The rain is causing a percussive symphony on the shed roof, the wind adding whining and roaring in the background. In the spaces where there is stillness, the crashing of the waves in the ocean fills the air. It is a perfect reason to sit here with a cup of dandelion tea and catch up with some story telling about our adventures in Woombah.

Over the past month there has been a lot of activity here. Taka has been helping us as a WWOOFer and we have been visited by Hiroko (from Yakushima and Tasmania) and Misako and daughter 3 year old Hanaka.

It’s kind of embarrassing to say that the building project here is still going on and is taking so much time and will probably go on forever! Even though I am supposed to be a Sloth, I have deeply programmed conditioning to ‘achieve’ and ‘produce’ and ‘progress’. I make impossible deadlines to get building done using recycled materials, very little money and being highly creative dealing with the authorities and the regulations needed to be followed in this kind of project. There has been wonderful help from local handy people who give their skills and creative ideas for very little cost and let me do whatever I can to help.

Over the past month we have:
Travelled 20 hours by train to Ayr in north QLD to hold a garage sale that cleared out most of our belongings and check on our old house there, Continued with the permaculture plan in Woombah, putting together banana circles and swaling to help capture and direct the water flows on the land (Yani has been especially helpful in gardening and figuring out the best place for a pond).

Had a big cement tank delivered for the grey water system, Put in cedar shutters inside the house to be able to allow for airflow and light between rooms, Installed another louvre window, Created the framing and inner cladding for the bathroom (and found a nice deep tub to put in there), Picked up a big truckload of assorted bits and pieces of recycled materials (sliding doors, tiles, splashback, pavers, staircase stringers, doors, etc, etc) from the Gold Coast – a huge adventure (and not possible without the help of Taka).

Built a staircase to the mezzanine floor using metal stringers from the dump, hardwood treads from a local salvage timber yard and our own wattle trees for the handrails.

Set up a ‘dance floor’ area upstairs for Pacha and Yani in front of two huge wardrobe mirrors on the extra carpet our neighbour Mick gave us a couple of days ago.

Last week came the excellent news from the local council that I have had the
building approval for my design in converting this shed into a dwelling. I am now an official ‘owner-builder’ with the legal right to create a home made from things that find their way to the dumps and secondhand shops.

Though sometimes frustrating, it is also immensely satisfying to be doing things this way, creatively, originally, organically. The design moves and shifts depending on what I have been able to scrounge and scavange. Last week I saw a pile of thrown away building materials beside a new house construction. I timidly asked if I could recycle some of the material – no problem. On our fishing trip to the local beach, I picked up a few pieces of driftwood to make a towel rack.

As the weather cools down there is a little more urgency in putting in the insulation and interior cladding (and a bathtub!) – yet, the temperature is still so mild here (10 to 20 C), that we can really just put some extra layers of clothes on.

Pacha and Yani are coping wonderfully well with everything and are still enjoying school very much. The Iluka Public school is lucky to have some specially talented teachers and assistants, including their dance teacher, Mandy, who directed them in a prize winning dance competition last week. As the President of the P and C, I have not been able to do much yet, once our bathroom is done I hope to get onto the school gardens.

Yani changes his life ambition at least once per week. Last week, when our neighbours gave him a hand repaired fishing rod, he wanted to be a ‘fisher’, this week when there was a school presentation about cane toads, he wanted to be a wildlife ranger...

This past month was also about ‘visitors’. We are lucky to have friends who don’t mind a ‘simple life’. Both Taka (for a months), then Misako and Hanaka (for a few days), stayed in the caravan and I hope they were comfortable there. For Taka it was the first visit to Australia and the first experience of Wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms). He was great with Pacha and Yani and tried his best to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. I pushed him pretty hard to ask more questions and try to learn more about where he was and what he was doing. I realised that my childhood was probably much more ‘hands-on’ than a normal person in Japan where academic success is probably the most important achievement.

I remember looking at Taka after we had just spent 14 hours loading secondhand materials onto a truck, driving 4 hours in it, then unloading in the dark and the rain in Woombah and asking him ‘do you think your mother would ever do this?’ He answered: ‘I don’t think so’… Yes, I admit, our lives are a little bit out of the

One the day Taka left for the Jarlanbah permaculture community in Nimbin, Misako and 3 year old Hanaka arrived in Woombah. I think it was love at first sight with Hanaka to Pacha (and vice versa) – as the girls danced and sang and jumped all over the place. I will never forget the look of sheer joy and abandon as Hanaka ran down the beach at Shark Bay with Yani and Pacha – her spirit flying free! This is the feeling that connects us with Life – everyone should make the opportunity to do this whenever they can! I seriously think that Pacha could guide groups of young people from cities in Japan about how to ‘set their inner wild child free’!

We are very much looking forward to more visitors to nurture and be inspired by this part of the world.

For Life, anja, pacha and yani