E-News - APRIL 2019
View this email in your browser

Breaking new ground at the Witchcliffe Ecovillage


By Jo Thierfelder, Communications and Marketing Manager, Sustainable Settlements

The Witchcliffe Ecovillage vision is to be one of the most sustainable residential communities in the world; self-sufficient in water, energy and fresh food produce.

Achieving this ambitious goal is no small feat but it’s one that the Sustainable Settlements team has been relentlessly pursuing with uncompromising attention to detail since its inception nine years ago.

The Witchcliffe Ecovillage is unique, and its appeal is broad and growing as it seeks to address so many of the pressing social, environmental and economic issues of our time.

Our objective has always been very simple: to make this project as sustainable as possible.  

A long and winding road to approval

The Ecovillage project began in 2010 when the 120ha farmland site was first purchased in a 50/50 joint venture partnership between Sustainable Settlements and Perron Developments (companies owned by Mike Hulme and Stan Perron who have been in partnership for more than 20 years).

Despite its commendable sustainability goals, innovative approach and solid financial foundation, the project has been mired in planning bureaucracy for nine years (twice as long as originally anticipated). After an enormous amount of hard work and dogged determination, the Ecovillage finally received all of its planning approvals last year enabling the project to proceed with confidence, and the Sustainable Settlements team to expand to facilitate its delivery.

The project timeline has been split up into six stages and is anticipated to take between 7-9 years to complete, depending on the rate of sales. We broke ground on Stage 1 in February 2019 with construction of the dams, which are due for completion before winter rains set in.

Unparalleled location

The Ecovillage is located in the quirky, historic hamlet of Witchcliffe, just 8km south of Margaret River in WA’s beautiful South West. It is blessed with stunning natural assets on its doorstep, including Redgate Beach (great fishing and surfing), Boranup Forrest, limestone caves and world-renowned vineyards, not to mention the fertile agricultural pastures on which the site itself sits.

The Ecovillage will significantly expand the existing Witchcliffe townsite, which we hope will have many positive physical and social effects on the community. The site runs directly behind the main street retail precinct extending north and south along Bussell Highway.

Community and public life

On completion, the Ecovillage will encompass more than 300 passive solar residential dwellings organised into 11 strata clusters that each surround a shared 1ha community garden. This cluster design is the beating heart of the residential community infrastructure. Each strata cluster will manage its own space that will include a community building, orchard, chickens, rain garden (stormwater system), fire pit, BBQ area, compost bays and a myriad of other possibilities. Each lot will have its own exclusive use vegetable garden that forms part of the community garden so that neighbours will naturally be drawn together to socialise and share resources. Permaculture principles of earth care, people care and fair share are the foundation upon which the Ecovillage ethos is based.

The Village Square and surrounds will be the focal point of public life for the greater Ecovillage. Plans include a café, community centre, microbrewery, winery, boutique hotel / backpackers, commercial precinct, food hub, educational facilities, nature playground, biking and walking trails, sports facilities, artist and maker spaces and more. This bustling, vibrant, diverse community hotspot is designed to attract residents, regional locals and tourists alike who will come to stay, play, relax and learn about sustainability.

Water, energy and fresh food

The Ecovillage is a complex project made up of many elements but attaining self-sufficiency in renewable energy, water and fresh food produce is one of its primary aims.

The Ecovillage water strategy has been designed so that every drop of water that falls on the site is captured, diverted and reused. It incorporates three large dams for irrigation, sophisticated stormwater systems and rain gardens, rainwater tanks on every lot for household use and a community scale wastewater treatment plant, which recycles and treats all sewerage on site.

The entire Ecovillage will be run on solar energy with rooftop PV panels on every house, batteries and cluster-level microgrids from which households can draw and share their power. These microgrids will be attached to the main Western Power electrical grid enabling excess power to be sold and providing a back-up in the unlikely event that we need additional power.

Fresh fruit and vegetables will be grown in the agricultural lots that surround the Ecovillage, which will be available for residents to purchase as a commercial enterprise. The dams will supply each agricultural lot with water, and we envisage these will be used for small scale, high value crops such as garlic, asparagus or blueberries for example, although some people may just want to create their own food forest! Producers will be able to process and sell their produce in the food hub and associated markets. Of course, the residents will grow the lion’s share of fresh produce for their daily needs from the extensive vegetable gardens that form part of each community garden cluster.

Lots and housing options

The Ecovillage team has developed a range of different lot sizes and housing options to ensure we meet market demand, encourage demographic diversity and address housing affordability issues as best we can. These include lifestyle, family, cottage, affordable, aged and dependent care, medium density, short stay, tourist and studio lots, which range significantly in size from 2,700sqm to 300sqm.

We are currently finalising the Ecovillage Building Design Guidelines, which is a comprehensively researched document designed to help residents choose the best building materials and methods that fit with our sustainability principles. A range of house and land packages will be designed for each lot type, but residents may prefer instead to build their own custom designed sustainable home that fit within the BDGs.

We are aiming to open for pre-sales in early September 2019 at which time prospective residents will be able to make a deposit to reserve a block. We anticipate titles will be created by Landgate approximately a year later at which time residential building may commence in earnest.

Expressions of interest

The team is feeling buoyed by the incredible level of sustained interest from people who have followed the project since its inception, registered their interest on our website, subscribed to our newsletter and maintained regular contact with us. And yes, many of them are Permies! We feel like we have the beginnings of a wonderful community already.

We encourage you to explore our detailed website at to gain a full understanding of the project and register your interest for further information. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Nyoongar country spans from Leeman in the northwest to beyond Cape Arid in the southeast, in the southwest of Australia. The Nyoongar calendar includes six seasons.

DJERAN- Season of Adulthood 
Ant season. Time to repair housing and shelter

Autumn ~ April - May

The lifestyle for the Nyoongar communities during Djeran

Djeran season at last sees a break in the really hot weather. A key indicator of the change of season is the cool nights that once again bring a dewy presence for us to discover in the early mornings.

The winds have also changed, especially in their intensity, with light breezes being the go and generally swinging from southerly directions (i.e. southeast to southwest). Many flying ants can be seen cruising around in the light winds.

Djeran is a time of red flowers especially from the Red flowering gum (Corimbia ficifolia), as well as the smaller and more petite flowers of the Summer Flame (Beaufortia aestiva). As you travel around the Perth area, you may also notice the red 'rust' and seed cones forming on the male and female Sheoaks (Allocasuarina fraseriana). Banksias start to display their flowers, ensuring that there are nectar food sources for the many small mammals and birds that rely upon them.

Traditionally, foods at this time of year included the seeds that had been collected and stored for treatment from the Zamia last season along with the root bulbs of the Yanget (Bullrushes), fresh water fish, frogs and turtles.

As the season progresses, the nights will become cooler and damper along with some cool and rainy days which also means that traditionally mia mias (houses or shelters) were now repaired and updated to make sure they were waterproofed and facing in the right direction in readiness for the deep wintery months to come.

Read more here

This beautiful artwork was sourced from the MercyCare website: here

Principle #11
Use edges & value the marginal 

Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path.” 

The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

The icon of the sun coming over the horizon with a river in the foreground shows us a world composed of edges. The proverb “don’t think you are on the right track just because its a well-beaten path” reminds us that the most popular is not necessarily the best approach.

This month's Permaculture Principle is summarised beautifully by the Formidable Vegetable Sound System's tune......

The Edge!  <-- Only have a listen if you're a little bit crazy and do things a bit different to society! because the edge is where it's at! and it's the most productive place! and if you're not living on the edge, then you're taking up too much space!! Listen free here!!! 

Share the Edge

Over the fence from the City Farmer Compost Demonstration Garden, the Maple Community Garden spreads immaculately along a disused railway line. It is the first of a number of community food and flower gardens that follow the railway line east through Vancouver. Community gardens provide extra edge between gardeners, for sharing of ideas, methods, seeds, produce, and company.

(Sourced Information & Photograph): Website: Permaculture Principles.   --> link

Pollinator Books

Erin and Marcel are treasure hunters. They find second hand books that they value, pollinating thoughts and ideas from great story-tellers to a new audience. From social & environmental justice, biographies about people that have made change happen, to the esoteric and classics that alter the way people see the world and themselves in it. You’ll find them popping up their shop with suitcase loads of books at festivals, markets and gigs or on the way to the beach.

(Sourced Information & Photograph): Website: Permaculture Principles.   --> link

Kiah (Hi) I’m Noala, one of your management committee members.
The first thing I grew was capsicums. I was around 10 years old and dad gave me a skinny raised garden bed all to myself at our house in Victoria Park. I experienced for the first time picking and eating something I’d grown myself; a simple pleasure I still enjoy some 45 years later.

Growing edibles has come and gone through various phases of my life but is something I always return to. The by-line of one of my blogs was “you know it’s been a good weekend when there’s a good dose of dirt under my fingernails”.
My introduction to Permaculture was by stealth; I did a course in 2009 called Earth Carers in which the focus was on waste management. This course was originally named EarthWorks by its eastern states developers, who saw it as a way of getting people interested in permaculture without naming it. I continue to volunteer for Earth Carers mostly talking at their  information stall about composting, worm farming, bokashi, pet poo worm farms and wicking beds at events like Garden Week and the Perth Royal Show.

Earth Carers introduced me to Environment House (I miss Brenda and Rob!), Harry Wykman (he ran the composting workshop for Earth Carers), Lockridge Community Garden, and eventually, permaculture.
Shortly after becoming an Earth Carer, my suburb was part of the Perth Solar Cities program and in November 2009 they offered the Living Smart course (then delivered by the Department of Transport which was before Shani and Tim of Ecoburbia got involved in it). This covered some similar ground to Earth Carers but included many other topics around sustainable lifestyles.

When I later looked more into permaculture and did my first PDC (in 2011) I felt it was simply a very elegant framework on which everything I thought was important formed a beautiful, unified tapestry.  Since then I’ve run and helped others run a number of workshops (I was a corporate trainer in a previous life), done a second PDC, got hooked on the Australasian Permaculture Convergences after attending my first one in Penguin Tasmania (2015) and helping organise the Perth APC in 2016, and last year completed Cert III with Ross Mars. I’m currently doing some units with the University of Tasmania (where Bill and David started it all) in their Sustainable Living Diploma.
My interests are wide and varied (from computers to crochet, meditation, family history, samba percussion, singing bowls … it’s a long list) and I have a full time day job working in an office. I’m not much of a designer but there are other ways I can help permaculture grow, so I joined the Permaculture West committee with a view to helping where I could, and now I’m helping as the Secretary!

To my logical, rational mind, permaculture is the only future that makes sense. There are too many things happening in the world that don’t make any sense. Together we can make a difference; so let’s do that.

Best wishes on your Permaculture journey,
Are you holding an event for the International Day of Permaculture on 5th May 2019?  Then share it here!

Permaculture West are currently seeking old stories, information, photos and articles about Permaculture in Perth over the last 40 Years.  We are in the process of collating information to share openly on our PermacultureWest website and at the upcoming Perth Permaculture Festival - Celebrating 40 Years in August 2019.

Courtesy of Frank and Susan Hartley, who we are very grateful for their generosity as they have donated their original copies of the PAWA Newsletter, dating back to Volume 1, Issue 1 in November 1978!   We hope you enjoy this excerpt from Volume II - IV September 1980!  We will be collating the collection and uploading to our website in the next couple of months.

Are YOU a Permaculture Designer?
Or! Do you know someone who is? 

We want to know WHO YOU ARE! 

And! If you are a member of Permaculture West (PAWA)  we are in the process of establishing a directory on our website and we want to showcase you and your services for FREE!  So if you are a member, and you are a designer or operating a business aligned with Permaculture we want to help promote you!  Contact us today to register your details at

Are you running a course or training program related to Permaculture in the coming months ahead?  Email Tamara at by the 15th day of the month to be included in our next issue.
AUD $25.00 AUD $22.50

This book charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture, through the personal stories of Australian permaculturists. From permaculture co-originator David Holmgren, to ABC TV’s Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne, the authors span the generations and the continent. Also available as an eBook for $14.00

Also available as part of bulk orders at

Pip Permaculture Podcast #19 Native Bees with Dr Megan Halcroft

Native bees are an important part of our garden’s ecosystems. In this podcast Pip Magazine editor Robyn Rosenfeldt talks with Dr Megan Halcroft about what role they play in our gardens and what we can do to support them. We learn what are the best plants to grow to attract them and how to create habitat for them to live in.  Listen in on the podcast here

Dr Megan Halcroft runs Bees Business. To find out more about how to support native bees in your garden, including what plants to grow, go to

To read more about native bees and how to create a native bee garden, check out issue 13 of Pip Magazine.


Remember that you can get a 10% discount on all new subscriptions, just use the voucher PCWEST10 at check out! 

Know of a great workshop coming up? Or a permablitz near your place? Is your garden looking fabulous or are you’re just bursting to share photos of your community or school garden? Would you like to introduce your Permaculture business? Would you like to connect with local community gardens in your area?
Well we would
LOVE LOVE! to hear from you!  

And! Your input is what really makes this monthly eNews special and relevant to local readers here in Western Australia. Plus! It helps us showcase all the great stuff we’ve got going on to readers from other parts of the world too. 

So! Don't be shy! Send your updates, sharing or questions today to Tamara today:
Copyright © 2019. Permaculture West. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

unsubscribe from this list   |   update subscription preferences 


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
PermacultureWest · PO Box 62 · Karrinyup, WA 6921 · Australia

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp