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This blog documents Steven and Nil's adventures as they continue their search for a better world... a better way of living. Each entry offers commentary about current events, ideas or possibilities for the future or examples of what others have already implemented. We will also be sharing our experiences on the road in a campervan (our new home) to demonstrate the possibility of living a mobile, spontaneous and adventurous lifestyle. A lifestyle not dictated by routine and ritual but one led by passion and fashioned by the people and experiences we encounter. We are no longer battling to achieve a work-life balance but rather interweaving our work and our life—as Confucius said: “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

It’s an exciting time to be alive as we are in the midst of a great transition. Social changes and disruption of existing systems are being driven by our newfound ability to connect and share information through the Internet coupled with an enormous range of new technologies.

Follow our blog and join us on this journey…

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Iga Warta Night Sky

This photograph was taken at a small aboriginal community at Iga Warta. This is the first time I stitched up a panorama, taking both vertical and horizontal images. There was still some light pollution from campfires and a couple of the houses in the community but the night sky was truly amazing and this is just a small slice of that. For the photogs: ISO=3200, 10secs, f2.8 and shot with my 16-35mm lens. This is what I referred to in my poem titled a Blanket of Stars (see previous post) when I referred to a ‘blanket of stars”!

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Darwin’s Dilemma & the Ediacaran Fossils

I have to pinch myself. I am standing on what was once an ancient seabed teeming with life in the Flinders Ranges. We are peeling back layers of time. I am learning about Dickinsonia and Spriggina, fossils that have been dated as far back as 550 million years. They are the earliest indication to the beginnings of complex animal life on our planet. Looking at the dry, parched land around me it is hard to imagine this area was once under water.

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Flinders Ranges Dreaming ~Nilmini De Silva

The road has brought us to the Flinders Ranges
To curl up under a blanket of stars and a dazzling full moon
The sky is turning a faint pink as I wake from my slumber
The ranges muted by the absence of sunlight are on fire
Each day this pattern is repeated
And yet the spectacle is never the same

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The Ngeringa Winery: Pioneers of Bio Dynamic Farming in Australia

“We allow the soil, the site, the season and the variety to express itself in our wines.”

We are excited to be invited to visit the Ngeringa Winery, a certified biodynamic vineyard. The drive has taken us through a beautiful rural landscape and a thriving vegetable garden to the foothills of Mount Barker summit. We are here to meet Janet Klein, who cofounded the winery with her husband Erinn. Originally part of the world-renowned Jurlique herb farm, their land has been certified biodynamic for more than 20 years. In an age of industrial agriculture, it is wonderful to discover this gem and speak with the cofounder of one of Australia’s pioneering biodynamic farms.

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Maslin Beach Stripped Bare for the Winter

I’m a little overdressed for Maslin Beach. This is after all where Australia’s first unclad beach is found, shielded in the far southern cove. But it’s winter now and the area is devoid of its usual sunworshippers. We’ve come here to enjoy a walk on the beach only to gaze in dismay at what had been an unspoilt stretch of stunning coastline. The seashore has been stripped right back to reveal outcrops of hard, granite rock where once a pristine sandy beach had existed.

I now understand that this is a natural process and that this sand will be replenished by the dunes come summer. However, further north, along the highly developed coastline of Adelaide, it is a different story.

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Urban Living Labs in South Australia (SA): Progress in the District of Mount Barker

We are cautiously optimistic. Our first workshop with to the elected Councillors at Mount Barker was very well received. There were a number of supportive comments and questions with a request for us to submit a formal report where we can seek in-principle support for our vision, just as we did with the Councillors at Tweed.

This is an area on the cusp of change.

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The Old School Bus: An Up-cycled ‘Bus’inness
food, inspirational stories, public interest, urban sustainability

I met Sascha today, as I took a break from working in the Aldinga library to grab a hot chocolate. The converted old school bus had caught my attention as I walked past it earlier this morning on my way to my ‘work hub’. I felt immediately drawn to it and wanted to discover its backstory. As he prepares my drink, he invites me into the bus for a chat. Sascha and his wife Brydie used to be chefs but tired of working for other people, they had the brilliant idea to up-cycle one of South Australia’s decommissioned school buses and convert it into a food truck.

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The Silo Art Trail: Changes in the Agricultural Landscape
conservation, economics, food, urban sustainability

We are travelling to South Australia where we will continue to nurture the seeds we sowed earlier this year. Our journey has led us from campsites on the Murray River to the Silo Art Trail—Australia’s largest open-air gallery. It’s a trail that stretches 200km, linking little know rural towns in Victoria such as Rupanyup, and Sheep Hills in the south with Brim and Patchewollock further north. These communities are so far removed from Sydney that it’s hard to believe we are still in the same country!

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Murray River Rhythms
conservation, history, photography, public interest, water

Both Steven and I feel a strong connection to water so we are always happy when our travels lead us along the Murray River. An abundance of free campsites and RV friendly towns make following this river system a wonderful experience. There’s always something new to learn about the Murray and the historic towns that thrived on its banks. Yet, there is also an element of sadness. This river has been dammed, dredged and diverted so rural towns can exist but also so commercial crops can be grown and exported to faraway markets. The politics surrounding the stories about water theft, water buyback schemes and unfair water extractions upstream are familiar to most Australians. But the more I hear about the complexity of these problems, the more worried I feel.

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Zero Waste Festivals
food, public interest, urban sustainability, waste

There were many highs at Renew Fest including the glorious sunshine over the weekend, but this is a quick post about the success of their zero waste strategy! It felt so good to be at an event that not only generated no waste but was also powered by renewable energy. It felt so simple that it really begs the questions why this isn’t the norm all over Australia at markets, festivals and other public events?

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My Cathedral of Stars
inspirational stories, photography, spiritual, travel

The roof of my cathedral is sprinkled with stars
I gasp as a shooting star slices the Milky Way
A celestial river splashing across the sky-world
This wondrous galaxy has captivated me since childhood
Growing up on the equator of our common home
I had often wondered about its origins
Just as your ancestors and mine must have ruminated
Of life and how they came to be here
On those first nomadic journeys out of Africa
As they roamed this planet for thousands of years
In my mind’s eye, I can see them now
Sitting around a campfire with their clan
Watching the flames dance, casting shadows on eager faces
Young’uns entranced by the myths of their elders
Their stories shaped by the knowledge of their time
They must have looked up in gratitude
As they tried to unravel the mystery of our existence
A mere speck in this spectacle

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An Experience of Being Alive
conservation, photography, spiritual, travel

A faint light breaks through the darkness of night
From my room with a view I spot the mist swirling
Surely it’s still too early to rise
But then I look up to the morning’s greeting
A riot of colour, a feast for my eyes
The sky enveloped by a dusting of clouds
The mystery of life is about to unfold

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Sunday Reflection: Finding Your Tao (Way)
education, photography, spiritual, travel

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” ~Lao Tzu

The beauty of living in a multicultural society is that you can transport yourself to another culture when the travel bug bites—by eating an exotic meal, visiting a temple or having a chat with a fellow wanderer—without leaving home. We had passed the turnoff to the Taoist Temple many times while in Brisbane so a few days ago we let our curiosity get the better of us. It is about 20 years ago that I first stepped into a Taoist Temple. While the symbolism and colour transport me back to that time in China, I’m missing the smells, the sounds, and the spirit that was all part of the essence of being back in Asia—an essence from my childhood that I can still conjure up if I close my eyes.

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Make A Change: Steven and Nilmini are interviewed by Dione Green BayFM in Byron
conservation, economics, public interest, urban sustainability

If you could change one thing about your life, or your world, what would it be?

This is the question that Dione Green explores on her program Make a Change, on BayFM in the Byron Shire. We met her in quite a serendipitous way while supporting an event that was looking to build a community renewable energy project as an alternative to Adani in the Mullumbimby area. Dione purchased a copy of Steven’s book and called us a few weeks later and invited us to be part of her show.

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Peter Kearney: Enabling the transition from Agribusiness to Agriculture
conservation, food, inspirational stories, urban sustainability

It is always inspiring to hear stories of how a small community stood up to big business and won.

We have come early morning to Samford to meet Peter Kearney, a man passionate about urban agriculture & feasting on organic, freshly grown food. This time it is our colleague Prof. Marcus Foth at QUT who has made the introduction. We pile into Peter’s car and drive to Millen Farm, a not-for-profit entity that came about because of the activism of this community. Eight years ago, about 500 Samford residents stood up to protest against Woolworths opening a store in their village.

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