Morning in Dharmananda

A Big Trip

I’ve been on a trip. A big trip. Two big trips, actually. The first one took me away from my lovely home at Holtsfield in Wales and right over to the other side of the world, to Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been living here for seven months now and taken many little trips to explore the area – up to the Grampian mountains in the north, down to the Great Ocean Road in the South and over to Tasmania, too. And then came another big trip.

When I came to Australia, I knew I wanted to make some films about intentional communities here. I have been making films on this subject for almost 15 years – the website tells the story of that. I had made contact with some people even before I landed, but it took six months of living here to gather what the story would be.

During those six months, I have been doing my research. I’ve been sitting in the beautiful domes of the State Library of Victoria and reading about land rights in Australia (shocking), about alternative lives here, about planning laws. I’ve made friends at two of the communities nearest to me. One is Commonground, a co-operative about an hour from the city, where their intention is to hold a space not only for individuals to live and work together, but also to host other groups who are working for social change. The other is Moora Moora, about an hour in a different direction. Their community is bigger, with around 100 people living in small clusters of the top of a mountain.

Visiting and staying at these communities gave me insight into the themes which are particular to Australia and I started to feel ready.

Then came the big trip. While talking to a journalist friend who also writes about living the simple life, it seemed to shout that I should be telling a history – a history of intentional community in Australia. So that is what I have set out to do. The big trip took me north of Brisbane, to Crystal Waters, a permaculture village near the funky little town of Maleny. From there I travelled to Nimbin, where I met, amongst others, a man associated with the Aquarius Festival in 1973, which brought not only a huge number of hippies to the broken-down town, but also the first multiple occupancy planning laws. Some of the communities established then still remain and have loads to teach us about how to live with each other and how to maintain such a project over time.

In Bellingen, further south, there are over 25 intentional communities a hotbed of activity which has spilled out into the surrounding area, including the local council, who have established radical waste collection initiatives.

Narara Ecovillage, an hour north of Sydney, is on the site of a horticultural research facility. This land will now be turned into one of Australia’s newest intentional communities.

I have some great stories to tell you and this is only the beginning. This blog will help me make sense of the film I am making and also of life in Australia, 18,000 km from the place I call home. Will you join me?

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10 thoughts on “A Big Trip

  1. sounds bloody great….If i hadn’t got sick with lyme disease [nearly 4 yrs ago feb] i would’ve got to australia etc…I was at Lammas when two of you came and filmed paul and hoppis barn . the planning officer cancelled i think actually……but then re scheduled coming with environmental health officers in tow..Agenda…ha ha…anyway great to see the lammas folks are going from strength to strength…..I actually found paul and hoppi through your great little living in the future films on youtube!!
    I`m hoping to set something up and buy land, maybe set it up as co-op…id like it to be building/low impact…off grid or working towards that kind of freedom……….SK

  2. Where are you thinking Sat? What you briefly describe seems to agree with my thinking…. tiny houses, low impact, sustainable, off grid, in permaculture gardens.

    I am thinking somewhere Northern Rivers way due to favourable climate for minimum heating & cooling and great growing conditions.

    Cheers Miro

  3. Hi, booked malaysian volunteering at kechara buddhist place for a while….return flight to brisbane initially to stay with friend met on macrobiotic course usa and day i land she’s going to HK then taiwan!!! strange but mercury is in retrograde so communication will be affected, computer, email,phone misunderstanding etc…ugh anyway since i have booked two week i might as well go there…..crystal waters could do…another suggestions here?? in fact sometimes i have a better time when its the `unexpected`…….any thoughts here??? much appreciated..was at Lammas for 5 days, wales looking very attractive….land pretty good prices although increased but early days….i need to formulate what i want to creat, guidelines/rules/working/how many etc etc…May well email them get a wood burner camper van 7 volunteer sept when i return as need to learn lots, new skills…a few of them are building homes the moment so thats a great thing to be learning on for sure….sk

  4. Miro i`m in UK but coming out to aus…..prob not to live though…have family in NSW but won’t really want to be spending time with them….not sure as they so different from me….my mother & [late now]father think I’ve `been got at`…changed a lot past years,,no longer want to be in rat race…plenty of people turning towards new living now time is ripe…but only 10% communities make it so needs to be serious commitment…….no1 rule is NO drugs[marijuana!!! ] anybody abusing alcohol on regular basis is OUT….seen thats in one community and everyone left

  5. JKL,There are many of us. Thanks for what you have put out and attracted. It helps us all. I hope we can be in touch to see how we can cartobolale. I am doing similar things here in Asheville NC and hope to expand the map with lights. Porchlights. I am doing a talk at the library with my Meet Up group (220 strong). Can’t wait to see your book and share. So many are stumped and not ready to move for some reason.Would love to talk with you about your events, how you assist in moving folks forward. Hoping to launch some new things and would love to do it with sisters who are walking the walk.Love to talk sometime or Skype. You made my day, week!Marianne

  6. HiPlease can you tell me if you have any plans to construct eahrbtag homes and if so, do you need any help?Me pueda decir si tiene algunos planes a construir casas de sacos de tierra y si la respuesta es sed , bfnecesitare1 ayuda?GraciasPaul (Granada)644534093

  7. Hi again Satkartar, greetings. Yes, I agree on the pot and other drugs, with occasional alcohol consumption maybe at meals and celebrations. I imagine that drugs would be a major problem in a small community. Actually, on a another note, I just saw references to radical honesty so I might read into that as we all have underlying issues, fears etc We’d be best to try to be straight about issues to keep them from blowing up into major conflicts. The other thing that comes to mind is how to stop being sold out? I had a friend start a number of communities where they bought land and sooner or later someone wanted to sell maybe because their new partner wasn’t into communities etc so as she had no money to buy them out, they sold the lot. Now, after many such events, she has given up and bought her own small plot and built her own home so as she gets older she has some safety and security.

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