Leave Melbourne-go North!

It’s mid winter in Melbourne. If you like cold weather stay there. If you prefer warm beaches go North.

Four mile beach Port Douglas

It’s a three and a half hour flight from Melbourne to Cairns in far North Queensland. The coastline has many beautiful beaches and warm tropical weather in June, July and August. It has rained a little in June this year, but that is unusual. The summer months of December, January and February are too hot and humid for most visitors. But this is the perfect time to come- before the school holidays if you like peace… ( there are mid- year holidays around the beginning of July, but they vary a little between states, so check that before you come if you prefer the cheaper rates during school terms).

You can eat local coconut that has been picked from the beach, and processed locally. There are hundreds of fallen coconuts lying on the fine sand along the shore. It is for sale at the local markets on Wednesdays and Sundays in handy packets with various additives or completely natural.

But the most interesting edible product I saw was vanilla. It is grown and processed by this happy pair.

The only commercial vanilla growers in Australia

The plant is an orchid and it has to have a tropical climate in order to grow. It grows on a vine, and requires a lot of care to thrive. This couple has been growing them for 18 years! After about 6 years the plant will flower, and the flower only lasts for one day. It has to be hand pollinated to produce vanilla beans. It is a very labour intensive crop! You can buy vanilla pods or essence.

Their email is vanillaaustralia@bigpond.com

Wikihow has a great article on how to grow vanilla beans at home. search wikiHow.com for how to grow vanilla and you will find an article co- authored by Lauren Kurtz in Colorado. But you really need a tropical climate and a lot of patience!

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