Simple, Sustainable Living by Michell Mercer

“What!!!! Are you crazy???  You’re going to live in the bush with no power or water!!!!!”

My poor parents, they just couldn’t understand it, they’d worked their whole lives to give me a better life and now I was throwing it all away to go live in the middle of nowhere.

It was 1988 and along with my hubby and two daughters aged four and two, we left our comfy home on the Sunshine Coast in QLD

and embarked on an amazing adventure that was at times incredibly challenging but mostly lots of fun. “Grass Roots” magazine had a lot to answer to, it all looked so easy.

Just about four hours south but what seemed like another world away, we arrived at our new home Billen Cliffs, a multiple occupancy village, 800 acres of mostly bare ex dairy farm at the western rim of the great caldera of Mt Warning in Northern NSW. Natural bush regeneration means that it has now become one of the most beautiful solar-powered communities in the area.

We had two acres at the top of two “very large” hills, with a few flat spots to play with. There was no real driveway to speak of and just an old caravan (which the farmer from over the other hill towed up to the back of the block for us). We built an annex on the side with recycled building materials and some roofing iron we found at the local tip.

We stuck a dunny over the other side of the block. It had a lovely aspect looking out over the valley, but was a bit hot during the day and very wet in the rain. Luckily I had an old beach umbrella which gave some shelter until the outhouse was built.

The next purchase was a water tank, luckily, because it rained for the next three months, so we had plenty of water once we managed to direct the water from the annex roof to the tank.

Mind you the rain also caused a few other issues; there was a river running through the middle of the annex. NOW those pallets from the tip came in handy and made a little bridge over the river. But I lost all my worldly goods to mould and damp, seems I didn’t need them out here in the bush anyway.

My Driza-Bone, Akubra and gumboots became the regular attire and leeches my new pets…. urgh….. it took a little bit of getting used to pulling them off. At least they were big enough to find, unlike the ticks, which would burrow their way into the most private places they could find.

Actually, after the first few months of settling in to this new lifestyle, it was pretty idyllic, the kids would all run in a pack, going from one house to another, getting fed at each place and having adventures along the way, most of them are still in contact with each other.

Our ideals of living off grid, building our bush shacks out of recycled materials, building our roads, firebreaks, causeways, planting trees and community gardens, all came to fruition, the best part was living in COMMUNITY. It seemed to be lacking in society then and still seems to be now.



Vanessa Finnigan is the founder, editor and publisher of Holistic Bliss.
Holistic Bliss is also available to be downloaded as a free App (downloaded in 52 countries) and you can receive notifications about new articles and cover personalities on your phone.

Add comment


Join our e-newsletter and hear about our latest news and insights.

* indicates required


Click on the Cover to Read About Dr Judith Orloff

Welcome Barbara Brewster!

Dom LivKamal’s Medicine Room

Download our FREE Holistic Bliss App!

Pitch, Write and Be Seen by Vanessa Finnigan!

Vanessa Finnigan, founder, being interviewed in Europe

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular

Most discussed