Julie Firth has created a permaculture oasis near Geraldton, Western Australia. Although not a true desert, the area clearly has a dryland climate, with annual rainfall as low as 200 mm during drought years, summer temperatures reaching well over 40 °C and relentless wind gusts of up to thirty kilometres per hour. It has taken careful design and thoughtful placement of features to allow things to grow there.
Josh Byrne, presenter on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, and his wife Kellie Maher began construction of their remarkable 10-star rated house in Hilton, near Fremantle, in November 2012. Construction of two dwellings on a little over a ‘quarter-acre’ (1012 m2) block was completed in June 2013. Josh, Kellie and their children Oliver and Caitlin live in the rear house, while another family lives in the front house. Both houses achieved a ten star Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rating, mainly due to their thermal performance, efficient power generation and use, and the largely self-sufficient water supply.
Bee Winfield and her partner Stewart Seesink have transformed their eleven hectare property, at Nannup in the south-west of Western Australia, by building soil. Bee’s been obsessed with compost since she was a teenager, and is still making it forty years later. After courses on permaculture, holistic management, earthworks for water harvesting, soil biology and life in the soil, Bee was ready to improve her soil; she and Stewart are so focused on life below ground that their son describes them as ‘turd nerds’ – Bee prefers ‘soil life coach’.