Topics we will cover


Spirit of Place

Local Koori elders of the Dharawal nation welcome you to their country in a smoking ceremony and bring the spirit of the ancestors into our course.

Origins, Definition, the Need and Ethics

The Permaculture story and lineage will be revealed though a web of characters and meetings. Then, Permaculture will be defined as the group sees it before getting down to some hard facts about the need for Permaculture in this time of change.

Permaculture ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share shape what we say and do.  What ethics can you identify in action? What do you currently do to demonstrate these ethics and what changes can you commit to live by these ethics? Hmm food for thought.

Permaculture Principles

We will be exploring the Warrawong High School Permaculture Demonstration Site to demonstrate and discuss Holmgren’s Permaculture principles in action.

Join us for the opening feast of scrumptious organic abundance and a motivating film to raise the enthusiasm meter.

Day 2

Ecology, Energy laws and Terminology

Ecology, Energy laws and Terminology all demystified through simple illustration and practical examples in the Warrawong High School Permaculture Demonstration Site to provide an adequate understanding from where to step off and build your knowledge.


Travel from the global climatic patterning and spiral into our unique Illawarra escarpment microclimate. Understanding the local coastal weather patterns, processes, geography, geomorphology, and hydrology provides an excellent context from which to explore the hard sciences in more detail.


We will be investigating different soil types then out at the compost heap with the Illawarra’s leading composting expert Todd Cleary. You will be learning how to build healthy soils teaming with life through a number of practical exercises that can be used to improve any soil type.

Day 3


Design and build your own rainwater tank system from recycled materials and get the low down on capturing and storing rainwater in urban settings. Discover the differences in domestic grey-water and learn how to set up grey-water diversion devices and worm farm grease traps.


We’ll be visiting the region’s premier revegetation site, Greenhouse Park, looking at trees, their functions, benefits patterns and processes. This is a comprehensive, “hands on” and how to restore native plant communities.

From here, we head to the Garden, the Illawarra’s best example of a designed food forest system. Designing from patterns in nature we will demonstrate how native forests can inform and inspire the creation of highly productive and diverse food forests

Be inspired by Julian Voorwinden’s story of small-scale farm forestry.

Day 4


Get down and dirty in the swale with Todd Cleary, the master of earthworks. Learn everything you need to know about designing and building swales, mounds, contour paths, soil stabilisation, erosion control which you can apply in your own backyard and beyond.


Using the Warrawong High School Permaculture garden as a Living Classroom, investigate how buildings, aspect, landform, vegetation can create unique microclimates for the establishment and benefit of different plant and animal systems.


Bio filters, aquaponics, fish farming and frog ponds! By the end of this session you’ll have the “hands on” know how to get the water flowing in your garden.

 Day 5:

Site Visits

1. As showcased on ABC’s Gardening Australia special ground breakers edition, experience the Cringila Public School’s integrated Permaculture garden and the Living Classroom program, ten years on and growing strong.

2. Get the real deal on suburban Permaculture with Sheryl Wiffen. See an awesome example of urban Permaculture in action, and an upfront and close conversation about the home economy over a scrumptious organic wholesome lunch.

3.  Ben & Sara from Popes Produce will be inspiring us with their beautiful retrofit home and abundant market garden vegetables and food forests. Meet a warm and thoughtful family who have transformed an urban block into a diverse landscape of ecology and human habitat.

Days 6 & 7:

Methods of Design

Embark on a two-day process applying Bill Mollison’s Methods of Design to a local site. You have reached the point in the course where the you have the hard sciences down and now its time to put it into practice, that is start designing. By the end of these two days, you’ll have the tool kit that we use to design Permaculture systems.


Patterns in nature dovetails really well with this session and will support you to find your inner designer and develop your own style.

 Day 8:

Day off

Day 9:

Zone 1  in the Permaculture Garden. These “hands on” sessions will equip you with the skills on maintaining and establishing the 4 season vegetable garden. Share in our learning’s over the past 20 years and the “tried and tested” nature of our permaculture gardens in the Illawarra.

Day 10:

Zone 2 in the Permaculture Garden. Moving out of the vegetable patch and into the food forests where you will be learning innovative design strategies and “hands on” practices. We will take you from design to establishment and maintenance of productive and aesthetic forest gardens that integrate plant and animal systems.

Day 11:

Power up while powering down as we pedal and medal with appropriate technology solutions for a post peak oil renewable energy responsible society – solar ovens & dehydrators, rocket stoves, bicycle blending and more with Kade Smith from Intueri Farm.

Zone in on the home economy and get down and funky in the kitchen with ferments, pickles and preserves and delve into a modern version of Mollison’s compendium on ferment for human nutrition with local legend Sara. Let’s move into the cutting edge of  preserving where your taste buds will delight while picking up great skills in the outdoor kitchen with Sara.

Forest Fungi aficionado Will Borowski, will lead you through two wonderful sessions in the world of edible fungi. You will learn how to grow gourmet mushrooms and have with all of the supplies and grain spawn you need to grow gourmet mushrooms at home!

Social change agent Jess Moore showcases the culture-shifting story of the ‘Stop Coal Seam Gas’ (CSG) campaign that has galvanised the Illawara community around an issue that captures the Permaculture movement’s goal of planning for disaster. Jess and the Stop CSG team’s quest is written up as one of our regions legendary “power of community” movements

Day 12

Internationally renowned Permaculturist John champagne bolsters the back end of the course as we broaden the aperture beyond the backyard and consider the role of Permaculture in culturing the socio-economic and political fabric of local communities and the bio region.

‘Permablitz’ the Gong founders Sheryl Wiffen, Jacqui Besgrove & Kristy Newton, Rebecca Mayhew share their tales of transformation and social Permaculture in action. Inspired by the movement that was birthed in Melbourne 2006, Permablitz bring together diverse communities of people and Permaculture practices into backyards and communities across the nation.

This afternoon it’s time to apply your learnings over the past two weeks and immerse yourself in the detail design development of selected households and properties from the group. Synthesizing your understanding of the ethics, principles and practices of Permaculture to guide your decisions and facilitate your client’s dreams into reality.

The Permaculture design studio comes alive into the evening as design teams ferment strategies and solutions to transform the urban and suburban ideal into ‘Permaculture appeal’

Day 13

John Champagne takes us to another level of social Permaculture, delving into the dynamics of Eco-villages, neighbourhoods and the realm of intentional communities. Sharing his experience with the Bega Eco-Neighbourhood Development (BEND) and Taman Peanut Eco Neighbourhood (TPEN), Bali

Costa Georgiadis drops in to lift the energy of the group with his infectious character and passion for all things Permaculture. He will take you on a journey through inspirational stories of people in Australia and abroad, creating incredible solutions for a world in transition. You too will be part of this story in your own journey as a change agent.

John and Sheryl examine their ethic of people care applied as self care as an essential element fundamental to the success of any Permaculture project.

Then it’s back to the design studio, committing their final details, touches & colours to your creations before we break into celebration of our time together, the learning and sharing, and party hard for the planet and the Permaculture way.

Day 14

Hooray, you’ve made it to this day, as hearts and minds turn towards home, family, friends and community, a world awaiting and the wonder of where to from here.

John Champagne welcomes you into the worldwide community of Permaculture that you are a part of. Together we will share our aspirations, intentions and local actions we can contribute to as a community of ‘Permies’ in the bio-region.

It’s time to unveil your plans, outline your rationale and share your creative responses as we peer review and critique your designs and decision-making processes with care.

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