- Goolawah is an off-grid community of 65 people near Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast
- The community does not have access to town water, sewerage treatment or electricity but have internet
- Many of the people who live there build their own homes – some are professionals who work in nearby towns
Published: 15:48 EST, 8 December 2017 | Updated: 23:32 EST, 8 December 2017
At Goolawah everyone lives off the grid – with no access to town water, rubbish collection, electricity or flushing toilets – cut off from town by a long dirt road – but connected to the rest of the world by the internet.
The commune on the NSW Mid North Coast is home to 65 people including couples, singles and families – most of whom have built their own homes.
From self-described 'hippies' to professional couples and families escaping the rat race, the beach side co-operative is an eclectic mix of Australians who decided to live off the grid but wanted a community to share the experience with.
Mo and Tarrik have lived in Goolawah for almost four years with their twin boys, aged seven. They moved to the commune to escape the rat race in Brisbane
Lexie and Mark have been members of Goolawah for eight years, living there for five – they say since the internet and mobile reception were improved they don't feel like they miss out on anything
This family have been staying in Goolawah for a few weeks – they want to become members and move to the off-grid community
Mark says one of his favourite things is his outdoor shower – which he has kept using even after building one inside
When Daily Mail Australia called into the small community recently there was a bush fire looming just kilometres away – in just a few hours smoke had settled in the streets and hamlets – a water bomber was just a few hundred metres away fighting the blaze.
But the laid-back members of the community felt safe – hoping the fire breaks would protect their homes from a wall of flames – and their sprinklers would protect them from ember fire.
For high school teacher Tarrik, 31, and his wife Mo, 28, the move to Goolawah almost four years ago, with their twin boys Rami and Mucki now 7, was to get away from the rat race.
The couple told Daily Mail Australia they were sick of the financial pressures of 'trying to have it all' in Brisbane. From paying too much for rent to not wanting to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank just to have a home to call their own.
Lexie and Mark's house has enough solar to 'run two houses'. The couple have lived in the two bedroom property for five years
Tarrik, a high school teacher, on his way to check how close the bushfire burning through the area was to the community
WHAT IS GOOLAWAH?
Goolawah is a land-sharing venture which started in 2000
There are 78 residential sites there
It is off the grid which means no town rubbish collection, sewerage treatment, electricity or water
Residents include families, singles and couples
Some people work in occupations like teaching and nursing in nearby Port Macquarie and Kempsey
'Now I work three-quarters of the year as a school teacher and we have a great life balance,' Tarrick said.
'Last week I went spear fishing twice and I went kite surfing – we have the best lifestyle here,' he said.
The boys travel in to school everyday. While Mo works on weekends – where she creates Henna tattoos at the markets.
The family have two lots of land in Goolawah, which total 2.5 acres.
'The only thing we would do differently is we would build a nice cottage first – then we would build our house – instead of living out of shipping containers for two years.'
The couple have plans to build a bigger family home – so they will have two homes on their blocks.
Cindy wants to live at Goolawah – the 70-year-old yoga lover is currently staying in a home with her husband to see if they fit in to life there
Lexie and Mark watching the fire burn closer to the firebreaks on the edge of the community
Mark shows off his toilet – he uses garbage bins to trap the waste – then sets them to compost down for a year
One of Mark's neighbours decided he needed a sauna – to use after a hard day's work in 'town'
Mark Doonan, 58, and Lexie Gonzalez, 43, have been living at Goolawah for five years – they have been through 'a few' solar systems – been flooded out of the community during times of flood and have watched flames from a bush fire whip through scrub just metres from their veranda.
But they couldn't imagine not living on the community – and say now the NBN has them connected to the internet they don't feel like they are missing anything from the outside world.
'We have caught up, even all of our phones now have 3G or 4G. Five years ago we didn't have the internet – and it would depend on your provider and which part of Goolawah you were in for reception.
The family said they have friends who are in debt and stressed-out with mortgages – whole they live the dream
No cats or dogs are allowed at Goolawah – this is to make sure the community doesn't impact the local wildlife
This bathroom is also a composting system – they use one toilet until the compost bin is full – then they use the other – having a composting toilet saves each home about 70,000 litres of water a year
Snakes are part of the environment around Goolawah, this red-bellied black snake was found near one woman's home
WHAT ARE THE RULES AT GOOLAWAH?
There is an in-depth rule book for the Co-op, which is registered with the Department of Fair Trading.
Only active members can have homes there.
Shares can be forgeited if member’s levies aren’t paid for two years.
There is a joining fee and a membership fee.
'Now we have Spotify and we could even have things like Netflix no problems – it is satellite internet of course – we have no cables or wires here,' Mark said.
When they bought their share eight years ago it cost just $7,000 to join the village, plus the cost of their lot. They say it has cost them less than $100,000 to build their two bedroom home, despite extra costs after a solar system died.
The price of share has changed over the years.
Now they have enough power to run two homes – and are getting an airconditioner installed before Christmas.
'We have enough solar that we can run the air-con all day for free – without having to worry about if we have enough power for the television or to charge the laptop at night,' Mark said.
But over a cup of homemade chai, Lexie who is a nurse, explained it hasn't all been easy.
Griff, pictured, 'likes round things', so got Mark to build him a rocket-ship shaped composting toilet
He still needs to paint the rocket – but hasn't managed to get around to it yet – he might paint the top part red
Mark and Lexie's home nestled in the bush has its own vegetable garden, solar power and two showers
'We lived in a tent for three months and for the first three weeks we had torrential rain. Then the mosquitoes came.
'We had a pop up tent for some tools and we used the donga that was here as out outside kitchen because it was off the ground so it didn't flood.
'We couldn't live in it though – it was covered with mouse poo, the smell was awful and the chip board had rotted out the back,' she said.
It took three months to be able to live in the home – but a year to 'get all the details right'.
Mo, Tarrik, and their two sons lived in the shipping containers on their block for two and a half years
People continued to work on their properties as the sky filled with smoke and the bush fire burned nearer – hoping the fire breaks would stop the blaze
Now their home boasts all of the mod-cons – a television, internet, a computer and full-sized fridge.
'20 years ago in off-grid communities you had to have an ice box or gas fridge – they use most of your power – but the solar is so good now we can run one,' Mark said.
Mark still prefers to shower outside, despite the couple having a fully-equipped bathroom inside.
'I stopped showering out there when i saw what was either a baby brown or baby tiger snake out there one night,' Lexie said.
Snakes, the remote location and threat of fire and flood are the key issues for the community.
But even as smoke filled up the streets the people who had been there for a long time remained calm – the residents can all contact each other in case of an emergency.
New residents Nityama, 58, pictured front, and Sattwa, 54, behind, are part-way through building their home
Sattwa pictured in the couple's outdoor kitchen which will one day be used for his partner's kiln
The home is being built to make the most of the surrounding landscape – and won't need airconditioning
Sattwa has helped build a few of the homes on the commune – his own space will be open-plan – he will keep the wood natural
New residents Nityama, 58, and Sattwa, 54, have been living off the grid for most of their lives – they consider themselves 'hippies' and were putting together their sprinkler as ash poured from the sky.
Sattwa, a builder, was more concerned about the damage to the bush than at the thought the half-built home could be destroyed.
The couple are building their dream home which 'won't need air conditioning' and will help them reduce their footprint on nature.
Inside the caravan where Nityama and Sattwa live as they build their own home further down the slope
The couple have some camping stoves which they are using in the kitchen until their home is finished
'Living here is a privilege we are in it for the adventure,' Nityama, a potter explained.
The unusual names were 'old sans script names' the couple have gone by for more than 38 years.
The couple are living out of a caravan – but have a hot camp shower and outside kitchen and aren't in a huge hurry to move into their open-plan home.
'We will be able to go into town for work – I do gardening and will have my own kiln here – and Sattwa will keep working as a builder,' Nityama said.
The bush fire created a huge smoke screen behind the community before pouring ash over the homes
Tarrick with one of his sons, who say they love living in the community, so close to the beach and bush
Goolawah is set-out like a small village with different hamlets all connected by roads (which have signs)
A clothes line out the back of one of the newer homes at Goolawah – each person is allowed to choose how they live in the group
All of the land share plots are taken at the moment – but people are still wanting to buy in.
Mark's sister recently bought a plot with her husband – after falling in love with the place during family visits.
Now yogis Cindy, 70, and Jim, 69, have their eye on the eco village – they are staying in Mark's sister's place to see if they fit in to the community – hoping to become members and move in.
To move in to Goolawah applicants must stay there, get to know the people and become members of the land sharing group. Once that has been approved they can apply to buy shares that become available.
Jim and Cindy want to live in Goolawah and are currently staying in Mark's sister's home to see if they fit in with the community
The smoke from the bush fire poured across the sky – the fire appeared to die down before the wind changed and it grew
The post Whole community opts to live off the grid and they love it appeared first on News Wire Now.
Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos
Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.
Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.
While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.
“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.
A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.
Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.
“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.
He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.
“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”
The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.
“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.
Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.
On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.
Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.
But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.
Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.
“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”
The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.
The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.
“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.
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