Not surprisingly, the beaches were gorgeous and the weather was amazing.
Love love love frangipani!
Below I find a minute to sneak off to attempt to catch a wave. I hadn't been boogie boarding in years and might have been more successful if the boys weren't so upset by my being out in the waves. Good fun anyway.
One of our excursions away from the beach was to a sustainable demonstration farm on five acres called Honeycomb Valley Farm. We were pretty sure it would be a hit for everyone as it had solar ovens, bees and lots of animals to pat. We were right! Anna showed us around her vast gardens bursting with medicinal and edible herbs, vegetables, flowers, vines and trees all planted to provide native bees with nectar, pollen and habitat.. Below, Ari sniffs the leaves of a curry plant.
They'd come up with this really terrific idea to re-purpose old caravans as chook sheds. They cut out the floor and replace it with wire grating so that all the poo falls to the ground below. They never have to clean it out, it provides shade for the birds and when the site is well fertilized, they move the chicken caravan to a new location. Genius!
We got to hear about their bee keeping operation and the native bee sanctuary including this bee hotel which offers nesting sites for a number of different species of bees.
Perhaps most exciting of all was that we got to sample native bee honey. Native Australian honey bees are very small and make very little honey every year and we'd never heard of anyone who kept them or sold their honey. Part of our tour was a tasting of all their available varieties of honey along with various jams and mustards made with the honey. The native bee honey was like nothing we'd ever tasted before (and we've tasted lots of honey!). It was tart and lemony and tangy as if it were ever so slightly fermented. Anna keeps this liquid gold in these beautiful small hand-blown glass jars. We couldn't resist taking home a little bottle of the world's rarest (and most expensive!) honey.
The kids were entertained while we sampled honey with these great toy tractors.
After our tour of the grounds, the kids got a chance to meet the animals including sheep, alpacas, several varieties of chickens, a miniature Galloway cow and this adorable goat with personality to match Rikers!
Of course, we mentioned to Anna that the McMillin family had been making mead for years and so began a long conversation about the subject as she was hoping to get a batch started and add mead to her many honey products for sale! It's so much fun to find people with similar interests scattered throughout our travels.
Another day, Brian got the opportunity to hire a kayak and have a morning out on the water.
Where he met this adorable and interesting little crab in the mangroves.
I arranged for a morning to myself as well where I was to go out on a cruise and swim with dolphins. After a half hour drive to get there at 6:45 am, I was notified that the wind had come up and conditions weren't suitable to go out. The tour was cancelled and I was immensely disappointed! So, I grabbed my camera and wandered along a path till I came to the breakwall where I was treated to the sight of half a dozen or so dolphins frolicking in the waves. They were really far away but it was delightful nonetheless.
When I finally dragged myself away from my dolphin spotting adventure, I was treated to this stunning display of morning clouds and sunshine.
When I returned to the villa where we were staying, the boys were out and didn't reappear until well after lunch time. I had a coffee, sat by the pool, had a walk on the beach and went for a short hike. Turns out they'd gone for a long walk, had breakfast out and went to the local markets. When they finally returned, it was with this New Zealand Paua shell necklace for me!
Our trip to the mid north coast was another terrific holiday and despite lots of travel, we (for once!) actually felt rested and relaxed when we arrived back home. Can't ask for much more than that.