Wongari Eco Retreat

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Kumbartcho Up Update

Nature dwarfs our modest structure, Kumbartcho

Nature dwarfs our modest structure, Kumbartcho

Kumbartcho (native for Hoop Pine) is a happening thing. Out of the ground and looking very insignificant. Which is great. We tried to minimise its impact but have been overly pleased by the way nature has done it for us. I hope you like the photo. It shows the skelelton of a structure in the midst of an imposing grandeur. That’s from afar. Inside the structure it is quite different. You feel a little more a part of your surrounds and the sound of the creek passing by is soothing and exciting. Damn that generator!

Unfortunately (fortunately in the long term :), we don’t have mains electricity, or any source of power for Kumbartcho yet. We’re still in limbo with getting the water down to the cabin from our spring-fed Waterfall Creek and to the Powerspout turbine it will be driving. After that, us novices will have to connect it all up so that it can successfully power the cabin – but no tools. I’m in debt here to my electrician brother, Damon. I know it will be a success and another arrow in the quiver for sustainability – if only on our personal scale of things.

Our hydro-electric power ambitions are more invisible than Kumbartcho itself. It comes from a creek source some 120m above and along nearly 800m of 50mm piping till it drives a turbine 20m from where Kumbartcho now nestles. When it is working it will (hopefully) generate upwards of one kilowatt an hour ….. 24/7! With all led lighting, gas bbq and stove stop, and no excesses like a spa or oil heater (fireplace only :), we hope to have enough reserve in the system to make do – in a not so modest way.

The best thing about the hydro system is not just that it is a renewable source generating the electricity but that the water used is returned straight back to the creek from which it came. Given that we live on the dryest continent on earth this is as rare an eco opportunity as it is pleasing. And the pluses multiply: the turbine of choice, Powerspout from Ecoinnovtion of New Zealand, is made out of 68% recycled materials.

Wherever possible we have strived to make eco-sensitive choices. Sometimes those choices are easy to make. Like the rock retaining walls that we are making in every direction. We have a big need for rock retaining walls because the site is situated high on a relatively steep slope. This way it shares the hoop pine canopies with the birds and mammals of Wongari. We’ve used the walls for the driveway; for water management; and for the placing of the water tank. Fortunately for us, rocks and boulders grow out of our grounds. No more rocks other than those found while clearing the site have needed to be used – and still we have many left over. It has turned out to be an invaluable resource and it is simply right under our feet in thick, clayey, reactive soils.

So we’re not long into the build and are now waiting for the roofing spans to arrive in order to proceed. There will be a slight delay as the roofing is taking nearly five times longer to deliver then we anticipated. However, we’re appreciating the opportunity to move other projects forward. But that is another story for another time.

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