Bellbunya: discovering a young community

Just 5 years ago, a dozen of people decided to live together. They created then an association to be able to buy a piece of land. By chance they found a huge place with already numerous rooms, kitchens and 6 construction permits. They just had to sell a few of these permits to the future members and get a mortgage at the bank to settle together on the land. Nowadays the rental enables to repay the bank, but nobody started to build his own house yet…

Some members left, others arrived, but it’s still about a dozen people who gather every evening to share diner in the “Bunya House”, the common house. Some members are “on trial”, others are guests, permanents volunteers or woofers. For the other meals, each one cooks his own dish in a very organized kitchen: colors warn you what food you should not use and notes remind you to clean, where to put things or that the garden is full of zucchinis!

A sailing acupuncture doctor, a reiki healer cook, a sport coach found of veggie juices, a shiatsu massage master, and many others, are making this place very special, full of positive energy. And the food is very healthy: a lot of raw organic food, not much gluten or dairy. Many charts help to organize the life of the community: dinner cooking, week planning, tasks for volunteers, common car booking…

I spend 2 weeks there with Hélène, I met in Crystal Waters and I have to surprise to realize Dan lives there (I met him in Tacomepai, Thailand, the world is so small!). We mostly work in the garden and do some cleaning and painting. I discover the art of making raw juices, received a reiki healing, a shiatsu massage and even some acupressure treatment! So we left the community with a heavy hart to go prepare the Woodford festival…

Here are the pictures:

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Crystal waters: discovering an eco-village

I first have the impression that Crystal Waters isn’t a real “community” anymore, because everybody has his own piece of land and his own work outside the community. It is true that with 250 inhabitants it would be hard to share meals, showers or laundry places. But after spending more time there, I realize that everybody know each other and often meet for a drink at Gordon’s, around the bakery or a good movie. So Crystal Waters has the atmosphere of a little village were people help each other, exchange products of their gardens or animals or even share the care of a few cows…

Permaculture is one of the main values of the village, but it can take very different form: from the little kitchen garden to the luxurious “all automatic watered” garden, from the small wood shelter to the last high-tech energy saving devices, from tree planting to cheese, beer or bread producing… Everybody has his own way to make the world greener as a simple hobby or a philosophy of life. From the small hippie community, Crystal Waters had become a wide “eco-village” in 25 years. Even if cars are still numerous, solar panels, compost toilets, veggie gardens, fruit trees, dams and rain water tanks, as well as grey water filters are all over the place!

I was hosted by Stephane, a French inhabitant since 8 years, very involved. He knows everybody, is always ready to help his neighbors, has a great nursery and plants a lot of local trees. He also sells some eggs and home-made cheese. So I learn many different ways to produce cheese, from fresh to cooked or pressed ones… I even learn how to harvest honey! Thanks to him, I meet many other people, with who I could exchange ideas about communities and visit houses with interesting architecture… I also had the pleasure to help to prepare a concert and organize a handcraft workshop…

Here are the pictures:

making lamps, and bracelets

Zaytouna farm: when permaculture becomes a business

The Zaytouna farm, also hosting the Permaculture Research Institute, is managed by Geoff Lawton, a student of Bill Molisson, the “pope” of permaculture. So I was very excited to arrive there and learn many things. But the deception was as big as my expectations !!

When I arrived, nobody welcomed me, I had the impression that I was discovering a ghost farm: no buildings, a few tents and broken tippis…   I finaly found the other 6 volunteers in the kitchen, next to Geoff Lawton’s house. Most of the staff is on holiday, because the permaculture internship just finished. The farm is then on “low maintenance” mode until the next session; which means long working hours for the volunteers, without any gratitude from the owners in Jordan, a wast of eggs and milk, and garden too big to harvest veggies on time. Fortunately, the few available staff and the other volunteers are very nice.

I am amazed there are no library and almost no infrastructure to welcome the volunteers. Just a messy hard drive gathers many documents on permaculture, so instead of learning by doing, I start to dig information there… 

I enjoyed the 10 days I spent there anyway, cooking breakfast, milking the cows and helping in the garden and the nursery. I even learn how to make butter and some cheese! I also discovered the city of Nimbin, its crazy museum, its hemp ice cream and jam sessions. I also discovered The Channon handcraft market attracting all the hippies of the region…

Here are the pictures:

Our team with a nice zuchini harvest !

Goolawah cooperative: gardening in the middle of the kangaroos and wallabies

I only spent one night in Sydney, but I had time to visit the backstage of the famous opera and to go around the numerous gardens and botanical parks. After 10 months in Asia, everything looks cleaner, wither, richer and healthier here… It is a strange impression: the whole city looks green, full of space and light, almost a dream. It is the first city I visit, which seems welcoming (if we forget about the crazy high prices): so many parks, nice people, and the see next door.

When I arrived at the Goolawah cooperative, about 5 hours from Sydney, I enjoy some very simple pleasures like drinking milk and eating cheese! I discover a lot of wild animals like iguanas, kangaroos, wallabies (and fortunately I don’t meet any deadly snake) while working in the garden. I prepare the beds to plants new veggies seedlings and rearrange the water dripping system. I learn how to brew homemade beer and fruity wines, and I even got my 1st surf lesson! I discover I few beautiful beaches, caves and hills, so cleaner than in Asia. I also see my first forest fire just a few meters from my caravan, kind of scary. I also enjoy using my new art craft knowledge by making newspaper lamps and banana fibers underplats. 

And I take some time to observe the cooperative organization. Founded 13 years ago by the bought of a huge land, it has now been separated in many small lots or “share” so that about 40 families can leave there. The beginning has been very slow and only a few pioneers really came to live on the land. But nowadays, next to the caravans, people start to construct nice shelters or brick houses in the middle of nice pounds and kangaroos. Everybody arrange his piece of land as he wants, but many houses have gardens, chickens, compost toilets and solar panels… The community gathers every month to discuss important issues. Right now, everybody wonders about the state council who just acknowledged the community and is now checking if every single house complies with the law… It is going to be a long fight probably to defend compost toilets and grey water management system, as this state is not used to this kind of alternative projects.

Here are the pictures:

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