Tag Archives: Camping

Designer as recliner (defining permaculture…)

IMG_5965 This week I’m working on my confirmation presentation: a 15-20 minute ‘lecture’ I will be giving in about two-weeks’ time to my USC peers, supervisors, faculty, the Office of Research and any one else who wants to come along (do you?). The presentation will be a summary of my proposed research, including methods and methodologies, relevant literature, significance and innovation and the nature and purpose of the creative artefact.


Note: ‘Confirmation’ (in terms of higher degree research (HDR) does not entail donning white or attending church. It’s a process whereby a ‘probationary’ candidate becomes a fully-fledged (‘confirmed’) candidate. After completing one’s ‘confirmation’ the researcher gets the red, orange or green light from the Office of Research in regard completing their research. Confirmation takes place one-year after commencement for full-time candidates, or two-years for part-time candidates.


I’m anxious about providing my audience – early on in the presentation – with a simple definition of permaculture. The definition of permaculture with which I provided my audience this week during a test-run was Bill Mollison’s classic definition of permaculture from Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual:

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.  Mollison, B 2012, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, Tagari Publications: Sisters Creek, Tasmania, p. ix.

Earlier today I was reading Eric Toensmeier’s Paradise Lot and came across this definition of permaculture, which I like:

Meeting human needs while improving ecosystem health. Ferguson in Toensmeier, E 2013, Paradise Lot, Chelsea Green Publishing: White River Junction, Vermont, p. 3.

How simple is that! Here’s another:

Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.’ Mollison, B & Slay, R M  2011, Introduction to Permaculture, Tagari Publications, Sisters Creek, Tasmania, p. 1.

In Paradise Lot (a fun, enthusiast permaculture memoir that’s well worth a squizz) Toensmeier explains permaculture thusly:

Permaculture (short for “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture”) is a movement that began in Australia in the 1970s. It brings together traditional indigenous land management practices, ecological design, and sustainable practices to create landscapes that are more than the sum of their parts. Permaculture is not so much about having a greenhouse, chickens, and an annual vegetable garden as it is about how those elements are tied together to create functional interconnections that work like a natural ecosystem. Low maintenance is the holy grail of permaculture – a food forest with a hammock hidden beneath fruit trees, where, as permaculture codeveloper Bill Mollison famously quipped, “the designer turns into the recliner. (Toensmeier, E 2013, Paradise Lot, Chelsea Green Publishing: White River Junction, Vermont, p. 2)

Recently, in my own life, the permaculture designers (me and Richie) turned into permaculture recliners. Here’s a picture of Richie chilling-out in a hammock during a recent camping trip to Booloumba Creek, Kenilworth. IMG_3317 Seeing Richie hanging out got me thinking how little of this we’ve done lately. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Permaculture, Philosophy, Writing

SEED… new beginnings

Richie

There comes a time when even the most devoted travel partners go their separate ways. After 20 months of conjoined aspirations, Richie and I are separating (temporarily!) to pursue individual learning pathways; acquiring skills, gleaning knowledge and shaping up for a abundant and diverse future together here on the Sunshine Coast.

Richie’s bitter complaints that the final leg of our overland journey from England to Australia lacked a permaculture-focus are finally being laid to rest. As the photo attests – Richie’s not only turning Australian but he’s turning Australian in a very perma-way. Today he’s off to experience what may be the most memorable perma-experience of his life: one month WWOOFing with Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australian in the Channon, Northern NSW.

While I’m beefsteak-tomato-red with envy, I have my own work cut out for me. It’s application time. Time to put my money where my mouth is. Yep, that writerly PhD that I fled to England (via India) to avoid in 2007 has returned to haunt me and this time, I aint’ gonna turn and flee.

This time, I have a story worth writing: mine and Richie’s story. A travel story. A permaculture story. An earth story. A story about seeds, ideas, social change, friendship and the beauty of the natural world. The encouragement and feedback I’ve received from you, the readers of Typo Traveller, have helped me to believe that the world is ready for SEED: a permaculturee travel memoir, and I’m ready to write it.

I’m currently in the process of writing a proposal and approaching supervisors to oversee the work. While Richie’s digging swales and tweaking irrigation systems, I’ll be writing literature reviews and pawing through old university transcripts for evidence that I’m a hardy, worthy, creative, credible PhD candidate.

In the meantime, if the writing becomes too much, and I find I need a break, there’s my parents’ potato patch to water; an ageing shed to pull down; Augustino corn to hand-pollinate; dill to plant; sourdough starter to feed; kefir to culture; my sisters’ herb garden to cultivate… and the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland to re-explore.

Did I mention books to read – Waterlog, Bird Cloud, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Permaculture Design by Aranya: A step-by-step guide, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell…?

Bon Voyage lover-brother, Richie, go well! ‘I’ll see you soon…’

p.s Sorry about the photo, I couldn’t help myself! 😉

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Luck of the Irish

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I’ll tell you something you might not know about the Australian Outback – it’s peopled by young Irish! The subtle charm of saltbush and red earth does not account for the numbers in which they arrive: behind every counter, every laminate benchtop in every kitchen, pub, petrol station, cafe and caravan park between Darwin and Mt Isa there’s a Galway or Pipe lilt-a-lurking.

Whatever the Outback lacks in emerald green it makes up for in gold: the solid gold of a hard-earned wage – the kind it’s hard to come by in Ireland. Italians and French are drawn here too, for work, but not in the same numbers as the Irish – nowhere near.

At the Mataranka Caravan Park, at the end of a long day of hitchhiking, I inquire at reception about the cost of renting a tent pitch for the night: $36! It’s terrible news but pleasing nonetheless to hear it delivered in a running-stitch of tender Leinster tones! Battling to reconcile myself with parting with $36 for a patch of earth, I inquire whether management might have a spare tent they can throw into the bargain. To which she kindly responds, ‘No’.

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That night, lying under the stars, part-way-under a shared sleeping bag, with the sound of mob politics in the background, I ponder what it might be like, as a youth from an Irish village, to find yourself, suddenly,  in the Australian Outback. I feel baffled by what might draw someone this far across the earth to take up residence in a landscape only marginally less alien than the moon, to a culture as quixotic, contradictory and idiosyncratic as a pink bus called ‘Priscilla’. Surely it’s not just the money?

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On the second night of our hitch-hike across the Outback we’re saved by the kindness of the Irish. Tess, Mike and Lee are on a road trip that will take them from Sydney to Cairns. They’ve drawn up at the Barkly Homestead in their dusty blue station wagon and are happy enough to have their tents up, cans of beer in their hands and a good part of the driving behind them.

It’s cold. As they hug their coats closer about their shoulders their attention is drawn to the two weirdos (us!) who have wandered in off the road, under cover of darkness, and are spreading a layer of cardboard on the ground in order to shield themselves from the rising damp that would otherwise cost them a night of sleep.

‘We ha a tarpaulin if ya waaant it’, one of them offers, shouting over from the comfort of his canvas camping chair. He looks appalled to be witnessing our performance of voluntary impoverishment.

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Hossin’ it to Venice

Richie and I have been known to attempt rash and zany things, especially whilst on the road. A whiff of adventure, a challenge, a dare, and we’re off, scheming of ways to reach B from A; testing the mettle of our spirits and the imperviousness of the soles of our hiking boots.

If they were made for walking, what’s the point in standing still?

It was during a particularly low moment during our stay in Barcelona that we decided to intercept Richie’s parents on their 18-day cruise of the Mediterranean. We were lonely and could do with a merry rendezvous. On the 14th of April Kay and Steve would be disembarking the Queen Victoria in Venice. Why not surprise them there, and spend a memorable 6 hours walking the streets; lagoon water lapping at our toes and the taste of gelato in our mouths.

Reaching Venice on the 14th left us with a window of 4 nights to get from Figueres (in the northeast Spain). We considered flying, then thought better of it. Why not hitch?

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