Ecovillager profile: My Return to Margaret River

By Catherine Keet, resident of Cluster 2B

It was 1983 and I was just 21 years old when I first fell in love with the Margaret River region. I’d just completed my summer holidays after finishing three years of teaching study and was told to be in Margaret River by the start of the second school week.

Life in Margs was much simpler then. The go-to place for a feed was Country Kitchen and we congregated at Settlers Tavern for a beer, to socialize and listen to live music. I loved my grade 4 class and my life here. 

I spent a number of years travelling around Australia, and eventually overseas, using Japan as my springboard to a trans Asia-Europe journey. I travelled Japan extensively, along with many other countries, and ended up living there for almost seven years. I met a lovely man, lived like a local and together we raised our son. I returned to Perth in late 1992 with just my son, ready for him to start primary school in the new year.

After a few years of being in Perth, I married my best friend from college and we had two darling daughters. We all tried to relocate to the South West but it wasn’t meant to be at that time and after 22 years together, we went our separate ways.

I began my search for a smaller dwelling when my long-time friend, Ken, the stonemason at WEV, said I should look at the Witchcliffe Ecovillage. I loved the concept but was torn with going country and not having land around me. However, I was convinced by friends that I’d be isolated on a bush block, and it was better to have people around me. What’s more, the thought of maintaining a large block on my own was a bit overwhelming.

In the end, it was living with like-minded people and in a solar passive home that made up my mind to buy an Ecovillage lot. Plus, I’d have a shared community garden, my own vegie growing area watered from a dam, and I’d be living near the most beautiful forests and coastline I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

Catherine Keet in her element.

After that, everything else fell into place beautifully. I found work at a nursery, sold my house (on my birthday), and found a temporary cottage nearby.

During the 30 years in Perth, my career had moved away from teaching as my love and knowledge of plants and gardening grew. I started gardening for others, both private and commercial, established my own business, designed gardens, and eventually studied horticulture where I was asked to assist with lecturing. I worked in wholesale and retail horticulture businesses, set up a couple of high school productive gardens and worked at a couple of TAFE campuses. I’ve also enjoyed being involved in a local community garden from its inception, sitting on the inaugural committee as chairperson.

I’m looking forward to creating a new garden from scratch, for myself this time, with some plants that belonged to my Mum from whom I inherited the gardening bug.

Although I’ve only been living south again for 10 months, I’m so incredibly happy being back down here and meeting wonderful, new future neighbours and other locals. Like many of you, I can’t wait to be moving into my forever home in the Ecovillage.