Tributes flow in for permaculture ‘father’ Bill Mollison

Tributes are flowing from around the world for the Tasmanian man who co-founded the global permaculture movement.

Bruce Charles “Bill” Mollison — known as the “father of permaculture” — died on Saturday in Hobart, aged 88.

His system advocated agricultural ecosystems that were sustainable and self-sufficient.

Mr Mollison rose to prominence after publishing Permaculture One with David Holmgren in 1974.

The book advocated a system “working with, rather than against nature” when producing food, and favoured cultivating species suited for local conditions.

He founded the Permaculture Institute in 1978, his ideas influencing hundreds of thousands students worldwide.

Well-known horticulturalist and former ABC Gardening Australia host Peter Cundall described permaculture as “an all-encompassing method of actually living without in anyway disrupting the environment”.

“It was the way of the future, and this is why it became so exciting,” he said.

“The greatest contribution Bill made was as an outstanding marketer and a brilliant public speaker.

Farewell to Australian visionary, educator, author and co-inventor of , Bill Mollison.@PermacultureAu 

“So he not only toured different parts of Australia, but then went overseas and went to Africa, India and other places.”

Mr Cundall said the biologist helped grow Tasmania’s reputation as the birthplace of the environmental movement.

“Tasmania is in many ways unique because it started this whole business of trying to live within our environment without destroying it,” he said.

Mollison unlike any other academic: co-author

Rest in peace Bill Mollison.

You made the world so much better… 

Mr Holmgren lived and worked with Mr Mollison as they were writing Permaculture One.

He told 936 ABC Hobart Mr Mollison was unlike any other academic at the University of Tasmania, and it was his “ecological thinking” that struck the young student.

Mr Holmgren said there was a lot of interest in what the pair were doing in the late 1970s.

“It was also a time with a huge interest in what we would call sustainability today,” he said.

“There were six mainstream publishers who approached a rambunctious Tasmanian academic and a completely unknown graduate student wanting to publish Permaculture One in 1977.

“Bill was actually really the father of the permaculture movement because of his genius in setting up the teaching system that he described and it all being outside academia.”

Mr Holmgren said he would be remembering Mollison at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Perth in next week.

“It will be a huge point of reflection and a celebration of his contribution,” he said.

‘You started a quiet revolution’

Social media has been flooded with tributes, and a page “In Memory of Bill Mollison” has been created on Facebook.

“May his words and teachings of permaculture continue to spread like chickweed in our gardens,” read a post on the Facebook page Women Who Farm.

“Thank you Bill for providing humanity with an education that no other leader has been able to achieve. RIP,” Glenn Shannon Kett wrote.

“You started a quiet revolution. You have sown the seeds of change, and you will live in the bounties of nature, in every flower, in every tree, in the soil and the water, and in every hand that nurtures nature,” wrote Vani Bahl, a Facebook user from California.

The author won numerous awards for his work and was also the first foreigner invited and admitted to the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Mr Mollison was born in Stanley in 1928 in Tasmania’s north-west, and left school aged 15 to work in a number of jobs, including as a shark fisherman, seaman, forester and mill worker.

He spent his final years at Sisters Beach on the state’s north-west coast.


Eco-friendly “Great Wall of Australia” Naturally Protects Residents from Sweltering Outback Heat

Composed of 230m of simple, natural materials, this earthen structure may look unassuming, yet it is actually the longest rammed earth wall in Australia. Built to accommodate cattle workers during mustering season in the scorching Western Australia outback, the eco-friendly formation represents a shift in the approach to architectural design of this sort. Built by Luigi Rosselli Architects and tucked into the edge of a sand dune, this “Great Wall of Australia” is a brilliant example of simple, eco-conscious design.

The wall is constructed primarily using iron-rich, sandy clay obtained from the building site and gravel from a nearby river, which are bound together using water from a local bore (hole). This ancient technique forms the exterior façade, that is then built into a sand dune which forms the rear and roof of the building. Simple in theory, this results in a structure that naturally stays cool, even in the intense heat of the outback. The continuous building contains twelve earth-covered apartments, separated by angled verandas to maintain privacy. Designer Sarah Foletta creates an interior space with a minimalistic yet liveable style, and a central hub on top of the wall provides a place for residents to meet and socialize.

It may seem decidedly elementary, yet this natural, energy-efficient approach towards housing development will save time, money, and resources. The design has been acknowledged by Australian Institute of Architects, and hopefully represents a shift towards similarly eco-friendly architecture in the future.

161st anniversary of Eureka.

Today marks the 161st anniversary of Eureka, one of Australia’s great egalitarian stories.

“The Eureka Rebellion in 1854 was a rebellion of gold miners of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, who revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. The Battle of the Eureka Stockade, by which the rebellion is popularly known, was fought between miners and the Colonial forces of Australia on 3 December 1854 at Eureka Lead and named for the stockade structure erected by miners during the conflict. The rebellion lasted for less than half an hour and resulted in the deaths of at least 27 people, the majority of whom were rebels.

The event was the culmination of a period of civil disobedience in the Ballarat region during the Victorian gold rush with miners objecting to the expense of a miner’s licence, taxation via the licence without representation and the actions of the government, the police and military. The local rebellion grew from a Ballarat Reform League movement and culminated in the erection by the rebels of a crude battlement and a swift and deadly siege by colonial forces.

Mass public support for the captured rebels in the colony’s capital of Melbourne when they were placed on trial resulted in the introduction of the Electoral Act 1856, which mandated full white male suffrage for elections for the lower house in the Victorian parliament, the second instituted political democracy in Australia. As such, the Eureka Rebellion is controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia and interpreted by some as a political revolt.”

LittlePermies Cards

Beautifully hand crafted, designed and produced locally in Melbourne LittlePermies cards help connect children with concepts such as, no waste as found in Nature. There are 6 six games in the pack and cost $25.00 plus postage. For more information see   or email littlepermies@gmail.commirror

Regrow your vegetables.

1. Scallions 2. Garlic 3. Bok Choy 4. Carrots 5. Basil 6. Celery 7. Romaine Lettuce 8. Cilantro and cabbage!

These 8 vegetables you can reuse even after you’re done chopping them up. Bet you didn’t know you could regrow your celery just by sticking the butt-end into a glass of water! It does require some time though but the benefits riding on the project are many. It saves money and you don’t even need a garden. Use fresh scraps only. When you regrow plants make sure they have all the sunlight and water they could possibly need to survive!

City of Yarra Annual Grants 2016

More than $820,000 has been allocated for the 2016 Annual Grants Program across the following six categories: community development, community housing, arts and culture, family, youth and children, sports and recreation and the environment.

The grants provide financial and in-kind support for community initiatives and projects operating in 2016 that enhance the health and wellbeing of residents and encourage people to participate in the cultural life of Yarra.

2016 Annual Grants applications open on Monday 15 June and close at 5pm on Monday 27 July 2015.

Crochet Rope Basket

Make My Day Creative

Customisable Crochet Basket Customisable Crochet Basket

I’ve been looking for a basket of specific dimensions for a while without any luck.  Then I saw a circular version of this idea and realised I could make my own!

This uses a technique similar to thrumming, where you crochet over another thread to add bulk to a fabric.  If you have ever crocheted over your ends to avoid weaving in, this works the same way.

In this case I used rope instead of another yarn, which is a lot bulkier but great for adding stiffness and making each row deeper.  This project had the added bonus of using up a single skein I had left in my stash!

The resulting basket is rectangular with rounded corners.

Finished article Finished article

You will need:

  • Length of rope (mine was 38m in length and 6mm diameter, for a 22x42x17cm basket)
  • Stash yarn (I used 310m of Patons 100% cotton 4ply in…

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Special Report: The war on big food


Try this simple test. Say the following out loud: Artificial colors and flavors. Pesticides. Preservatives. High-fructose corn syrup. Growth hormones. Antibiotics. Gluten. Genetically modified organisms.

If any one of these terms raised a hair on the back of your neck, left a sour taste in your mouth, or made your lips purse with disdain, you are part of Big Food’s multibillion-dollar problem. In fact, you may even belong to a growing consumer class that has some of the world’s biggest and best-known companies scrambling to change their businesses.

Lest you think this is hyperbole, consider the commentary in February at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, the packaged-goods industry’s premier annual gathering.

“We look at our business and say, ‘How can we remake ourselves?’ ” said Richard Smucker, CEO of his family’s namesake jelly giant [fortune-stock symbol=”SJM”]. A second exec—this one at ConAgra [fortune-stock symbol=”CAG”], which owns…

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Here’s What Happened When A Neighborhood Decided To Ban Cars For A Month

Two years ago, an average neighborhood in the South Korean city of Suwon embarked on a radical experiment: For one month, the neighborhood suddenly got rid of every car.

Called the Ecomobility Festival, it was created as a way to help the city move much more quickly to a low-carbon future by helping citizens get a visceral sense of how that future could look.

“Usually in planning you do a computer simulation—an artificial picture of the future, and maybe a PowerPoint presentation,” says Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, creative director at The Urban Idea, who helped mastermind the festival. “We’re doing it in a different way: in a real city, with real people, in real time. It’s like a piece of theater where the neighborhood is a stage.”

When planning began, the neighborhood was filled with cars, and people typically drove everywhere, even pulling up on sidewalks to park in front of shops while they ran errands. “Most of the people could not envision how their neighborhood would be car-free,” Otto-Zimmerman says. “They simply said it couldn’t work.”

The planning process took nearly two years and countless meetings to get support from skeptics. Finally, in September of 2013, 1,500 cars were moved out of the neighborhood to parking lots elsewhere in the city. The city handed out 400 temporary bikes and electric scooters to neighbors, and set up a bike school to teach the many residents who didn’t know how to ride. Mail was delivered by electric vehicles. Shuttle buses ran every 15 minutes to take people to their cars.

The neighborhood transformed. Cafes and restaurants added new sidewalk seating, and the streets filled with people. It often looked a lot like car-free streets look during “Sunday Streets” events in other places, but the length of the experiment helped show how people could actually live without cars in everyday life.

“They live it for a month so their daily routines have to adapt,” says Otto-Zimmerman. “If you only have a car-free weekend, many cities do that, this is not exciting anymore. If it’s only a week, people can still reschedule their way to the dentist or whatever they have that week to work around it. It has to be a month in order to hit people’s daily agenda, so they really experience ecomobility in their daily life.”

Though the planners originally considered the idea of switching everything back to normal after the month-long experiment—and then letting citizens push for lasting changes—the city’s mayor decided to add some permanent improvements before the festival, like widening sidewalks on major streets and adding new pocket parks.

“The mayor felt that, if after all this effort, and people changing their lives for a month, there would be nothing remaining, people would think the city doesn’t take it seriously,” Otto-Zimmerman says. “He felt that in order to be credible, he wanted people to see it was the start of a real improvement.”

After the festival ended, the city also gathered residents for a huge meeting to ask for ideas for more permanent changes. The biggest result: The speed limit was cut nearly in half, to about 18 miles per hour. That meant that commuters no longer wanted to use the neighborhood as a shortcut, and traffic started to disappear. Neighbors also decided to eliminate side parking on some major streets—and parking on sidewalks—which helped encourage people to start walking and biking to run errands. Every month, the community also hosts a car-free day.

This fall, Otto-Zimmerman will repeat the experiment in Johannesburg, South Africa, and another city will follow. “It takes an open-minded mayor who likes innovation and provocation, and has a greener vision of a city,” he says. “And someone who has enough influence and supporters to go through the exercise, because it’s in principle controversial.”

It’s also expensive: The project in Suwon cost over $10 million dollars to produce, though much of that budget went to renovating streets that were already in need of repair. Still, it’s not necessarily a simple experiment to produce.

The South Korean experiment was documented in a new book called Neighborhood in Motion: One Month, One Neighborhood, No Cars.

Renewable energy group bids to turn Melbourne’s trams solar

Melbourne’s entire tram network could be powered by solar if the state government gave a bold renewable energy proposal the green light.

While the pitch may conjure up images of trams with rooftop panels on them like the family home, the power would instead be generated at two new solar farms the project proponents plan to build near Swan Hill and Mildura.

The company behind the bid, the Australian Solar Group, have held quiet talks over four years with different arms of the government to try get the project off the ground, but has so far not got final backing.

The two solar farms would generate 80 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, about the same amount used by Melbourne’s tram network, which is the world’s largest.
Under the proposal the government would back the project by signing Public Transport Victoria (PTV) up to a power purchase agreement with the solar farms, creating a reliable revenue source alongside the renewable energy target.

The proponents say the project has been designed to ensure the cost of tram tickets would not rise, nor would it add to PTV’s power bill. It would cut 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from running trams and give the city an obvious global selling point (see the mock-up tram design above), according to the pitch.


The Australia Solar Group was founded by businessmen Adrian Critchlow and Dave Holland. Mr Crtichlow previously helped start companies and AlertMe,before successful sales of both. Mr Holland was formerly the head of Solar Systems, a company that was building a large solar project in Mildura before financial collapse in 2009.

Mr Holland said Australia Solar had tried to get almost all elements of the tram project ready to go before it sought final financial backing.

“This project is virtually ready to go. We can’t see any barriers that would stop it from here,” he said.

The tram project has been supported behind the scenes by members of the Melbourne City Council, including Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. Councillor Arron Wood said it ticked many boxes, from contributing significantly towards the city’s renewable energy target to creating employment and training opportunities in rural Victoria.

“Ultimately, whether this project proceeds rests firmly with the Victorian Government. I just hope they take the action necessary to get it done,” Cr Wood said.

A spokeswoman for the Andrews government said: “We are interested in how the project progresses and will continue discussions with the group.”


Australian Solar says the solar farms would span across 80 hectares and use 130,000 panels to track the sun throughout the day. It has planning and grid connection approvals for its Swan Hill site, with permit processes underway for the second site at Red Cliffs.

The solar power generated would be fed into the electricity grid, offsetting the power PTV currently demands from elsewhere to run the trams.

The company says approximately $3 million has been spent on the project to date, with $70 million needed to build the solar farms.

To underpin this the company says it needs the power purchase agreement with PTV, who ultimately pays Yarra Trams’ electricity bills.

It is seeking a 20-year power agreement, which is longer than Yarra Trams’ current short-term deals. The company says it has negotiated pricing with PTV, but there is no final agreement.

In October former Transport Minister Terry Mulder sent a letter to the city council saying PTV was interested in the project which fitted well with its environmental goals. But that had to be “measured against the availability of brown coal and natural gas that for many years have given Victoria a relatively cheap source of energy,” he wrote.

He added there were also significant commercial risk analysis requirements associated with such a project, requiring longer timelines.


Transport is responsible for 17 per cent of Australia’s total emissions, but this only accounts for vehicles with combustion engines such as the average family car.

Electrified transport, such as trains and trams, is more efficient but still helps generate emissions by demanding power from Australia’s coal-dominated electricity-grid.

Last year The Age reported that Metro Trains was Victoria’s second largest emitter through energy use.

The City of Melbourne has reported trams account for 10 per cent of city transport emissions with energy use factored in.