As we come to the end of 2016 it is a time of celebration and new beginnings for Bindarrabi.
Finally in August we completed all the legalities and the negotiation for the Access Agreement with National Parks. In September we had a celebration and were honoured with a smoking ceremony by our local indigenous custodians, the Githabul. This was a moving and heartfelt ceremony as Carol Shantal from Bindarrabi outlined the vision of Bindarrabi, then Doone Wyborn on behalf of Bindarrabi Community and Rob Williams on behalf the Githabul unveiled a plaque at the entrance gate.
This was followed by the smoking ceremony with the intention of cleansing the land and bringing good spirits to the land and our activities. Jennifer Williams sang a’cappella one of her own compositions “Warriors’ and moved many of us to tears. Many comments were made as to the meaningfulness of the ceremony to peoples Hearts.
This was followed by much feasting and music into the evening as we enjoyed each others company..
On the Sunday morning we planted ‘new beginnings ‘ with a planting of 50 sub-tropical trees and fruits on a site we call the Summer Palace, an area up the slopes of Mount Bindarrabi above the frost line. We look forward to seeing which plants do well there.
And so we enter 2017…….
In the wider world 2016 has certainly been a year of disruption with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, power shifts between the east and west, climatic events, significant deaths and continuing political inertia in Australia.
So here at Bindarrabi we are continuing to work towards living a new story. We are looking forward now to plantings of perennial food and species that store well. We are developing a coco yam patch, many more fruit trees, and experimenting with various melons and gourds. We are delighted to have Vinnie Fraser joining us. He has had considerable success in establishing a perennial food garden plus having a passion for heritage chooks.
We will continue on with our shipping container conversion to a tiny house. This has led us to being open to people from the tiny house community who may be interested to do a project on the land and to placing their tiny house here for a negotiated period.
The big project this year will be the building of stage one of the fire safety house. We need to have this completed at the same time as any new house is built. So that will be fun! More skills to learn.
Hopefully this year will bring more people interested in establishing a new life at Bindarrabi. We look forward to new inspirations, connections and progress towards establishing a viable ‘new story’ of a more sustainable and self-reliant way of living.
We were very pleased to be asked to present on Bindarrabi at the Z-day symposium. View a pdf of the presentation here
Firstly I would like to thank everyone, members, Friends and presenters for a fantastic effort in putting together our little festival. The word has spread from last year so both the bell tents and campsites were booked out which was great! Epoxy Love, our musicians for Saturday night were very warmly received and responded to the enthusiasm by playing well beyond their allotted time. Thanks C.J and Jade!
Sunday simply flowed as our enthusiastic presenters shared their passions including micro-solar, dressing consciously, solar cooking, easy cheese and bread making, making ram pumps and hobo stoves, how to grow your own medicine and more. Others took some time to explore Mindfulness, others discussed 'what was a healthy simple life?' whiles sat under a tree and contributed to weaving a rug. Meanwhile the kids didn't get lost orienteering (whew!) expressed their creativity with clay and learned how to make ginger beer!
Enjoy the pics below and see you next year!
I was, I have to confess, somewhat horrified that it has been a year since the last blog post! There are two reasons: One, I rationalised in my mind that I was doing Facebook posts and that most people would read those to stay up to date. However the second was that I kept waiting to have the most exciting news that our legal structure was completed and we were all systems go to have our founding members start building and to have others join us. However, one year later we are still working on it.
We started the process of forming the co-operative over three years ago. This was a process fraught with drawn out legal compliance and negotiations with the Dept of Fair trade which administers Co-operatives. The Dept has had many challenges with communities governed by a co-operative structure over the years and are becoming very stringent in their requirements. After this protracted process and more costly compliance requirements from the Dept we decided there has to be another way and so we have gone down the simpler route of forming a company. Of course our Constitution has had to be revised to be compliant with the Corporations Act which has taken more time, but we are nearly there!
Once this is finalised the last step is to finalise our access agreement with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Services as the land will be transferred to Bindarrabi Pty Ltd and will require a new access agreement as our entrance is through Koreelah National Park. We are surrounded by NP on three sides and a gorge on the other which is wonderful but another legal hurdle.
Otherwise, it has been a great year, more progress on the community garden. The chicken caravan is working well and the chooks are being their industrious selves, scratching, eating bugs and manuring as we move them progressively over the garden. Our winter crop was not as successful as hoped as we had 28 days under 3 degrees so we will put up a poly-tunnel for next year. Learning and adapting!
Our goats are proving to be wonders at lowering the fuel load in less accessible areas so they also are doing their job well. We are due to have some more babies in October and November so watch this space! Or perhaps Facebook :)
Our pizza oven project has been a great success. We deviated a little from other designs by using the rhyolite rock from our land which can be heating to a glowing red without exploding - like volcanic rock- to hold the heat in the oven. Most successful! Almost too successful as we burnt a few pizzas before realising they really did only need a couple of minutes in the oven!
I really want to thank our founding members for hanging in there and continuing to work to establish our foundations while we work through this process. Blessings on you all :)
What a crisp winter we had. A record 17 frosts so we did lose a few of our sub-tropical trees but each season brings more knowledge of what works, what doesn't work and where. We do have an area that is higher where we will replant some of those sub-tropicals. I do so love black zapote fruit:)
Anyway, Spring arrived and our little fruit trees survived and are bursting into blossom! The joy of nature!
It has been all hands on deck as we prepared for our October weekend Community Fun Day: Old skills for New Times. And what a lot of fun it was!
We started with a Welcome to Country by Rob & Gloria Williams from the local Githabul People. Gloria sang the calling song to the Birds as they are bird people. It was very moving.
And then it was fun for all! The blacksmith got the bellows going, there was spinning and felting, sourdough bread making, clay play for the kids and basket play for all. When the sawmill started all the men disappeared and when the orienteering started all the kids disappeared! Anyway, check out the pics below and make sure you come along next time!
What a great working bee we had on the weekend!. Doone & Carol had been preparing the area for planting by ripping, disc ploughing and rotary hoeing, as well as digging the holes for the vine trellis. Then we all got stuck into it and planted 29 fruit & nut trees, 40 vines and had all the poles for the trellis in in 2/12 hours. Fantastic effort!!
So, after lunch we dug out all the wattles that were growing on the dam wall, rolled out the trickle irrigation pipe and covered in the new water line. I think we met the new government productivity guidelines :)
To reward ourselves we went for a walk down to the hoop pine forest and through to the cascade on the new track Doone & Carston cleared. Great job guys!!.........and another beautiful Bindarrabi spot:)
Well, we thought we would have formed the co-operative by now but between solicitors and bureaucrats we are still going :( Never mind, we have taken matters back into our own hands and are continuing on !!
In the meantime, jobs continue to be done. We have enlarged the campground in readiness for our coming October event " Old Skills for New Times". It will be a fun event with a blacksmith, basket makers, spinners, Music, bees, edible weed walks, orienteering for kids and other kids' activities and more!!.
We have also bought some 5m Bell tents which comfortably sleep four, plus 2, 6x3m marquees which we will use at the Oct event but also then will use for group accommodation. So if you know of any groups that might like to have a bush camp in our beautiful environment, let us know!!
June was chilly but fine and sunny during the day, just perfect for our Solar Cooking demonstration with Stan and Jane Caldjer. Stan gave a great presentation all the different styles of solar cooker you could use and some inspiring places where they are being used, for example in Africa, where the women not only have to walk a long way to collect wood but face the danger of attack on the way. Solar cookers save them time, effort AND improve their safety. Great outcomes! He then showed us how to make a simple fold up cooker that you can take anyway. In the meantime Jane cooked us a super damper and cake courtesy of the free energy of the sun !
Finally the rains came! What a relief they were. As usual the creeks came up but fortunately with the work National Parks did last year there was no erosion to the causeway entrance through Koreelah National Park. Our new ford at the Harvest Field Crossing worked brilliantly also, so no worries about bridges washing away anymore.
There was a little erosion to the road from run-off but our working bee friends hopped onto that and did a great job to widen the flow path of the water. Thanks Everyone!!
The great event of the weekend was the completion of our two Nature Loo composting toilets. The toilets were purchased but of course the poles came from the forest (we are quite experts at de-barking trees now), everything else was recycled materials. We were especially delighted with our ornate carved doors at 2 for $5.
He who puts the ridge-cap on gets to cut the toilet paper ribbon. Go Doone!!
We are looking to put a start to our community veggie garden for which we will need lots of compost. A good way to do that is to have a chicken caravan and if you haven't checked out Geoff Lawton's Chicken tractor on steroids -without the steroids- do have a look. http://www.geofflawton.com/
So, we have made a start and found a trailer, nicely painted by Lori, Carol & Nikki and an old caravan has been sourced by David which is 'ripe for renovation' into our new Happy Hen Hotel. Updates to follow!!
We have been delighted to have keen birdwatcher David Neradil spend a couple of days with us. He was up at 5am to head out and see what Bindarrabi had to offer. He spotted around 30 different birds. Koreelah national park (adjacent to us) has 75 listed so a great effort by David. He kindly gave us the pics he snapped. A selection follows:
Our last event of 2013 was a fabulous night with musician extraordinaire Paul Robert Burton whose concert provided a frame for the documentary 'Fractured Country" . Paul provided first hand stories of farmers and families affected by CSG he had met as he supported activists, mums, dads and grandparents at blockades around the country with his music. Our camp kitchen transformed into a stage as we sat under the stars, inspired by both the music and the ordinary people trying to protect the Land. A fitting acknowledgement of our Care for Country on the Solstice.
The first house completed at BIndarrabi!!
Carol & Doone were thrilled to have a bed and fridge in their new house to celebrate Christmas day with fresh figs from their tree for breakfast.
The house was completely built using the solar power from their stand-alone 3.5 KW PV tracking system. It is North facing with a polished concrete floor for thermal mass, 6ml e-glass windows, composting toilet, limestone walls with extra insulation in both roof & walls. In spite of the louvers in the cupola not being wired yet (they are electrically operated) to help with venting hot air, on a 39 degree day it was 10 degrees cooler inside the house. Definitely happy with that!. The in-ground 10,000 gallon concrete tank also doubles as a patio area. The house is designed for minimum maintenance and to Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 29.
In the first week of January we had the fire trails behind the house sites put in and the all-weather road to the proposed fire-safe house from both precincts completed. It has been a busy start to the year!
January Long Weekend saw much progress being made on our new Nature Loo composting toilets for the campground. We should be able to have the Grand Opening (?) at our Feb gathering :) We also added more concrete to the rock ford over to Harvest Field to smooth out a few bumps and a mighty effort was made to clear all of the Groundsell weed. Next year will be very easy to clear any regrowth.
On Saturday night one of our Friends, Dr. Delton Chen gave an interesting presentation on a new project he is working on to provide a digital currency to be used as payment for companies who reduce CO2 emissions. This removes the stigma of a 'tax' and is not political. We wish him all the best in birthing his idea.
And...... it is blackberry season! We all now value the effort put into gathering a bucket of blackberries ! Kathy kindly converted many of them to blackberry pikelets for morning tea. Absolutely delicious! Sorry there is no pic. We ate them all before I thought of it!
However I did get a picture of our Bunya Nut efforts. A Friend brought us a Bunya Nut so we of course Googled a recipe for Bunya Nuts and found a recipe for a cake that we approached with some trepidation. It was delicious!!!!!!!!!
First we had to crack the nut open, a special technique of throwing it on the ground, then boiling the nuts for around 3 hours until the kernals split open. We then de-hulled the kernals and they were ready for our recipes. The kernals are a little like a chestnut/potato mix and are 9% protein with the rest complex carbohydrates.
As well as the cake we kept some and stir-fried them with garlic and ginger. Very moreish....great bush tucker!!
Lets take a breath and see what the rest of the year brings!