Ecoburbia 2016: speakers

The 2016 festival was packed with great talks and workshops.

There is a complete list of speakers at the bottom of this page.

Jane Toner.

The workshop “Biomimicry: Lessons from Nature for designing thriving communities and buildings” was presented by Jane Toner. Jane is an architect, sustainability consultant and Australia’s first certified Biomimicry professional. She is also founder of Biomimicry Swarm Australia, through which she encourages and supports the uptake of Biomimicry in Australia through networking events, presentations, and design workshops.

In her Ecoburbia presentation, Jane demonstrated how Biomimicry can be used to meet challenges faced in the design of the built environment and in community organisations (you can see many examples of Biomimicry at Following her presentation illustrating what Biomimicry is and how it can be applied, participants had the opportunity to engage in exercises exploring the application of the deep patterns of Nature.

For more details, go to the “Workshops” page of this website.

Jane Toner_head



Jane Milburn.

You have heard about ‘Slow Food’ and maybe ‘Slow Cities’. So come along and find out about ‘Slow Clothing’.

The workshop “Slow Clothes. Reclothing with Conscience”, was presented by Jane Milburn, an agricultural scientist and communications consultant who set up Textile Beat as an innovative enterprise focused on dressing with conscience and story through more thoughtful and ethical use of clothing resources.

Jane is a member of Fashion Revolution Australia.

Jane is at the cutting edge of the slow clothing movement in Australia, after earlier work in journalism and rural communications. Jane focuses on the substance, not just the style, of the clothing we wear every day as protection for our bodies and as a statement about who we are.  Her premise is that clothes do for us on the outside what food does on the inside – nourish, warm, and engage our body and soul. In the same way that conscious eaters are sourcing fresh whole food and returning to the kitchen – conscious dressers are seeking to know more about clothing provenance and the making process.

For more details, go to the “Workshops” page of this website.

Jane Milburn


Maryanne Cantwell, HCB Solar.

Solar Update – The Value of Solar – and Batteries are Here!

Maryanne has 20 years experience in Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy.  She is General Manager of HCB Solar, who have installed solar on over 1000 Homes, over 500 NSW Schools and are leaders in the fast growing Commercial Solar market – having installed 1100kw in 2015.  HCB Solar are Solar Experts, offer a range of solar products and are committed to giving homes and communities a solar set up that works for their needs.  She also spoke  about 4 batteries available on the market and how different inverters go with the different batteries coming out.

Maryanne Cantwell Photo

Alexia Martinez

She’s up in the food forest harvesting goodies, or with the chooks going to greener pasture; find her in the kitchen making preserves, or in the bush pulling lantana… Alexia tinkers, gardens, cares, volunteers and shares. She teaches too. Permaculture, family farming, down-to-earth simple living. Find her on her farm, at Permaculture Central Coast monthly meetings or join her courses.

Alexia Martinez

Mark O’Brien

Simple Yoga as a sustainable way of everyday health

Mark shared simple and practical insights and techniques in a lively and interactive session, exploring how to sustain a positive outlook and energy amongst the busy-ness of modern living. No fitness or flexibility was required (honest!) You just needed the ability to breathe, a sense of curiosity and a desire to enjoy life more.

No yoga mat or equipment required.


Mark is the founder of Qi Health & Yoga in Manly and has practiced Yoga for 23 years with well over 10,000 teaching hours under his belt. He’s a dad, a Narara Eco Village member and environmental advocate, interested in accessible, practical ways to live well and flourish.

His teaching is lively and often irreverent, using a gentle style laced with practical insights and ideas to lead the body and mind to receive the profound benefits of yoga. These include relaxation, increased energy, more connection to the world and sometimes, inner peace!


Dick Clarke.

How materials are the next Big Thing for advances in sustainable buildings.

The design and construction world is finally mainstreaming passive design and energy efficiency, led by sustainability leaders in the residential sector, and by green building ratings and commercial imperatives in the commercial sector. Some materials have always been ‘green’ others are getting ‘greener’, but there is still a long way to go before can say materials manufacturing is anything like sustainable. Dick Clarke will look at some which are already making massive reductions in eco-impacts, and what’s coming over the horizon.

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Dick is principal of Envirotecture, is an Accredited Building Designer with over 35 years experience, focusing exclusively on ecologically sustainable and culturally appropriate buildings, as well as sustainable design in vehicles and vessels, and has received many Design Awards. He holds a Master of Sustainable Futures degree (by research at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS), on the topic of the effect of state and local planning instruments on the sustainability of the built environment.

Dick holds Building Designer Accreditation (No. 6029) under the Building Designer Accreditation (NSW) scheme. He is Director of Sustainability, and Past President of the NSW Chapter, of Building Designers Australia (BDA). He is a Past President and Board Member of the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA). He is also an Al Gore trained volunteer presenter of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate REALITY Project.

Lyndall Parris.

Lyndall is the founder of the Narara Ecovillage. Without her driving spirit, it would not have happened. Lyndall talked on “The Narara Ecovillage Story”, including elements like Co-housing, Dynamic Governance (or Sociocracy), and Intentional Communities.

Damanhur Sq & Lyndall DSCN0647 - Version 2


Alex Impey

Hemp – sustainable and versatile – the potential for a hemp industry in NSW

Alex Impey is an entrepreneur, activist and environmentalist. Alex has been involved in the international hemp & cannabis Industry for the past 8 years where he has established himself as a market leader. Alex previously has worked with Europe’s largest grower and producer of hemp seed food products, which gave him valuable knowledge of the importance of hemp seed in the human diet. With a bank of knowledge, and passion to make a positive change in Australia, Alex headed back home to the Central Coast of NSW where he now owns & runs Australia’s largest online hemp outlet, the Hemp Store, which offers a diverse range of clothing, body and food products all made from hemp. A retail showroom situated in Woy Woy further compliment’s Alex’s achievement’s and goals to educate and offer sustainable and healthy products made from hemp.


For Ecoburbia 2016, Alex Impey gave a presentation on the potential of establishing a hemp industry here in NSW, and what it will mean to our regeneration of our region. Alex discussed topics such as the history of hemp in Australia, hemp vs Crude oil & coal, hemp & health, building with hemp, and of course the various products that can be made from the cannabis/hemp plant. Alex says that, with over 25,000 documented uses, you would not want to miss his presentation on what is no doubt the world’s most beneficial plant.

Tim Silverwood

Tim Silverwood Portraits by Chris Prestidge med res 64
Tim Silverwood is an ordinary guy who has found himself at the forefront of a global movement. His personal decision to start cleaning trash from his local surf breaks has led him on an extraordinary journey encompassing adventure, scientific research, activism, organisational development and environmental enterprise.

Tim is co-founder of the not-for-profit organisation Take 3 that asks everyone to simply take 3 pieces of rubbish with them when they leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. What began as a grass-roots project to clean local beaches has developed into a global movement to ‘change the face of trash’.

Tim is founder of ReChusable, an enviro-enterprise that provides sustainable alternatives to disposable products; is a spokesperson for the Boomerang Alliance, advocating waste and recycling reform in Australia; a member of the Circular Economy Australia movement; a consultant to government and industry and was the 2014 NSW Government Green Globe Sustainability Champion.

Tim’s story is entertaining and inspiring, reminding us that anyone and everyone can be a change-maker. A specialist in waste and its impact on the natural environment, Tim has built a successful career in addressing the urgent need to transform the way we make, dispose and think about ‘stuff’.


Allyson Jennings

Sea Shepherd.

Allyson Jennings


Allyson Jennings is a scientist, conservationist and activist. She joined Sea Shepherd in 2012 after experiencing a ship tour on the flagship MV Steve Irwin, cementing her commitment to conserving the oceans and all which rely on them, however has always had a keen interest in nature since she was a young child. Allyson is currently the NSW Coordinator for Operation Apex Harmony – Shark Defence Campaign and an active member of Sydney Chapter.

Her work with Sea Shepherd also compliments with her work as a science communicator. Allyson believes that in order to preserve the beauty of what our natural planet offers us humanity has to connect, love and protect it. Everything has a place on our planet.

“For the talk, I presented our present and past campaigns plus our successes so far: Icefish (IUU fishing), Apex Harmony (sharks), Driftnet (IUU driftnet fishing), Marine Debris (rubbish in our oceans) and Fight for the Bight (BP drilling in the Great Australian Bight) and how the community can become involved in defending the oceans”.

Angus Stewart

Sustainable Gardening


Angus Stewart was available in “Angus’ Green Space” at the Festival all day to answer  gardening questions.

Angus is a long-time Central Coast resident and has been a presenter for ABC TV’s ever popular Gardening Australia program for nine years. Previously, Angus was a gardening presenter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender program and on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel and NBN 3’s Today Extra program. He was a regular on the John Doyle Afternoon program as the ‘Doctor of the Dirt, Surgeon of the Soil, Professor of the Paddock’ in the early 1990s.  He currently appears on the Weekend Program on Saturday mornings between 9 and 10am with Simon Marnie answering Gardening Talkback questions.
Angus has authored three books for the ABC – Gardening on the Wild Side, Let’s Propagate – A Plant Propagation Manual for Australia and Australian Plants for Year Round Colour. His latest book is the beautiful The Australian Native Garden. A Practical Guide (with A.B.Bishop), and there will be lots of copies available at the festival.
Angus once worked at the former Horticultural Research Station, which is now the site of the Narara Ecovillage.

Sally Neaves.


Sally Neaves was one of three speakers in the session on “Sustainability and Spirituality”. Sally is the education coordinator at Rahamim Ecology Centre, Bathurst NSW, a ministry of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. After 13 years in Secondary education in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Australia (especially integrating Religious Education with Science and Geography for global issues resolution) she now leads curriculum design, spirituality days for teachers and students exploring spiritual ecology, attentive to reciprocity and wholeness, at the Rahamim demonstration site. Her background in Theology enables her work to speak to Catholic communities seeking a spirituality for a scientifically-aware age.


David Roberts.

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David Roberts spoke about the Narara Ecovillage’s “Smart Grid” Project.

David Roberts is Sustainability Coordinator at the Willoughby City Council in Sydney. He is an Environmental Scientist, specializing in water and energy management.  David and his wife Megan love getting their young family into the bush and out on the ocean.  They run from TV and embrace creativity.  They enjoy spending time with family and friends and are known by their neighbors as “the family with chickens”.

John Talbott.

John has been the Project Director for the Narara Ecovillage since it’s founding in 2012. Previously he was the Director of the Findhorn Ecovillage Project for more than twenty years. Findhorn is a well known intentional community founded in 1962 in the north of Scotland. During that time he helped pioneer green building methods, ecological infrastructure and renewable energy systems. He is the author of Simply Build Green, and has lectured widely on the subject of building sustainable communities.

John considers ‘spiritual sustainability’ as a key element to any ecovillage, along with ecology, economics and social sustainability. He spoke on what that means in the context of community and why it’s important to develop our unique spiritual practise that works for us. His is golf.


DSC04464John Talbott – Version 3JT 2011 head


Gen Kelsang Dawa



Gen Kelsang Dawa is a western Buddhist monk and the resident teacher at Khedrubje Kadampa Buddhist Centre, Wamberal. A sincere student of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for over 15 years, Gen Dawa has taught Buddhism in both England and Australia. His gentle manner and kind heart exemplify the Buddhist way of life. Dawa teaches most of the meditation classes and day courses in the Central Coast and Central West areas.


Biodynamics Sydney.

Diane Watkin.

Diane Watkin photo

Diane is co-founder of Biodynamics Sydney, and co-presents  workshops,  Biodynamic Backyard Blitzes,1 year course and 3 year training programs. She is passionate about the ability of biodynamics to increase fertility, remediate soils, and provide premium balanced food for human and animal health.

Bronwyn Schaewel


Bronwyn is a long term resident of Central Coast.She has studied and been involved with conservation and land care over the years. Her interest in biodynamics came when seeing the difference in the method of growing food through the biodynamic practises.Many people have shown an interest in a simpler and cheaper method. Even for a small backyard. Farmers all over the world have been using this method for many years successfully.


Byron and Renee Twilley, Pure Oils.

Renee and Byron Twilley

Renee and Byron Twilley

Are you looking to make changes in your health, lifestyle and approach to life in 2016?

In this workshop Byron and Reneee showed why so many people are turning to the natural alternative of therapeutic grade essential oils, and gave practical examples of how they can be used in day to day life.

Some things you would have learned: Boost the immune, remedies for stress, sleep, mood management, digestive issues, detoxing, weight management, etc.

We’ll also show you how to make a natural multi-purpose spray and we’ll be giving this away to one lucky attendee.

And lots more speakers!

Narara Ecoburbia Festival 2016 12-Apr-16
Name First Organisation Topic Venue Time Meet the speaker * (Main Hall)
Blacha Olga Sustainable Natives Native Herbs for Health Green Space 1.10 p.m.
Brown Mark Purple Pear Farm Purple Pear Farm and Community Supported Agriculture, Art Studio 1.30 pm
Cantwell Maryanne HCB Solar Solar power and batteries: the latest news Art Studio 11 a.m.
Clarke Dick Envirotecture Materials: the next Big Thing for advances in sustainable buildings. Performance Space 1 p.m. 11-11.30
Dawa Kelsang Central Coast Buddhists Spirituality and Sustainability Forum Library 11 a.m.
Farrell Tony ARVIO Hi tech sustainability products Main Hall 10.30 a.m.
Farrow Adam Built Smart Modular Homes Modular Homes Performance Space 1 p.m.
Impey Alex The Hemp Store Hemp the wonder plant- for clothing, food, health and buildings. Performance Space 12 p.m. 10 a.m., then at stall
Martinez Alexia Permaculture: Guilds Green Space 12.45 and 2 pm
Milburn Jane Textile Beat Slow Clothing: dressing with conscience Library 9 a.m. 1.30-2p.m.
Milburn Jane Textile Beat Q and A re Slow Clothing Library 2.30 pm
Neaves Sally Rahamin Ecology Centre Spirituality and Sustainability Forum Library 11 a.m.
O’Brien Mark Qi Yoga and Health Simple Yoga as a sustainable way of everyday health Performance Space 9 a.m.
O’Brien Mark Qi Yoga and Health Simple Yoga as a sustainable way of everyday health Library 12.30 p.m.
Parris Lyndall Narara Ecovillage The Narara Ecovillage Story
as told by the Founder Lyndall Parris.
Performance Space 10 a.m. 9.30-9.45
Pilkington Leigh Termites and rats? Integrated Pest Management. Green Space 12.15 p.m.
Roberts David Narara Ecovillage The Narara Ecovillage Smart Grid Art Studio 12 p.m.
Jennings Allyson Sea Shepherd Defending Ocean Wildlife Worldwide Art Studio 2 p.m.
Schaewel Bronwyn Biodynamics Sydney Premium Soil Fertility with Biodynamics Green Space 1.35 p.m.
Silverwood Tim Take 3 and Rechusable Plastic: latest research on plastic pollution. Performance Space 11 a.m. 1 to 1.30
Solway Elizabeth Healing Effect An Aboriginal Healing Library 12 p.m.
Stewart Angus ABC TV Gardening Australia Planetary Metabolism: Waste- fertiliser- food. Art Studio 1 p.m.
Stewart Angus ABC TV Gardening Australia Plant Propagation Green Space 11 a.m.
Talbott John Narara Ecovillage Spirituality and Sustainability Forum Library 11 a.m.
Toner Jane BiomimicrySwarm Biomimicry: Nature’s Lessons for designing thriving communities and buildings. Art Studio 9 a.m. 11.30-12
Toner Jane BiomimicrySwarm Biomimicry: Q and A Library 2 p.m.
Twilley Renee Pure Oils Natural solutions for everyday health concerns Library 1 p.m.
Vivers /Pieta Sam and Simone Viva Living Homes Sustainable & Natural Homes – for slopes and bushfires affordably Performance Space 2.30 p.m.
Vivers /Pieta Sam and Simone Viva Living Homes Strawbale homes: practical demonstration outside Art Studio 11 am and 12.30 pm
Watkin Diane Biodynamics Sydney Premium Soil Fertility with Biodynamics Green Space 11.45a.m.
Wilson Paul Arvio Arvio’s technical solutions for more sustainable homes Performance Space 1 p.m.
Wriley Lisa Kariong Ecogarden Setting Up Worm Tubs Green Space 10 a.m.
NB Times and venues could be subject to change. We hope not, but check the web site or the Info desk.
* Meet the speaker: selected speakers will give a 5 minute presentation in the Main Hall, and then be available for discussion in the Hall for the next 20 minutes. Others can be contacted at their exhibit stalls.