Taste the Good Life with Madeline

Taste the Good Life with Madeline

The Central Coast hinterland is home to many established and emerging producers, each with unique connections to local cafes, restaurants and outdoor adventures from their farm door.

The Pecan Lady is a growing Central Coast business based on a sprawling Somersby farm - a must-visit on the region’s hinterland trail. The first pecan trees were planted by hand in the 1980s and although the farm’s now under new ownership, it remains in the founding family, with Madeline and Chris Stratford staying on as managers. Madeline has been coined the ‘new Pecan Lady’ but she’s no stranger to the Coast as a born-and-bred local with her husband running Stratford Music school in Woy Woy. Madeline stepped out of her busy schedule to share her freshest picks of things to do on the Central Coast.

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Pecan Harvest, The Pecan Lady, Somersby

What do you love most about the Coast?

“I love the variety on the Coast. In just a short drive you can experience farmlands, beaches, markets and shops. There are so many fantastic cafes and restaurants. And there's a great variety of people and places, with a real sense of community.”

Where do you go for good vibes and coffee?

When we lived in The Entrance, Chris and I frequented Modern Organic in Long Jetty for morning tea. They have a peaceful garden area out the back, a yoga studio, and offer fantastic food for every diet.

What’s the best meal you’ve had on the Coast?

The absolute best meal we've had was definitely at Safran in Ettalong. They had a banquet night with belly dancing, their classic Turkish dishes, and live music. The courses of food – and cocktails – just kept coming.

What’s your go-to outdoor experience?

To be honest, it’s really hard to beat the beauty of the pecan orchard. We walk laps around it with our cattle dog, Kai, every day, and it’s my favourite place to watch the sunset. We're also extremely lucky to live a 15-minute walk from Somersby Falls. It's a serene place to relax and pursue some photography, or adventure right down to the bottom falls.

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Modern Organic, Photo by Dominic Loneragan
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Safran, Photo by Isaac Tseng

Where is the first place you would take a friend visiting the Coast?

Avoca is a great place to take visitors, especially during a market weekend in the summer. The beach is stunning and you can go paddleboarding. There are plenty of cafes for lunch, and the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre has such an artistic charm to it.

What’s your favourite local hideaway most tourists don’t know about?

I enjoy going for a quiet stroll at Gosford Regional Gallery. There's always something interesting to see on display, the gardens are very Zen, there’s a nice cafe and you can feed the many koi fish in the manicured gardens.

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Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, Photo by Sarah-Kate Mcaleer
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Gosford Regional Gallery, Photo by Sarah-Kate Mcaleer

What’s a typical busy day on the Coast like for you?

I start the day with fresh orange juice produced locally by Eastcoast Beverages and head into the orchard to collect fallen branches. My husband Chris does everything from building, welding, blacksmithing and woodworking. He repairs and maintains farm machinery, all the dwellings and the property itself.

We then head to our music school in Woy Woy (Stratford Music) and grab a takeaway coffee from either Soulfood or Gnostic Mana Café and go for a quick waterfront walk. I teach my adult and senior piano students in the morning.

For lunch, we often grab tasty Thai food from At-Ta-Rote. I continue teaching piano through the afternoon until 8pm, when we run student band groups and ensembles for an hour. If it's a takeout night, we get dinner from Spices 29 Goan Indian Restaurant, which is easily one of the best quality Indian restaurants on the Coast. Once we arrive back home in the hinterland we then start to plan the next day’s farm work.

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Orange Trees at Eastcoast Beverages, Photo by Sarah-Kate Mcaleer
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Gnostic Mana Cafe, Photo by Jacs Powell