Archive | Events

Happy World Localisation Day!

To celebrate World Localisation Day 2021, Local Futures has gathered an impressive line-up of thoughtsmiths from across the globe to help raise awareness about the urgent need to shift direction – away from dependence on global monopolies towards decentralised, regional economies.

This year’s leading voices include David Holmgren, Russell Brand, Charles Eisenstein, Dr. Gabor Maté, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar and many more. The week-long program is being offered entirely for free or on a ‘pay what you can’ basis.



When David was in Mullumbimby last month he recorded an in-depth conversation with localisation activist, Helena Norberg-Hodge, which features as part of the program. David and Helena share a deep ecological sensitivity, as well as a big-picture view of the environmental movement, coming from many decades of experience. In the comfort of Helena’s home, the two discuss the cross-pollination between permaculture and other localisation initiatives, the future of energy and social and economic organisation, and much more.

You can watch their interview here.

And you can access the rest of the incredible program here:



Our Street Launch

Calling all kids and adults!

Melliodora Publishing and Grow Do It Permaculture invite you to attend the online launch of Our Street and Permaculture Action Cards.

Our Street (based on the Aussie Street story from RetroSuburbia) is a fully illustrated storybook for upper primary school-age children. It explores how suburban life changes between the 1950s and 2020s, and provides a positive vision of the future. It is a useful tool for parents and educators to help inspire children with positive solutions for sustainable and resilient living, whilst reflecting on Australian history. Written by David Holmgren + Beck Lowe and illustrated by Brenna Quinlan.

The Permaculture Action Cards are made up of 65 full-colour cards. The deck features the 3 permaculture ethics, 12 principles and 50 Brenna Quinlan illustrated action cards depicting colourful characters putting them into practice in the garden, community and beyond as well as relevant lyrics & rhymes from Formidable Vegetable on the back of each card. Also included is a booklet with games and explanations of the principles as well as an A3 colour poster that can be used as a teaching aid.

The launch will feature David Holmgren, Su Dennett, Beck Lowe, Brenna Quinlan, Charlie Mgee and special musical guests Formidable Vegetable. What a line-up!

The event will be a free livestream. Register here for your free tickets and we’ll email you the viewing links on the day.

The first 100 books purchased at the launch will be signed by David, Beck and Brenna. In the meantime you can purchase the book from here and the cards from here.

NOTE: The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube. These links will be emailed to you closer to the date.

Woo hoo! We can’t wait! See you then.

Get your tickets>>


Facing Fire

This coming Sunday November 22 at 9am (AEDT) , David Holmgren is giving a presentation followed by a Q & A on ‘Fire Resilient Design and Land and Climate Care’.

Here is the Zoom link to attend.

Please join 5 minutes early to ensure it starts on time.

Please RSVP by 5pm Saturday 21 November.

For further reading, here is David’s recent paper: Bushfire Resilient Land and Climate care.

EDIT: Here is David’s presentation from the day.

Facing Fire connects fire-ecology regions in the USA and Australia, across the Pacific, and around the world.

In 2019 David was interviewed for the 21 minute film Facing Fire, which you can watch in its entirety here:

For further research/preparation, you might be interested in Joan Webster OAM’s bestselling book, Essential Bushfire Safety Tips – 3rd Edition


RetroSuburbia Roadmap

The continuing pandemic restrictions are an opportunity for Melburnians to create their own roadmap to something new, rather than reverting back to normal, when restrictions are eventually eased. 

The extension of stage 4 lockdowns in Melbourne has led to a diversity of public and personal reactions from outrage, depression and gritted teeth, to relief and, for some, hope. 

Many of us in regional and rural Victoria are thanking our lucky stars we don’t live in the city. We are keenly aware of the relocations, and desire of even more people, to flee to our more comfortable conditions. Comfortable not just because we are living under stage 3 rather than stage 4 restrictions, but because we have more access to nature and some meaningful control over our habitat compared with Melbourne residents. 

That rural and regional Victoria could be more comfortable and secure than in the sprawling suburbs of Australia’s second global city, let alone the confines of the CBD and the residential spires that cluster around it, is a turnaround that can give rise to a smug schadenfreude rather than empathetic solidarity. However both these emotional responses could be replaced by anything from entrepreneurial opportunism to resentment at having so many city folk disturbing the peace, as city dwellers vote with their feet and head for regional centres, small towns and rural locales. Even relatively small numbers choosing to relocate out of Melbourne could create growing pains in many small, and even larger, communities. In desirable coastal communities, and inland ones like Daylesford and Castlemaine, the gentrification could intensify as the well-to-do push up real estate prices to even greater heights.

Relocation within Melbourne, from apartments accessible only by lifts and stairwells to suburban houses with garden and breathing space, is another response that many are likely to consider. The inner urban lifestyle of eating out, cultural events and workplace meetings has definitely lost some of it allure, and public transport may even inspire paranoia. While the Melbourne real estate market is likely to decline, if not collapse, once government money and the leniency on rent and mortgage repayments end, suburban prices could hold up relative to the likely cratering of the apartment market, which is already bloated from bubble economics for years if not decades. And those suburban prices might reflect genuine appreciation of gardens for growing food, keeping animals and for the kids to be able to play in quiet streets, rather than just another opportunity for knock-it-down-for-infill development of more apartments that no one wants to live in. 

For so many living in the suburbs, the spell of commuting each day, mostly to crowded CBD workplaces, has been broken.. The cold turkey shift to working from home has been hard for many, but commuting as an unquestioned assumption of urban, and even rural life, for the majority of workers and students is not returning. Whether workers like it or not, adoption of these new patterns may be driven by gains in productivity experienced by some businesses despite the chaos of rapid restructure, the consolidation of online identity and interaction, and the opportunity for employers to take advantage of residential infrastructure, space and amenity of workers’ homes, without the costs and responsibilities of managing workplaces.

Another empty office (Image from here)

As businesses cut back on rented workspaces, especially prestigious CBD offices, the likely culling of huge numbers of retail businesses, especially in catering and hospitality, are unlikely to be replaced. Entrepreneurs will not be keen to keep doors open to massively reduced day and night time crowds. While the pandemic may pass, the fear, or at least distaste, for crowding is likely to stay. With the immigration and overseas student spigot turned off, and unlikely to generate more than meagre flow when turned back on, Melbourne CBD is likely to seem very dead to those who revelled in the financial and cultural rewards of one of the world’s most liveable cities. Even if the collapse of city life is not as severe as that unfolding in New York, the chances of a return to normal seems less than that of a snowball in hell.

The real estate agents’ adage that it is all about location, location, location remains true; it is just that the perceived values of locations have all been overturned. 

While the move to more desirable locations post-pandemic might not be an option for most, the question of how to live and with whom, is an existential one facing so many under household curfew in Melbourne. While many are currently chafing at the bit to escape their confinement and inevitable tension with partners, parents or housemates, others may recognise how much their household, family or otherwise has provided intimacy, refuge from public and workplace pandemic protocols, and an assurance of shared capacity to weather threats from whatever quarter. Strengthening relationships at home and kickstarting the household economy of self-provisioning and neighbourhood exchange, highlighted in RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, is the priority for some, despite the absence of mainstream media attention on this creative response to the pandemic and its aftermath. 

For some living alone there may be a superficial sense of security from the virus but the almost 100% dependence on telecommunications and just-in-time delivery to provide both their material and emotional needs is a huge vulnerability that the pandemic has exposed. The absence of casual and intimate connection to friends, family and partners has highlighted just how fragile the modern pattern of apparently autonomous urban living is for a future full of change and challenges. Household consolidation, typically in extended multigenerational households, has historically been the main mechanism by which ordinary folks cope with hard times. Anecdotal evidence suggests this has already been occurring during the pandemic, while data from the US shows it is accelerating a longer term trend since the 1980s. Just as the pattern of commuting for work and other needs might be fractured, the ideal of the ever youthful and upwardly mobile autonomous consumer barely tethered to a solo home base may have been transformed by the lockdown into a nightmare to be abandoned. Despite the challenges of sharing house, let alone the complexities of extended family relationships, it seems clear that the pandemic will be a wakeup call for many, especially previously free and easy young city dwellers. 

Back in early 2018, when Melbourne was bursting at the seams with growing pains, I penned an opinion piece to contribute to the debate in the press about Melbourne having a choice between following the Los Angeles, New York or London models of development. In casting the RetroSuburbia strategy as the “Melbourne Model”, I pointed to the potential to avoid any of the proposed development models by simply consolidating our households in the existing underused residential housing stock, revitalising our suburbs in the process. Progressively converting much of the unnecessary commercial building stock to housing would also be part of this model. The Age declined to publish my vision (presumably as far too leftfield) and, likewise, the mainstream media debate about post-pandemic options remains stuck in the old grooves. Even visions of bold Green New Deals mostly revolve around accelerating the renewable energy roll out, electric cars and more public transport to city centres that are likely to be unused. 

As I said in the Melbourne Model:

RetroSuburbia is based on the lived reality of a growing number of ordinary Australians who have been influenced by the permaculture concept, a vital emerging global movement, first taking root in the suburbs of Melbourne 40 years ago. The impact of permaculture, and UK spin off, The Transition Towns movement is at the progressive edge of communities building resilience in a climate changed world. Locally, Permablitz activism that continues to empower young people to hack their habitats for the better, has also spread around the world from Melbourne.

It is possible that the pandemic and resulting lockdown response could trigger a mass of behaviour change in Melbourne unlike anything we have seen before, restructuring personal and collective living arrangements in ways that might be better for the punters but bad news for corporations and governments still flogging the dead horse of Gross Domestic Product. 

The potential to build a new economy from a base of revitalised household and community non-monetary economies is the good news that the media won’t be too happy to air. Let’s do it anyway, and spread the good news while so many Melburnians are pondering their future. 


David Holmgren
September 2020


RetroSuburbia Online Book Launch

Yes, it’s true! Permaculture co-originator David Holmgren is launching an online version of his bestselling book, RetroSuburbia: The Downshifter’s Guide To a Resilient Future.

About the launch

RetroSuburbia: The Downshifter’s Guide To a Resilient Future is a book for this moment in history.

Permaculture co-originator, David Holmgren and the team at Melliodora Publishing have decided, amidst the crisis of COVID-19 and its ensuing economic fallout, to release their 2018 bestseller as an online ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ resource accessible to people worldwide who are looking for grassroots solutions to the challenges of this unique time.

Register here now and head to to join the live-stream book launch and to access the book online.

Wed 8th April 

7pm (Melbourne Time) 

The launch party will be broadcast live (via the RetroSuburbia YouTube and Facebook pages) and hosted by ABC Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis with live music from world-renowned permaculture electro-funk-swing band, Formidable Vegetable.


7:00pm: Prelude from Formidable Vegetable’s Charlie Mgee

7:05pm: Intro & welcome from Costa

7:10pm: David Holmgren followed by Q&A (from YouTube comments)

7:40pm: Music from Formidable Vegetable


A hefty tome of almost 600 full-colour pages filled with hundreds of photos and Brenna Quinlan’s beautiful illustrations, RetroSuburbia is part manual and part manifesto. The book shows how the suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilient in a world of economic instability and energy-descent. It focuses on what can be done right now by an individual at the household level.

RetroSuburbia is a source of inspiration, introducing concepts and outlining patterns and practical solutions. It empowers people to make positive changes in their lives. As with David’s previous work, it is thought provoking and provocative.

If you are already on the path of downshifting and living simply, exploring RetroSuburbia will be a confirmation and celebration that you are on the right track and guide you on the next steps forward. If you are just beginning this journey, it provides a guide to the diversity of options and helps work out priorities for action. For people concerned about making ends meet in more challenging times, RetroSuburbia provides a new lens for creatively sidestepping the obstacles.


David explains:

As the COVID-19 pandemic first exploded across our globalised world, I found myself unsure of priorities in this time of pivotal change, even though I had been tracking information about Wuhan since January. Not because I didn’t know that a global pandemic of this scale was on the cards, or that it could overwhelm the most technologically advanced and powerful nations on the planet. Not because it could be the acceleration of what I coined “the energy descent future” two decades ago (in Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability). And not because we are not well prepared compared with most to weather the storm.

It was more the realisation of this being a grand turning point that will test a lifetime’s work in articulating and demonstrating a way of living connected to place and the seasons with minimal ecological footprint, conserving precious non-renewable resources, and regenerating natural capital that can sustain future generations after the pulse of fossil fuelled civilisation has faded.

Even more intensely, it was the understanding that such turning points are opportunities to leverage change in positive directions and avoid the worst consequences of delay and indecision.

You can read the rest of David’s statement here.


Register for the free online book launch here!



2018 Advanced Permaculture Planning + Design Process

Have you completed a PDC but feel there is more you’d like to learn?
Are you interested in design principles and ethics but are not quite sure how to integrate the processes into your thinking, designing and decision making?

On this four-day residential course, tutors David Holmgren and Dan Palmer will take you through various approaches and methods that they implement in their own design processes to help you establish your own framework for designing and living. Here is the rundown of the April 2017 course:

2017 course participants + presenters

After the inaugural Advanced Permaculture Planning and Design Process course, Dan wrote a comprehensive overview of the 4-day residential, which is highly recommended reading.

Participants are encouraged to arrive on the night of April 2 and camp over, ready to begin the course at 9am on the 3rd. Dinner will be provided on the 2nd, and brekky on the 3rd, as well as all subsequent meals for the duration of the course.

The course is limited to 30 participants and bookings are essential. Once you have booked you will be sent more details.

More information + bookings here.


2018 Ashram Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

Friday 23 February – Saturday 10 March 2018

2017 Ashram PDC


Are you looking to create a more sustainable lifestyle?

Meet like-minded people?

Retrofit your house, your community and your life?

Become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?

Design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?


The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 15 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.


The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

Accommodation is camping in the grounds of the ashram. You will need to BYO tent and gear. Alternatively you can choose to stay in a gender segregated triple share dorm room or a private room. Please note, these last two options incur additional fees.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.

The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.



You will learn from the co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.



There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles and writings by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.


Course content

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture. You will learn permaculture ethics, principles and design, and their application across the domains, so that you can integrate them into all aspects of your life.

Topics include:

  • permaculture ethics and principles
  • ecology and natural cycles
  • weather and climates
  • soils
  • permaculture food growing
  • energy literacy
  • reading the landscape
  • appropriate technology
  • built environment
  • design processes and practices
  • animals in permaculture
  • health and spiritual wellbeing
  • urban retrofitting
  • finance and economics
  • community strategies

The classroom experience will be complemented by field trips to working permaculture farms, homes and gardens including one of the best documented demonstration sites, Melliodora.

You will work on a design project of part of the ashram during the course. You will be guided by experienced tutors and learn the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.


Payment and extra charges


Item Fee (AUD$) Due
Non-refundable deposit – Australian participant $500 Upon enrolment
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – earlybird $1700 Friday 1st December 2017
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – full fee $1900 Friday 26th January 2018
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – earlybird $2200 Upon enrolment, before Friday 1st December 2017
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – full fee $2400 Upon enrolment, before Friday 26th January 2018
Payment fee via PayPal 3% With payment – per transaction
Gender segregated, triple share room $2475 $2275 earlybird price
Private accommodation at the Ashram $3450 $3250 earlybird price


Is there a concession price?

Applications for the concession rate have now closed.

* * *

Still have questions? Please read through our FAQ page.

Bookings now open!

If the 2018 Ashram PDC sounds like it’s for you, fantastic! Please secure your place by registering.



Advanced Permaculture Planning + Design Process

Have you completed a PDC but feel there is more you’d like to learn?
Are you interested in design principles and ethics but are not quite sure how to integrate the processes into your thinking, designing and decision making?

On this four-day residential course, tutors David Holmgren and Dan Palmer will take you through various approaches and methods that they implement in their own design processes to help you establish your own framework for designing and living.

Participants are encouraged to arrive on the night of April 10 and camp over, ready to begin the course at 9am on the 11th. Dinner will be provided on the 10th, and brekky on the 11th, as well as all subsequent meals for the duration of the course.

More information + bookings here.


Learning, listening, watching, touring

We have a stack of events planned over the next few months. Have a browse through our Events page to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.

We have listed all the tours for the coming season, which starts next month, so you can visit us here at Melliodora and experience what a 30+ year permaculture property looks like. Places are limited and bookings are essential.

There is a local food panel featuring 5 stellar local women including Melliodora’s own Su Dennett.LandCultures

Artist as Family are premiering their film Land Cultures, featuring David Holmgren and Bruce Pascoe

David will be presenting A History from the Future at the Daylesford Words in Winter festival.

Also at Words in Winter, the winner of the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize will be announced.

Formidable Vegetable Sound System is coming to Daylesford to launch their forthcoming album, Grow Do It. Yay Charlie!!

David will be teaching on various PDC’s including at CERES, at the Food Forest in November, and at the Rocklyn ashram in February 2017 (more details to come).

In November, while David is in WA for the Australasian Permaculture Convergence and Permaculture Festival, he will be giving a keynote address and several talks about various aspects of permaculture ranging from future scenarios, permaculture in higher education, revitalising the landscapes and communities that will raise the next generation and his forthcoming book, RetroSuburbia.

While in WA, we are pleased to announce that David will also be presenting the Keith Roby Memorial Lecture in Community Science.

What an exciting list! This is just a snapshot. Please head on over to our Events page for the full rundown of tours, talks and special events.




Our Climate is Our Health

In the run up to Our Climate Our Health / Paris COP21/ People’s Climate March  Climate HEALTH Alliance is hosting a full day seminar on 19 November 2015  “Our Climate is Our Health: Integrating health in policy and decision-making for our low carbon world”

It’s 2030, and the world is firmly on a path to low carbon economies and societies. Governments across the world have introduced low carbon policies for energy and transport, zero carbon homes and buildings are commonplace, and many individuals and businesses now generate their own energy from the sun and the wind. The health of people was a key factor in motivating this shift.

At the seminar an advisory panel will describe how the 2030 scenario described above, happened, outline how different things are from 2015, and offer insights into the healthy future that lies ahead. Panelists include Grant Blashki (Nossal Institute), Susie Burke (Australian Psychological Society), Matthew Wright (Zero Emissions Australia), and Monique Conheady (Chair of Moreland Energy Foundation, founded Flexicar) and our own David Holmgren (Vision for energy descent),

The panel session is at 11am and is entitled  Imagining our low carbon world: a thought experiment

This seminar will bring the CAHA members and broader healthcare sector stakeholders together to learn from one another on advocating for action on climate change, will strengthen relationships and build understanding between health and environment groups, and work towards developing a collaborative national strategy on climate change and health – with the goal of getting policy outcomes within two years.

For more info see