People shun mainstream society to live off the grid

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People shun mainstream society to live off the grid

By Nic Macbean

Retired scientist and businessman Doone Wyborn and his wife Carol are two of those people.

They bought an 800-acre parcel of land in rural northern New South Wales almost 10 years ago and plan to turn it into a self-sufficient rural cooperative community.

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Mr Wyborn and his wife built their house to be low-energy and low-impact. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

Their house is already electricity independent using a 3.45-kilowatt array of solar panels, and enough water for the proposed village comes from a nearby mountain spring.

They are the only couple living on the land so far, but their vision is for 21 plots of land to make up an independent eco-village.

A network of solar-powered street lights like this one will show the way on the village's internal road network. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
A network of solar-powered street lights like this one will show the way on the village’s internal road network. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

If people choose to live in the village they will need to build their own self-sufficient house on their allotted block of land.

“If there is something we haven’t got on the property, I want us to either produce it ourselves, find an alternative or go without,” Mr Wyborn said.

There are 15 chickens on the Wyborns' plot of land. A solar-powered electric fence guards against dogs and foxes. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
There are 15 chickens on the Wyborns’ plot of land. A solar-powered electric fence guards against dogs and foxes. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

Mr Wyborn is an expert in the science and business of alternative energy, having completed a PhD in geothermal energy and helped set up a pioneering geothermal company.

The solar panel array on his property produces 25 per cent more electricity because it tracks the sun’s movement through the sky.

A 3.45 kilowatt solar-panel array provides all the electricity for the Wyborns' house. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
A 3.45 kilowatt solar-panel array provides all the electricity for the Wyborns’ house. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

In time the Wyborns would like to see their rural cooperative running a variety of crops and produce, but at this stage production is very much for personal consumption.

Home-grown vegetables are part of the self-sufficient lifestyle that the Wyborns practice. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Home-grown vegetables are part of the self-sufficient lifestyle that the Wyborns practice. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

Around 200 acres of the property is semi-cleared and suitable for cropping and grazing, while another 600 acres is made up of eucalypt forest and rainforest.

Rusty farm equipment on the Bindarrabi site. Over its history the land has been lived on by Indigenous people, as well as being logged and grazed by white settlers. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Rusty farm equipment on the Bindarrabi site. Over its history the land has been lived on by Indigenous people, as well as being logged and grazed by white settlers. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

Mr Wyborn says nine plots of land have been reserved so far and there has been interest from other people who would like to live off the grid.

Doone Wyborn worked in alternative energy for much of his career and believes every new house in Australia should have solar power. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Doone Wyborn worked in alternative energy for much of his career and believes every new house in Australia should have solar power. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Herbs and flowers are potted, waiting to be transplanted on the property. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Herbs and flowers are potted, waiting to be transplanted on the property. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)

Dr. Wyborn is holding a hands-on workshop on Alternative Energy at Holos.

(Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-08/doone-wyborn-self-sufficient-property-bindarrabi/5580358 on 14/10/2016)