And it is out! The tale of how we came to our Tasmanian wilderness block without any real idea of what we were doing.
One of the things which really stood out while I was writing Wilderness Life DIY was just how many things went wrong throughout the journey. Yet if someone had asked me about our experiences of that time before I started writing, I would have said that it was mostly filled with successes. I don’t know if this is a case of having a ‘glass half-full’ personality or whether my brain had gone into self-preservation mode and wiped the memories of the failures…either way, it is great to now have a written record of those early times. We knew so little, and there was so much to learn!
In some ways, building our first home, the cordwood cabin, was a more exciting experience than building the impressive two storey, 16-sided cordwood structure which is The House That Worked Out. Because it was never going to be our permanent home, we felt free-er to make mistakes and to experiment, and we did things which we would never have done if we had jumped straight into building the main house. We had a whole bookshelf of DIY books about cordwood masonry, fencing, pizza ovens, rocket stoves, treehouses, log cabins, green power, organic gardening; we dreamed about some of these projects, completed some of them, and started but never completed others. It was great. We could never have built The House That Worked Out without having first built The Cabin Which (Eventually) Worked Out.
Here is the preface from Wilderness Life DIY: A City Family Bumbles Towards Self-Sufficiency.
“Wow. I’d love to do that.”
This is the most common reaction we receive when we tell people of how we left a full and busy life in the city to go and live off-the-grid in Tasmanian wilderness in a self-built shelter.
It’s not the only reaction we receive. Some people shudder in horror and proclaim, “I could never do that!!”
But far, far more common are expressions of wistfulness and longing.
[Footnote. And, to be honest, we very often hear, “I’d love to, but the wife would never go for it…” Obviously stated out of earshot of said wife.].
It seems that a great many of us fantasise about downsizing, about simplifying, and about learning some basic and necessary skills- creating our own shelters, growing some food, and having the space and freedom to explore projects which feel meaningful and real.
Peter and I are not country folk. We are city-folk, born and bred. We are not builders. We’d had limited success with food gardening, no understanding of any kind of electricity systems, and had never done any plumbing tasks beyond changing a washer in the shower. We were an average couple raising two young children in the suburbs, and we had no skills which could be considered useful for carving out a new life on a bush property that had no access, no existing dwellings, and no services.
Yet here we are, living in a beautiful, eco-friendly, two-storey, passive-solar-designed house which we built ourselves- without taking out a mortgage. The water which comes out of our taps is the same pressure we had in the city- but there are no pumps creating the pressure. We watch TV, use laptops and ipads, wash our clothes in a washing machine, and keep our food cold in a fridge- but we have no electricity bill. And everything we had no prior experience in- building, electricity, plumbing, gardening- we can now say, we DO have experience in: real world experience, learned as needed for the life we wanted to create.
In our society, we hire a plumber when something leaks, an electrician when the fuses blow, a builder to put a gazebo in the backyard… for many of us, this tendency to ‘outsource’ to other, more skilled people has become so ingrained that we don’t even consider trying to solve our own problems. That has been the biggest lesson in our new life here off the grid. Areas which hitherto were veiled in shrouds of mystery- plumbing, building, fencing, – have turned out to be well within our ability and reach. And they are also within yours.
Maybe you dream of a sea change yourself; maybe you are in the process of making that sea change stage. Or maybe you have no interest in doing any of what we have done, but you like reading about it. For whichever reason, we hope you enjoy the tale of our Wilderness Life DIY.
You can purchase the ebook or download a free sample of Wilderness Life DIY at the retailers listed below.