Carool, a place of everything in indigenous language is a lush, green sub-tropical area with expansive views from Byron Bay in the south and to Stradbroke Island in the north. Visitors often lose a sense of direction driving around the ridge line as every property provides a different vista. Situated on the NSW/QLD border in the Tweed hinterland Carool is a short 1.5 hours from Brisbane and 25 minutes from Coolangatta airport.

Initially the area was divided into soldier settler allotments after WW1. However the topography rendered some sites unsustainable and many of the settlers walked away. Since then small farming operations, traditionally bananas, have been the norm. That changed in the 90’s when we planted coffee and Mark Quinn from Ilnam Estate planted grapes.

Developing our products and working with the community established a passion for supporting “local”. In the last few years some wonderful developments have occurred in Carool, opening a foodway that we would like to share with visitors to our area. The posts on this blog are aimed at sharing some of the Carool highlights, the people, places and activities. We are proud of our products and enjoy a cooperative approach in our businesses. I’m Zeta and I’d like to share with you some stories about Carool.

It’s amazing how simple pleasures affect the way we live and add to our sense of happiness. I have lived here in Carool for 22 years with my husband and daughter (though she’s only 20) and we’ve enjoyed the lifestyle, but….

There were no restaurants!

In the early days, it was a 30 minute drive to Kingscliff, Coolangatta, Murwillumbah and all points North, South, East and West. After being a city girl for most of my life the lack of anything in close proximity was quite challenging. As much as I have enjoyed entertaining friends at home there was still a longing for a good “local” for dinner. Luckily 22 years of pleas to some higher being were finally answered and we have a fantastic local with a menu appealing to vegans, vegetarians and carnivores. “Potager”, a kitchen garden, opened Easter, 2016 and has been embraced by locals and visitors alike. It will probably get to the stage where I can’t get a table.

The restaurant is owned and run by Peter Burr and chef, Gareth Leslie. The kitchen garden embraces the restaurant, from the raised garden beds through to the living wall at the entrance. The restaurant has a wonderful warmth and sense of community that provides a central point for Carool connections. Our monthly book club has moved its meetings to a Friday night dinner spot at Potager and now even some partners want to come along for the meal. Occassionally between courses and a glass or 2 of wine we get around to discussing the book. Last year’s favourite reads were ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara and ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton.

Driving to Carool awakens all sorts of experiences for visitors. Most have never heard of Carool and the drive up the mountain is just the start. Every turn brings a different view. The weather is cooler and breezier so on a hot day their arrival is greeted with relief as they step out of the car. And if it’s a winter visit the fireplace is warming and welcoming. Most visitors don’t make it to their table on time as the short walk from the car is full of experiences from the guinea fowl running around the bamboo garden and then a stroll through the edible garden. Just when they drag themselves from the garden the view from the deck opens up.

I always enjoy watching the arrival of guests to Potager. A sense of wonder is on their faces by the time they reach the table.

The meal offers more diversity, a more eclectic approach to dining along with elegant presentation and generous serves. One of the restaurant standards is the “Peruvian sudado de pescado”, a rich, tomato based fish stew with a selection of seasonal, local seafood. A generous serve of bruschetta, drizzled with aioli and sprinkled with edible flowers, provides lots of bread for mopping up the last drop of stew.

Peter and Gareth have also embraced “local”. The use of produce from their garden, and fruit from neighbours gardens, sits alongside Zeta’s Coffee, Ilnam Estate wine and even Tweed made pottery dishes. The table tops and entry sign were made by local artisan Jerry Dowse at Lobo Workshop.

The next book club is Friday, February 3 and we’re reading ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’ by Yann Martel.

Coming up…

Mark Quinn has been making wine at Ilnam since 1999 and is available for bookings for a wine tasting and tour. Driving to Ilnam takes visitors through a canopy of poincianas and vines down the sweeping drive to the cellar door. Wednesday to Friday are quiet and relaxed for morning tea or lunch but the atmosphere becomes more lively on weekends, particularly Sundays which often feature live music with lunch. Mark is a keen muso and has developed a strong following for his Sunday sessions.

Planning a wedding?

Did you ever consider a wedding on a hillside with views that go forever? Or maybe in a pretty white chapel where the guests might not be looking at the bride but through a picture window with those same expansive views? Summergrove is the catalyst for Carool weekends. John and Donna have created one of the most sought after wedding locations in the Tweed and Gold Coast areas. Family and friends making the most of the weddings are finding Carool is a hidden treasure of scenic views, space to walk and local cuisine.