Places in the heart: Deborah Knight

Bellingen and Promised Land on the NSW north coast cast their spell on TV's Deborah Knight when she was a child, and now work their magic on her family.

BELLINGEN IS a little hidden paradise. I grew up in nearby Coffs Harbour and my first memories of Bellingen are of traipsing around behind my brother when he played soccer there, staring at the cows and the incredible fluorescent green grassland.

I often return to Bellingen as I have family there. I got married there in 2005, and always try to escape there for anniversaries and at Christmas.

Bellingen (population 2700) has a fantastic sense of community and diversity: hippies and farmers, and conservatism mixed with radical ideas make for a really interesting melting pot. The environment is stunning; rich farming country that attracts so much rainfall it's like a little ecosystem in itself — lush, green, bucolic. The food's fantastic, there are great cafes, a hatted restaurant and the pub has good food, too.

I'm most drawn to Promised Land, on the outskirts of Belligen. It starts at a little town called Gleniffer. You get there and are deafened by the sound of cicadas in summer. It's on the Never Never River, which has gorgeous little rock pools to swim in and there are great bushwalking and bike riding tracks. On the other hand, you can do nothing but hang out and enjoy the peace and quiet.

We married in a little church in the middle of open fields in the afternoon at Promised Land, then wandered across the paddock to the community hall, which we'd decorated with flowers from friends' gardens.

I'm very jealous of people for having snaffled their little slice of the Promised Land. In a perfect world I'd also have a little property tucked on the river there.

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.

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