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Our 22 acre "See Change"

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    Almost 3 years ago the writing was on the wall with the job I had. I’d been in the one company for 22 1/2 years in various roles and there was a new mindset being introduced. Very much an “out with the old and in with the new” sort of thing and I was deemed one of the “old”! (Interesting to note that the “new” was stuff that had been done 10 or 20 years earlier, but as new people were doing it, it would surely be better this time?!)

    After years of living close to work in a reasonably sized house on a shoe boxed size piece of land with loads of neighbours (that were often heard but rarely seen) only metres away, we thought it was time for a complete change.

    I doubted I’d find a similarly paying job so we’d quickly struggle to pay for the negatively-geared small property portfolio that we had. Whatever came next either needed to generate enough money to keep us afloat, or cost next to nothing so we could easily service it’s financial requirements.

    We chose the latter!

    Given the push by work, let’s opt for a sea change we decided.

    For the next couple of months we searched all the Internet-based property info we could looking for a piece of dirt that we could afford which was within a cooee of the ocean. We worked our way steadily left and right of Melbourne until we had got to South Australia and New South Wales before we realised that the only dirt we would be able to afford would not have any sea vistas!

    Our search came inland until we stumbled across a magical little place tagged “Bellellen Beauty”. We looked at a number of others but kept coming back to this one. By the Sunday of that week we bundled ourselves up into the car and went off to find it.

    We fell in love with it as soon as we saw it!

    Now, how were we ever going to be able to buy it AND then start our self sufficiency journey?


    Looks and sounds like a dream come true, I am looking forward to seeing and hearing much more of your adventures into self sufficiency. Great move and I bet you are happier that you have ever been 🙂


    Looks beautif Snoopy.

    Look forward to following your journey.

    All the best


    Looking good.

    What are your plans for the land Snoopy?

    debbie vdkdebbie vdk

    wow wonder you thought my block was dry lol that’s the greenest grass I’ve ever seen!! :cheer:


    Wow – looks like a beautiful spot! Looking forward to seeing (and hearing) more…


    Well, here’s a bit of a confession for you. The pic in my first post here was after a few days of rain in spring, but it is how we could imagine it with increased hydration levels! The pic attached to this post is how the block actually looked when we first saw it!

    Yes Karma, we’re working harder than ever and we’re certainly happy with what we’ve achieved. It’s been a longer and harder slog than we would ever have planned for though!

    Thanks for the good wishes karyn26, Elaine and Ben.

    Broad brush plans were to get to self-sufficiency and gradually rehydrate and revegetate most of the block Bobbee.

    Having a chuckle debbie vdk – check out the pic attached to this post for a comparison of “dry”! 😉

    We saw the actual block on a Sunday when everything (including the Real Estate Agents) were closed. Even so we took a good look around the local town as well as a long wander around the whole 22 acre block. We were going to be making a major decision on where to base ourselves for the rest of our lives, and it had to be right! We got a good feel for the town (it even had a hospital should we ever need it) and a great feel for the block!

    Both Shona (my wife) and I have a few health hassles so it was important to find a block that was quite flat so we could easily walk it. We loved forest and tall trees, but were both a bit freaked about the possibility of bush fires. We knew we wanted to go solar (both passive and active) so we needed to be in a reasonable sized clearing. We expected to boost our heating, hot water and cooking with firewood so it would be handy to have it available on the block. Whilst the soil looked fairly depleted, it also looked like it could quite easily be improved by adding compost. All the building blocks we could think of looked like they could be serviced!

    After a long stay on the block we drove back to Melbourne and discussed how we might be able to make the transition.

    The next day Shona rang the bank to ask if we had any more equity in our current properties that we good draw on.

    Whilst I had been earmarked for redundancy at work, I had not been given an end date. As far as the bank knew, I was gainfully employed, on a good wage and my job was not under threat. They quickly pulled a plan together using a bit of equity in our other property and we soon had another loan!

    We signed all the paperwork, and the property settlement day turned out to be my last day of gainful employment!

    With everything in place for what our next move would be we changed our focus to the details. What could we build cheaply that would have a heap of roof to catch the low rainfall, whilst being easy (read cheap) to heat and cool. With limited water, we considered our growing might be best in a controlled hydroponic environment.

    I drew up some sketches of a steel American Barn which was partly residential space, partly hydroponic growing area and partly cool store storage. I took these in to council and had a session with the planning department. The conversation started off something like this:

    Me: “We want to build an American Barn and gradually build up the block as the retained hydration levels increase.”

    Council: “I hope you haven’t committed to that particular block.”

    Me: “Umm, yes, we’re committed and past the point of no return.”

    Council: “That’s unfortunate. That property is zoned ‘farming’ and while it is not impossible to be able to build on it, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to.”…..

    And so our adventures started!


    Wow what a beautiful place, Best og luck with your self sufficient adventures :tup:


    Oh my! Hope you get around that one! Tents for now?


    Hello from nearby Mount Gambier (where it is still green he heh). I do love the Grampians, have been looking at blocks around there over the years.

    Best of luck with the council – I don’t know ANYONE that has not had that same line trotted out when they have begun their journey to build! It will take longer than you might like, but hopefully you can find a compromise that keeps everyone happy.

    Let me know if you are down this way!

    debbie vdkdebbie vdk

    A much more natural colour snoopy lol

    love the view of the mountains


    So what did the council say Snoops?? Can you build or no?

    I’d do it anyway (build that is)… sneaky styles :lol

    Your block looks amazing!


    Just to clarify a little further folks – I’m relating our journey to this point, and some of what is presented as problems have already been resolved.

    Thanks AuroraOz.

    I did seriously consider the tent thing BlueWren, but the council have you with one of their by laws – owners may only camp on their blocks for one month in six.

    Thanks bluesnip. Similarly, if you’re ever up here let us know.

    Yes debbie vdk, the green seems to quickly wash out of the grass and leave us with dry brown stems! The first pic with brown grass is looking toward The Grampians and the next is toward Black Range.

    The short answer Erthgirl, is yes we were (eventually) able to build. Whilst we are 12kms out of town, we are still on a reasonably open block and any construction sort of activity would be easily visible. The chap who had the block before us probably tried the ‘build on the sly’ trick as there’s a concrete slab with the steel walls of a shed laying neatly beside it all tucked in between some trees near the front of the block.

    The American Barn we wanted to build:

    The basic idea of what we wanted to do with our few acres:

    Armed with the news that it would likely be an uphill battle to get a planning permit, I set off on a mission to learn all I could for things to include in our planning permit application to give it the best chance of getting across the line. I spent two weeks surveying the block. Researched what was needed to get a building to (at that stage) 5 stars thermal performance and even did the training to become an assessor. Started pulling all the information together on the latest in active and passive solar, biodiversity requirements, wild fire overlays, bush fire attack levels, cultural heritage overlays, etc as well as trying to imagine what we’d be doing with the whole 22 acres in years to come. I purchased about 10 years worth of ½ hourly weather data from B.O.M. and analysed rain, sun and wind averages and peaks. I included 3 dams/wildlife ponds as well as water tanks, out buildings, etc and indicated the revegetation plans. I wrote a response to each point identified in the planning permit instructions as things I needed to prove, provide or consider if allowed to build a dwelling on farming land.

    We saw the block in late March. Owned it at the start of July. It took until early September before our application went in. There were about 35 pages of it!

    Then the waiting started!

    As we didn’t know if we would ever be allowed to build on and live on our block we basically put our lives on hold whilst we waited for the council’s decision. We didn’t feel prepared to sell the family home unless we could actually move to our country block.

    After what seemed like an eternity, the council finally got back to us on Xmas eve with an approved planning permit.


    Darn it Snoopy, when are you gunna cut to the chase and show us what you have done? :blink:

    Not that I am impatient or anything. 😆



    Hiya Bobbee, if you’ve got a hankering to see where we are up to right now (or recently at least) there’s a few pics in my photo album.

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