Back to basics living in the bush. Wwoofing in Loch Sport

Loch Sport Travel Blog

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the camp

My next stop had been marked down on my diary for several weeks.  I found out about it from the wwoofing website and when I read the entry, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up!  Frank is just five years older than me, he worked as an IT manager and built a very successful carrier.  Around eight years ago he became interested in portable architecture, sustainable designs, buildings and renewable energy, and decided to design his own eco-home.  This ambitious task kept him busy for nearly 6 years, but the final result is truly a remarkable building, worthy of being featured on one of my favourite TV programmes called ‘Grand Designs’.   With a bit of luck, 2 years ago he found a 200 acres plot of coastal bush land, going for sale on the southern coast of Victoria.  Bravely, he quit his job, bought the land and set out to build his dream home.

Frank's toilet!
.. single handily!

 

When I arrived, I soon realised just how much/little of the building had been built, and what sort of conditions Frank was living in.  I knew from our phone call that he was ‘roughing it’, but I wasn’t expecting to find out that he didn’t ever have a proper toilet!!  When he showed me around the camp site, it was quite comical to see so many temporary solutions, which had become permanent for lack of time or motivation.  Like the shower for instance, it was basically a bathtub next to a large tank of water, with a showerhead powered by a gas boiler attached to a trolley… this wasn’t quite my idea of portable architecture!  And the toilet!  Oh, the piece de resistance!  Just a hole in the sandy ground with something like a section of duct from an old ventilation system as a stand, and a toilet seat propped up onto two wooden braces, brilliant!  The best part was the location of the toilet, bang in the middle of the camp site between my caravan and Frank’s bedroom, a shipping container!  And the shower was just outside the office/living/dining room, another caravan kitted out with internet, TV and cooking facilities, ie the microwave.

My private toilet!

 

My first ever task, was to create my own private toilet, if I wanted some privacy.  Frank gave me an old foldable camping toilet and I proceeded to dig my own hole behind my caravan.  Later I improved my design erecting sides of plastic sheets as wind shield and a barrier for animals, as I didn't fancy the idea of pulling a wild rabbit or an angry wombat cover in poo from my crapper!

 

My next job, was to convert an old stinky portaloo into a shower cubicle, again for privacy.  This task soon became a priority after my third day going without a shower, and a swarm of flies started to follow me around the camp.

Frank's shower
  Frank couldn’t understand why I was so reluctant to strip down, and shower naked outside the living room; I suppose I could have watched TV with him at the same time!  The final shower room was excellent, I bolted the gas boiler to the back of the cubicle and created a waterproof cabinet with a ventilation flue on top.  It worked really well and even Frank agreed that a proper shower cubicle was needed, and it was portable!!

 

In spite of these primitive conditions, I really had a good time in Loch Sport.  During the day we would work on the house and Frank was very happy to tell me all about the remarkable ideas he implemented on his design.  I learned an awful lot of stuff on sustainability that I have never even heard before, and read several interesting articles from Frank’s library about renewable energy sources.

My caravan
  It has motivated me even more to design and build my own eco-home, who knows… maybe one day.  After work, in the evenings, we would meet up in the caravan set up as living room and Frank would pull out more plastic tubs filled with munchies than a rep of Tupperware.  He loved his munchies, and so did I.  Wish I could say the same about some dinners he cooked, sorry Frank, but some meals were a bit shit :-)  It’s just that he would microwave everything!  From lamb chops to eggs, bacon to asparagus and even managed to cook pasta… how on earth can anyone boil a pot of gnocchi in a microwave!!  He did make a nice coffee though, with a proper espresso machine.  On the best nights, we would sit around a camp fire and drink red wine, cooking eggplants, peppers, onions and potatoes directly on the coals.  Many kangaroos and wombats would graze grass around us, unconcerned with our presence, and a fat black wallaby would often join us for a carrot, Frank named it Fred.
Our living/dining room
  It was great, a far cry from the confusion and noise of a busy city, only the sound of nature and waves crushing on the beach could be heard if we stopped talking rubbish.

 

The nights were bloody cold though, good job I stopped in Sale on my way to Loch Sport to buy a pair of long pants, yes… long pants!!  I never had to wear them in the UK.  One day I woke up to a dark morning, I thought it was still early, but a few minutes later I heard my alarm set to 7.30am come on.  How could that be I thought… then I realised as I struggle to stop the alarm that I had buried my entire head under the sleeping bad!  That’s how cold it was.

A big huntsman spider, these were absolutely everywhere!!
  By the way, does anyone know of a product which keeps your nose warm on cold nights?  I tried sleeping with a woolly balaclava but it soaks up my dribbles and it stinks after a few nights! 

 

Friday was the big shopping day out in Sale, an hour away from the camp site.  Frank only shopped once a week and the list of things to do and items to buy was endless. It took all day to rush around from hardware shops to groceries store, top up water containers, fill up the petrol tank, withdraw cash from the atm and finally sit down for a Chinese buffet for dinner.  I was just glad to be back to civilisation and took the first chance I had to find a bog, I’m telling you… never before I greeted the site of a proper, clean public toilet with such reverence! 

 

I am making this experience sound awful, but it wasn’t really.

Cooking pasta sauce on the fire
  I sincerely enjoyed my time and I would have happily stayed a little longer, but I just couldn’t stand the cold.  My joints ache and it makes me feel like an old man!  So I left Monday morning heading for Melbourne.  

 

This has been one of the most memorable weeks of my travel, and I will definitely keep in touch with Frank.  Towards the end of the week, our friendship got better and we felt like old buddies.  We even argued on several topics, which is quite unusual for me because I hate confrontations and I only argue with close friends.  I wish him lots of luck with the build of his house and if any wwoofer reading my blog happens to be travelling along the south coast of Victoria, pay him a visit… it will be worth it, and the house may be built by then! 

homegal says:
Yeah - I did enjoy this Rob, what an amazing 'adventure'...nothing like first hand experience :P
Posted on: Apr 02, 2009
RJ82 says:
haha this blog is funny!.. eco-architecture is the way of the future. haha nice improvements on the bathrooms
Posted on: Aug 25, 2008
williamsworld says:
Better you than me. pretty cool to read about, though. Thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Aug 25, 2008
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the camp
the camp
Franks toilet!
Frank's toilet!
My private toilet!
My private toilet!
Franks shower
Frank's shower
My caravan
My caravan
Our living/dining room
Our living/dining room
A big huntsman spider, these were …
A big huntsman spider, these were…
Cooking pasta sauce on the fire
Cooking pasta sauce on the fire
Portaloo in poor conditions
Portaloo in poor conditions
gas shower and cover mounted on th…
gas shower and cover mounted on t…
The new shower cubicle!
The new shower cubicle!
Franks eco-home under constructio…
Frank's eco-home under constructi…
Franks eco-home
Frank's eco-home
The camp
The camp
Kangaroos everywhere!  See little …
Kangaroos everywhere! See little…
more kangaroos in someones back g…
more kangaroos in someone's back …
my caravan
my caravan
we went fishing at night and Frank…
we went fishing at night and Fran…
a white tail spider, its bite can …
a white tail spider, its bite can…
New Kitchen
New Kitchen
Coffee and tea in the morning
Coffee and tea in the morning
Frank warming his arse
Frank warming his arse
Me and Fred in the background
Me and Fred in the background
Fred, black wallabie
Fred, black wallabie
Potatoe rack
Potatoe rack
cooking on the fire
cooking on the fire
Loch Sport
photo by: Rubbertoe