Vaughan Jones and Designing the Headspace Garden


Annabel Pettit interviews Blackheathen/Bathurstian Vaughan Jones at the Headspace Garden in Katoomba (Photo: Annabel Pettit, Vaughan Jones, Alex Young)


Vaughan Jones is a young local Blackheathen, very much born and raised. We caught up in the permaculture garden behind Headspace Katoomba, which he played an integral role in designing and planting. Sitting down on the wooden stumps that he salvaged to adorn the garden’s pond, we chat and figure out how to make the space more habitable for the frogs.

His green thumb is seemingly inherited from his grandfather, who was “always in the garden”. This inclination towards horticulture led Vaughan to study a Cert III in Natural Area Restoration and work for the council doing bush regeneration in the Nepean River area. It was through Headspace that he then found out about the Blue Mountains Pluriversity’s free Permaculture Design Course (PDC). This began back in January, on the very same site where we now sit, when ten young locals were weeding out a sloping patch of lawn in the pouring rain. With Vaughan’s help, it’s become a fully mulched, thriving native garden, boasting a worm farm, fire pit, compost bay and raspberry patch.



Photo: Vaughan showing the design for the Headspace Katoomba garden to Suzie van Opdorp



Vaughan and co-designer Erik Osterberg





It’s a sweet legacy to leave behind for the next generation of Katoomba Headspace-goers, as Vaughan prepares for his move to Bathurst. He’s already staked out the community garden there, where he can bring all his expertise, and one day soon his little niece! She is expected in a few months time and is bound to also get the green gene, as well as Vaughan’s own cool and calm temperament.

We talk about how he maintained this during emotionally volatile periods like lockdown, when his ritual outdoor time became all the more vital. His long-running relationship with Headspace Penrith was reaffirmed, and he adapted to their video-chat services, which provided a sense of consistency despite universal uncertainty. Some other of Vaughan’s own endearing personal rescue remedies include: listening to metal music, doing some good old-fashioned people-watching on the train, or recalling his most serene memory – which was to watch the sunrise over Uluru a few years ago.

Since the Headspace Katoomba launch in February, Vaughan doesn’t have to travel as far to receive support and hang out with other people his age. This launch coincided with Vaughan’s graduation from the PDC, as well as the public opening of the garden, which he was involved in creating at every turn. The event was a truly local celebration, and a foreshadowing of all that Headspace will bring to the Upper Mountains – complete with a sausage sizzle, a stage for young bands, and information stalls such as for Family Planning NSW.



The official launch of Headspace Katoomba – From left Susan Templeman MP, Erik Osterberg,

Christina Jackson and Mina Howard from Rotary, Vaughan Jones and Debra Mainwaring from Headspace



When we leave the log and add each other on facebook, I catch Vaughan’s profile picture – it’s one of him and Gardening Australia legend Costa Georgiadis looking like old friends together at the PDC.


May be an image of 1 person and beard



He then tells me about a tattoo he’s saving up to have done, based on some graffiti he happened to pass in Katoomba one day that simply read:


“in a world filled with selfishness and hate, spread love and kindness above all.”


It’s a good choice of words to live by, though it doesn’t seem to me like Vaughan needs the reminder.


A huge thank you to Blue Mountains City Council for the Community Assistance Program funding to employ Annabel Pettit to interview locals about their experience of the Lockdown.

About Annabel Pettit

Annabel Pettit is a young writer who has been a regular contributor to a number of Blue Mountains publications like The Big Fix magazine and Blume Illustrated. She is passionate about human rights and social justice and the power of story to inspire action.

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