Local donkeys' ancestors may have carried Virgin Mary & Jesus
THE descendants of the donkey Mary rode from Nazareth to Bethlehem while pregnant with baby Jesus more 2000 years ago may be living in North Lismore.
Steve Barnier, the owner of three donkeys - Burrough, Blossom and Pablo - living on a hectare block near the Wilsons River claims the donkey's have a very impressive linage.
The donkeys were bought by Mr Barnier 12 years ago from a property at Tenterfield from a herd which originated from Israel.
The story, according to Mr Barnier, is that a wealthy Sydney doctor and his wife undertook a Bible trail from Nazareth to Bethlehem in the 1960s.
The guides on the tour told the couple they were descendants of Mary and Joseph, and said the donkeys were descended from the same donkey on which the pregnant virgin rode.
The doctor and his wife were so impressed by the holy donkeys, they bought four and shipped them to Australia.
Once in Australia the couple purchased a property at Tenterfield as a retreat for the donkeys.
Mr Barnier said he loved his donkeys because of their gentle nature.
"They have no nastiness, they are noble and easy going" he said.
"Once you get to know a donkey it enriches you."
Mr Barnier once turned down an offer from the Catholic Church for the donkeys to appear in the Christmas nativity play.
"They are quite bashful and they don't like to leave North Lismore," Mr Barnier said. "I don't know how they would go with the paparazzi, bright lights and signing autographs."