See the first part of our travels here…
Nimbin is a weird place. Going there felt like leaving the country and walking into another – perhaps a country from a Dr. Suess book. Everything has a rainbow motif; the people are suspiciously relaxed; every second person on the street offers you drugs… (that last bit isn’t so Dr. Suess). An interesting cultural experience.
However, the real reason we went to Nimbin was to check out what is probably Australia’s best-known coffee farm: Mountain Top Estate.
Nowhere in Australia can you find conditions perfect from growing coffee; we have areas with the right climate, altitude and volcanic soil, but never all together! Mountain Top Estate has proven that it’s possible to overcome these traditional barriers to growing great coffee through careful farming and processing.
Peter explained that their coffee is mechanically harvested (watch this video from about 1:40 to see the harvester in action!) which make it economically viable here. However, the harvester struggles in wet weather, which will make this year a tough one (harvest is near and it’s been very wet!).
It was my first experience on a coffee farm and I loved it! I got pretty busy with my camera, too. My conclusions were that: a) coffee plants are very photogenic, and b) I need to go visit more farms!
Eventually we started the road-trip proper, and our first stop was the funky town of Armidale. It wasn’t strictly on our way home – in fact it was in the opposite direction by 4 hours – but we’d heard about a very cool establishment called the Gold Fish Bowl which we knew we had to check out.
If there’s something the entire Ritual crew could get passionate about as much as coffee, it would be GOOD BREAD! (And maybe good beer.) Gold Fish Bowl has an enormous wood-fired oven inside, where they make exquisite sourdough. Just so good.
Not only that, but they roast their own coffee (very well) out the back too. Not only that, but they’re great guys! Josh came over and talked to us for ages, and then gave us the grand tour. It was great to check out such a pumping cafe full of passionate people.
Sadly we could only stay for brekky before we had to keep driving!
In the next instalment, you’ll find us heading back through Newcastle, along the South Coast and on to Melbourne.