2025 Rocklyn Ashram

Permaculture Design Course

with David Holmgren, Beck Lowe & Guests

Live a more sustainable life.

Retrofit your house, your community and yourself.

Design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties.

Join a growing community of like-minded people.

The Course

A Permaculture Design Course has the power to change your life.

Learn from experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors, including David Holmgren and Beck Lowe, in the unique environment of Rocklyn Ashram.

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

women eating apple from tree

This course goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.

The learning will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles, as detailed in ‘Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability.

Beautiful and quiet, the Rocklyn Ashram provides an ideal learning environment.

The Venue

Once you have arrived you will feel like you are in another world.

Rocklyn Ashram is nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford, Central Victoria and the property is only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne.

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.

Taking part in the Ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience.

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

Read more about the Ashram lifestyle here.

The Food

Enjoy delicious, wholesome and ethical meals.

The delicious, vegetarian meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the Ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards.

Ingredients will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. 

Your nourishing food will be served together with the Ashram residents.


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.

We'll explore some of the most exciting permaculture properties in the region.

Field Trips

Everything comes to life on the field trips.

We have the privilege of being able to show you around the homes and gardens of some of the most exciting permaculture properties in the Central Victoria region.

Learning the ethics and principles of permaculture is great, but the field trips are where it all comes to life.


Learn from our experienced team, including the co-originator of permaculture.

You will learn from the co-originator of permaculture, David Holmgren, experienced permaculture educator, Beck Lowe, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and tutors. 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.

Essence Of Permaculture Book Cover


There are no prerequisites for this course, but please 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.

Learn how to integrate permaculture into every aspect of your life.

Course content​

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.

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture.

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

To enhance the classroom experience we will take you on field trips to working permaculture farms, and homes & gardens where you will see the principles in action. 

We’ll visit Melliodora, one of the best documented demonstration sites.

You will be guided by experienced tutors and during the course you will work on a design project on part of the Ashram. 

With permaculture, you can design the world you want to live in.

Register your interest

Leave your details below and we’ll let you know when the 2025 dates for the Ashram PDC have been finalised and when registrations are open.

The following books are available for order at a discounted price when you register and can be collected when you arrive at the PDC. Please note they cannot be posted to you beforehand.

Only available with event booking + pick up at PDC


Only available with event booking + pick up at PDC


Only available with event booking + pick up at PDC


Only available with event booking + pick up at PDC


Frequently Asked Questions

PDC stands for Permaculture Design Course. This has been the standard format for permaculture training since the 1980s. If you undertake this course you will be joining a body of many thousands of PDC graduates around the globe. The traditional PDC is 72 hours, but most PDCs are now longer – this one is approximately 80 hours of contact time. Our PDC covers various aspects of permaculture design, and participants see permaculture in action at a range of working permaculture sites. In addition to this, our PDC also focuses on exploring how permaculture principles can be applied to all areas of life – not just a block of land.

The Rocklyn Ashram is an established working environment of a designed community, actively engaging in many permaculture practices. Reflection, time to practice yoga, and a practical demonstration of frugal self-sustaining hard-working intentional community interwoven with nourishing spiritual practice are some advantages of undertaking a PDC at an Ashram. We ask that you please read the Ashram Lifestyle Information page prior to enrolling.

This PDC draws from a wide pool of permaculture talent to bring you a range of tutors who are specialists in various aspects of permaculture. David Holmgren, the co-originator of the permaculture concept, is a major part of this PDC, however given that there is a range of tutors, no single tutor takes many sessions. David will be the main tutor for the equivalent of four days of the course including the visit to Melliodora.

We get asked both questions regularly… and the answer to both is that we make the course as affordable as we can.

We recognise that the fee is a lot of money for some. We understand that many people will struggle to afford to do this PDC. However for organic home-made food, accommodation, yoga, site visits and tuition, as well as a small class size of 24 students, we think our fee is very fair.

Some past participants initially thought that the course was expensive but on reflection recognise the true value of the course.

Please consider applying for a scholarship as ways to reduce your costs.

We only accept credit card payments made via Stripe which also includes a small booking fee. Your booking is only complete once the funds have arrived in our account.

We do not offer concession prices but we do offer part scholarships on a needs basis via an application process. Please indicate on your Registration of Interest form that you will be applying for a scholarship and we will send you further details on the application process.

We always encourage potential students to explore PDC options in their local area first, however as this is a residential course we do get students from interstate. PDCs in your local area can be particularly useful as the fieldtrips and much of the practical tutor knowledge will be specific to the bioregion – but the principles and understandings of permaculture are applicable anywhere. If there is no PDC in your area, you specifically want to undertake a residential PDC, the idea of combining yoga and permaculture appeals to you, or you are specifically interested in the wider application of permaculture, then this might be the PDC for you.

Please consider the environmental impact associated with flying.

The PDC is a mostly theoretical course, and with so much theory to cover there is limited time to get your hands dirty. However students will do a permaculture design in a small group – this is a very practical activity, but not the hands-dirty type!

Even if you live locally we encourage all participants to stay on site as meals and evening sessions are an integral part of this immersive course. There are no discounts for staying off site. The daily timetable begins at 8:30am (or 6am if you choose to do the early morning yoga) and the evening sessions often continue until 9pm.

All regular rooms are triple share in men or women’s dormitories.

Camping at the Ashram is lovely. You will need to BYO tent and all equipment. If you are a couple, camping is a great option.

If you prefer your own space, there are a limited number of private rooms at an additional cost. To book a private room, contact the Ashram directly.

Whether you are camping, staying in a dorm or a private room, you will need to bring all your own bedding. You can borrow tents and bedding from the Ashram at an extra cost.

We encourage and help to facilitate car-pooling and train travel.

Click here for information on transport to and from the Ashram.

Click here for Public Transport Victoria’s Journey Planner.

For those requiring a transfer to the Ashram to meet check in after 2pm, we can meet you at Ballan station on Friday and transfer you to Rocklyn.

On completion of the course on Saturday, we can drop you off at Ballan station to catch the train to Melbourne.

If you have to drive to get to the venue, please let us know in the form (sent to you after you have registered), to indicate your willingness to offer a lift to others.

The Ashram provides ethically sourced vegetarian meals. Gluten free and vegan diets can be catered for but you must advise the Ashram in advance.

If you have additional specific dietary requirements click here to see the Ashram’s meal information.

On field trips ethically sourced meat may be included in the meals.

Yes, but please be aware that food is prohibited in bedrooms though a pantry storage room for residents is available. Please also note that there are no participant cooking facilities at the Ashram.

Yes, but only in the computer room and at allocated times by prior arrangement with the Ashram staff.

Mobile coverage is limited to outside the front gate of the Ashram. In the case of emergencies you can be contacted via the ashram office. Click here for contact details.

Yes, on the middle break day. It may be possible for families to stay at the Ashram while one parent is at the course, depending on other Ashram bookings at the time. Accomodation and meals for the rest of the family must be organised directly with the Ashram. 

Cancellation Policy.

A 30% deposit is due at the time of booking to secure your place. Full payment is due by January 17 2023.

If you withdraw before paying the full fee, we are happy to refund the amount you have paid, minus a $500 admin and promotion fee.

Sometimes circumstances change and you are unable to attend a course you have paid for.

If that’s the case, there are a few options available:

If you notify us at least 21 days prior to the course commencement, we will refund your course fee minus a $500 admin and promotion fee OR you can apply the full amount as credit towards a future course.

If you notify us less than 21 days prior to the course commencement unfortunately we cannot provide a refund, though we are happy for you to send somebody else in your place. Just let us know.

If you notify us less than 21 days prior to the course commencement, if we have a waiting list and can fill the spot, we will refund your course fee minus a $500 admin and promotion fee.

Holmgren Design reserves the right to cancel or discontinue advertised courses due to unforeseen circumstances. If we are forced to cancel a course, you will receive a full refund.

If you are unable to attend the PDC due to Covid restrictions, or if we need to cancel the course due to Covid restrictions, you will receive a full refund (minus Stripe booking fees).

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