Network News 18 July 2018

Network News 18 July 2018


  • Breaking Ground – Convenor’s Message
  • VILLAGE DAY – Sat 28 July
  • NELN Talk – A Cambodian experience: 11.30-12.30pm
  • Village Day afternoon: 1pm-4pm
  • Theresa and Tony Farrell – groundbreaking house
  • Disch Family Kitchen Dinner
  • Our Representative at UN, Andrew Olivier
  • 2018 Australian Clean Energy Summit: 31 July–1 August
  • EBAA President on naturally conditioned homes
  • Freecycle
  • Support the ABC: 3 August
  • Battery Recycling billion-dollar industry
  • My Fair Lady, Laycock Theatre: 27 July – 11 August

Convenor’s Message:

Another major milestone – breaking ground for first home!

Narara Ecovillage is proud to announce the start of its first house build!  Excavation has commenced on Tony and Teresa’s small-footprint sustainable house, where they hope to be living by early 2019 (full story below).

This is an important moment for the village, and follows five long years spent both preparing the site and building a lively, welcoming community which works together to create sustainable options for living and looking after our land.  

VILLAGE DAY – Saturday 28 July

Talk – A Cambodian Experience: 11.30am-12.30pm

“Down the Mekong: Birds, Ruins and Beautiful People” is the title of the monthly Narara Eco Living Network talk at the July Village Day.

Richard Cassels, Narara Ecovillage Member, visited Cambodia in 1969, as a newly graduated archaeologist, just as the American airforce started carpet bombing the country. This was the beginning of nearly 30 terrible years of civil and regional war. In 2017 Richard returned to Cambodia, for the first time, to see how the people, the birds and the ruins were surviving.

Richard’s talk will include:

     Recent advances in archaeology using LIDAR technology and the resulting new understanding of the rise and fall of the ancient civilization of Angkor.

      The stunning wildlife, and some terrific responses to the huge conservation challenges. They include the IBIS-friendly organic rice project, developing local community co-operatives to protect the largest remaining breeding site in the region for the rarest (and largest) stork in the world; and new, enthusiastic ecotourism initiatives.

      The beautiful people and the challenges they face.

Richard’s talk will be enriched by stunning images of Cambodian birds taken by local bird photographer Greg Miles.

NB All are invited to bring a lunch to share after the talk.

The talk will be held at the Narara Ecovillage, 25 Research Road, Narara. You do not need to register to attend the Open day or the Monthly Network talk. Cost to attend any part of the Village Open Day: individual $10, family $20 and free to members of NELN and NEV and to all Cambodians.

NB Membership of NELN allows you to attend all Open Days and Monthly NELN Talk for 12 months, and provides discounts on special workshops and tours. Annual membership costs individual $20, family $40. Join Now.

Village Day afternoon activities: 1pm – 4pm
You are all warmly invited to our July Village Day. Here is what is happening at our Village

Intro Presentation with Q&A: 1pm – 1.30pm
What is Narara EcoVillage? Who are we? Find out a little more about the Village at our Intro Presentation and Q&A.

House Design Presentation: 1.45pm – 2.30pm
This has been very popular on our previous Village Days. Two more members will showcase their house designs. Looking for some inspiration for your home? Or maybe you just want a sneak peek at their eco house designs. Whatever your reason, come have a look at their designs!

Site Tours: 2.30pm
Come along for a guided tour of the site and ask any questions you might have. Bring enclosed shoes as there is a bit of walking, and a hat and water if the sun is out or a raincoat!

Stage 2 at The Big Table: 3.30pm – 4pm
Dan will be running this popular activity again. Have a look around the big table at our plans, the big ideas and real-life examples for what it might look like. There will be plenty of time to discuss aspects of stage 2 and to bring new ideas to the table.

Building with Natural Materials: 1pm – 4pm
Great progress has been made on the camp kitchen, and we’re now building the cob wall and decorating with glass bricks.  Come and get involved and have fun with the natural builders.

Ask a Member: 1pm – 4pm
Have a question? Grab a cuppa and Ask a Member who has a colourful name tag!

Market Stall: 1pm – 4pm
Fancy some local raw honey, plants from the on-site nursery, or perhaps some hand made pottery made by one of tour members? Have a browse at the market stall and take home some quality local produce.

Tea/coffee is provided on the Visitors Centre verandah: visitors may bring their own snacks and/or picnic. It is recommended everyone wear enclosed shoes on our rural property; essential if helping with the outdoor kitchen activities. Also bring sunscreen/raincoat, hats and water.

Please visit our facebook page for updates on our activities:

June Village Day 

Trevors tour   Fun in the mud

Theresa and Tony’s ground breaking house!

T T breaking ground

Congratulations to members Tony and Teresa for being the first lot owners to break ground, starting the building process.  Having a long-term vision for a small footprint sustainable house, their decision to join the ecovillage in 2014 came when they found Narara ticked all of the boxes.

Having previous experience of building and being keen gardeners, growing fruit and vegetables in their house in the Hunter Valley, they wanted a well designed house, built out of simple materials, that was energy efficient and connected with the land.  After the process of concept to finished plan, Tony and Teresa believe they have the house design that incorporates this vision.

Since joining, Tony and Teresa have been very active on the Land Team and enjoy being part of a community to help develop the ecovillage project.

Their house, pictured below, has been designed from their concept by architects Envirotecture, chosen because of their green credentials and good reputation.

Farrell house

Tony and Teresa had worked out what’s important to them. Although on two levels, most of their living space is upstairs to future proof lifestyle for older age, with a balcony taking in the view.  Their bedroom is on the south west side, with sunny living areas facing north, including a study. Downstairs space spills straight on to a garden.

Teresa says: “This ideal house has been in Tony’s head since 1973! Although compromises have been made, this is the best house that we can think of to build on our sloping lot (1:4)”.

Through a friend, they had heard of Living Green Designer Homes, a local building company that had won a lot of awards, ‘committed to creating stunning, quality, low impact, high performing homes that deliver countless benefits for its occupants and the environment’.

Tony says: “We spoke to an owner of a house built by Living Green who had a good experience. When we finally got to talking, they were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about energy saving houses.  They were also willing to listen to our ideas on new products”.

“To describe our house: It’s light weight, of simple construction, clad in hardiplank cement board, with a colorbond roof. It has many of our key sustainability features: small in size to reduce the embodied energy and ongoing heating/ cooling requirements; energy efficient, passive solar house, including thoughtful orientation of house, windows and shading to gain maximum winter sun and minimal summer heat–wrapped and well-sealed to keep out hot and cold drafts”.  And much more!

Tony says: “In my experience the more different a build is from mainstream, the more expensive it is. This may encourage others to build simple houses”.

And in true community spirit, as the first builders on the block, Tony and Teresa say, if any aspect of their build inspires, they are happy to help others following in their footsteps. The couple hope to move in early in 2019.

A Family Affair, Kitchen Dinner

Candy Disch is the village’s catering driver, with a vision of opening a café for people to meet, eat organic fare, take courses, display members’ art and enjoy the view.

Disch Family Dinner

Last night the Disch family joined forces to deliver a tasty meal to over 30 diners in the Visitors Centre.  The afternoon saw Robbie Disch, Berry and Marie Disch and their son Miles chopping and mashing and enjoying a family get together.

On the menu was Broccoli and Potato soup, Shepherds Pie (both meat and veggie versions), mixed salads, followed by chocolate cheese cake and pumpkin pie (from village grown pumpkins).

Diners at dinner

As well as the pumpkins, other vegetables were donated by oFarm, organic online grocery business.

The Disch family, who served up so many delicious dishes, enjoyed volunteering for the village, it was a nice family outing, and were really happy to have done it.

We’re happy too.  Thank you Disch family!

Our UN Representative, Andrew Olivier

Alistair and Andrew

Member Andrew Olivier (left above) is Ambassador of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) was recently invited to a workshop on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations in Geneva.  The SDGS were signed by all the nations of the world in 2015.  I was largely ignorant of the 17 goals of the SDG, except for number 1 and 2 – No Poverty and Zero Hunger.

UN main entrance 1

Entrance to the United Nations, Geneva

Says Andrew: “It was fantastic! A real eye-opener week which left me filled with hope for the future but with a real concern that Australia is the world’s worst on climate change.  We are ranked 37th in global SDG Index which compares different nations performance.  Australia’s annual exported CO₂emissions are a colossal 44 tonnes per person. This outstrips even Saudi Arabia (35.5 tonnes per person) and in orders of magnitude is larger than the figure for the US (710kg per person).*

Andrew explained that several countries have approached GEN International to sign agreements to develop ecovillages in order to keep people in the country in modern sustainable community driven villages, rather than flocking to overcrowded cities. GEN is recognised by the UN as a sustainable training centre.  Andrew comments: “Maybe Australia should do similar with our refugees? Some of whom are natural farmers and we have a problem with rural de-population”.

Australia is part of GENOA (GEN Oceania and Asia) and they discussed GEN international development, and a possible GEN Australia Conference in 2019. Andrew was elected to GEN’s General Assembly which has reps from each region around the world.

Andrew then travelled to meet with May East of the Gaia Trust, a close partner of the UN SDG and her SDG training has been approved by the UN to train up 100,000 SDG multiplier in the next three years. Andrew says: “She is keen to visit us and talk about the amazing work her Trust does”.

“While overseas I was interested to notice that many people have heard of Narara Ecovillage and the fact it has a vision of education and being a demonstration ecovillage”.

*John Thwaites and Tahl Kestin., The Conversation.

The 2018 Australian Clean Energy Summit: 31 July – 1 August

Australian Clean Energy Summit 2018

The Summit, to be held at ICC Sydney, is the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia’s energy transformation. The agenda includes two days of sessions where heads of industry, government and finance will share the models, trends and technology innovations that they’re leveraging to drive renewable energy adoption, and overcome barriers in its deployment. More information:

EBAA President paper on naturally conditioned homes

The proof of the pudding

Peter Hickson, President of the Earth Building Association of Australia (EBAA) presented a paper to the CSIRO on his experiences in the design and construction of energy efficient earth homes. He suggests a fairer way to evaluate naturally conditioned homes, especially those incorporating high thermal mass.

Peter says: “I have two key points to make: Firstly, naturally conditioned homes are healthy and comfortable whilst cooling is avoided and they are affordable to heat, however they are rated by NatHERs as having poor performance. In fact, they are high performing when audited and assessed in terms of adaptive comfort, carbon impact and climate change resilience. Secondly, thermally lightweight, well-insulated, sealed and conditioned homes are encouraged and supported by legislation, however these homes are often designed without regard for climate and indoor air quality. In actual performance, these homes are exceeding cooling predictions”.

His paper covers: 1. The wisdom of vernacular/passive low energy architecture and design. 2. The virtues of naturally conditioned buildings not assessed in Regulation Mode. 3. The properties and characteristics of earth not currently valued or assessed. 4. Benefits of PLEA in respect to current challenges in an Australian context. 5. Suggested solution/opportunity for best practice.

Using appropriate climate responsive design principles, he says it is possible to significantly reduce or negate mechanical heating or cooling through natural conditioning. Mass-linked ventilation can be utilised to optimise energy efficiency, thermal comfort and indoor air quality simultaneously in any climate.

Peter says: “The greenest watt is the one that doesn’t need to be generated. The most affordable watt is the one you don’t need to buy, and increasingly, the most reliable watt is the one you don’t need when your life depends on it.”  His paper “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is attached.



Liz Bassett says: I’d like to introduce one of my favourite organisations: Freecycle, a grassroots movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their local areas and keeping good stuff out of landfill.

On Freecycle, you can advertise anything you have to give away – you can also post requests for stuff you want. The items available can vary widely – from fine furniture to building materials or just stray stuff.

Membership is free, and all you need is the internet. So, got something that you have no use for but just can’t bear to throw away – why not give freecycle a go?

Best of all, there’s one at Gosford:

Support the ABC

ABC logo

Friends of the ABC will be meeting at The Central Coast Leagues Club, Parkview Room, on Friday, 3rd August, commencing at 6pm.  Speakers include:

Michelle Rowland, MP, Shadow Minister for Communications

Dr Fiona Martin, former ABC broadcaster, now researcher and journalism educator at the University of Sydney.

Sinddy Ealy, ABC section secretary of the Community and Public Service Union

Tickets $15 pp (preferably paid by 26th July).  Bar will be open, food served after question time. or SMS 0439440955 (only call between 6-8pm weekdays)

Battery Recycling billion-dollar industry

Battery waste

Australia’s rapidly growing uptake of electric vehicles and home energy storage could help deliver a lithium-ion battery recycling industry worth upwards of $3 billion a year by the mid-2030s, a new report has forecast.

The CSIRO report” ‘Lithium battery recycling in Australia’, says the nation could lead the world in the re-use and recycling of lithium-ion batteries, addressing a source of waste that is growing by 20 per cent each year.

Not only would this generate new jobs, and deliver economic growth, but the report notes that establishing a lithium-ion battery recycling industry in Australia could also stabilise global lithium supplies to meet booming consumer demand – particularly for electric vehicles and battery energy storage.

More information:

Cities Power Partnership marks its first birthday

Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery, Climate Change Chief Councillor says: A year ago we knew it was time to take climate action into our own hands, so we decided to launch a program that would supercharge cities and towns across Australia to take action.

We called on mayors to jump on board, urged you to nominate your own cities and towns, and asked everyday Australians to chip in and share the word to make this vision a reality.

And one year later, we have 8 million reasons to celebrate… Because the Cities Power Partnership is now the largest climate program for local governments in Australia!

Major cities like Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Cairns, Newcastle and Canberra have answered the call and signed up! Along with rural and regional towns from every corner of the country like Broken Hill, Bunbury, Noosa, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Alice Springs, Onkaparinga, Fremantle and Bathurst.

We are now powered by 70 councils and 250 towns and cities representing 8 million

Australians. And what’s even better is that we’re already seeing renewable energy, sustainable transport and efficiency projects rolling out across the country, such as Lismore’s floating solar farm, the ACT’s revolutionary electric vehicle ramp up and Strathbogie’s fantastic bulk buy that helps pensioners save money by using cost-effective solar.

It’s time to celebrate, as the Cities Power Partnership marks its first birthday. Join the celebrations by  sharing our video and nominating your own council if you haven’t done already.

If you are, or know someone who is part of a community energy group, a member of local government, an industry representative or a climate change expert – you can find out more here.

Gosford Musical Society presents My Fair Lady  27 July – 11 August

Gosford Musical Society once again brings its unique brand of sparkling musical theatre to the Laycock Street Community Theatre with My Fair Lady.

Based on the time honoured story Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, this classic musical tells the tale of Eliza Doolittle and her inspiring transformation from flowergirl to a blooming woman. You will experience a timeless score featuring Wouldn’t it be Loverly?, The Rain in Spain, With a Little Bit of Luck, On the Street Where You Live, Get Me to the Church on Time and I Could Have Danced All Night.

See you at the village sometime soon!

warm regards,

Linda Scott

Contacts and More Information

The Narara Ecovillage project currently comprises two entities. The Narara Eco Living Network Inc. is a not-for profit incorporated association that promotes sustainable living. It serves as a “Friends of the Narara Ecovillage”. Its brief is both local and global.

Membership is open to all, and costs $20 an individual or $40 a family for 12 months. Membership gives free admission to all Narara Ecovillage Open Day tours and talks, and provides discounts on special workshops and tours. The Network organizes regular talks, tours and events. You can join at any Open Day, or on-line anytime at: Narara Eco Living Network Inc. and Facebook:

The Narara Ecovillage Cooperative Ltd. Is a Co-operative formed to develop the Narara Ecovillage.

Membership costs $30,000, and requires the intent to purchase a lot at the ecovillage and to contribute a minimum number of working hours.

Contacts: Narara Ecovillage Co-operative Ltd., and,  or email:

The Narara Ecovillage is located at 25 Research Road, Narara, NSW 2250.