A slice of cake at Coolah Creek

- with Jillie Arnott

This week, I was lucky enough to visit Jillie Arnott, owner of a small business called The Cooking Tree.  Jillie, her husband Will and their three children, live on a beautiful property called “Coolah Creek’. The pretty drive up the valley was roughly 70kms from home and I must say it was such a delight to drive past lush wheat crops and pastures, frolicking with lambs. It was incredible to see the difference in the landscape, compared a couple of years ago during the drought. 

Just to give you a little background, the Arnott family property, Coolah Creek, sits at the headwaters of the Coolahburragundy River nestled into the valley to the North East of Coolah.  Coolah Tops National Park is to the east of the property and offers a stunning view of the Liverpool Plains food bowl. The family moved back to the cattle and beef property from Scone in 2013, the property has been owned by the Arnott family since the mid 1920s. Jillie and Will are the current custodians of the historic homestead and garden that they have tended with love.  

When you step inside Jillie’s garden fence, you sense you’re somewhere very special.  Jillie greeted us with wide, open arms and warmth that exemplifies the best of country hospitality. There’s a sense of abundance at Coolah Creek- an abundance of generosity, talent, passion and creativity.  

Jillie invited us inside for a cuppa and the first thing I noticed was the homely aroma of freshly baked cake (which was absolutely delicious I might add). Jillie is a true foodie with a successful career that boasts 25 years of catering. She is passionate about producing and cooking homegrown, seasonal produce. Each season’s pickings are bottled in the form of jams, condiments and preserves under her label, The Cooking Tree. When you taste these products, freshness and goodness reign. Once the season finishes, Jillie plants the next rotation of fruit and vegetables. 

Jillie lead me into a small room filled, filled with her latest batch of goodies. 

While we chatted away, she carefully placed labels onto the raspberry and peach jars of jam that I’d come to collect. 
As I looked around, I could see freshly cut flowers on the kitchen bench along with dried hellebore flowers, pinned to a breadboard so that Jillie could save some seeds for next year’s plantings. In this home, you can’t help but notice the beautiful detail, as if Jillie had waved her magic wand to create something extraordinary.

 

When the labels were done, Jillie took us on a relaxing garden tour. Jillie’s love for her home and garden was clearly evident. The garden is absolutely out of this world and I felt so grateful to be there. The Arnott’s have created rooms, so that every time you take a turn, there’s something unexpected and striking. Jillie pointed out the beautiful fruit tree blossoms that were coming to an end, discussed the structure of the shrubs planted to give a rhythm to the beds and talked about her favourite spring flowers. Outside the back door, we wandered through her large vegetable garden where Jillie grows seasonal produce and fruit trees.  

Not only does Jillie work on her gourmet range, but also the family felt the need to add another dimension to their business. A family decision was made to share their idyllic space as a country destination.  Jillie collaborates with other creative people, where she runs ‘hands on’ workshops and experiences. These are varied and include veggie patch to plate experiences, artists retreats, wellness weekends, bush walking, dry stone wall building, garden related activities and cooking lessons (yes for BBQ ones for men too!).  

If you would like to follow Jillie’s journey, join her community on 

@coolah.creek 

@onmykitchenbench 

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