This Valentine’s Day enjoy this inspiring story of two macadamia growers, Wendy and Rob, whose stunning farm represents the beautiful way their romance blossomed.
Wendy McClusky describes the moment she met Rob Keen in 2013 as a ‘sliding doors’ moment. They were both on seperate nights out. Wendy was on a girls night out in her hometown and Rob had come to Melbourne for the weekend with friends.
Neither one of them was looking for a relationship. But both their groups serendipitously ended up next to each other as they milled around the entrance of the restaurant.
“I turned around and I just remember seeing Rob and looking at him,” describes Wendy. “And he just looked at me. I don’t even remember who started talking to who. We just clicked from the very beginning. I never in my life thought I would meet someone that way!”
Almost from that moment they began a long distance relationship. The couple talked on the phone every day and commuted between the Northern Rivers, where Rob worked managing a macadamia farm, and Melbourne, where Wendy worked in marketing, to see each other when they could. After a couple of years, they were ready to take the next step.
“We lived the long distance relationship life for a while and then Rob was looking to buy a farm and I thought ‘Why don’t we do it together?’ We happened upon this place and we just fell in love with it.”
Wendy left grown-up sons in her house in Melbourne (‘one of the hardest things I’ve ever done’, she says) and moved to Nashua near Banglaow where together they bought a property with a rundown farmhouse and a young, 4500-tree macadamia orchard in need of some TLC.
“One of the nicest things about coming up here and buying the farm together was that we’d only been in our relationship for two years - so it really was a young relationship still. Doing this together was just such an amazing experience for both of us. It wasn’t Rob’s and it wasn’t mine. It was ours. It was such a foundation to our relationship embarking on something like that together.”
Wendy recalls that the first twelve months were spent ‘heads down and bums up’ working hard . They absorbed all the information that they could on growing macadamias and contended with the challenges of an old and rundown farmhouse.
“We didn’t have toilets inside, so for me, coming from a lovely home in Melbourne, having to run out in the rain to go to the loo in the middle of the night with green frogs on the toilet seat was quite a challenge.”
The dehusking building was also in disrepair. Their first harvest involved Wendy and Rob sorting through nuts while holding an umbrella over her head. “So it was challenging but it was also so enjoyable because everything was so new and exciting. Looking back at those days it was so good we were doing it together.”
After five years, their farm is thriving and so are they. It’s now a place where both their families can come for holidays. Wendy and Rob are able to sit on their newly renovated deck and enjoy the results of the hard work they’ve put into their farm and into each other.