It is impossible to talk about the current incarnation of this piece of land as "Sanctuary in The Pocket, without introducing you to wwoofing.
But first we'll back up a bit.
Susie and I had been searching for a property in the Byron Hinterland for about 10 years, Susie's nephew had moved up with his family in the late 90's and each year, we'd come up and see them and explore the local area, dreaming about a different life.
In 2012 we found the property, that we both knew instantly was the one.
It was a rainy Friday and driving up Skyline Road for the first time and then into the property, we both had an instant connection, the buildings were funky and the gardens had a beautiful feel of past owners who had loved and tendered them and planned for something great.
After a few months of negotiation, we purchased the property and went back to Sydney to pack up our home of almost 30 years in Bilgola on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
6 Months later and 3 days after my 50th Birthday, we jumped in the packed little Mitsubishi Mirage, plus 2 dogs and headed north.
The first days and weeks were an adventure for all of us, getting used to our surroundings and used to the space, and then there was the gardens...
I love gardens, and I love creating spaces in gardens, but in that first two weeks, I remember walking around them and looked about me and thought "what have I done !" I don't know whether you've had that sensation, where you've followed a dream, found it, and on such a high, alive with all of the possibilities that it provides, everything you'd ever hoped for.. and then, "oh my god, how are we going to get this to work ?"..That is how I felt, and though not crushing, it was definitely levelling.
This was compounded a number of weeks later when a mate of mine, Jaime dropped in with a friend of his, Harry, a landscaper, to look at the new place.
We walked around the property, me with resurgent optimism of all that I wanted to achieve, and after a lap, Harry turned to me and said, "The potential of this place is almost overwhelming.."
I knew exactly what he meant. I was balancing a corporate role in Sydney, working there 3 days a week, with 2 days at home, and I had no idea at the time, how it could be achieved.
A little later on, someone said to me "Have you thought about Wwoofers ? ". Possibly like you, I'd never heard of Wwoofers before and after a little investigation and joining Wwoof Australia, the journey of possibilities began.