I have always been a keen gardener and still try to find to time to keep on top my garden and allotment. My vegetables and soft fruit are a long way though from farm quality. During my early visits to KwaZulu Natal while staying on my wifes parent’s farm I would always read through Farmers Weekly. Amongst the broilers and game fencings there would be adverts for farms for sale. One particular type of farm that always grabbed my attention was the macadamia nut & banana farm. I was not even sure what a macadamia nut was at that time. It just sounded truly exotic. In fact until this last visit I had never seen them growing.
When I received an email from Lucy Williamson with a link to her web site the word ‘macadamia’ leapt out at me! Now for the first time I was actually looking at macadamia trees, all be it photographs, growing in KwaZulu Natal. It was too good an opportunity miss so when the chance arose I arranged to visit.
Macadamia Lodge is a family owned and run business located on the Monzi Golf Estate a fifteen minute drive from the seaside town of St Lucia. The Isimangaliso Wetlands World Heritage site is also on the doorstep and the world famous Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is only a forty minute drive away. There are numerous activities available in the area, some seasonal, including Big 5 game viewing, whale watching and turtle tours. There are stunning beaches with some of the world’s largest sand dunes. Take a cruise on the St Lucia Estuary or visit the Crocodile centre.
The lodge itself has good sized self contained cottages with full self catering facilities set only a few meters from the main house. Each cottage has bedroom, fitted kitchen and bathroom. There is also a private patio area with braai / barbecue facilities. If you intend to just take it easy and relax there is a swimming pool or you could even join Pat, the mother, in her yoga studio. I found the lodge and surrounding gardens and farm very relaxing. No rush, no deadlines or set times to be anywhere.
For me it was a real bonus to tour the property with Tim, the father, and get my first look at the macadamia nuts. Looking across at the golf course we walked from the cottages leaving the gardens behind. “Mangoes, we have so many mangoes from those trees I have perfected my own chutney” Tim said pointing at what looked to be the largest trees in the garden. In front of them were several varieties of citrus trees. These were the source of my freshly squeezed orange juice, which had been a perfect accompaniment to Lucy’s ‘full English’. This also included some of the best bacon I have eaten on my travels. Other varieties of fruit and nuts found on the property are lychee bushes and pecan nuts.
“We have to start pruning next week and have called on the services of a consultant for expert advice” Tim explained as we reached the first rows of the evergreen macadamia nut trees. “Currently we have 700 trees of varying ages, planted in stages by us and the previous owner. We are now plotting and planning areas to add 300 more trees” Tim went on to say. After this there first full year as ‘farmers’ we went on to look at the crop, two tonnes of sacked nuts in the shells awaiting shipment. A pretty good effort from the new farmers in Monzi.
The gardens and farm has a great mix of fruit and nuts, and there may not be bananas here, but there are on the neighbours’ property. Maybe I found this place so relaxing and slept so well because of my satisfaction of finally getting to a place that I had so often dreamed about.