Tasmanian Project

12 10 2015

Even though my life has now changed forever, there is still very little to report, apart from the fact recent rezoning means we have actually purchased ‘Significant Agricultural Land’. On the one hand, I’m rather chuffed at this idea, but it also means more work to get approval to build here. The growing amount of regulation needed to survive the Matrix is not going away, obviously, but having met with the planning section lady from Huon Valley Council, I was reassured that if I could write a convincing proposal showing I need to live there to successfully achieve the goals of farming the place, I should be OK. She thought, upon me explaining what I had in mind, that it was as good as done, so wish me luck, I might still need it!


Excelet showing compost bins that fit inside the pedestal

To set myself up, I feel like I’ve been spending money like a drunken sailor….. the biggest expense so far has definitely been the toilets, one of which I’ve installed in the shed to make the place a lot more civilised. These new Nature Loo Excelets are quite impressive and well thought out. Not having to build the compost bins under the slab will be a serious plus in assisting simple design of the next house, the drawings for which I am still waiting for.

I know very few people will get excited about a toilet, but let me tell you, after having to deal with what was literally just a bucket under a bench seat spreading odors through the shed, this beauty is orders of magnitude better.

I’ve also installed a camping instantaneous gas hot water system with shower, which means I no longer have to drive 25km to Huonville for a proper wash…. these are meant to be used outdoors, but the shed leaks so much air and the roof is so high, it’s as good as outside.

I was reminded yesterday of how little one needs to live when I attended a tank raising party at Hamish’s place. If I thought I was living rough, his pioneering lifestyle brought me back to reality. In the event of a total collapse before our new place is built, I have no doubt I could live in the shed for quite a while. It’s actually interesting how quickly one adapts to fairly substantial changes.

Hamish's living arrangements

Hamish’s living arrangements

I don’t envy Hamish the work he has in front of him, but I sure admire him for his grit. No doubt I will have more to do with him in the future, Tassie is full of interesting people…

Speaking of which, I cannot say enough how stoked I am with my new neighbours. Matt is from Queensland no less, and his charming wife Corrine from Malaysia – though you’d never know, she speaks Strayan just like the best of us! We have so many common goals and interests, it’s actually bewildering; and you could not find nicer people if you tried.

20151010_182533We had home made apple cider on their deck the other day, and Matt showed me how he smokes speck from his own pigs in a wardrobe! No, I am not kidding, he uses a wardrobe, and it works just fine too…..

I have made a lame attempt at a garden by pulling an old hardwood pallet to pieces, a job that I thought would take 20 minutes and which turned out to need half a day… then I had to find 8 wheelbarrow loads of soil to fill it up, an exercise requiring pushing said wheelbarrow some two and a half kilometres, with some of that obviously requiring pushing the full version! I have now discovered the pleasure of owning large acreage. I’m sure I walk several kilometres a day just looking at what’s happening around the property! Then, not having any compost, I had to buy some. Talk about a shock to the system. Anyhow, Matt’s offered me some of his if I ever should need more, and let’s face it, how much food can one grow in 2.5 m² of garden space?

Because of the rezoning, we are now going to have to build our new house 40m from the rear boundary, which is not far above the dam. The result will be even better water views than I had originally hoped for, but to achieve this we also have to cut down 30 Macrocarpa Cyprus trees. I’m hoping to have these trees milled for building the front wall and roof structure, and whilst I’ve been warned there could be a lot of waste due to the knotty nature of these trees, surely 30 trees will yield enough useful material….

Much cleaning up to do

Much cleaning up to do

I’ve started this process by cutting the bottom limbs off to allow access for felling, and that alone is proving to be a major enterprise. I’ve even had to buy a new chainsaw, a cheap Chinese device from eBay which I hope will last the distance. It’s cheap enough that it doesn’t matter if I kill it in the process, but with an 82cc motor, it’s not short of grunt. In the last few days, I’ve been clearing these limbs and moving them on the back of the ute. It will either kill me or get me fit, hopefully the latter.

There’s never a dull moment around here that’s for sure, and next weekend I’m going back to the North Island to fetch my AGA in Adelaide, which means I’ll be away for a whole five days thanks to the ferry availability (or lack thereof). Hopefully I’ll be able to make the most of being in Melbourne to bring back some building goodies, space on the ute allowing. If you read this Sam and are still able to help in Adelaide, can you you contact me please? I’d love to meet you in any case…..

Looking East from our house site..... eat your hear out!

Looking East from our house site….. eat your heart out!




13 responses

12 10 2015
Ben pennings

Great to see and hear all this. Got to find an excuse to visit Tassie one day. Maybe when most of the work is done!

12 10 2015

You’re welcome any time mate…….

12 10 2015
Chris Harries

Thanks Mike. You are probably too busy to reply, but with those excelet toilet models, that are designed to go on a floor that has no underfloor space, where is the poo receiving chamber? Their website doesn’t explain this. Presumably it goes through the wall and out the back?

12 10 2015

Hi Chris, I’m still here at Geco enjoying the NBN!

The compost chamber is under the top which comes off in one piece. Once ‘full’, you screw a lid to the chamber, disconnect the urine outflow pipe at the bottom rear, and simply lift it out. I say simply, but never having done it, I don’t know how heavy it might be.

It’s ostensibly simpler than the system we previously had in Cooran which needed disconnecting the fans, and the bins were larger. Because these are smaller, there are four of them rather than three, and hopefully they will be lighter too. I didn’t think of photographing the bins, but I may do this when I get ‘home’ and edit the post…..

I must catch up with you one day, it just seems that whenever I go to Hobart I have such a long list of things to do I run out of time!

12 10 2015
Chris Harries

Mike if you go to the Hobart Sustainable Living Expo (it’s on every year) at end of the month maybe I’ll see you there. There are some faddish things there but always some interesting things too.


12 10 2015

Hi Mike,
not sure when you are going to get to Adelaide but – work permitting – I’d be very glad to try to give you a hand! Contact me at kabir(at)chariot.net.au.

14 10 2015

…or on 0478 514 211.


12 10 2015

That view looks fantastic Mike!

12 10 2015
richard nielsen

I’m not quite eating my heart out, but I’m not far off it. That photo from the house site says it all. I keep telling people you’ve moved to the Shire.

16 10 2015
Anthony William O'brien

Are you anywhere near that fire? Be safe.

19 10 2015

No thank goodness, but it was a close thing for some friends of mine. I heard on Tassie radio that October average temps were well on their way to matching December’s! Not a good start to El Nino…

16 10 2015

I’m really enjoying reading about the Tasmanian Project. I left Tassie 35 years ago and am on the Sunshine Coast, NOT looking forward to gardening through another summer. I should have stayed put! That view is just beautiful. Good luck with it all.

19 10 2015

Thanks Denice. You could always come back!

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