The Ecovillage in Currumbin is a living community that was conceived by a passionate group of friends in the late 1990s. The first home was completed in 2006. Today it is home to extensive wildlife, about 350 adults and 120 children, 65+ kangaroos and several small businesses. The active community enjoys events together in its community hall in the centre of the village. These include yoga, pilates, qigong, dancing, craft beer tasting, birthday parties and many other social events for residents and guests, managed and run by residents. Many residents report being now part of a large ‘extended’ family which comes with many unexpected and non-tangible benefits. While not community is ‘perfect’, Currumbin Ecovillage provides many insights into how a community can be more sustainable and operate for the benefit of the environment and human habitation. It has been studied by a few universities and toured by over 5,000 people since 2005.
The community contains 147 lots over 270 acres of land, in the most southern hinterland of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. For more detailed ecovillage ‘facts’, open this the Fast Facts PDF document.
The Ecovillage at Currumbin has won over 33 accolades for its design and leadership in sustainability – see the Awards page for more information. This makes it the most awarded residential estate in Australia.
The Pasture and Co cafe operates from the front of the village most days of the week (not Monday or Tuesday) and the Resident’s community centre contains a large award winning pool, bali huts, large kitchen, two halls, library and playground. The pool uses EnviroSwim technology making it cheap to run and safe to swim in.
GROUND at Currumbin also operates from the Village Centre selling fresh, local and organic produce each Saturday morning and health practitioner rooms during mainly weekdays.
In the same village centre, The Green Marquee coordinates markets on the second Saturday of every month offering local food, crafts and artwork. They also offer wedding services.
The Old Dairy Community Centre was constructed from and old dairy that previously existed on the site. The Reduce/Reuse/Recycle (RRR) Centre was completed in 2016. The final studio homes are in planning stage inside the village centre. A central community garden is also planned. Most residents tend to their own gardens near their homes or in greenways with friends/neighbours.
To build a house in the ecovillage requires owners and builders to meet specific building codes that encourage sustainable building practices which improve quality of life for occupants and help to reduce on-going operation costs. As a result, most residents have little or no electricity bills.
The ecovillage is also 100% self sufficient for water. Homes only use rain water for potable uses and stages 1 and 2 share a large commercial waste water treatment system that delivers high quality recycled water back around the village.
The ecovillage is not a religious, arts or organisation based community. It developed organically with people from all walks of life choosing to live in the estate for a range of different reasons. The demographic is widely spread with some young families, older families, singles, travellers and retirees all enjoying the best the village has to offer.
There are no extra restrictions when buying or selling a home. Anyone can buy and sell a home in the village, just like freehold land elsewhere in Australia.
Amidst the threat of global environmental crisis, the challenge of this century is how to live and develop sustainably – in harmony with nature, to foster community and a modern quality of life. The developer’s vision was to “inspire sustainable living and development practice awareness” by creating a residential community that exemplifies World’s Best Practice in Ecologically Sustainable Development.
The project comprises a diversity of landscapes and living opportunities and provides for 147 high benchmark sustainable homes on lot sizes ranging from 450 – 8,000 sqm. 95% of the Ecovillage homes are now built.
The Ecovillage at Currumbin achieves:
- 80% of site as open-space, 50% environmental reserve, yet the same yield as standard development
- some local food production through edible landscaping and household gardens. It does not yet have one large centralised shared garden but has plans to develop one.
Preservation of natural landforms and rehabilitation of the degraded site’s environmental integrity
- Over 188 different bird species, counted on-site since 2005, many that have come back to the area to enjoy the native plants that have been grown on site for them .
- Extensive wildlife corridors and negligible vegetation loss.
- Cutting edge integrated water quality measures to exemplify Water Sensitive Urban Design
- Cultural Heritage honoured and integrated
- self-sufficiency and autonomy in water through rain water collection and dedicated on-site waste water recycling.
- Mix of socially-oriented innovative ecological, energy efficient housing catering for diverse needs
- On-site work strategies and facilities for village and local community
- Waste recycling strategies including an innovative Reduce, Reuse and Recycling (RRR) Centre
- Comprehensive traffic saving strategies to reduce vehicle impacts on and off site
- Central management via a Principal Body Corporate and distributed authority to subsidiary body corporates for each sub-region.
The innovative project design has followed a collaborative approach with an extensive and unprecedented Community Consultation program yielding strong design input from indigenous groups, residents, stakeholder groups, referral agencies and the general public.
The old Interpretive Centre (now the Cafe and Healing Ground) was officially opened by QLD Premier the Hon. Peter Beattie in December 2005, publicly showcased the project’s innovative subdivision design. The Ecovillage is a Queensland Govt Energywise and Waterwise Demonstration Project and involves significant partnership with community universities, industry and various tiers of government.
The product of 11 years of worldwide research and design, the developer established a benchmark standard for sustainable residential development, with environmental, social and economic sustainability as its driving principles.
The Land and History
The precincts fall predominantly into three main types:
- The Creek Ecohamlets bordered by Currumbin Creek Road and the pools and cascades of Currumbin Creek;
- The Valley Terraces gently sloping elevated pasture overlooking Currumbin Creek; and
- The Highlands, an elevated undulating valley system with its own forested ridges, small creek and views towards the Pacific Ocean.
- The fourth stage is the Village Centre.
The large (110 ha / 270 acre) and magnificent Ecovillage site has a diverse array of topography and features.“Willumbin”, as it was known in recent times, has had an interesting history. This extraordinary site forms an important part of the beautiful Currumbin Valley which, in pre-European settlement must have been an absolute paradise. Located just a few hundred metres upstream from the tidal salt water of Currumbin Creek, Willumbin has a diversity of land forms from creek flats to hillside ridges, an elevated valley and a second water course that surely proved a magnificent home for the indigenous owners who resided in the locality for thousands of years. We have been advised by our cultural heritage consultants that the main ridgeline on Willumbin formed an important ‘foot highway’ from the coast through to lands to the west including rainforest areas of Springbrook and beyond.
Apparently, the ridges were ‘public property’ for travellers, whilst the lower lands were tribally guarded and used for hunter gatherings and camping of the local groups. European settlement commenced with timber getting of rainforest species with the valley being a rich resource. This was followed by farming procedures which saw much of the slight sloping land cleared for beef cattle pasture. Banana farming around the turn of the century completely cleared most of the valley hillsides including Willumbin’s slopes leaving only creek vegetation, giant Fig trees, some mango trees and scattered hardwood along the ridge – the Ecovillage land was almost totally denuded. After the banana ‘bunchy-top’ epidemic in the early 1920s and a moratorium on all banana production, dairy farming was resumed on the site. The land was used for dairy grazing with fodder cropping on the creek flats through to the 1980s. There has been much vegetation regrowth since the site was simply used for grazing purposes and The Ecovillage has a comprehensive revegetation plan to beautify the site and enhance biodiversity.
In the 1970s the previous owner (farmer) planted a 25 acre native Hoop Pine forest which is now a mature feature.
The diverse landscapes of “Willumbin” allowed a site led design to unfold throughout the planning stages of The Ecovillage. As ‘developers’ of the project, Landmatters took on a ‘custodian’ role – believing that the land dictates what is right for where and merely helping others align themselves with that vision. Many principles that protect the land are in place – minimal cutting and filling to position homes, smaller footprints of buildings, leaving the topography and site hydrology intact and working so as to not impact on other areas and increasing of biodiversity on the land – bringing it back to its original state. Revegetation and regeneration have occurred to beautify and coax wildlife to cohabitate on the site – this is why there is a strict ‘no dogs / cats’ policy in the Ecovillage, as required by the local Council. Local residents have spotted over 180 unique bird species on the site, which is a huge increase from those from the farming days due to the re-introduction of hundreds of local indigenous plant species.
For more information you can refer to the residents community portal at http://www.villagehub.com.au/about-us