Where: Bellingen/Kalang, New South Wales, Australia
After a windy journey through the backroads of Bellingen and Kalang, we finally made it to our last project in Australia – Sarah and James’ Place. As we drive past the gate and up the hill to the main house, we’re welcomed by our host, James, and several animals including a friendly Rottweiler named Gelert. The 5 acre property overlooks a meadow encircled by thick rainforest, and includes three garden beds, two chicken coups and an herb garden with plenty of land for the animals to roam free.
Utilizing their immediate/proximate/surrounding resources, Sarah and James have created their own ecosystem. Their cat, YoMo (short for Your Majesty), keeps the rats and snakes at bay while the farm animals naturally fertilize and maintain the land. The aromatic flowers that adorn the land are pollinated by their neighbor’s bees, creating an abundance of fresh honey. Bellingen and Kalang are more than just small towns, they’re a tight community where neighbors work together to build a sustainable lifestyle. The mentality of this society is to grow and harvest different resources, eliminating competition and allowing everyone to trade with one another. One neighbor will harvest bees, while another manages a garlic farm. Meanwhile, Sarah and James have enough eggs from their chickens to feed the entire community.
Completed shelter for the goats.
Before and after: compost bed
As a new permaculture farm, there are several projects that need to be completed. Each day varies depending on the unpredictable weather of the rainforest. Our days were spent working on:
- Building a permanent rotating compost bed
- Building a shaded “GOATel California” to protect their goats from the elements
- Realigning the perimeters of the property
- Caring for the assortment of domestic and farm animals – two llamas, one sheep, three goats, multiple chickens “choocs”, two cats and two dogs
- Helping at a new neighbor’s property – clearing bamboo to repurpose on the farm (using them as planter stakes for veggies, building materials, etc.), clearing invasive Lantana to gain access to the creek to use as a water source
In addition to the various projects, we were fortunate to have the experience of helping little chicks hatch out of their shells. One in particular, which we named Squirt, had some trouble hatching, so we helped him out of his shell and nurse him back to health.
We are so thrilled to have spent this time with James, and grateful for his knowledge of the land. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to meet his partner, Sarah, as she is a traveling nurse but we hope to cross paths with both Sarah and James in the future.
Australia has been a great place to practice our mission of sustainability and we’re excited to continue our efforts at our next stop – Indonesia!
Check out more photos below!