Australia: Robin Clayfield

Heart and Wisewoman of Crystal Waters

Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in Queensland, Australia, was established in 1988, following Permaculture principles and practices. Robin Clayfield has been a member from the beginning, emphasizing the meaning of social permaculture. She believes in community and lives it. Shane Schmidt, GEN Member, Australia, met and talked to her.

When I sought to spend time in Crystal Waters Ecovillage, I was initially met with some resistance until I was directed to Robin Clayfield: “Of course come and stay here”, was her response. Straight away, I knew this woman was someone I could learn from. Her handmade earth and stone house in Crystal Waters community teemed with life, both in the garden and in the house.

Possibly one of the smallest houses in the community, it was constantly full of wwoofers, travelers, guests and friends. Robin believes in community and lives it. After some time I saw her house as the heart of the community. Always welcoming permaculture students from around the world; consistently getting people involved in projects in the garden, and active in the greater Crystal Waters community.

Robin works in the community with her earthcare education programs, and I could see she was one of the heart keepers of this community.

I attended her ‘Dynamic Groups, Dynamic Learning’ workshop, and helped with ‘how to build a roundhouse’. While staying with her, I started to realize the extent of knowledge this woman had and, with her children and grandchildren mixed in, how she is one of the wisewomen of the eco-village and permaculture movement.

Robin Clayfield is a pioneer. As one of the first women in the permaculture movement and living in Crystal Waters since 1988, she identified the need for ‘social permaculture’ to complete the picture of true sustainability and living.

While I lived with her, I could see how she especially guided women in the permaculture movement and the community, mentoring younger women who are really keen to learn and who have a yearning for deeper empowerment and connection. She also ran Wild Women’s Wisdom weekends, workshops and retreats on relationships of the masculine and feminine, and facilitated many other women’s empowerment workshops and festivals.

The ecovillage and permaculture movement is richer to have Robin as one of its elders. Her work continues to inspire and ensure women’s empowerment plays an important role in intentional communities, ecovillages and permaculture projects.

For more information on Robins work see


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