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The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability

Home > Sydney > Cafes | Food and Wine | Gardening | Gardens
by Kate Maraschino (subscribe)
Kate is a travel writer and journalist who is always happy when there's a strong latte at hand and a dog around to pat. You can say hello on Instagram @katemaraschino
Published February 17th 2019
Your eco-friendly oasis across the bridge

"What on earth is a turmeric latte?" A bemused voice pierces through the general hubbub of a Sunday morning; a grandmother is wrangling two energetic toddlers while deciphering the menu. It's 10 am and staff at Waverton's leafy Coal Loader Café are racing between the bright green tables of morning coffee drinkers, dog-walkers and brunch-goers.

"It's an alternative to coffee, with turmeric and ginger," a harried waitress explains, pointing to an A-frame sign in the middle of the courtyard. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and caffeine-free are splashed across the board.

"I'll take a cappuccino, thanks."

While it's not to everyone's tastes, it's hardly a surprise to see 'golden milk' on the menu here; the Coal Loader Café is part of the North Sydney Council's Centre of Sustainability, and the menu is filled with healthy and green initiatives. Kombucha arrives at tables with paper straws and prominent signs promise discounts when customers BYO coffee cup. Food waste from the kitchen is turned into compost on-site and local produce is used for the seasonal menu; so local in fact, that customers can trade in their home-grown produce for a cup of coffee.

coal loader, cafe, waverton
Views across the harbour at The Coal Loader. Photo by Kate Maraschino

The café is as buzzing as the hive of native bees in the community garden next door. "They are native bees, species Tetragonula carbonaria," says Danielle, the centre's coordinator. "We keep them at the Coal Loader so they can pollinate the plants in the community garden, as well as to improve the biodiversity of the site."

Not everyone in the Lower North Shore has access to their own garden – apartment blocks tend to give way to big backyards – but those still wanting to grow their own produce, the centre has a solution.

"There are two community gardens at the Coal Loader," Danielle explains. "The groups consist of many volunteers who come together to grow food and share time, and are completely volunteer run so they choose what to plant and how the garden will run. Anyone can join a community garden.

On the (Coal Loader) platform we also lease allotments, where for a fee a North Sydney resident can lease a plot to grow their own food

And being part of a community garden has plenty of benefits!

"Some of the benefits include growing healthy food, mostly organic produce with very low food miles, promoting social connection between members of the group, and turning disused sites into thriving community gardens."

Maintenance of the gardens includes activities like planting, watering, helping out with the worm farm and mulching. In return, you'll get a share of zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, flat-leaf parsley and mint, just to name a few of the blooming plants sprawling across the community garden plots waiting to be harvested. You might even collect some eggs from the resident hens!

eggplant, garden, coal loader, waverton
Eggplants are just some of the vegetables you'll find growing in the leafy garden beds. Photo by Kate Maraschino

"It was the community gardeners idea to start caring for chooks, and it fits in very well with having a sustainable food garden. The members of this group are on a roster to care for them."

For those who lack a green thumb, the community centre offers plenty of other green initiatives to get involved with. A string of empty plastic fish soy sauce bottles filled with coloured water, resembling little fairy lights, hangs above signs for free Wednesday morning yoga classes and a book-swap club. A wander through the building will teach you concepts like stormwater harvesting and solar power, and the centre acts as a drop off centre for recycling soft plastics, batteries, mobile phones and corks.

The Coal Loader Café is located at 10 Balls Head Drive, Waverton, and is open Wednesday to Sunday 7am-3pm. The Centre for Sustainability is open Monday to Friday 9am-4pm, and Saturday 10am-4pm.

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Why? For good green vibes and a great coffee
Phone: 0422 887 396
Where: 10 Balls Head Drive Waverton NSW 2060
Cost: Coffee from $3.5 Breakfast $10-$20
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