The School of Self-Sufficiency is now open, and Creative Collectives will be hosting self-sufficiency and community living workshops there each month. This weekend was the launch with 8 great classes and 25 participants camping out together onsite amongst the trees in Lara, VIC having an amazing time.

The weekend started out with an introduction to Yoga with Rachel Laulu, long time practicing professional Yogi. She took us through the motions slowly to help those who hadn’t tried it before and explained the theory behind Yoga to give a more in depth insight. Overlooking the You Yangs ranges in the distance, birds flying overhead to and from Seredip Sanctuary and the clouds providing artworks in the sky, this was an incredible place to start our Yoga journeys and a great power up for the activity filled weekend ahead.


We then moved on to learn about Permaculture with Adrian Whitehead from Grey Cliffs Permaculture. He took us through the basics to give us an understanding of the philosophy behind permaculture and an insight into the history. Permaculture theory is something that can be used anytime anywhere but permaculture implementation is diverse, varied and specific to the site you are working on. There are of course many practical techniques that can be applied to many landscapes but it is recommended that you learn about permaculture in-depth in your own local area to be able to apply what you have learnt to your property. That being so, Adrian took us for a tour of the site to see what ‘plan’ we could devise from just a quick look. He then moved onto a topic he is passionate about – emergency permaculture. This is a view that considers the detrimental impacts we are having on the earth and how we can put permaculture into action now, quickly and effectively to make rapid change.


We were not only gathered to learn self-sufficiency skills, we were also there to experience and learn about community living. A huge part of community living is about ‘group decision’ making and this can often be an element that causes problems within groups. Big personalities get in the way, some people don’t feel confident to speak their mind, bullying occurs, people forget to listen to each other, interrupt, talk over the top of each other and often leave issue unresolved which can cause further problems. Consensus decision making is a process that has been adopted by many communities as a way of dealing with these problems. It is a method of making sure that everyone is heard, all opinions are expressed and seeks consent of all participants. This was a really interesting topic to touch on and got us all thinking about what skills might be good to learn before we move into community living situations or to implement in the communities we are already engaged in.

After a delicious lunch it was time to BE KIDS!!!  and make cool stuff out of recycled cardboard. Ross Koger, founder of the infamous Boxwars, demonstrated his mad skills for turning cardboard into finely detailed medieval costumes – slicing, cutting, folding and glueing the cardboard into detailed forms in seconds. Our challenge was to make practical (or impractical and totally outrageous) sun hats. It is a skill that is easy to pick up and we were soon going beyond the limits making hats that would rival that of the swish catwalks of the Melbourne cup – adorning bird cages, Japanese temples, pirate ships, monsters, Mario, flowers and what can only be describe as abstracts, it didn’t take long before we were all addicted to boxcraft.

Boxwars CreativeCollective

Next on the schedule was a thought provoking talk with Dr Bob Rich on ‘how to change the opinions of climate change deniers’. Bob has strong opinions backup by years of experience in the ecological movement and it was very interesting to hear his point of view. “You’ve change the way I look at the world” explained one of the participants.

And just when we thought the activities of the day were over we strolled on over to the communal area to find that they had cranked up the wood fire pizza oven, covered the table in delicious toppings and laid out home-made bases for us all to make our own pizzas. After that Kate split us up into to teams and hosted a fun eco-science and music trivia game, complete with visual aids on the poolside cinema and a beginner’s fermentation pack for the prize.

What a day! So many activities, great conversation and amazing food, we all felt spoilt and excited as we reluctantly pull ourselves away from the fun and into our tents to rest up for day 2.

Waking up to Bruce (Brooster the Rooster!), teas, coffees, a delicious barbequed breakfast and some swinging tunes got us started for the big day ahead. The first cab of the rank was something we we’re all really looking forward to “Sauerkraut 101”. Kate Marsh, founder of Creative Collectives is enthusiastic about fermented foods for health and took us through the basic theories and the ins and outs of sauerkraut. “It’s so simple to make, the tricky part is learning why it is so good for you and the food science behind it”. The best way to learn anything is to do it yourself, so we split into teams and she provided us all with the most magnificent bio-dynamic cabbages to transform into fermentative form. We tasted, cut, sliced, diced, smashed, pounded, salted, brined, spiced, flavoured and jarred them all into kilos of sauerkraut to take home and try ourselves. This is a skill we were all so pleased to have picked up and promised to teach our friends to keep the skill-sharing flow going.

SauerKraut with Creative Collectives

Next up was certainly a favourite – ‘passive solar and natural building’ with Heidi Moore. Heidi is a wealth of knowledge and a real inspiration on this topic. Out the 25 people in the group, I think we all have the dream of designing and building our own hand-made homes – from tiny cob shelters to extravagant earthships. This workshop could have continued all day and Heidi has promised to come back to teach again as the questions and knowledge continued to flow over into lunch. Friends of Creative Collectives Mer Le and Stephen came along on this day and spoilt us all with a Ayurvedic lunch to suit all doshas, and MerLe helped us all figure out which of the Doshas we were so we could do further research into health to suit our bodies and personalities.

Heidi Moore Natural Building

It was all hands-on again after lunch as we made our way into the back paddock to learn about Chainsaw maintenance and use. Mick is an arborist and an entertaining teaching, he taught us the skills he has learnt over the years and the importance of keeping your chainsaw well maintained and exactly how to do it. But the most exciting part was having a go, particularly for those of us who had never used a chainsaw before. It was an empowering exercise and made us consider what other tools we might like to learn with the view of delving into our own rural projects.

Chainsaw use and maintenance

The last activity was an absolute riot and Ralph had us all cracking up laughing with his true-blue Aussie humour as we worked together to create the coolest bushcraft beds. He taught us a range of awesome knots from the simple the hitcher’s knot, to the 3 second hand-cuffs and a custom knot he’d designed to make the hanging beds very easy to construct with minimum rope cuts so you don’t waste your lengths in the bush. At first sight the beds looked really complicated, but we all replicated them with success and learnt so many cool skills from the exercise.

Bushcraft skills with Ralph Knees

With the workshops over it was time to relax and enjoy the property and each-others company. We finished up with some casual long-bow practise, barbeque dinner, drinks, many laughs and a big jam session around the fire into the early hours.

What an amazing weekend! I can’t wait for the next one in March – sign me up 😉

Creative Collectives Workshops

See more photos here. 

And what workshops are coming up here. 



School of Self-Sufficiency – Feb
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