Murrnong is a community, rather than a family farm. Many more people than who is listed here, as interns and travelers and family members, have made enormous contributions over the past 20 years, crucial to the development of the property as it is today.
After his PDC in 1991, David started by permaculturing his back and front yards in West Preston, Melbourne. He has been developing Murrnong since 1996. Along the way he has done permaculture design and development work across North East and North Central Victoria. Through these various projects he developed skills and expertise in design and development for home self-sufficiency, farm planning, farm scale tree and shrub landscaping, farm forestry, homestead orcharding, tree crops, ecological building, energy efficient retrofit of existing buildings, and even a dabble in micro-publishing when he conceived and produced the Permaculture Calendar.
David was born in 1963 at Hay on the riverine plain in western NSW. His childhood and primary school years were spent on a sheep station near Carrathool called Gundaline, that his father Charles managed. In the 1970’s the station was bought by a US based agribusiness multinational, and converted by heavy earthworks to broad acre irrigated row cropping. As a child David observed the farm and these changes, usually when taken along as gate opener and companion for his dad. The remnant natural qualities – of what had been a well managed rich pastoral landscape before European settlement – were more appealing to David than the increasingly industrial agriculture. In the 1970’s the food self-reliance of the isolated homestead settlement, with vegetable garden and orchard, was fast giving way to weekly (180 km return) shopping trips. Parental lessons about economy and care of things were still strong. Occasional work at his family’s farm near Violet Town in the 1980’s gave David opportunity to interact with that landscape and experiment with tree planting to improve the rural landscape. This lead to his more consciously permacultural journey that began in 1990.
Cecilia married David and moved to Murrnong in 2016 from her native Sweden, after having felt all her life that Sweden was too cold for her. At Murrnong Cecilia runs the kitchen, is the cheese and yogurt maker, number one home vegetable gardener, and keeper/ carer/ breeder of the chickens.
Felix grew up alongside and as part of Murrnong’s development, as the site was purchased just after he was born. His interests converge and diverge from Murrnong through working in outdoor education, working and sometimes living here, foraging, creative kitchen adventures, and bringing his terrific friends here to visit. Through most of 2018 he took on the finishing of our cob and straw bale cottage. He is currently cultivating his own backyard food production in his Preston share house, working at CERES environment park and Very Edible Gardens landscaping.
Grace is as old as the trees (most of the trees at Murrnong were planted 6 months after her birth) and, like Felix, she has grown up among them. In 2018 she spent 6 months in eastern Europe, travelling, hitchhiking and volunteering on properties with similar ideals but different systems as the farm she was raised on. Grace is living in a share house in Melbourne, with a really good renter’s food garden created on their entirely paved backyard.
Her visual design skills have contributed to many a Murrnong sign and artwork, and also this website.