Crystal Waters

For these crispy, light and buttery sourdough pastries, come to Crystal Waters Bakery any Saturday from 8am till 1pm.  Better not leave it too late - don't expect these to last.    Special Annual Events - 2015 Dates  Kenilworth Cheese, Wine and Food Fest, Easter Saturday 4 April, 7.30am-4pmAnother of our annual favourites.  Right next to the Kenilworth Cheese Factory, and all around the park.   Events for the kids and the whole family. Maleny Wood Expo, 2-3 May Check out  So much more than Chainsaw to Fine Furniture.  A blast for any kind of woodworker or admirer of fine crafts.  Plus - the pick of the finest, funnest, most entertaining Maleny musos, plenty for the kids, and many of your favourite local food producers.  We've been there since it started and we love it!  Regular Weekly/Monthly Sales MarketsFirst Saturday every month, 8am-2pm, Crystal Waters Market - find us at 'home' in the bakery. Our Big Day of the month, when the sleepy village green springs to life with a vibrant community-run market which is fast gaining in popularity while maintaining its delightfully relaxed and festive atmosphere.Second Saturday every month, 7.30-noon, Montville Market, Montville Village HallThird Saturday every month, 7.3-am-noon, Balckall Range Grower' Market, Old Witta School, WittaEvery Wednesday, 6.30am-1pm, Eumundi Market (the original part, around the Historical Society) Crystal Waters, 65 Kilcoy Lane, Conondale Qld Saturday from 8am-1pmLocals gather at the bakery for great coffee, amazing pastries, a good yarn  and weekly bread.   Retail outlets:Maple Street Co-op Maleny Saturdays from 9am   / and Honey, Margaret Street Palmwoods - (bread stored in freezer)         Updated: 15 July 2010Les Bartlett has been baking sourdough bread at Crystal Waters for ten years.  He mixes by hand using organic stone-ground flour, filtered river water and sea salt and the age-old natural fermentation process of a flour and water leaven that is nurtured from bake to bake. The loaves - and sourdough pizza bases - are baked in the wood-fired oven built by Alan Scott and a team of volunteers when Les first established the bakery in 2001.  With James Mayhead baking and teaching Les for the first year of business, proceeds from sales went into building a roof over the bakery, and later the walls and a store room. Les whole-heartedly agrees with Alan Scott's philosophy on micro-bakeries, choosing to remain small and local so that the people who buy our bread know us and thereby have a more direct contact with the bread they eat. Our plan is to get smaller and more local as the years go by and the heavy load of hand-mixing needs to be cut back. We would like to see a return to more small local bakeries making real bread rather than large organisations using commercial mixes and improvers - with a focus on health, nutrition and relationships.Since 2002 Les and his partner Lesley (that's me) - yup, Les and Lesley - have been selling the bread at local farmers markets as well as from the bakery every Saturday morning.   The Bakery is in the Village area at Crystal Waters, 65 Kilcoy Lane, Conondale  Ph:(07) 5494 4779 Warm thanks to Graham Pritchard for establishing this website many years ago, and for putting the following summary of our bakery online.  We've tried to resist technology, but this is one that works! Good on you Graham. Crystal Waters is a village bakery located at Conondale, in SE Queensland. Bread is distributed to local communities (such as Maleny) with an occasional trip to regional markets, including Noosa Heads. It's organic, woodfired and 100% sourdough.

The mantra could be, if it's not going to benefit the planet, then why bother. And that makes perfect sense because the bakery is part of Crystal Waters Permaculture Village. The village is run on holistic principles that promote sustainable agriculture and society (see Permaculture).

Les Bartlett and Lesley Halliday built the bakery for goodness from the ground up. It is essentially an Alan Scott oven, a simple enclosing structure, a store room, a sink and a bench. There is no bread machinery. The doughs are hand mixed and hand shaped. There are no additives on the premises. It is a minimalist setup and the process is just as simple. Community members Pat and Lorell bake with Les, while Lesley takes care of the markets.

Watching Les hand mix a dough in a plastic tub reminded me of the difficult early days that many artisans experience. But this is 4 years since opening, and Les is quite happy to leave things just as they are. Growth is not a priority at Crystal Waters bakery. Staying small supports the philosophy that our communities are better served by many smaller bakeries in tune with their neighbourhoods, rather than monstrous bread factories flooding large regions with unconnected products.

Most artisans make a concession of some sort: machine mixing, larger scale wholesaling, retardation...

Les and Lesley shake their heads and you truly have to love them for it. I played devil's advocate for over an hour, arguing the benefits of larger distribution amongst other things. Some of these conversations were filmed but unfortunately the sound quality is not perfect due to the most gorgeous breeze blowing across the fields, through the grape vine and into the microphone (which has no appreciation of such things). But some extracts will be available soon on the Crystal Waters video page.

Disadvantages to the village concept exist in the short term, because a larger network of holistic bakeries is needed to address the problems of: customers having to travel further distances to purchase, and economies of scale determining a more expensive item. A contradiction to holistic baking at present is that the purchase (1) price of sustainable bread makes it an exclusive product. At $5.00 - $6.00 AUD, many Australians feel excluded from purchasing. Lesley pointed out that an educated market might see the benefit of purchasing one loaf of goodness over two loaves of chemical goo.

A window in the bake gave us an opportunity to sit and share a meal. Les, the bakers and I tucked into a chook plucked from Pat's paddock, served in freshly baked pita bread. Every baker knows the feeling of taking a break with bread proving up and a batch in the oven. It feels like you have left the iron on, or that any second the bath is going to overflow. But relaxing in this setting was not difficult. Our meal was complimented by home brew and gourmet cheese courtesy of Pat.

All bread is essentially the same was a recent comment in our forum. The poster, chembake, was referring to technical characteristics rather than any philosophical practices of the baker. Crystal Waters holistic process distinguishes them from bakers who use all the right ingredients but do not make a philosophical commitment to sustainable living. The distinction between holistic artisan and technical artisan may annoy and appear petty to many. However Crystal Waters are simply expressing another level of respect for their customers and in fact all of us.

20 June 2006

Les has written to the site and says that he is particularly grateful for the work that James Mayhead put into getting Crystal Waters bakery going.

"James Mayhead who had worked for a while at Sol Breads (and is now back with them) spent 18 months here setting up our bake and training Pat and me. I would really like to see this acknowledged. He headed off in the early stages and spent 3 months in Sonoma County building ovens with Alan and baking with some of the bakers who use Alan's ovens."

Videos from Crystal Waters Bakery

(1) Sustainable products have a lower environmental impact than unsustainable products. It is difficult to compare purchase prices because costs associated with managing damage caused by unsustainable practices are usually not included in the ticketed price.

(07) 5494 4779
65 Kilcoy Lane
Conondale QLD
Artisan Baker Association Standards: 
ABA ProductABA Standard
Pain de Campagne
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
ART 10 - Organic Sourdough Wholegrain
New York Rye
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
Pumpkin Loaf
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
Olive and Feta
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
Fruit and Nut Loaf
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
Spelt Loaf
ART 12 - Organic Sourdough Wholemeal
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
Pizza Bases
ART 11 - Organic Sourdough Sifted
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