Ecovillager Profile: Paradise Found

By Rachel Clough, future resident of Cluster 1C

Around four years ago, we put our Perth Hills home on the market in the hopes of leaving our office jobs and living a simpler life. We’d hoped to build a small eco retreat in Tasmania with some friends but alas the house didn’t sell. We resumed our lives and put the dream on hold. We had great jobs, a lovely home, friends and family close by. We were happy but we felt there was something missing, something more. We yearned to do something a little different with our lives.

A few months after our son was born and seeing some of my inspirational friends successfully home-schooling their children, I began to wonder if it might be something we would consider. A friend recommended I read Peter Gray’s ‘Free to Learn’. I had initially planned on returning to work after 12 months maternity leave, but this book changed everything. My husband Andrew listened with an open mind and was sold on the idea of us having more time together as a family, with Jesse learning through nature, play and creative activity.

After running through several scenarios, we realised this new life (and one salary) would necessitate us selling our home. The criteria for our new home was for it to be in a beautiful location with easy access to nature spots while reasonably local to amenities and, above all, within a community that would enable our world-schooling adventure. In our minds we pictured a neighbourhood where everyone knew each other’s names, where children played together safely, surrounded by nature, and people supported each other.

We were having real trouble finding somewhere suitable that we could both agree on until Andrew received the Ecovillage newsletter advising that the last approval had been granted and the development had the green light. We’d looked at the Ecovillage at the time we were considering Tasmania and were awed by its vision but had since forgotten. The Ecovillage approval coincided with us receiving an offer for the house and a couple of weeks later we came to visit the site. We were welcomed by Michelle and, after seeing the beauty of the land and its energy, we knew this was where we were meant to be. Based on this feeling, we trusted that things would work out, and sure enough over the next few weeks we finalised the house sale, found a rental in Margaret River, and managed to talk Andrew’s boss into trialling working long-distance from the office.

When we talk to people about the Ecovillage it almost sounds too good to be true: abundant open space, a community of people committed to a more sustainable lifestyle, swimming in the dams, an onsite vineyard, tavern (I could go on), and within a region boasting spectacular scenery, beaches, forests, wines, gastronomy, arts (I could go on and on!)

We were welcomed to Margaret River early this year and have since witnessed such solidarity, compassion and resilience from the community. Even in the few weeks before Covid affected ‘business as usual’, we managed to make connections with like-minded people through the community cafe, farmers market, Ecovillage demo garden and local events. Andy got straight into the spirit of things by responding to requests on the Community Noticeboard Facebook page, including helping out harvesting honey from beehives and volunteering at the animal farm. Jesse and I spend our days exploring the region with friends, bushwalking, picnicking by the river, going to the beach, plus we’ve already joined a wonderful home-schooling group that meets weekly to have bush adventures and support each other.

Both Andrew and I are keen to learn as much as we can in preparation for growing an abundance of food. We’re really enjoying learning more about permaculture and sustainable living and putting things into practice as a family. We believe it’s more important than ever for our younger generations to work with rather than against nature and be taught to be true custodians of the planet and its precious resources. We are beyond excited and feel very privileged to be building our sustainable home in the Margaret River region amongst such diverse and interesting people, many of whom we already count as friends.