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The story so far

Inspired by the history of the site, a deep sense of gratitude for the unique community and environment in which we live and the urgent need for action on climate change, this is the story of a dream coming true.

The property, known as the ‘Old Headmaster’s Cottage’ at 35 Station Rd Otford was built in 1909 by Arthur Gilchrist (Gilly), the then Principal of Otford Public School. He also established an ‘Experimental Farm’ to teach his students how to grow vegetables and fodder crops for the isolated community. His work seeded the idea for Gilly’s Kitchen Garden. 


Lush garden Scene at Gilly's Kitchen Garden

 The project started in 2018 with the acquisition of the site. Having mapped out our plan for a productive permaculture garden, we started work by planting the first tree in 2019.

Garden produce at Gilly's Kitchen Garden
Claudia Walters Working on the garden bed
Planting a tree at Gilly's Kitchen Garden
sustainable cooking school australia
Garden Bed Gilly's Kitchen Garden
Wellness centre wollongong
Construction work for the garden beds
Claudia Walter Garden

In 2020 earthworks began and we got to work with soil amendments, nets and the planting of the annual beds. Our first bag of veggies went out to friends in July! We added more trees, water tanks, a worm farm plus mulch and seedlings every week and endlessly turned the compost!

Garden bed
Compost bin permaculture
Organic Vegetables Otford
Food Forest Australia
Box Divvy
Irrigation Gillys Kitchen
Creekline Gilly's Kitchen Garden
Permaculture Meetings Australia
cardboard garden beds
Chicken coop at Gillys Kitchen Garden
Permaculture Community Australia

We’ve come a long way…
Our team has grown to include 2508 locals Ethan, Lachlan, Alicia, Grant, AJ, Olivia, Sharina and Wojtek. Swales in the annual beds were converted to terraces, a polytunnel built, irrigation and creek-line installed, amendments done, new compost bins made, CSA trialled, and chook yard created.

We also provided produce fresh from the markets for 50 local families, helped Otford Public School with renewing their growing space, trialled our "Seasonally Yours" program for backyard growers, opened "Nourish" our mobile spa service, kicked off a "Bite Sized" garden blitz program and helped establish the "Illawarra Edible Garden Trail" through Food Fairness Illawarra!

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Next Step...

The exciting next step is to hear feedback from Wollongong City Council on our DA for the property to become a Wellness Centre, providing community access to the beautiful, heritage listed building and the tranquil gardens we have tended over the last 5 years. 

The application includes restoration work to the former Headmaster's Cottage, the addition of a single room linked  by a glass breezeway and  parking for six cars.  

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Our design provides studio space for individual artists and small groups to explore a range of lost arts and crafts, as well as accomodating movement and self-care activities while our  cooking school will occupy the multipurpose space with views over the garden and valley.

For more information please call Claudia on 4294 3358

or email  


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