Parr's Permaculture Design

Parr's Permaculture Design

Friday, October 29, 2010

Violet Town - David Arnold's Pc Fruit Farm - Rural VIC

Wowsers, I’m exhausted! 

Seven and a half days straight here at David Arnold’s fruit farm 'Murrnong' in Violet Town, VIC. Two hours slightly East of North out of Melbourne, David has been here around thirteen years setting up a future community, mostly on his own, with the help of wwoofers like myself. He normally plans to have weekends a bit more downtempo than weekdays but right now summer is coming and he has had less wwoofers than usual, so things are a little behind schedule. Today (day 8) is the first day my body physically started to feel tired, in need of rest and a good massage! Good job my next host runs an ecoshiatsu retreat centre! 

The most prominent issue out here in rural Victoria is fire danger. As soon as you leave the city, just an hour out in places, fire risk goes up significantly and rural VIC has immense concerns for the possibility of natural destruction on an enormous scale, especially since Black Saturday, 2008. Apparently with eucalyptus trees, the heat causes the oil to seep out of the trees as a flammable vapor.  The fire burns this vapor before it burns the trees, and is the reason why fires are able to travel 60km in 15 minutes. Very scary stuff. 
So much of the work I have been helping him with has been in preparation for the dry summer ahead.

Through much experience and self-guided learning, David has built an extensive knowledge base and is very giving of his information. Always happen to answer a question or share some insight, he is an experienced host and very good at connecting his willing worker on his organic (permaculture) farm with a job that suits them well, taking into consideration level of experience and/or area/s of interest. Of course, you have to want to learn or you won’t... he asks that only people with an interest to learn about Pc get in contact. He’s not sure if this is why he’s getting less wwoofers this year in comparison to last, but I for one have been very grateful for the exchange. My prerogative since I arrived has been to learn, learn more, experience some, learn even more, and have some fun wherever possible, in that order. I have not been disappointed.

I could write a million words about what has been happening here, but I want to be more succinct than that. I think photos are the way to do it, so below are a bunch of brief stories, anecdotes and lessons with accompanying photos. I hope it gives some insight into how much I have been learning while I have been here. With my trusty point-and-shoot camera always in my pocket just in case I saw something I needed to remember, I managed to document a fair bit of my stay here.
If you are interested to see more about David's setup, check out his youtube channel:

The up-turned raft - built by a wwoofer, he put a roof on it which was unnecessary, and meant that when i was windy, the raft capsized, and took with it the water pump. Fire safety compromised, we needed to rescue it!

Fruit tree pollination. Bees make honey and pollinate plants to produce fruit. A recommended book is 'The Botany of Desire' by Michael Pollan. He gives insight into a different way of looking at nature, and how plants have successfully manipulated humans, rather than the other way around.  In fact I recommend ANY of his books! 

The chook shed - daily routine is to be left in until midday so they lay most of their eggs, then they are let out into the property. 9 chickens plus one rooster have access to roam the whole property - 20 acres (8 hectares). Often following us around bas we are likely to be working the earth where  grubs are to be found. Before dark they are fed the scraps from the kitchen, watered and locked in for the night. We were getting about 6 eggs each day. The yolks yellower than anything I've seen before.

Wormwood - strategically placed so that when the chickens are let out (the hatch is around the corner from this healthy wormwood bush) the chickens rub up against it. The oil transferred onto the chooks repels insects... so simple and so effective!

The design of Murrnong is such that when David sells off subdivisions of his land, the houses built will already have an established orchard around them. When they are inhabited, the existing infrastructure (pictured) becomes the 'Future Farm Centre', a communal building including a workshop, food processing area, and so on.

The 'closed carbon cycle' - grow trees, grow too many, thin them, chop for wood. The trees left standing have room to grow into the space left. Burn the wood, release carbon, the carbon is sequestered by the existing trees and stored back into the tree. Closed loop carbon cycle. 

Grapefruit in the orchard. This is the first of four passes made to maintain the orchard. First we clear the grass around the trunk and irrigation (the red stick) so it can be seen when mowing. Second is the mowing run, removing the grass from under the canopy. Third we pruned the 'suckers' and fourth we shovelled mulch to cover the root zone. They were happy trees by the time we'd finished with them! 
Preserves - oh the preserves. This is the first time I'd seen true abundance of food in a home. So many pickles, and fruit processed for times when they are less available due to the seasons. We ate olives, peaches, plums, pears... david makes yoghurt daily, there was no shortage of food and little need to go to the shops. There's a running joke that it's 'David's Town' - everything you need is there, so you never need to leave! 

David (2nd from RHS) running an Introduction to Permaculture Course in Shepparton, my first experience of the 'other side'. After being a student for the past couple of years, I am starting to see myself as a teacher of Pc. I'm a way off yet, taking heed of David's advice that you need to be prepared for questions and have an ability to answer them, in order to be an effective teacher.

Cleaning up the wood from the raft with the angle grinder. Another new skill for my tool belt! To make the farm fire safe, another raft needs to be built but we ran out of time, so while the timber is ready for reconstructing, the pump is currently sitting on the ground of the dam wall, which is not as safe as floating on the water, away from the fire's reach. 

The orchard after the fourth pass - how happy do those trees look?  The chook's getting stuck in too! 

Brilliant design: community house in Violet Town. Funding came for a retrofit which was designed and implemented by David. One of the many improvements is in this courtyard - instead of shade cloth grapes have been planted (and other herbs). Eventually, the vines will grow up the chains in each corner and cover the pergola with fruit, and provide shade for the area in summer. Being deciduous, their leaves will drop in winter and allow the sun through to warm the space in winter.

Important upgrade of the water system, changing arterial above-ground pipes from plastic to steel in case of fire. 
Was fun throwing tools up to him, my juggling skills came in very handy! 

Humanure from the composting toilet. Such an amazing resource - add some sawdust to your deposit each time to balance out the carbon-nitrogen mix, and let the worms do the rest. This pile, removed from the loo when full, was stored by the house and did not smell. It was teeming with worms, and was safe to touch by hand - amazing nature doing what it does best - no chemicals required. 

View of the orchard from the water tower, facing South. Foundations of the first dwelling are in place, amongst the fruit trees - can you imagine living there?  Bliss! 

That grass really needs cutting though! The tractor will be in to do it soon.

Future Farm Centre - mud brick, solar hot water, water tank, grapes on the pergola, kitchen garden, photovoltaics, North facing for solar gain, concrete slab absorbs heat from the sun and gives off heat during the night...

And that's me having a great time operating the mower on the very first day that seems such a long time ago now.  I was full of energy and thirsty for knowledge, I gave a heap of energy and in return gained a whole lot of knowledge. Right from the start I was being shown tasks I needed to do but also why I'm doing them, what the system is for, and it all made perfect sense. I hope I can be good host myself too. 
I had no idea what was in store for the next 7 days after this photo, and what an amazing, full, inspiring time I have had. Words actually can't do it justice... I whole heartedly recommend going woofing yourself and experiencing it - who knows where it might lead you!?  
For me, since leaving, I feel like I have had a glimpse into the future, of my life in Tasmania, a simpler but more abundant life with Permaculture all around. It's absolutely possible, I am starting to grasp the concept of having my own land, perhaps an acre, having wwoofers, and abundance all around me and my community. I feel different in my body too, I feel more centered, better grounded, more in tune with nature, and less need for things like driving, town water and supermarkets.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Irrigation design implemented at Stewart Lodge.

Here's the design I did for Stewart Lodge, Brunswick, Melbourne:
I worked at the Lodge for 6 months (April to September 2010) as a volunteer when I got back to Melbourne from my PDC. I've no idea how I found out about them needing people but as the universe has it, it found me, and it's bee a great thing.  Not only have I learned a lot through workshops, interacted with like minded people, helped the residents get into the garden and eat more healthily, but I managed to design and implement my first irrigation design.  So great! 
Matt from CERES was employed to run workshops every alternate Saturday on all sorts of topics from seed saving to irrigation to companion planting to seasons to water management.  I attended most of them, assisting the residents in their learning, and gaining a good deal of knowledge myself. 
After the irrigation workshop where we laid pipe in one of the veggie beds, Matt asked if someone could  design the rest, which I jumped at the chance of. Then, we waited until spring to put the plan into action. The funding comes from Merri Community Health, to pay for materials and 2 part-time Permies to help out each week. The result is fantastic - it's a Pc garden that gets a LOT of love from lots of people. A good way to see what you can get for your efforts.  I'll post up photos of it soon. 
So yeah, volunteering rocks, as does a smart irrigation design =:o)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Flourless Orange Cake recipe

I just sent an email to a friend with this recipe - and now I have a blog I can share it with the world!!! 

(Off the top of my head)
250g almonds / almond meal
250g sugar
2 ts baking power
2 large oranges.
6 eggs
Boil oranges for 2 hours, let cool.
Grind up almonds in good quality blender to make fresh almondmeal. You can do it is a bad quality blender but it's nowhere near as satisfying or economic! 
Combine almondmeal, baking powder and sugar, mix with your favourite implement in a bowl .
Cut oranges into large chunks, remove pips. 
Blend eggs and oranges into a beautiful orangy-syrupy goo.
Mix the goo with the almond-sugar mixture to make an even more yummy looking gooey goo. 
Pour mixture, after sampling with your finger, into a buttered and floured cake tin.
Bake in oven at a fairly high heat for a while (I've no idea about how hot for how long - somewhere in the mid-range for about 45-60mins - just be careful not to burn the top).
Additional options of awesomeness:
1) Melt a heap of dark chocolate and add to the yummy looking gooey goo before baking.  This makes a chocolately-yummy looking chocolate gooey goo.  Yum!!!!!!
2) Replace oranges with equivalent weight in peeled bananas, mash with a fork instead of blending.
Have fun with that! 
C xxx

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blog goes up...

So I decided to put up a blog.  It's a place where I can log my new and exciting journey in the world of Permaculture, and it's as much for you, as it is for me.  
I'm a little pessimistic about whether people actually read blogs (I know a handful of of my friends do), so if there was no use for it myself, I wouldn't bother.  But I figure I'd more likely write a blog than a book, as I can add in photos, videos and other snippets from around the web.  It's predominantly an outlet for, and a record of, all the awesomeness that has come into my life through a wonderful, amazing and incredibly clever design system, which they say changes your eyes... changes the way you see the world.  
I have to admit that it has done exactly that to me.  
Since embarking on a 72-hr Permaculture Design Course with Robyn Francis in Nimbin (Jan 2010), is has connected me to my true heart, and made me realise that I cannot live the life I seek within the city of Melbourne, and instead to seek a new place to embark on the rest of my life... I have chosen Tasmania. 

I'd love to go deep into the story of my life right now but I am time poor. I have to pack my bags here at Digger Street Intentional Community, Cairns, to move on to the next location. 

In the meantime I am going to post up all the group emails I have sent to people near and dear to me inthe past, and in due course photos... photos of things that I can see now much more clearly than ever before. 

So welcome to my world, to my journey.  Thanks for joining me, feel free to post a comment! 

'From little things, big things grow...'

1st October 2010 "Permaculture Parr"

Group email 7:

Permaculture Parr reporting. 
Preempting a fairly long email I will cut to the chase, because that’s the juicy part, and the part I want you to read the most. No point having it at the bottom when a lot of you are too busy to read and take in it all.  So here it is:
I arrived a week ago here in Cairns for the 10th biennial Australasian Permaculture Convergence, held at Candlenut Steiner School, Kuranda. Permaculture (Pc) is a design system that can be related to pretty much any facet of life in a way that helps us live a more sustainable life, wherever and however we are currently living it.  That is to use the earth’s resources and our own energy as sustainably as possible. The three core ethics behind permaculture are Care for Earth, Care for People and Fair Share. Beyond these ethics are twelve principles that encompass the design system, but for the duration of APC10, we were mainly grounded in the ethics. 
If you put 350 people in a beautiful place who all share the same core ethics innate to life, you get love. There was an air of love all over the place, apparent as soon as I stepped off the bus. The chefs, the speakers, the kids, the adults, the hippies, the farmers, the elders, the people beamed in on Skype, all emanated love.  Love for each other, the planet and for the amazing work that Pc is doing for humanity. I hope that sets the scene. 
Four long days of ‘converging’ (I believe a convergence has an emphasis on ‘open’ discussion around a topic than say a conference) were at times intense, but mostly rich with conversation, debate, connections and inspiration. I experienced about 10 times more than I was expecting. I came wanting to be immersed in Pc once again (I did my Pc Design Course in Jan), meet some like-minded folk, see what happened. I left in awe of the movement, and in awe of the breadth of all the possibilities ahead. I feel like I now have my mission in life. Permaculture all the way.
I have gained numerous contacts in Tasmania, not least Bill Mollison, co-founder of the permaculture movement, who I had lunch with on several occasions and is up for me wwoofing with him in January (having people stay at your house is a part of Fair Share, or distributing the surplus).  Mollison walked into the main hall on Saturday afternoon and received an immediate and most deserving standing ovation. At 82, he’s not young but sure can make a room full of people chuckle at his humble anecdotes.  A truly remarkable man. David Holmgren (the other co-founder) joined us for the Gala Dinner via Skype. Setting the example for the rest of us that you don’t always need to spend oil to attend an event. I for one managed to attend workshops at the European Juggling Convention in Finland this year without leaving my bedroom. 
Holmgren presented “Applying Design Principles for Activism” using a photo slideshow and one-liners.  Here’s the first principle, and Holmgren’s one liners, to give you an idea:
  1. Observe and interact.
  • Network for inspiration and information but don’t get mesmerized by greener or distant pastures
  • Read the social landscape to understand the constantly changing context for our actions
  • Talk to others doing similar and related stuff, no matter what the label or the looks
  • Find out who’s done this before, where it worked and where it didn’t
  • Failure is a gift, so long as we learn
  • We have a lineage and a history, make it a story to tell
After hearing all twelve of these, I was swimming with respect and awe. David Holmgren IS permaculture! The photo attached sums it up beautifully - I did laugh when he put his face in the middle of all the principles! 
Of course the co-originators are great to spend time with, but so many of the other speakers were just as incredible. The pick of the bunch for me is definitely Cecilia. Until recently she lived in North Melbourne (she had to move out of her house this year due to the landlord selling it, so all her stuff is currently in storage) but spends most of her time working as a Pc designer in Japan. Her design is all about balconies and share houses. She was so inspiring because she found her passion in Pc and is doing just that. She says she’s “slave to her heart,” only ever doing what feels right, and for her it’s balconies and share houses. I could write ten essays on the talks she did. She was written down for one, but by popular demand she ran three. I’ll give you an example: 
It’s cold in the house, you want to put the heating on, you feel that you shouldn’t use the heater but flicking a switch is much easier than finding a jumper to put on... “Whenever you are not doing what you first decided you were going to do, then you have a design problem, which can be fixed using Pc.” Cecilia fixed this problem by putting a warm jumper next to the heating switch. When you go to put on the heating, you see the jumper and it’s right there waiting for you. Of course the solutions can be different for each person, depending on the house, or the person, but the way she absolutely uses Pc to solve everyday life riddles is just fascinating. She uses Pc to make sure all the dishes are washed and put away, uses fish to ensure plants are looked after, organises the inside of the house with zones 1-5 (typically zoning is for outdoor food production). She’s so awesome. 
For me, through the myriad of interactions, I have come across the rather intriguing phrase “Social Permaculture”. I know that when Cecilia says she has companion planted people in her house like you would plants in the garden, that that is a form of Social Permaculture. But I think it goes deeper than that, and I am now on a quest to explore what it means, and whether there is a crossover point somewhere where it meets Social Circus, something I have ben teaching in Melbourne for the last 3 years through Westside Circus. It doesn’t take much word-smithing to get to the notion of “Social PermaCircus”. This is the latest coined phrase and I am real keen to see if I can make it happen. That’s what happens when you go to a Pc Convergence! New concepts, ideas and inspirations. 
There’s so much more I want to tell you... (in short) on day 5 we went on a day bus tour of the Tablelands visiting various Pc properties... A 2-acre family home set up on old dairy pastures (after 20 years is now an abundance of food production for the family and neighbours), a 20-acre polyculture farm, a humble but very productive 0.5-acre suburban plot, and then absolute epitome of awesome - The Botanical Ark - Alan has dedicated his life to preserving plant species from around the world and has several thousand species.  The photo of the fruit on the table... all that fruit was picked that morning within 100m of the house. We ate a selection for lunch. It’s hard to comprehend but if you know how to use nature to your advantage, anything is possible.  
On day 6 one of the APC participants wanted more so he organised a local aborigine elder, Willie, to take us out to a sacred and historical site. His knowledge of the land, fauna and flora is extensive. To think that aborigines were themselves classed as fauna until early 1900’s is unfathomable. They are more connected to nature, more understanding of the earth, more considerate to each other than us from the western world. Then we decided to invade, manipulate and slaughter...
Willie took us out to a place where his ancestors were based. They were forcibly removed in 1918. His tribe specialised in making axes, which were traded at the borders for plants, food, and other tools.  He showed us a place on the river where the stone axes were carved using the rocks. The site is unprotected, unsigned and is rich in history. We also went to a sacred women’s birthing site, and a mens initiation ‘waiting room’. Along the way Willie pointed out 2000yr-old trees, bush tucker, trees that make good didgeridoos, uses for termite mounds, and medicinal plants and trees, including a bloodwood, literally bleeding sap. The sap is good for stomach ache (diluted in water), an anesthetic and can be applied directly as a toothache remedy. 
Right now I’m sat at 107 Digger Street, Cairns. It’s an intentional community of 4 houses on a suburban block. I’ve only arrived today from the backpackers and feel so much more at home. For the $22 to pitch a tent in the garden, I will get everything included, that is internet, 3 meals a day, power and water.  We will cook together and on sunday is “Sunday Sessions” which I believe means DJs and dancing.  Every Sunday is a Sunday Session! 
Until next time, be well. 
Much love,
PS Trouble uploading photos, sorry this email might be a bit big for your inbox. Maybe I need to start blogging. Hmmm.... 

5th September 2010

Group email 6:

Hello lovelies! 

Some of you may already know about my plans for the rest of the year, others not.  Its been an amazing 6-months full of inspiration, insight and wonder, which culminates with the decision to move on from Melbourne to a more rural life in a lush place not too far away... to the island of Tasmania.  I am joining forces with Slipstream Circus, a youth circus based in Ulverstone on the north coast, to help them deliver social circus programs throughout the island, and also to be closer to nature, living a full life close to my heart.

For those of you in Melbourne, I am having TWO send off parties. The first is next weekend Sat 11th September at More Fire! (dancehall reggae gig near the Queen Vic markets) - you are invited to join me for an epic dance-your-legs-off occasion:
More Fire (Reggae Dancehall) - at the Mercat Cross Hotel (near Queen Vic Markets), 10pm til late.  

I know it's short notice and not everyone will be able to come, hence planning another large gathering in December... I'm not exactly sure of what will happen just yet... I'm joining forces with my good friend Briar (she is going back home to New Zealand around the same time) and we plan to throw a party of all parties!  Will let you know what we come up with later in the year.
So after the convention in a mere 12 days, I put all my belongings on the ferry, and pack my car for the road. WWOOFing (willing workers on organic farms) Victoria is the main task on the agenda for 3 months, with other exciting trips along the way including the Australian Permaculture Convergence (Cairns), International Intentional Communities Conference (Cairns) and Circulation circus festival (NZ). I'm incredibly excited to go travelling again, on another journey of discovery and intrepidation. If anyone knows of a good wwoof host in Victoria, properties with permaculture principles are at the top of my list, please send any suggestions through to me.  I have plenty to choose from in the wwoof book but recommendations are always great.

As before I will send updates to keep you in the loop with the latest discoveries during my travels.  Feel free to do the same back!  

While I'm here I may as well mention that if you've got nothing better to do between Friday 17th and Monday 20th Sept, here's some stuff you might like to come watch: 
The Couch Show, a fun open-stage show starts 8pm Friday 17th. 
Saturday 18th we're hosting the Public Show ($20) - 2pm and 8pm shows.
On Sunday there are more free shows from 6.30pm. 
Monday 11am-1pm we are running the Juggling Games, free event with a BBQ. 
There's also a semi-secret MJC after-party happening on the Monday night... I can't say much right now but if you want to come and join us, let me know! 

I hope this email finds you well and brimming with excitement for Spring. 

Love and hugs to you all, 


26 March 2010 "Another chapter finished"

Group email 5:
Just 1 sleep left... then my feet land back once again in fantastic Melbourne, nearly 4 months since I was last there.  Exciting and scary at the same time... 

The last 4 weeks here in Tasmania have been absolutely amazing and unlike what I was expecting, in a positive way. I was expecting 5 days a week of teaching circus classes, and a weekend or two away seeing some sights.  What actually came to fruit was a still-not-complete basketball stadium, the delay of which meant Slipstream's classes were to take place on an outdoor dog training area rather than the old gym and not very surprisingly very few kids turned up.  
Plan B was quickly devised: hire a local school hall two afternoons a week and try and get the numbers up for those sessions for the remaining 3 weeks, to try and rehab the numbers. Worked a treat. We got kids, 17 on one occasion, plus it meant I had 5 days off rather than 2.  Score.  My 16hrs/week contract remained active so the 10 non-teaching hours/week were spent carefully tweaking policies and procedures that were definitely in need of attention. (I finished my last paid hour of work yesterday arvo and have been celebrating my glorious achievement once again (I've had heaps of glorious achievements on this trip!) with one of my old friends, Mr Stone's Green Ginger Wine). So with these schedule alterations in my diary I decided to hire a car for 11 days and make best use of those days off, in the end seeing a great deal of the island, catching up with a few friends and making a bunch of brand new friends too.

I'm aware of the epic-ness my emails have become (I'd be impressed to hear if anyone managed to read them all top to bottom).  I've been adding photos for those who have less time and prefer to just scan photos rather than read rambles of a person chasing their dreams. Both options are valid and this email is no different. 

So, Tasmania.  Not that different to New Zealand (the most notable differences are that no-one calls me bro, there are no indigenous people left from what I could see, and the mountains are smaller) but its definitely much much closer to Melbourne.  

With the freshness of Permaculture, environmental sustainability, intentional communities, organic food production, and my two freshly trained eyes for the beautifully simple and abundant ability of nature to exist effortlessly as it does, I set off on the road to have a good look around and see what I could see. You will probably see from some of my photos, that not only are huge big gaping vistas incredibly beautiful, but a minute detail within a forest also has unquestionable beauty also. 

During those 11 days I saw so much, and have felt a great deal too. There's something special about this part of Australia, which is probably why Tasmanians seem to put this island quite separate to Australia, even going as far to say it's a separate country altogether. 

The photos do most of the talking when it comes to some of the things I saw, but by far the biggest impacts I have had on my psyche have been people. More specifically their ideas, their communities (and the abundant knowledge contained within them), their location, their freedoms and their restraints. 
Living rurally, or planning to, building their own houses, designing them, Earthships, food production, the system, permaculture, straw bale, mud render, solar water, WWOOF, harvesting clean energy, politics, compost, acreage, dams, cob ovens, chooks, the list goes on... all were seen or discussed.  So much food for thought, so much desire to join them in the amazing things they do, so much  excitement on my part. 

I was going to write more about my trip, I felt like there was so much to say, but I actually can't find the words. What I've discovered actually seems too big for words. Hopefully the photos can give you some insight instead of my ramblings. 
OK so I'm gonna clock off with a thank you. 

Thank you to all the beautiful people who joined me on this trip of discovery over the last 4 months, whether it was for half an hour or a whole month. I realise that without my friends life would be very different. I managed to travel for 4 months and only pay for one night of accommodation. The universe, and my friends are looking out for me. What an awesome feeling.

May you have a dream and one day realise that that dream has become your life. 

With love, 


23rd Feb 2010 "Last Leg"

Group email number 4:

Kia Ora, 

I find it very hard to believe that this big trip is already so close to ending. I leave NZ in 2 days and then have a month in Tassie, teaching circus and hopefully getting out to see a bunch of people and places; a quarter of the trip left, I guess that's about right. I imagine this last month will zip by and before I can even start to close my eyes to blink, I'll be arriving back at Tullamarine Airport wondering how time managed to speed up so damn fast!

I think I last wrote from Sydney, just before hitting NZ soil.  That I have certainly done since, and approximately a million other things on top... no less than design my friend's intensive food production at his newly hand-built home here in Whangarei, Northlands.  I'll start at the beginning...

I arrived about 1am at Hamilton airport and was greeted by my very dear close friend Irene, whom I studied circus with at CircoArts 7 years ago. Her partner Damien now owns Circus Aotearoa, and her two children Artemis and Matthias are both growing up to be very intelligent and entertaining young people.  
I spent a few days hanging out with them at their farm just outside Raglan, helping with daily chores such as feeding the chooks and pigs, moving the goat, checking the possum traps. She regularly has WWOOFers to help with these sorts of things but no-one was staying while I was there. And then all of a sudden we were on the road. Heading North to Waihi where the circus had pulled up for the weekend, Irene was needed to fill in while a couple of performers were having a break. I decided to join in, do the act I had brought with me for the Convention, so performed a couple of times, which served a great way to warm up my act for the jugglers... 
I enjoyed the 3 days with Aotearoa but am certain the circus life on the road is not for me. No way. Much respect to those who choose that life for themselves, it certainly leads to a very close-knit community of people, a team if you like all living together making it work. Matthias, I am sure will spend some years doing exactly that when he's 18 or so. Matthias did his characterful triple-stack rola-bola routine and Artemis did a cute tissu routine with mum, amongst others. 

A few days back home, and then we hit the road again, bee-line for Levin, the host for the 2010 NZJC. As soon as we arrived I jumped into my role of workshop co-ordinator, writing up all the workshops Jo and I had compiled over the previous 3 or 4 months, and running one pretty much straight away (I ran 8 workshops in total!). All in all, NZJC was a great big fat hit. They broke even, the public show rocked the house, the venue ran 24-hours, the renegades were action packed... the only down sides were a lack of table-tennis table, my inability to win any of the games (!), and no-one putting their hand up to run the next festival next year.  Yeah, this last one is a big one but there is hope (read on). 

There was a small after party in the very local and beautiful Kimberly Reserve down the road, where people had their last juggles and said their final farewells. I had said my emotional goodbye to Irene at the convention, and my next lift was with Drew and his 'whanau' (pronounced 'farnow'). Another full car of kids and peeps; his partner Ilona is expecting her second child, nearly 1yr-old Django was with us along with teenager Ann... we were indeed very cosy! 
I've been here almost 3 weeks now. I have found it very chilled out here, despite having a baby and teen around. They all seem to get on so well (compared to my family, it's really nice to see), and Django is by far the most chilled out baby I have ever come across, gets it from his folks I reckon.
So this part of the trip was something I was looking very much forward to, even more than SJC or NZJC, as I had arranged to help Drew with designing is garden, with none other than my new faithful buddy, Mr Permaculture. 
Drew's spent the last 2 years solid building his home, and done a very very good job of it too.  With jawdropping views East & West from here, high up on a ridge, he'd lost momentum for the rest... the garden, landscaping, pathways, etc.  
So while I got shown around this stunningly amazing part of NZ (the real Far North; the surrounds; his two properties; the local falls; the beach; the lookout) and got fed meals, entertainment and shelter, in return I spent my days in the kitchen with my new retractable pencil, a tape measure and an A3 pad of paper, to set about designing his food production.  
To cut a long story short, I had my hump, during the first concept design, but sure enough got over that and this morning finished off drawing number 7.  I completed the front sheet (together with a logo for "Parr's Permaculture Design" and have handed over my work to Drew and Ilona, job done.  I truly feel ecstatic that I did what I came here to do and Drew and Ilona have both said they are also stoked with the outcome.  While I've been here, Ilona's bro Hugo has also been staying to do some WWOOFing work and has already implemented some paths and steps I outlined in my designs for part of the property, so I've realeady been able to see my design come to life a bit! I hope to revisit next year to see how they have progressed with their implementation.  I'm particularly proud of my balcony design, which has an innovative bed that also houses a sandpit and a paddling pool, and the way I managed to design in a 10-degree ramp in the outdoor garden to allow access to the higher raised beds from the ground level. I have copies of the designs on my comuter so if you wanna have a look, please come round to my place when I get back, I'll be happy to talk you through them! 
So yeah, New Zealand.  I could absolutely live here! I think if all else fails I definitely would... but to get to the point where all else fails, I have many many other options to test out first. 2010 is really shaping up to be quite a year! 

I have attached a HEAP of photos this time, some from the Far North, some along the way, some with Irene, and a few others which should be self-explanatory. In short, it is so stunning here, increasingly the more North you go... there's not that many people here, the roads are pretty quiet, especially if you compare them to Australia, there are more Maori up here, coming across several private Maori sites, private beaches with small graveyards attached - their true cultural settlements, some untouched, some hideously threatened by white-people's buildings. Its pretty sad to see sometimes but the Maoris did have a better time than our aborigines, that's for sure. 

Man, I need to go spend some times with my host, I hope you enjoy this email, and life as it continues in this never-ending spiral of awesomeness. 

Much love to you all,