Jed and I left the Brown family on Sunday morning. We rode along the back roads parallel to Murchison-Violet Town Rd, straight and flat which made the ride a little bit boring.

A few kilometres before Violet Town, I ask my way to a farmer who, after a little chat, said that he had a spare house and, if I would like to, I could stay there and work on his farm (the biggest of the area, he said, with crops, cattle and sheep) instead of paying a rent. He even added that he could help me finding a job with the local shearing contractor! I said that I will think about it, but I am not really interested. However, it is an other thing which makes me think that I shouldn’t have too much trouble to stay in Australia later.

Jed was happy to trot most of the time and, by 3pm, we were at the doors of Violet Town.

The property of our new host David is called Murrnong, after a native daisy, the yam daisy, which was used to be found on the site. When people started to farm it many years ago, the ecosystem changed, and the yam daisy did not grow in Murrnong anymore.

Murrnong

David had begun establishing Murrnong in 1996.

He is a permaculture lanscape consultant, applying his landscape design expertise to development sites around the community, incuding the local primary schools where he designes and develops a vegetable garden with the students.

Murrnong is a proposed permaculture subdivision at the edge of Violet Town, designed and developed to be a productive agricultural site for the occupancy of several families. Because the council haven’t given planning permission for multiple residencies yet, David leaves there alone, with his two children, Grace (13) and Felix (15), two weeks every two weeks, and the WWOOFers (Callun, from Melbourne, & me).

The application of permaculture principles to Murrnong creates an example of a resilient, productive agricultural system with a design that mimics the relationships found in nature.

The eight hectares of Murrnong are laid out into four different areas by land use (fruit and nut orchard, olive grove, forestry, native pine trees) separated by forestry and folder plantings of native plants like eucalyptus, wattles, casuarina, and tagasaste grown from direct sowing, which provide habitat for integrated pest management.

The orchard has more than 200 trees: different varieties of apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, lockat, mulberry, persimmon, fig, cherry, orange, lemon, grapefruit, carob, walnut, hazelnut, chestnut (don’t walk barefoot around them!). It is the most water dependent of the tree crop areas.

Fruits & nuts orchard.

The 270 olive tree provide fruits to make table olives (yummy!) and olive oil. The olive grove is more drought tolerant but appreciate irrigation when it is available.

Olive grove.

The stone (or parasol) and bunya (a native araucaria) pine trees produce tasty pine kernels, and oaks give acorns fed to the goats. They require very little irrigation.

Bunya and stone pine trees.

The gumtrees and casuarinas of the wooded grassland area provide sawlogs, they lay on a natural floodplain and are not irrigated.

Big pile of composting shredded branches, & wooded grassland.

Rosie (6) and Twitchy (2) are the two white dairy goats which provide us with more than four liters of fresh milk every day, even with the little kid named Niebla feeding from his mother Twitchie. Every day, the goats are tied on the grassland to a mobile shed. We move the shed two or three times a day on a no-grazed spot with fresh grass. Fodder planting and fruit tree prunings supplement their diet.

The ten free range chickens benefit from fallen rotting fruits in the orchard during the day, and provide eggs.

The courtyard in front of their shed is divided in two parts where the compost heaps, mostly from grass clipping and chicken manure, are built. They enjoy scratching in the compost, looking for fat worms, and eating the green from the weeding of the vegie garden.

Chook shed & compost heap.

Five beehives pollinated the fruit trees and produce honey.

David, checking the beehives.

The house is solar passive made from timber and mubrick, with a big pergola where grape and kiwi vines are climbing. There is a large vegetable garden tended near the house.

Front vegie garden.

Back vegie garden.

The hot water and electricity are from solar system. The wood stove is used for cooking mostly in winter as it also heats the house, and in hot days we can use the bottled gas cooker.

A hight tower with two different water tanks provide gravity fed water indoors and for irrigation.

Water tower.

And there is a composting toilet hidden between the trees.

Composting toilet.

Sited at the edge of the town, Murrnong is designed to catch stormwater runoff and store it in a dammed pond for use in irrigation.The large dam is great for swimming in.

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