Loving and learning at the Ecovillage

By Alex Jolly and Georgie Holbeche, residents of Cluster 1B

It was while camping at Mike and Michelle’s place in Margaret River in Jan 2017 after a concert that we first heard of the Witchcliffe Ecovillage.

Mike and Michelle had an amazing property and over the weekend we had the chance to drink fresh milk, eat home-grown veggies, try miking a goat and swim in their biological pool. They talked with such passion about this sort of lifestyle; being sustainable and living off the land where possible.  But they went on to explain that it comes at a cost, it really traps you with things to water and feed and with no one to share the workload; it’s hard to go on holidays. Mike showed us where the village would be and shared his vision for community living where the support afforded by community gave everyone the freedom to also pursue other things.

I was sold on the village from very early on. After a career in surveying, not always on the side of the fence I would prefer, I knew this was for me and represented how I would like to live going forward. I loved the simplicity of it, growing food, walking to the local café and being part of a community. Initially, Georgie didn’t see what I saw. However, I knew she would soon see the virtues of such a lifestyle in a community. Now, she’ll tell anyone who’ll listen! 

We’re in a modest home but it’s exactly as we envisioned. Beautifully crafted from hempcrete with walls the colour of salmon, we’ve created a calming space that we both love. We look out onto our EUA and at the moment it has a winter cover crop. It’s like looking out onto a meadow and as much as we are both really keen to get into the garden, we’re reluctant to cut it down!

Neither of us know much about gardening, but we’re really enthusiastic. The community has been so supportive, and everyone is happy to share their knowledge, many offering up a lifetime of skills in the garden. These are people we may not have met if not in this community, and Georgie and I feel privileged to be able to call them our friends. There is so much support for what everyone wants to get out of living here, everyone has a different story to tell and that’s ok.

For me, I’ve always loved this region. After a career in often very hot climates, I love being somewhere cooler and I love the rain. I love this town, it’s great getting a coffee and the staff knowing who you are. Early on, Georgie and I got a coffee and one of the girls asked if we were visiting. We said we’d just moved here and with a big smile she said, welcome. That says so much about Witchcliffe.

So here we are five months on, living in a region characterised by great food, wine and beaches, things we both love. But when you become a local, you look at things differently. It’s about the connections, buying local and as Georgie and I have discovered, the wildlife! We never thought we’d get this interested in birds, and even frogs. Who knows what’s to come, there’s so much to learn and we’re ready.