In the scenic hills near Crookwell, Pejar Dam has earned a widespread reputation as a trout and bass fishery.
Captivated by the sweeping views surrounding the dam, two serving police officers from Sydney’s south-west are establishing a glamping and wedding venue business on Pejar’s foreshores.
Husband and wife Matt and Amy Szombati bought a 14.5-hectare property at Wayo where they are levelling up a site for glamping, a luxurious version of traditional camping.
They plan to erect a 5m x 5m bell tent and furnish it with custom-designed furniture crafted in Goulburn, including a queen bed, flooring, lithium battery power and a coffee machine.
“We are in the process of constructing the decking and getting all the facilities in, 100 per cent off the grid,” Matt said. “There is nothing like the glamping concept in the area. Yes, there are cabins, and yes, people do camping, but this [glamping] is unique to the area.”
They are offering access to more traditional camping and have several sites with fire pits.
They call their venture “Two Little Piggies”.
“We used to get called certain names and we thought we would just embrace it, and we were two little piggies from the police force,” Matt said.
They believe the beauty of Goulburn, Crookwell and the Upper Lachlan Shire has escaped many people who favour the South Coast.
“I have spent a lot of time on the water kayaking and I do a lot of walking around this side [St Stephen’s Road], we have access from neighbours and friends to get down to the water,” he said.
An opportunity to take photos and cater to visitors has drawn interest from people outside the fishing and camping sector as well, according to Matt.
“We had a wedding coordinator reach out to us and we are in talks to have ceremonies here,” he said.
“The function side of things is in a logistical planning phase because we are completely off the grid. But facilities-wise we are able to accommodate weddings and we also have access to the water where there are little pockets [of land] where people can have photos.”
Matt’s parents Andre and Margaret Szombati live near the village of Bigga, north of Crookwell, and he and Amy say they have fallen in love with the district.
The family is developing another property north of Crookwell, at Blanket Flat, where they graze cattle and have established stone-fruit orchards since 2020.
“My background is in horticulture and agricultural science,” Matt said. “The Blanket Flat place was sheep and cattle country and the locals said you could not grow fruit trees up there.
“I said, ‘Watch me.’ There is no fruit fly, no real major pests in the area, and we have never had to use pesticides. We have grown some amazing fruit. The only issue we have are the cockatoos.”
He said their Blanket Flat property was about 50 kilometres as the crow flies from Orange and they planned to offer glamping there as well, among the orchards.
In the meantime, they have produced enough fruit and jam made by Margaret Szombati to sell.
“Believe it or not, our biggest sales were to the police colleagues who bought their fruit directly from us,” Matt said. “We grew a lot of cherries and plums and it just took off. They were absolutely amazed at how much fruit we sold to them.”
Taking a break from their city policing and heading into the bush is therapeutic, according to Matt.
“Everyone I have spoken to in the community has been so supportive, that’s why we really love the area,” he said.