Crystal Waters - 30 Years On

In 2018, Crystal Waters, the world’s first permaculture designed settlement, celebrated their 30th Anniversary of gaining legal recognition of their community. The diverse community of Crystal Waters Permaculture Village has many successes to rejoice, and some lessons from the past to learn from.

While the community enjoys sharing seasonal abundances, many acknowledge that greater use could be made of people’s diverse skills and the land, and some challenges have yet to be resolved. “It is a wonderful experiment”, says Bernard O’Scanaill, a musician who runs regular Music Nights on "the deck" at Crystal Waters.

Bordering the Mary River, near Maleny, South East Queensland, the 640 acre property was donated by Bob Sample to enable pioneers to experiment with permaculture. Bob Sample, the original land owner in 1977, and Robin Clayfield, an early settler of the new community 1988, uncover the story of the village unfolding, aided by recollections from early residents, Annie Wall, Regine Ruppelt and others. Dean Cameron introduces the initial site works and shaping of the land with roads and dams according to a village scale permaculture design. Jan Freyee, a builder since the start of the community, introduces some alternative building methods used in the village.

This feature documentary takes a look behind the scenes exploring some notable gardens, planted forests and much loved regen areas, as well as successful cash crops and a variety of businesses. Amy Jansen, Crystal Waters land manager and Morag Gamble, resident and permaculture educator, explore the importance of riparian zones. Graeme Harpley introduces us to Dooja Dell - a bush regeneration project he’s managed for many years. 

Living a healthy lifestyle in a nature reserve over 200 residents enjoy clean water, air, soil, abundant nature, luscious dams and the opportunity to participate in many diverse activities to enrich their lives. 

Artistic expression of all sorts, especially music, is also a highlight. Visitors have a choice of camping or caravan sites, bunkhouse or a cabin at The EcoPark. Other accommodation is available at The Dream Plant and a few homes too, and many WWOOFERS stay for weeks or even months.

 Recipient of a UN Habitat Award in 1996, Crystal Waters is known worldwide for its permaculture setting and educational courses. Author and facilitator, Robin Clayfield, holds regular Dynamic Group workshops, Teacher Trainings and importantly, Social Permaculture, applying permaculture principles towards social change.

Max Lindegger, one of the original designers of the village, leads the teaching team for the Permaculture Design Course held over two weeks at Crystal Waters. Max points out that while agricultural use of the land has been limited so far, muses... “It’s not too late”, and the rich soil, especially around the dams, is ready for productive use. 

Permaculture related education is prominent. For example Morag Gamble and her family conduct tours of Crystal Waters and offers permaculture courses. These courses are available both online and in person, in various locations locally and globally. Also, Barry O’Connell, Robin Clayfield, and Tom Nealson each do tours focusing on different aspects of Crystal Waters.

 This feature documentary celebrates the past, present and future of Crystal Waters Permaculture EcoVillage - but such a brief presentation is merely a behind-the-scenes snapshot of Crystal Waters and cannot investigate the many complexities in the life of a continually changing and growing community such as this. 

Some highlights are Robin Clayfield and Bob Sample’s discussion... “We’re still in our infancy,” explains Robin, “but it is evolving...” adds Bob. Amber, an early resident, says Crystal Waters is “...gentle, female and nurturing”. Continued overleaf... ... Luciano Giangiordano says, “What Crystal Waters has achieved in 30 years has been phenomenal”. Jane Brouet and Gaby Gottselig in conversation lead us to Robin Harpley and Sandra Ferguson explaining the activities of the Body Corporate and the Community Co-op. 

Po Mei who led the Wellness Festivals says... “We are on a journey”. Teacher, musician, Sybil MacLure says “I’m sure it has a really strong future” and her partner Tom Nealson states an often cited sentiment... “I look forward to the next 30 years of being part of Crystal Waters”. Max Lindegger concludes with “We had a dream and a vision. It was big!”

Other notable participants in Crystal Waters include original residents, Barry O’Connell and Hans Erken, who ran the first permaculture conference in 1984 in Pappinburra, NSW; where the filmmaker, Michael Ney, first met Hans, Max and Robin along with Bill Mollison and took photos of them for Simply Living magazine. Remembering the early days leading up to 1988, Hans visits the bamboo plantation, Earthcare Farm, which is also 30 years old. Others such as “Green Warrior”, Steve Cran, along with caterer Yoav Handelsman, “food is a medicine”... and a team of weekly gardeners, are revitalising the community garden to share food, learning, growing together with the spirit of community. Lastly, a musical segment underscoring highlights from the famous Crystal Waters Monthly Markets features Crystalimba, the Marimba Band, led by Ronda Lee.

Many community members also share their insights...

• archival interviews by Lois Tarling and Chris Gwin.  

• author, astrologer, cemetery manager Richard Giles;  

• Greg Roughsedge and Ayca from the EcoPark;

• sisters musician/artists Sara Yael & Gabriella Cohen 

• dance teacher Lisa Racquel; 

• health retreat owner Izabella Siodmak; 

• guest house manager Scott Dunbar;  

• educator Richard Mochelle;

• musician and choir master Kim Kirkman 

• and other performers Steve Langton, Malcolm Fielding 

• plus Music Night Organiser, Bernard O’Scanaill;

• belly dance teacher Katherine Osborne;

• along with dancers Sonja, Veronica, Jo and Rovielle; 

• Susie Foster introduces the Fun-tusy arts & craft group;

• dairy group folk Rhea Phelan and Flow Oakley;

• early residents and gardeners Sam & Jazmin;  

• Ally and Flynn from The Flowerpot Coffee Shop;

• the Freyee family Jan, Jory, Troy and ex-wife Lottie;

• new tiny house residents Alli, Sam and Jude;

• permaculture teacher Annaliese Hordern;

• avid gardener and first Co-op chair-person Peter Searle;

• Global EcoVilage Networker Jillian Hovey;

• the woodfired bakery orginator Les Bartlett... 

• and the new owner Bernard Devos 

• helper Peter Vanderduys and many others;

• indigenous artist/dancer Wiruungga Dunggiirr 

• wild foods caterer Sabine Wienand;

• plus many others... Kentaro Yamaki, Kathryn Blackburn.  


>>> Crystal Waters Website - http://crystalwaters.org.au/doco/

>>> YouTube Video Gallery - http://bit.ly/cw-qld-utube

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