Speargrass

The idea of self-sustained life within a small, healthy community has become more appealing to me over the years. But the idea just seems out of reach. That was until we found Speargrass.

We are Woofing at Humpty Doo, 30ks south of Darwin and our woof host Leonie invites us to the Speargrass Festival, she’s says it’s a good crew of young families getting together on the weekend of the winter solstice every year to celebrate living sustainably. Sweet, sounds interesting. So we head 3 hours south to Speargrass.

The property is at the end of a long dirt road, surrounded by hills and boarded by a large river that is filled with barra and crocs. East from here there is nothing but bush and Kakadu NP.

We are introduced to Luke and Laura who run the property. They are in their early 30’s with three daughters (Ginger 9, Wren 5 and Chilli Chilli 3). They’ve been living on this property for 9 years and have got their hands full living off their 6 acres of land. The block is an old mining lease, they pay the hefty sum of $3.50 a year in rent and are guaranteed the block for life. Everything is run on solar, apart from cloudy days when the trusty steam engine is fired up. Water is from a huge underground aquifer and keeps there garden moist year round. The Rocket shower - a converted gas cylinder that takes water in the bottom and comes out the shower head at the top is heated by a small fire beneath, protected by a wall of banana palms and papaya trees. This is where you take a bogie (the territorian word for shower).

That weekend we are treated to live music, story telling, tables full of fresh local food, honey straight from the hive, giant emus being lit on fire by burning comets and a lot of great company. We met so many interesting people and learnt so much from them. After that weekend we were inspired to stay on and woof at Speargrass. We helped with mulching the banana palms, harvesting eggplant, feeding pigs, milking goats, cooking, cleaning, and hunting Kangaroo for the kitchen. Fellow traveling Illawarrians,

Ray and Ellie joined us. Ray gave me a crash course in welding, and we teamed up to successfully make a right mess of what should’ve been a simple plumbing modification to the Rocket. But it worked nonetheless.

For all the awesomeness of Speargrass, they did have one problem. Not enough helping hands. To stir some interest they had offered free courses on things like cheese, honey, soap and bio-diesel making workshops. They had absolutely no response from the Darwin public and couldn’t understand why (they thought the fact it was free may have made people dubious). All they wanted was a few more like-minded people to build a functioning community. I was seriously tempted but politely turned down the offer, mostly due to the lack of surf; if they had waves near by I’d be in like Flynn.

So if you do want to get involved in some way, whether it be for a weekend or a lifetime, Speargrass is definitely the right place to start.