Crystal Waters Documentary: 30 Years On

"Crystal Waters - 30 Years On” - a documentary about the world's first permaculture ecovillage

See the full Doco with extras online, or order your DVD for postal delivery.

"This documentary is put together with such sensitivity, care, love and creative genius. I love the tempo of the footage, the way the Crystal Waters dwellers are presented is very pleasing to watch. I noticed the subtle changes in the appropriate musical accompaniment as it rolled along. Well done, Michael." - Ulli Hansen

Director’s Statement
- Launched 25 February 2019

Soon after arriving at Crystal Waters a few years ago, I drove over the hill and there was an idyllic landscape topped by a softly translucent rainbow and some unusual housing barely visible through the abundance of lush trees by the mystical lake. I got out of my car into the light rain and took this photo which became the "hero" image of the project.

The grass was greener then. A few months later I ended up renting a cabin near where the left white rooftop is seen. Now, it’s one of my most favourite photos. I had no idea then that I would spend a full year nearly totally dedicated to the task of discussing, meeting everyone, shooting events, interviews and scenery. I responded to a request by one of the Coop Directors, Richard Giles, who was keen to have a documentary for the 30th Anniversary event on June 29, 2018.

So, I got busy shooting, editing, stressing, envisioning what a presentation on an ecovillage could be like. Then, the birthday event came and went... everyone was enthusiastic with what they saw onscreen... BUT I knew that there was so much more work to be done. I felt compelled to do justice to this unusual story of a community and village undergoing growing pains, visions for the future arising and dealing with conflicts and attitudes. It was clear that so much of the life within the community, and the arts especially had not yet been captured... that led to another 6 months of shooting.

Previous film-making experiences should have warned me that doing a documentary will take over your life. I got blindsided again and worked countless hours in the edit suite and held many community screenings to gauge reactions and pain points and in the end I just had to plow on till it was comfortable for me to let it go out in the world. It is often said that films are never finished - just abandoned... It felt so true.

It has been an immense joy to get to know some of the leading permaculture teachers at Crystal Waters. Nearly everyone has been very generous with their time and I give a big THANK YOU to Max Lindegger, Robin Clayfield and Morag Gamble especially. This documentary I hope will lead to many other projects along similar lines. If you are looking for people to help with your projects - even though they are all busy - I know they will be interested to hear from you and help if they can.

More info:

If you are either not familiar, or on the other hand, extremely passionate about "ecovillages", permaculture and growing a community with the intention of making the world a better place through appropriate, sustainable and regenerative methods there will be much in this documentary to excite your interest.

Watch Documentary Here

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, Scott Dunbar 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.

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, one of the original permaculture designers of Crystal Waters, 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. Incidentally, this is where the filmmaker Michael Ney first met Hans, Max and Robin along with Bill Mollison whilst on a photo assignment 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. The markets are a monthly highlight for the community.

-- Michael Ney - director, producer.

A few reviews...

"The Crystal Waters documentary is AMAZING, world-class. I was incredibly inspired by the people who made this place a reality, and to be reminded how many special things we have here." - Kirsty Saint, Crystal Waters Resident

"This portrait of Crystal Waters is full of genuine people and reflects the diverse things we can all offer in community life. I really enjoyed seeing the range of ages and people from all different countries who are brought together through their passion for Crystal Waters. The historical footage was a great addition. This film is thoughtfully balanced and provides a window into a unique community. I recommend it!" - Claire Ogden, Eco Villages Australia -

"The Crystal Waters documentary is a terrific film about the beginnings of the world's first permaculture ecovillage to the present day - 30 years on. Informative, colourful, inspirational, and sensitively filmed, capturing the beauty, joy and advantages of community living. I thoroughly enjoyed it." - Christabel Wilson, Maleny QLD

Email: Michael Ney
Eagle Spirit Media