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Welcome to the Apothecary Library
Categories: Behind the Scenes

Hello there Lovelies it’s Marina here, welcoming you to my sparkling brand new website. I’m happy to extend a very special warm Gippsland welcome to my Apothecary Library, where all my Cider Tonic tales will be told.

I’m so excited because this new website is giving me the opportunity to share this amazing journey with you all.  Now I can reach right out to you on a personal level. Sitting here in my light filled new living space.  As you can imagine, I’m taking a brief rest from the garden, sipping on a chai next to my beautiful Monstera plant. Well, I want to get stuck right in and tell you about all of the massive changes that are underway in our lives, and I am not just talking about the website!

As some of you may know Mark and I recently decided it was time to pack up and sell our home in Traralgon. Our plan was to move into our rental house in Yarram and renovate it for sale. We were planning to find a nice big block of land to build a spec’d up sustainable eco home, so that we can wind down and change our lifestyle up.

But you know what? The charm of Clary our quaint vintage 1930’s Cal-Bungalow took a hold of us. The vibes are so good, that we have decided to stay indefinitely! No-one is more surprised than us at this turn of events, believe me.

After returning back here only a little while, we realised that there were so many more benefits of retrofitting our house to become more sustainable and cater for our lifestyle than undertaking a brand new build.

Firstly, being built in the 30’s. the house has a solid foundation and good bones.

I adore the bright and airy aspect of the living room and kitchen to the back that looks out onto the garden. Don’t even get me started on the heavy old wood doors, architraves and floorboards. This is undoubtedly the stuff home renovation magic is made of!

A big advantage to us undertaking this retro-suburbian adventure is that the house already sits on a generously sized block with a vast garden. Historically, this garden used to be filled with raised veggie beds that were utilised back in my cheffing days. Already I know so much about how much light the garden gets, where to plant new things and what the soil conditions are like.

To build new or retro fit?

Discussions began between Mark and I about the pros & cons of building a brand spanking new home on a parcel of land. For example, we knew the earthworks would disturb the microbes in the soil and it would take years for the soil’s health to completely recover. It just didn’t sound like the right to us.  Looking right out our bi-fold doors we knew that we could make this garden our oasis. We agreed that we can grow Cider Tonic ingredients, we can meditate here and we can invite people in. Oh the ideas came gushing in as we began. Mark and I have discussed our plans for hours upon hours.  Talk about inspired!

front of the house pre-renovation

3 Bay Compost Bins

So where are we?

Our home is here in Yarram.  It’s located in the #gutsofgippsland a very close-knit and resilient community .  Our home is close in proximity to all the things we love about Gippsland. We live minutes away from the historic township of Port Albert, where we love to have a leisurely afternoon stroll together. You know, hand in hand and all that mush! We live near the temperate rainforests of the Tarra Valley/Bulga National Park ,and not far from the pristine coastline of the Ninety Mile Beach. Wilsons Promontory is so close to us.  Mark loves his landscape photography, we find we can just head off into the sunset (to literally take photos of the sunset) in the long Summer afternoons. I always dangle my feet out the back of our fitted out Transit Van, (that we affectionately named Fanny), reading a book while I hear him clicking away.

It’s very exciting to tell you that…

we are breezing through it all now at rapid speed. Mark wants to eventually wind down his career as an accountant and invest more time into his creative pursuits like photography & woodwork. As for me, I want to get back to the earth. I’m dreaming of growing our Cider Tonic ingredients and turning our home into a headquarters for Cider Tonic love!

For the last few months we have been renovating our home that we call Clary. We have painted the walls and updated the kitchen, bathrooms & laundry. The living area has manifested into a light, airy, and open plan space.  It’s minimal and green, surrounded by plants and comfortable to live and work in.

Our bedroom is even adjoining this space. We began sleeping in the middle of the house to compliment the renovations. After awhile we have decided to keep the bedroom open plan too.  We are sleeping right next to our vintage open fireplace after all. It’s a real conversation starter, and we love watching visitor’s reactions! Ultimately it just works for us, so we are gonna go with the flow. There’s still so much work to be done on the other rooms, such as our work studios and front of the house. We will keep you updated in a later article.

Where do we even begin to realise our dream of growing our organic ingredients?

One of the first things I have done is teamed up with permaculture extraordinaire Cecilia Macauley,. She has worked diligently with me to realise my Cider Tonic gardening dreams.  Our special garden plans include features such as an undulating raised herb bed right next to the patio, a Japanese herb garden and our wicking bed greenhouse.  There is also our compost station, keyhole food forest and lean-to potting shed.  There’s even going to be a chamomile lawn.

We are going to go through each of these elements and more in blog-by-blog fashion. I will tell you how it all pieces together and how the retro-fit of the house compliments the garden.  Together we are planning to be water-wise, solar powered and as eco-friendly as possible.

Right so, I cannot gas bag all day, no matter how much I want to tell you about it all right now. Here I am armed with my design plans, and my Retrosuburbia book to boot! It’s time for me to head back out there into my happy place. However, feel free to stop me for a chat when you see me out and about at our local farmers markets.  You will see me there selling that golden elixir of life, Cider Tonic. I’ll be only too happy to tell you where we are at.


Until next time, get out there & enjoy the little things in life.
Remember to love your guts like I love your guts!



Marina | Cider Tonic