Having finally hung up the chalk after a very long teaching career, my new career is: travelling, blogging and writing from the beautiful northern end of the NSW coast.
You can read about my progress at www.maureendurney.com
Life is Good!
Published August 15th 2016
You'll Definitely Be Up A Creek Without A Paddle
Anyone who knows me can testify to the fact that I have absolutely no sense of direction - but I've found the most amazing places while being hopelessly lost. Now add my lack of direction to my friend's challenges with time, and you have a recipe for some very interesting adventures.
Recently my 'time-challenged' friend texted to ask if I'd like to go to the Chillingham Markets. Having only been once I thought it sounded like a pretty good offer, especially since she would be driving and obviously knew the way. We set off early, marvelled at the beautiful countryside along the way, and arrived at Chillingham only to find we were the only people within coo-ee of the market site. As we sat there in stunned silence my friend finally asked whether it was the second Sunday in the month; a quick calculation revealed that it was indeed just the first Sunday, and we were actually a week early. Not to waste the beautiful day we decided to find a cafe and indulge in something decadent, so we turned around and headed back to town. We hadn't gone far when we noticed a sign advertising the Crystal Creek Nursery Coffee Shop, so we made a quick decision to check it out.
Crystal Creek Rainforest Coffee Shop; more than just coffee
Still smarting a little from our mistimed market experience we tentatively approached the entrance to the coffee shop, not sure if it was actually open. Our fears were allayed when we met Carolyn, who we figured was the owner, coming into the shop from another direction. We ordered our drinks then followed Carolyn's directions to the verandah to make ourselves comfortable. Well, that was the plan anyway. We were immediately drawn to the railing, mesmerised by the view that lay before us - Crystal Creek - crystal clear and beautiful, very aptly named, and sparkling in the morning sun. And with the pebbles glistening in the sunlight, it looked like a picture out of a glossy art magazine.
The photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of Crystal Creek
I couldn't help but wonder what the two large pipes stretching from the railing right down to the water were for? The mystery was to be revealed later when Carolyn arrived with a handful of fish food. Down the pipe it went, causing a feeding frenzy in the water below. Wow! There were actually fish in there and they were very happy to be receiving their daily bread - or whatever it is they eat. In my old days of having a go at fishing I called it 'bait'. Whenever I put bait on a line, the fish ate it.
How clever - a pipe to the water for feeding the fish and tortoises
Our drinks were duly served by Carolyn who sat down with us to answer our many questions. I had no idea there was so much depth behind the unassuming signs at the entrance! It isn't just a coffee shop, or a nursery, but much, much more.
The Crystal Creek rainforest coffee shop sits on a fabulous 18 acres of idyllic bushland, but there's even more land across the creek. Carolyn and John breed, show, and sell miniature animals and provide an animal refuge as well. They also cultivate a range of plants that not only provide a beautiful backdrop for the coffee shop but are also available for sale. And if you think there isn't enough time to take it all in over coffee, they have that covered too. There is an historic cottage on the other side of the creek that can be rented for that special getaway to give you a taste of paradise. Waking up to the sound of fish splashing in the creek and birds singing in the trees would have to be the best cure for a stressful week. I suspect you could even get up close and personal with some of the creatures of the night - a possum or two, or maybe even a kangaroo or wallaby, if you're prepared to sit quietly on the porch and watch for them coming down to the creek at dusk or dawn.
Imagine waking up to the sound of birds singing right here on Crystal Creek
But, back to the coffee shop. I ordered a milkshake because I'm just a bit addicted to chocolate milkshakes, and I was not disappointed. I'm not sure if it was made in any special way, but coupled with the view and tranquility of the setting, it was an indulgence that I'll be going back for again. I could imagine sitting on that verandah with a good book, a chocolate milkshake (or two), and a few hours to soak up the ambience of that perfectly peaceful place. Milkshakes mightn't be good for the body, but when coupled with a view like this, it's everything the soul needs when running a little low on momentum.
Dine on the verandah with a view like this or choose any of the tables in the gardens
When we mustered up the inclination to leave the creek behind, we wandered through the nursery and gift shop. Not being a gardener I will sum up the nursery experience in terms of a nice backdrop to the chairs in the garden. There is a spectacular 'chain of hearts' plant at the entrance that reminded me of a time long ago when I actually grew one, but nothing much has grown in my place since.
Carolyn and John not only grow a great chain-of-hearts, but they prepare great food as well
The gift shop had an array of interesting items, including a quirky bicycle plant stand that would dress up any garden. I have to admit I was tempted to buy the giant coffee cup for those 'I need caffeine!' mornings, but my friend convinced me it was designed for plants, not coffee.
Does your garden need something novel to house your plants?