NORTHERN RIVERS NSW ~ WITH AMANDA CALLAN
We were delighted to stumble upon the sweetest of roadside stalls at the front of a converted old church during a Sunday drive through the tiny New South Wales township of Billinudgel [population 200] a few years back.
We bought some beautiful natural soap, which we later learned were handmade by the lovely Amanda Callan and her musician partner Andrew Morris, who’d packed up their life in Sydney and headed to the Northern Rivers region before the arrival of their first child, Banjo.
The couple, who call the reimagined old church home, have since added another little man, Percy, to their tribe, and have turned their roadside stall into a bonafide business, Church Farm General Store.
Their cruelty-free handmade natural soaps, famous smoked hot sauce and curry pastes – made from produce grown on their farm - are stocked at independent stores throughout Australia’s East Coast, and they’ve developed a strong social media following.
The busy mama took time out to chat with The Travelling Tribe about her favourite places in her hometown.
How do you entertain two energetic boys?
When we’re at home, we have an equally energetic dog Maggie who helps us entertain the boys with various ball-throwing activities, or they ‘help out’ at the farm.
Do you know of any secret waterfalls, swimming spots, or hidden gems in your area?
We have a few friends with amazing swimming spots and waterfalls in their backyards – it’s good to have friends like that if you can handle the envy [laughs].
We also love the river at Brunswick Heads and we have a few little spots we go to there. The river opposite Yum Yum cafe at New Brighton is great if the tide is right.
What’s an ideal way to spend the weekend with your tribe?
To keep everyone happy, our weekends normally involve a bit of surfing, a bit of beach walking, a bit of park action, lots of yummy food with friends and can I say a clean house without sounding like a crazy person? [laughs].
Where do you eat out with the kids?
Our favourite place is the pop up Mexican at Crabbes Creek Hall. It is on every few Friday nights and it’s so good! We go there with friends the kids run around like crazy on the grass and we grab drinks from the general store and eat quesadillas – perfect! There’s also a cute little South Indian pop up at the Bangalow Tea Rooms that is great. We get a Dosa and a few home-style curries to share. There is also a big grassy patch, which is the key with kids.
Most importantly, where do you get your coffee?
The ‘girls’ at Jones & Co or the ‘boys' at Table View, both at Brunswick Heads.
What markets or stores do you love to visit?
Our regular hangs are the New Brighton and Mullumbimby farmers markets [every Tuesday and Friday]. The weekend markets are also great and our favourite is The Channon, which is a bit of a drive but totally worth it.
We also love heading to Newrybar for sourdough on Saturday or Sunday and to visit the deli and gawk at all the amazing things at the Newrybar Merchants. Then there is Mullum and all of its bulk food and herbal dispensary goodness. Byron is good for that too, of course.
When you meet your friends and their kids, where do you go?
The markets, the river, the park - anywhere with lots of space! Or if someone is really crazy and offers their house, we do that.
Where would you most like to travel with your family and why?
Anywhere there is a nanny! [laughs]. We have our roots pretty planted here at the moment with the farm and everything, but when Percy gets a bit bigger we would love to do a house swap. Surely there is someone with a little cottage in the south of France or Italy that wants a Billinudgel experience?? I did see someone post something about wanting to swap their house in Mexico; that would be fun.
When you travel with your tribe, what are the essentials in your bag?
We keep it pretty minimal. I’d say, Earth bottle [water], snacks, nappies, a change of clothes for both the boys and rescue remedy.
Images by Bridget Wood Photography.