Walking to Wombelano Falls

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There’s nothing like a change of scenery to refresh you, is there? With weather warming up into spring, my family and I escaped the concrete jungle on the lovely mild Sunday we had on 19 October to give Miss Z a new adventure of her first bushwalk to Wombelano Falls.

That's me at the sign and Miss Z eagerly running down the path to the right

That’s me at the sign and Miss Z eagerly running down the path to the right

I’ll leave the family references out now as I really want to speak about my reflections while I was there.

You can see the charred tree trunks from the Black Saturday bushfires in the photos but life renews and the undergrowth is all green with sprinkles of yellow, red, and purple flowers.

Sprinkles of yellow and red flowers

I felt much more of a sense of being in nature’s world, than in the human world, where nature struggles. So many human concerns fall away here and it is a change of perspective being dwarfed by tall trees and hearing birds call out high above.

You can see glimpses of the sky through the trees

You can see glimpses of the sky through the trees

I made a short video to enjoy the audio:

This is nature at her healthiest, where the environment has matured to the forest stage in succession. If you haven’t heard of succession, here’s a graphic to show the process (image and more information available at Deep Green Permaculture).

Nature transforms the ecology over time

Nature transforms the ecology over time

Essentially, we are typically surrounded by early stage succession, where there are weeds, ground covers, assorted grasses as nature’s attempt to cover poor soil and gradually break it up, allow water and nutrients in, attract insects, and improve the soil. Gradually, perennial plants will move in and continue to improve the soil. Shrubs will appear and start shading out the weeds, and some trees will have the chance to flourish. Eventually, tall trees will dominate in a forest environment, which is a mature ecosystem. This process might take 50-150 years left to nature. It’s all well and good to hear the theory, but it’s wonderful to see a mature example for yourself.

At the Falls

At the Falls

And being there was a chance for me to practice wide angle vision and fox walking, which I had learnt from reading Rewilding the Urban Soul.  I found fox walking feels quite natural as I walked along the pathway, and I noticed that I broke less twigs on the path, walking more quietly and with less impact as I travelled. I found wide angle vision allowed me to identify more movement, which I could see being useful if you’re hunting or being aware of predators. Thankfully, we had no concerns on that front on our walk.

I really enjoyed the feel of being surrounded by trees and am wistfully imagining my backyard with the same feel.  I say wistfully because such tall trees aren’t suitable for our site.  I’ll just dream of our next bushwalk instead.

What about you?  Do you find bushwalking a chance to connect with nature?  Do you have any favourite bushwalks with kids?

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Exploring Bushfood: Visiting CERES

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For my design project, I’m considering using bushfood as a way to increase the backyard yield (permaculture design principle #3: obtain a yield). This covers any native flora or fauna used for culinary or medicinal purposes (according to Wikipedia). They are already adapted to soil and weather conditions in Australia, and have the potential to form more connections with the ecosystem (permaculture design principle #8: integrate rather than segregate), which builds in redundancy if any disaster strikes.

I consider it a step towards accepting wisdom from the Wurundjeri wilam clan, who were owners of land in Melbourne pre-European settlement.

As part of that, I had a lovely morning visiting CERES earlier in October and had a look at their nursery.

Check out some goodies below…

CERES has chooks roaming the nursery

CERES has chooks roaming the nursery

Kangaroo apple produces berries that can only be eaten when soft and orange.  I discovered from other reading that the berries are toxic when green, so be careful of that.

Kangaroo apple produces berries that can only be eaten when soft and orange. I discovered from other reading that the berries are toxic when green, so be careful of that.

Muntries produces berries that have taste and texture like dried apples

Muntries produces berries that have taste and texture like dried apples

Mountain pepper provides pepper berries and aromatic leaves

Mountain pepper provides pepper berries and aromatic leaves

I’m keen to visit Hurstbridge nursery, Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative, and Edendale Farm to see what bushfood they have and see if I can use anything in my design.

What about you?  Would you recommend any other nurseries?  Have you had any experiences growing and eating bushfood?

Creating an Example

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Ooh I’ve been gone for a little while, haven’t I? I have progress to share! I’ve been working on my first permaculture design project, oh where will it take me? This is assessment #1 of the Permaculture Design Certificate, but it is also an opportunity to amp up our backyard productivity, bring habitat to assorted creatures, improve the soil, connect with nature, and as Larry Korn says in the lectures, create an example of what permaculture is about.

Permaculture ethics and design principles provide guidance for creating examples. This poster is available for sharing from http://permacultureprinciples.com/resources/free-downloads/

In this project, I am acting as both client and designer as my scope is essentially my backyard in Melbourne. My husband and I want a space for fruit trees and shrubs, no-dig vegetable patches, herb garden, and a fruit vine for the side of the house.  We will need to consider water conservation to cope with our climate and the extreme heat and sometimes extended drought periods, and we are thinking about a water tank for the future.  We also want an outdoor play area and children’s garden for our 2 year old.

The project covers the design, and I will need to produce a report on the project and design process, an implementation plan, budget, and maps as part of the documentation to the Regenerative Leadership Institute. Ultimately, this will enable my husband and I to proceed with a new vision of our backyard, and go on to create a new permaculture example.