commitments.

 

For more information on Dr. Harry's Hobby Farm, please feel free to contact us at groom@petgroomerspro.com.

We are in no way related or affiliated to Dr Harry's Hobby Farm. We are recommending his farm to all animal lovers out there simply because we love & enjoy it so much!! Two thumbs up!!

 

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