I recently camped there for a weekend with the Brisbane Bushwalking club. It was the club's annual Tux and Tiara event. The event usually fills up quickly and I was very lucky to get onto it this year. We drove down Friday afternoon, stopping in Boonah for a short while so one of the women could buy a tiara at the local reject shop. I'd bought mine for $2 at the asthma foundation shop in Blackwood Street in Mitchelton. Unfortunately, I accidentally leaned on it and broke a large piece off, but I wore it anyway.
We had an option to bring our own tent, or rent one from the site. I brought my own, but the rental ones looked very luxurious. The large 5m white bell-shaped tents could fit up to six to eight people. People did need to bring their own bedding for these tents, but I spoke to some people who stayed in them and they told me they were very comfortable. There was even a tap with running water into a white porcelain sink at the back of the camp area set into rocks. A few people brought their own campervans.
There was a large grassed area for tents, and a central camp kitchen, equipped with fridge, gas oven, cutlery, crockery, glasses, tables and chairs. There were also solar powered hot showers and compost toilets.
There were a variety of activities on the weekend, including bushwalks and bird watching walks. A large group went on a bushwalk on Saturday through the bush, up the creek and climbed a waterfall to a spectacular hole in the rock.
I had twisted my ankle a few days earlier, so did a more sedate walk of about 10 kilometres around the property with two other walkers. We walked up the road and rock hopped a short way down the creek and met the other group coming up the creek for morning tea. We then left them to continue up the creek and we went down the creek a bit further to look at the waterslide. We returned to camp via the communal area where the owners are building a fire safety building/community hall. We met one of the owners of the community property, Doone who explained the concept to us.
Doone told us the Community consists of twenty-one shares at a cost of $68,000 each. Each share is entitled to exclusive use of a two-acre envelope around a council approved house site. Spring water will be supplied to each 2-acre site. The whole site is 800-acres. Retired scientist and businessman Doone Wyborn and his wife Carol Shantal bought the 800-acre property about ten years ago. It is bordered on three sides by Koreelah National Park with Koreelah gorge on the other side. It is 2 hours from Brisbane just over the border in Northern NSW. There is approximately 200 acres of semi-cleared land suitable for cropping and grazing, 70 acres of rainforest merging with World Heritage listed rainforest of the Koreelah National Park, and the remainder is wet sclerophyll forest.
The aim is to be a self-sufficient rural cooperative community. There will only be 200 acres used for habitation and livelihood, and the remaining 612 acres, which is designated 'Wild Lands' will remain for conservation and recreation.
There are still sites for sale and Doone is looking for suitable people to buy into the community. He said there is a preference for members to be able to earn their living at Bindarrabi and not have to travel for work.
Some suggestions included home-based consultancies, educators, workshop training retreats, Internet businesses, organic farming, organic meats, eggs, orchards, coffee crop, timber works, carpentry, aquaponics fish and food, writers/artists artisans, native plant nursery, herb nursery, natural health therapies, carbon sequestration, ecotourism, or whatever people can create.
Homes to be erected are to have their own water harvesting, solar power and waste management and demonstrate varying low cost, minimal footprint, sustainable building styles. Any building for habitation has to be within building code standards and fire code standards. Any buildings built by members on their leased portion are deemed to be the property of that member. On sale of the Member's Share the house will be sold at market value.
I asked Doone about the nearest schools and doctors and he said the nearest towns are Woodenbong 30 minutes away, which has a NSW Central School, and Boonah is 40 minutes away back over the QLD border. It has both public and private primary and secondary schools and medical facilities.
After we left Doone, we passed a large dam and saw the resident goats in their enclosure. I spotted a wallaby eating some of the crops. After we got back to the campsite, I went for a walk down to look at the rare hoop pine forest.
The big three-course dinner was on Saturday night and I was surprised to see everyone dressed up, as I usually only see them in their bushwalking gear. One woman looked like a Princess and another like a 1940's flapper. The men looked very handsome in their tuxedos and there were some very fancy tiaras.
There was the choice of a walk to the gorge on Sunday or a bird watching walk. I went on the bird walk. There are over 110 species of birds in the area. We spotted quite a few different birds and I learnt a lot about different birds and their calls from some bushwalking bird experts.
We passed Doone and Carol's house on the way and Doone told me, they had access to the internet, television and telephone through Satellite and Solar so they were completely off the grid. He also showed us his large vegetable garden and aqua farm. I discovered after I got home and did some research that Doone was an expert in the science and business of alternative energy. He had a PhD in geothermal energy and helped set up a pioneering geothermal company.
We had morning tea by the creek before returning to pack up camp and head home. I need to go back and do the full walk next time and get to see the famous hole in the rock. The Bindarrabi Community vision is for a dynamic, creative community using renewable resources and natural energy systems, providing much of their own food. If you want to live off the grid,