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    I’ve just bought 222 acres in Nthn NSW – 15klm from Grafton. 60 acres of flats excellent for grazing – about $20,000 pa to pay the bills. The rest gently undulating timbered country. Well watered, nice country. 300 metres to the massive Clarence River, fishing boating etc, 35 mins to beaches. Grafton is a good mix of all sorts of people, and has most services.

    Away from sight, I’m building the Great Room. A large central space. The plan is to make about 20 connected one bedroom suites, like little bungalows about 40 sqm, 10 – 20 metres from, but connected to the Great Room by covered walkways to pass the stupid planning laws that prohibit more than one dwelling on a block. It will essentially be all under one roof! It will “owner built” using the resources on the property – timber and earth – cheap but certainly appropriate to the climate, which is pretty ideal.

    I’m looking for bods to join me! I’m almost 58, have been retired 20 years (have a business I don’t work in and investments) and crazy enough to think I have energy enough to do this. Well I don’t want to sit and vegetate my way into an early grave anyway. Similarly placed people with similar objectives to enjoy doing stuff and sharing leisure with.

    I envisage strip grazed cattle (using the 3M approach – Mob, Mow, Move) with mobile barn egg layers following a few days later to clean up fly larvae before it hatches. These will be the main form of cash for the property, and other activities could include anything else that people are interested in exploring for their us or for sale. Sun dried tomatoes, bamboo, ???? etc Not necessarily for profit – eg fruit wine, sculpture … anything.

    I’m not looking for money just pay your own expenses. Rent your current place out for extra cash and come and give it a try if you’re interested. No commitments. Just help out of course, and see what the future brings.

    Attached files


    Hi Gary :wave: Firstly a warm welcome to ALS.Many good caring folk on here more than willing to share their knowledge and experience.

    Your project sounds exciting and I’m sure it will keep you busy and young!I hope you find some folk to join you.

    Might be worth contacting Milkwood Permaculture Farm – I think they would have a lot of contacts.


    Gary, This sounds fascinating. We own 50 acres at Nymboida and are interested in exactly the same thing. We have been discussing this for a few months. We are in Thailand for the next few weeks but when we get back perhaps we could meet up and have a chat?


    This is a bit more philosophical. ….

    There has to be a line somewhere between our desire for privacy (unsharing) and total communal living. Neither of these extremes seem to have a long term existence.

    Privacy can be an euphemism for loneliness. I’ve seen it at very close quarters. My father. I’m well aware of the DNA coursing through my blood and am actually a little fearful of the same fate.

    It’s hard to argue against “Community”. It really is one of the basic “motherhood” ideals, but we are not always good at progressing it. The ultimate expression of community was Communism and while we can see some apparent strengths of that (I’m thinking of Russia’s outward technological capacity – first man in space etc and the economic “miracle” that China is supposed to be enjoying) we have also seen equally dismal results. Gulags, poverty, queues for basic goods and soullessness comes to mind.

    As a species it seems we have competing internal needs. To share with the herd and to claim the best pasture for ourselves. The instinct for greed, which at one level is life sustaining, at another level, is genocidal, ie life destroying.

    Take greed out of the equation and maybe something approaching community has a chance.

    This thread introduced an option for people – retired people – to TRY COUNTRY LIVING at no expense, (apart from personals). Why retired? Because I am! And my feeling is that retired people have the chance to try a different lifestyle. Why at no expense? There’s no question of owning anything. Just come, contribute as you want and enjoy with others as you will. Country living is great! Been there enjoyed that, I’ve also been there alone, not so great!

    Again waxing philosophical ….. People (all ages) need Purpose and Leisure. ASL types have purpose in spades (hehe I like the accidental pun) And Leisure shared is at least 2wice as much fun.

    I look forward to hearing other’s thoughts on these pages.


    The appeal for us is many and varied. I agree that sharing this lifestyle increases the pleasure. Having people who vary in skills and knowledge will enrich it as well. There is no question that we will need somewhere sustainable to live in the very near future. Having people who can grow, produce, make as many of our requirements as possible facilitates this. Privacy is not so much the issue for us but time out is. We are both very open with many things so its fine with us if members of our community walk past and we are naked or whatever we want to be doing at our house but we don’t want to have visitors every day. In this regard multiple families under ‘one roof’ wouldn’t work for us. The plan is to have multiple dwellings on our property with communal gardens and workshops.


    Our thinking is very similar. Like MilkyWayGirl I’m interested in sharing the property with people on a longer term arrangement. Yes, give people an exposure to the lifestyle but after a short while some commitment to longer term friendship would be nice.

    While I think privacy is over-rated in suburban life, I think a balance between some private space, and shared spaces is smart. To that end sharing some recreation stuff, like lounge area, pool table, bar, carpet bowls, ping pong and of course some kitchen and dining space, and laundry etc seems sensible.

    Dotting houses all over the property isn’t smart, with people needing transport of some type to share time together, but I also would not like to have one house with lots bedrooms in the conventional sense. A middle way seems to be to build each “dwelling” as a separate bungalow 10 – 20 metres from the main building and use greenery to provide lots of privacy and pretty space. To satisfy council they would need to be linked by some sort of covered walkway, but, thinking about it any more than 3 or 4 of these would probably not pass council – they’d say it was commercial or some such. Did i say I love town planning regs?!!!!!

    Since I’m retired and money is not an issue, I’m mostly just interested in living with some purpose and enjoying leisure with a few mates. Although I am happy with a partner, I like to share time with others too. But not too many – maybe 8 or 10 altogether …. I guess that is only 4 or 5 bungalows.

    Over the last year I’ve done a bit of reading on what Joel Salatin calls “grass farming”. His (and others) assertions that soil depth and health can both be improved through daily moving a herd over a small area interests me a lot. There’s a bunch of other positive spin-offs. Here’s an easy to read intro for anyone not familiar with his stuff

    There’s a bunch of stuff I’d be interested in doing but truthfully I’d enjoy sharing it all the more.

    Hey, I’ve always had this mad idea for feeding maggots to fish, never tried it, but recently saw a youtube vid about it. WOW. The old idea has some legs!


    There’s at least one maggotty thread on here – how to breed them for chooks I seem to remember – Soldier Fly larvae – but I’m sure fish would like them as well.


    Hi Gary sounds like a good idea for those of us who are maturing well and love country living but are lonely at the same time. I live in a very small town and don’t really fit in with the local culture and being single doesn’t make it any better. If you went ahead with this would you allow dogs? Mine are my companions in daily life and make the reality of moving pretty hard. Good luck with your dream.


    It’s just a fact of life that the older we get the more we set up walls around ourselves in terms of what we will accept / like … or not accept. I’m just like Tropical Rose and I’m sure many others, there are things I am not sweet on anymore and others I really want. I am a bit of a flashy dancer and right now I miss that like Xmas, I love active leisure and although a drink is good to share I really DON’T LIKE it as the only way to share time.

    We all would say we are very accommodating …. but are we? I was challenged a few years ago when I met and fell madly for a very old friend who had become a charming lady. She had a cat, I despise cats! But, I made a spacious home for it to live outside the house and thought that would be ok. Within days it was inside, just the laundry …. um then the kitty litter was there too … then the lounge room! I could not believe I had a cat in my lounge room! Ain’t love grand! Well the cat lasted just about 100 days – so did the lady! hahaha The cat wasn’t the issue, but I was sure glad to see its poophole departing!

    So many things are divisive, even toilet seats! Dogs, cigarettes, dope … ME … I’m sure my ideas and personality are a deal breaker for some. MilkyWayGirl mentioned nudity … that can be a problem for some, tho for me I get by with clothes washing less frequently because of the fact I have little use of them much of the time.

    I do work hard at being inclusive within agreeable structures. Like for me if I don’t see or hear a dog I’m totally sweet, and I’m sure I’d be real happy with a dog who guards livestock. It’s not impossible to engineer agreements … eg roosters can be a real bother …. so agreeing a secure place for them 200 metres away and bring the hens to them once every 10 days or so in breeding season should do the trick .. or buy candled eggs from a neighbour and stick em under a broody.

    This is going to sound silly, but I’m against anything that can harm me! (yeah that is a broad brush stroke). Breaking the law in a substantial way, is the one thing I would not permit, but most other things can be ammeliorated.


    I agree on the dogs and cats as pets comment. Australia spends several billion dollars annually on pet care. After spending some time in Cambodia this year and seeing the abject poverty, it sickens me. There are other reasons but thats another topic.

    While my partner and I have been discussing how we will go about this move, we have raised the issue (well, I have) of how to get along with other people 24/7. While my partner says others are free to live anyway they like, he would not tolerate cigarette smoking near his home or someones dog pooping on his verandah, pretty much anything else is okay. I love the idea of regular community meetings, workshops and baking bread together but I don’t want people at my house dropping in for cups of tea every day. I mentioned being naked around our yard….everyone would have to be ok with us doing that and more. I will not put clothes on if I don’t want to… except when I’m pulling lantana. In fact I think it would be wonderful for everyone to be naked. Ha ha ha.

    So we are all different and this would make it difficult to live so closely. This is why separate dwellings is the best option for us. That councils can dictate how many dwellings we have on our own land in a situation where the only infrastructure changes would be more wheelie bins proves to me that the law is an ass. The over-regulated and over-bearing nanny state that our country has become is a very big part of why we made the move here.


    TOTAL AGREEMENT – I think you stole my pen!


    Original Poster getting back to Original idea

    As council approval for multiple structures has become a severe impediment I have modified my thinking a little.

    I’ve pretty thoroughly researched the Mike Oehler style earth covered “underground house”. His major point of difference is the idea that you also have an opening on the uphill side of a structure. So really you get a kind of tunnel affair with a kind of sunken garden in the hill end of the excavation. The advantages are that being seen from the road or air is not likely, being earth sheltered ameliorates the hot and cold temps and you don’t have to worry too much about the exterior of the building.

    Bad dreams about termites bothered me until I sorted out inexpensive boron treatment of timbers, and for the same reason I discounted wattle and daub walls. Instead I researched beer bottles set on mortar mix with ends to the interior and plastered over. The idea is to have no earth against the house….details details.

    The 4 x 10m footprint is what I currently live in and really like – it is undemanding on build skills and materials. Recycled glass (even Car windows) set into ferro cement will let heaps of light in at both ends of the build and 1.5 litre water bottles filled with funky coloured water standing along the tops of the walls should make a funky daytime light feature.

    Unless excavation turns into a nightmare. I’m budgeting about $25,000 all up. The plan is to do one for myself and invite others to come and stay – I’ll move out so they can experience the place. If people like it, I’ll get stayers to help knock up a couple more set a little ways distant – maybe 40 metres or so apart. I’ll pay for everything.

    My plan is to charge a tiny rent to get my money back on the building- maybe $120/week, that means it would take about 4 years to get back the build cost. Being unapproved they really have no value when selling the property in the futures, so if I can’t find stayers its a serious waste!

    PLEASE HELP ME. How do you suggest I find stayers. I’m thinking at least 1 month, but I’d prefer longer. I like the idea of living around people you can trust.

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