Urban Permaculture Tour

Posted by on Nov 12, 2008 in Travel | One Comment

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Today we visited some urban Permaculture systems.

One of these is sustainability and community education centre in Byron Bay called the Island Quarry.


It is based on the site of an old bluestone quarry that hit a spring and closed down. The spring now fills an amazing body of water.


Owned by the commonwealth it is managed by a not for profit in trust an experiment that is quite unique to the world as far as they can see. This means at this stage there is an incredible amount of work that must go into integration of the council approval and applications processes.


It has been a long road for them, and they are building for the long term. A 25 year management plan is in place. Slow, small solutions have allowed this place to continue progressing through considerable challenges.

Now they are an avenue for considerable energy through work for the dole schemes, dept of corrections programs, and mutual obligation agreements. The ongoing community work is done by volunteers, where it serves as a place to foster connections and meet likeminded people. Several projects have seeded and germinated there and then been planted out in other places.

Interesting to see a charcoal maker in place to convert their considerable store of salvaged trees into a usable product. I’ve spoken a little bit about this biochar process before.

Expect to hear more about it – lots of potential in our context.


Changing the Pace:

We also visited a home scale garden that has been grown and tended by Wally for over 25 years!


He is over 90 now and still gardens six days a week (he takes a day off from work for the Lord). Growing beautiful broccolis, luscious lettuces, pineapples, tomatoes and more.


Enough for his wife, himself and most of his neighbours too in their ΒΌ acre block.


In a twist to the conventional home garden he fertilises it with his own composted humanure. A fine example of the principle of using biological resources.

Here is his composting chamber:


Giving amazing growth really considering the salty coastal sand that is the soil around his place.


He credits persistence in the garden, there is no lack of challenges on his block but he keeps at it and the results shine through.


This year birds have been a particular problem for him when he is out the front they duck out the back.

Gavin is an absolute inspiration, a testament to good design. In seven years he has completely regenerated the once paddock of his steep north easterly aspect block to a vibrant, massively productive Permaculture paradise. He has also built a beautiful house, travelled and worked internationally on numerous projects including tsunami relief and rebuilding in Aceh and is raising three kids. Fruit trees of all shapes, sizes and stages of maturity fill his designated zone he said he had to contain himself or it would have kept going down the hill. His home absolutely inspired me to check out Daily’s nursery in Kyogle. Fruit trees suit my kind of investment style, a lot of energy at the beginning and then consistent returns for a long, long time.

1 Comment

  1. Potted Vegetable Garden
    October 14, 2010

    Its great to see the Island Quarry still going hard and strong many years on.
    I remember when it first opened.
    Keep up the great work!
    Happy Gardening
    Marty, Karin and the Potted Vegetable Garden