Ep#30 – Bali Eco Lodge: A Modern Paradise Thriving Seamlessly with Nature

Imagine slowly waking to the sounds of tropical birds whistling and chattering away to each other. You step outside onto the balcony and sit in the daybed and watch as the mist rises and the green jungle glistens in the sun. The serenity is palpable and you can feel your whole body calm and feel nourished directly from Mother Nature herself.

You then head up for a breakfast made straight from the permaculture gardens. The dance on your taste buds awakens your cells as it can tell the nutrients are pure and delicious. You feel nourished. You decide whether to take a swim in the divine fresh natural pool just below your view, or go for a walk through the natural rainforest. 

Instead you decide to take the short walk down to the waterfall pools and swim directly in Mother Nature’s womb.

This Podcast is about learning how to Thrive with Nature and the Bali Eco Lodge is a living breathing example of how you can truly thrive when aligned with the ways of Nature as well as integrated with the local community. The attention to detail on the modern comforts blend seamlessly into feeling you are at one with Nature.

Join me as we journey with Norm, one of the owners of Bali Eco Lodge, as he shares how he created this paradise for his family and now he shares with the world.

A Garden that Grows Substances to Heal You… Is this Fact or Fiction?

If you want to come stay, check out: https://baliecolodge.com  

Join the conversation and share your thought!

Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thrivingwithnature
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Episode 30- Bali Eco Lodge: A Modern Paradise Thriving Seamlessly with Nature

Haley: Welcome, Thrivers to this week’s podcast! I have a very special guest today and we’re in a special location. We’re at Bali Eco Lodge with Norm. Welcome, Norm to the Thriving With Nature podcast!

Norm: Hi, Haley. Thanks for having me!

H: Today we’re going to be talking all things Thriving With Nature. As you all know, on this podcast and there’s no better place on this planet I think I’ve been to than Bali Eco Lodge. Sarambuana, am I saying it correctly?
I first came up here in January and I was so impressed by the integration of nature, living a modern lifestyle, local community all together. So I’m very blessed to have Norm today to talk about how he and his wife and family made this beautiful place.

So I guess the first thing, can you introduce yourself a little bit, Norm? And so how did you come about being here in Bali.

N: Hi, okay. Thanks, Hayley. Norm’s my name, I was born in Sydney at a pretty young age, I left Sydney… When I was a teenager… And moved to North Queensland, didn’t like living in the city very much. Spent many years living and working in North Queensland, north of Australia. Always looking for somewhere between fantasy or dream or a paradise somewhere. Although there are a lot beautiful places in Australia, it’s always still Australia with politics on the side. So I figured that wasn’t going to be it. After a few visits to Bali, staying with families here, I decided Bali would be the place to have my house. This was about 30 years ago. So I came went looking for land, long story short was brought up here by a nice man. Did a deal with several generations of the land owner here which was probably indicative. It’s worth mentioning because they said to me, there was an issue of how much I’d pay but they also said there’s a couple of conditions. One is of course this is a special place to us, you must never bring anything bad here. And the second thing was, you know we know you, we have a relationship with you via family and so we would rather you never sold the place. And that was really tough cause in a way, you talk money and contracts and whatever, but nobody ever says to you don’t bring anything bad here because it’s a special place to us. So I went away, came back the next year and built this house we’re sitting in.
That was 30 years ago. At that time, there was no electricity here, the nearest white person was 45 minutes away down on the coast so it was pretty remote. The road was really broken, motorbikes, 4 wheel drive, and it was amazing. I’d have to say it was one of the best things I ever did, it changed my life. I would go back overseas and I’d work and get frustrated and a bit stressy then I’d come here for a couple of months and chill and relax. There’s a big difference between living in a place where you’re not conscious of the constant judgement that you feel in the west. Are my clothes right? Is my car nice? Is my teeth straight? Or whatever.

So yeah, I built the house, had a few lovely years coming back and forth and then married Linda. We had a few years in Australia, then same story, really. Got frustrated with the difficulty of doing good works and just listening to a society that seems so hard to get things done. So we shifted over here permanently at that point, that was 20 years ago. And we’ve been living here ever since. The boys grew up here and just to expand on what you said before, I think as a parent it was again, one of the best things we ever did because they grew up with the benefits of western society, satellite TV, internet, travel overseas uh and a decent schooling curriculum. They homeschooled but we used an Australian curriculum but at the same time they grew up in a village so they learned that the world doesn’t revolve around them entirely and that they have responsibilities to family and to the community. Few old-fashioned values respecting older people and just being polite in general realizing that not everybody has what we have and being respectful of that.

 And of course learning a couple of extra languages. They both learned Indonesian and Balinese from an early  age so we’ve now got these two great men who’ve been here with us since the pandemic started who are really nice they’re well-rounded they’ve traveled a lot they know all about the modern world they’ve had a good education but they also have grown up integrated in a village community. I don’t have to be in Bali by the way i just think that anywhere where a village is intact it has these values implicit uh that are just better for kids to grow up and there’s that old old saying about it takes a village to raise a child when they were young and we were living in hippie land in Australia, it was very nice you know there’s a lot of rainbows and swimming in creeks but when we came here and the boys were still young it was a revelation it was like that’s what it means this thing about the village raising a child. You know, you turn around and go “Where are the kids?” you have no idea but you know someone’s taking them off somewhere or you know that people in general are keeping an eye on them so they had an amazing amount of freedom when they were growing up. When they got a little older the eldest got a mini bike and after that they would finish their schooling, which because they were getting focused attention finished at 12, so I did half a day for a full day’s work, so they have lunch and then they disappear and someone would say you know where’s the kids? You’re going out there somewhere the little one on the back which you couldn’t do in a western society and i think this is a really important point… I grew up in a very safe suburb in Sydney but uh i’ve heard from people that are still there that nowadays nobody lets their kids walk to school anymore i used to walk to school i had a choice i could catch a bus or I could walk to school and i often chose to walk it was a mile in the old measure um and it was nice there was dogs along the way to pat and so on but nowadays even though that suburb is insanely safe um those people are not letting their kids walk to school and i wonder what it does to a kid’s mentality to grow up where they don’t feel safe in their own home environment the contrast here is that you know they’d be out there somewhere um lars was probably 11 or so and Oscar’s seven eight and uh we genuinely had no idea where they were half the time but you know you’re in a village community you feel safe with that everybody’s takes responsibility for kids and and so yeah i think it’s had a big impact on them. 

 Growing up, and I do worry about kids in the west with this thing of wow you know do they not feel safe. I did when I grew up we hadn’t developed this chronic panic fear of pedophiles and all the rest of it so i did feel pretty safe in my environment. But yeah things seem to have changed now so okay that’s basically the story they were homeschooled. We for a long time, Linda was here with the boys and I would commute down to Kuda and over to Ubud to do consulting work and projects. Then that got really just too hard because it’s far away and then i spent a couple of years in reconstruction after the tsunami in sumatra so i’d be there a lot and home a lot and they’re a lot and home a lot and that was that was uh that’s a whole other story but after that or during that period we decided to open the lodge because you know really we needed an income without me being away all the time or commuting all the time. That’s just been a really nice success story, it was really just an expansion of our own lifestyle wherever we lived previously. And here we always have compost piles, we always had veggie gardens and you know we didn’t use pesticides and it was just lifestyle stuff you know. That’s how we lived. So then it became not so difficult to make that bigger, the compost bigger the gardens are bigger.

 When we started running the lodge you know um so you know lots of people sort of go “Oh gosh that’s really wonderful what you’re doing and you know it must be hard, you guys areexperts” and it’s not really it’s just a lifestyle choice you know you choose to pick up a can of pesticide or you choose to find another way to manage the pests. You don’t have to live with them, there’s other ways of doing it. But this idea of just spraying things or you know trying to sterilize or poison your way to health and comfort, we never liked and so it’s the same here at the lodge.

So yeah fast forward to now that’s pretty much where we are. The lodge has been a great business and it’s benefited the community and it’s benefited the environment here. One simple perhaps, the simplest demonstration i can think of for that is on the environment side is when i first got here there was a lot of bird catching going on it was sort of part of life way to make money you know. So they’d catch them wild here and then sell them in the markets and so when i first built this house there were very few birds here remaining and um i remember the first time some bird catchers came on the land and I told them now sorry you can’t do that here anymore. And my landowner was a bit puzzled he said why’d you do that and i’m like nah dude, you know we we don’t like it sorry. But on the land that i’m sitting on i just don’t want that to happen anymore and now you fast forward 30 odd years and there are heaps of birds here now not entirely because of us but partially certainly. The biggest concentration and variety of birds is around the eco lodge here because it’s the safest it’s a lot less people catching birds because awareness has changed but also that whole idea of you know if you can create work for people by bringing guests to come and experience nature and look at birds then you reduce the incentive for them to catch birds or do things that are bad for nature so that’s that’s worked out really well. 

In terms of the community there’s probably too many things to talk about now but there’s always stuff that we’re doing over the years to try and support the community and bring it on. I suppose a couple of random ones… There was a young man here, a friend of our boys, when he was very young he was very clear he wanted to be an architect. His dad’s a carpenter and didn’t have the money to send him to uni so because this kid was very clear about what he wanted to do we paid for his university fees which is not crazy expensive here and he’s now a successful architect. He worked with me on a few projects while he was studying, in fact to the extent that his professor towards the end of his course told him he didn’t have to finish his course because he already had a portfolio of projects working with me. And he was smart and so he sort of said “Look, off you go you’re done” enough and he’s become a successful architect. He’s doing really well, so that was one um another thing that we really like is we like football or in for some people soccer so when our boys were young you know we got involved over in the village school fixed up the field a bit and our eldest son became their first coach and so they were coaching he was coaching the school kids and and that evolved over the years so that we’ve never stopped doing that. We still keep the grounds in decent condition and we pay for a coach so that these kids who are up in a farming village in the middle of nowhere have a bit of a chance to to progress. And apart from all the health benefits and the social benefits of sport and so on it turned out that that first generation went on to become really good so that our village football has got a reputation and a couple of them have ended up playing in senior teams here. That’s a really nice thing. There’s other stuff that goes on and on a bit too much probably and probably the central thing is just creating employment, stable employment, in a place that treats people properly. You know it’s been some health stuff, you know where we’ve helped people with operations and health issues and so on and that’s just an ongoing process so there you go, that’s a long introduction. 

H: I appreciate it. It is well, it is it’s something, When i first walked in and you’ve got this amazing booklet that you have that really goes into all the details of the fact of how how you um sort of integrate with the environment the fact that you’re not using chemicals how you clean how you how you help the local community um the bird watching you you mention all of that so it’s there’s so much here and i guess one of my first questions is I think if i remember correctly when you first came it was just a grass paddock and coconut trees pretty much pretty much yeah and now for those of you who are watching on the youtube i’ll be showing you some footage this place is a lush uh rich biodiverse environment almost rainforesty just without too much like it’s got all the big trees but you know it’s the lushness of fruit trees and nut trees. I did that you do an hour tour of the gardens and you everything is almost edible or has some kind of herbal um essential oil kind of remedy so uh and then of course something I mentioned to you there’s the the you’ve the detail of where the water flows i mean up here it rains a lot more i think you said it’s one of the highest rain areas in Bali, something i noticed as a person who likes mechanics and things is that you’re you’ve really managed the water how the water flows here as well so you know. How did you get started was there a progression of what you did first? Like build a veggie garden first? Or how did you sort of go about developing this amazing…

N: I think it’s a really important point. Everything we’ve done and most of the work i’ve ever done since we moved to Bali and before for that matter has been guided by my early studies in permaculture. Don’t use the word a great deal because it’s much misused but you know i did several courses and then we held courses here and then I eventually got a diploma I take it really seriously. So one of the points with Bill Mollison was you know ad hoc, bit by bit development of a property is not as productive not as good in the end as if you make a plan you know think holistically about the whole thing and see how things interact with other things and and a bunch of basic principles that he gave us. So I think that’s the first thing i’d say to anybody else is go and do a permaculture course and read the book you know do a bit of study the guy was a genius who gave us a gift that’s right up there with other people who’ve gotten nobel prizes. For example one of the things bill said was you know when you’ve got land and you land stabilize it first make sure everything’s stable, it’s not eroding it’s not falling off in pieces. So that’s one of the things you look at how you place buildings has to do with permaculture stuff where you put gardens how you structure gardens. One of the principles in permaculture is that we should look at an area and ask ourselves “What did nature have here before people came along?” because over time nature will create the most productiveecosystem it can create in that environment. So if we mimic that um we’ll get something really productive.

So in this case here it was a rainforest so ideally you would recreate a rainforest the structure of a rainforest but with species that are beneficial for us and so as you said before we first got here was predominantly grass and coconuts and an old man here used to move a cow or two around on the grass not sustainable it’s very steep here and grassy slopes are erosive you know their road whether you see it or not they’re eroding so over time and it’s not just us uh the local people have worked out too that that system wasn’t the best and so they’ve gone back i’ve got to hear him i’ve got a dog here they worked out the forest like systems food forests if you like are more productive than the grass and cows so it’s not just us and we look around here it looks like a jungle everywhere but all of it’s planted it’s all farmland and everything we can see with very few exceptions is a tree that was put there for some benefit to humans uh so in permaculture we call it stacking you know you start you have production at many levels so you have something a root crop might be cassava here say or sweet potato and then you have something growing low a ground cover of some kind um and then you have something a little bit bigger a shrub and then something a bit bigger like a small tree and then a larger tree and then an overstory like in a rainforest which in this case would be the coconuts and the bigger trees and that gives you a really productive system which is what we have now we included in ours i’m just looking out the window i just noticed a native fig tree which wasn’t planted but we leave those at least some of them because they provide a bunch of food to birds and bats and so on. So you’re right about the garden when we when you walk around most of it was put there because we can eat it some is for medicinal purposes there’s timber trees sometimes there’s a legume, just because they’re good for soil fertility. And sometimes it’s something that’s just decorative because you know it’s nice to have some color and and whatnot. I don’t know what else to say about that except that it’s it’s complicated um and the best possible thing i can say rather than talk about individual issues is go and do a permaculture course. Do it somewhere serious, choose your place choose your teacher or teachers carefully and take it seriously you know be a bit…

H: For those of you on the podcast if you heard that that’s a dog sneezing. 

N: It’s cece! Yeah take it seriously you know learning to grow food is is a lifetime thing. Gardening is a lifetime thing, you don’t learn it overnight. You learn more all the time.

H: And  you’re learning it. Not just the theory but then actually getting out there and and planting that’s where the lot of the big lessons.

N: Sure, and you know just in life. It kind of slightly amuses me how city folks have to go to gyms and go jogging because you know country folks don’t do that stuff because they’re too freaking busy and too physical in their lives to consider that you know jumping on a… you know. So i think that’s important I think if people could get back a little bit more to getting their exercise by doing something useful like gardening, not a terrible thing at all
H: Yeah exactly, that connection and there’s this just energy. When i arrived here a couple of days ago my nervous system… I’ve you know, I’ve got renovations happening next to me and you just come and you, as soon as i got out of the car in fact, Guday, my driver he said it’s so quiet he lives in guyana and he’d never been up here and he was like so quiet and my nervous system was like “I can breathe” there’s this true connection back to nature and it’s taken me a couple of days. You’ve seen me slowly unwind over the last couple of days but that’s what you’ve created, this nurturing nourishing environment that allows people to connect back to that normal vibration. 
N: Thank you, thank you. But let’s not give us too much credit. If anything, we’ve just created a place where people can come to the place itself, the area is the really magic bit. It’s why I ended up here. I agree that it’s healing I think it’s really good for people. And i think it’s a good thing to come somewhere like this and work with the environment, work with the community and then invite people in. I’ll say this too, here’s a point for maybe for younger people… When i was younger i spent 10 years in tourism and service driving charter boats i was a boat captain in the whitsundays mainly and you know, you sort of feel like driving boats around the barrier reef is a pretty fun business to be in and it was for a while but after a while, it becomes really soul-destroying like most tourism does. And so I swore after 10 years i wouldn’t do it anymore that’s enough you know and yet here we find ourselves doing tourism. And there’s a critical difference. Conventional tourism will eventually suck the life out of you, you know. It’s really harsh on your on your soul if you like. But the sort of people who come here are nice and interesting um I’ve sometimes joked about me that we should have a t-shirt printed that says “Assholes don’t go to eco lodges” because it’s kind of like that you know nice people come here so it’s it doesn’t create that same awful i don’t know, empty hollow frustrated angry feeling of conventional tourism here. People are nice and you often feel like sittingdown having a conversation and we’ve never been the kind of place that would do anything to keep them so you know if anybody would say rude to the staff we just tell them to leave or you know if anybody’s sort of going “Oh my god there’s a spider in the bathroom!” or just being too obnoxious we just kind of say it’s not the right kind of place for you you know. By all means bugger off and that takes a lot of pressure off to always be smiling to always be dealing with complaints and problems so it doesn’t happen. The number of times i’ve walked into the restaurant up here just to kind of say hello and someone’s jumped up and said “Oh you’re one of the owners here!” I go “Yeah!” and they take my hand and say thank you so much for making this place now that doesn’t happen in a conventional hotel you know they’re not going to say thank you for making the hotel but it happens here a lot it’s almost embarrassing and i’d make this point too because I’m really into the idea that we should try and inspire other criticisms i’m talking about how the tourism here is a bit different look i think it’s a really big thing and it probably applies to a bunch of different careers you don’t have to throw the baby out with a bath water conventional tourism my view is that working conventional tourism isnot fun if you do this kind of tourism where care for the environment and respect for the local community is implicit um it’s a very different thing you can do this forever i consider this sustainable intergenerational labor is in the process of taking over so that’s an important point i think for people who’ve got any interest in working in tourism you know find somewhere beautiful and open an eco lodge it’s good for the environment it’s good for the local people and it’s an awesome lifestyle in essence what I sort of preach is that you can have your cake and eat it too you know we’re living in paradise people say that a lot but i mean look around you know i mean you hear that a lot but seriously you know where the people are super nice it’s bali and if i look around here now i i could just rattle off to you an enormous number of useful trees and plants that i can see from where i’m sitting here pretty much everything i can see here is is edible or useful in some other way so yeah that’s a big message and I’d say health wise i know that’s of some interest to you one thing being happy makes you healthier you know it’s a given i think so that’s a big part of it we’ve been super fortunate and just living somewhere great so we’re happy a lot of the time yeah um it’s hilly here as you’ve already found out so there’s a lot yeah it’s pretty good for you working in the garden is good for you i play football with the kids is good for you um breathing fresh air having clean spring water these things are all fundamental not having a lot of noise there’s a background stress these things all pretty fundamental I’d say you know leaving the city and going to the country is these things they make a big difference to how you feel.

I’m 63, I still play football with the boys you know um and i think it’s a lot it’s all these things combined it’s not one thing you know our diets are pretty healthy stress levels are pretty low compared to lots of people community’s great yes I can just so recommend to people they consider changing lifestyles or if you’re not willing to leave the city some cities are beautiful too. Where I come from Sydney is a beautiful city with a decent climate so you know get back to get rid of the lawn and get in some gardens and start learning about that maybe instead of uh going to the gym maybe go bushwalking yeah you know get back out in nature I really worry for society with urbanization that people, especially children, for not having time to connect and with and be in nature makes a big difference to us you know we get pretty stressy. And the world of today’s spend we spend a lot of time on our computers and young ones especially i just worry that they’re spending too much time in cyber land and not enough time in nature forgetting what’s really important you know we can turn the computers off and turn the internet off and we still live but you know we turn off the climate and the water supply and too much contaminate the place and wipe out too many species won’t matter about the computers the internet so.

H: Yeah, yeah. Something you said here about you, you eat really good food. That’s one of the the food here is so delicious and we were talking about this earlier today because you’re growing this beautiful, rich, organic veggies and we we get asked the day you know we get asked at breakfast time what do we want for lunch because they’re going to go out into the garden and actually pick the fruits and veggies. And people who listen to my podcast know that I talk about how the sooner that you eat the fruit or the vegetable that’s been picked from the garden the highest nutritional benefits it has. So coming here not not just is it’s a peaceful paradise you’re nourishing your organs through the vegetables and the gardens that you’ve been growing.

N: The food here, which we get a lot of raves about goes entirely to Linda, my wife and the ladies work in the kitchen who work this stuff out over the years. And also very much else you mentioned our information book in the rooms. I mean you know those of us who travel we never read those things in the hotels. People here actually do read them.

H: Yeah, I’ve read it back to back.

N: Thanks. And they often comment on it and again that goes down to Lindy. She’s the one who’s um in every case made sure the details are nice and and informative and just lovely you know she’s the one who gets the credit for the decorating the places and keeping our standards up day-to-day. It’s very much a joint effort i might build stuff um but she’s the one who manages here uh and working with ladies on the meals you know was a an inspiration many years ago where she sort of went “Hang on, it doesn’t make any sense for us to be going up and down to cuda which is a couple of hours away to get western food to satisfy our guests. We should focus on Balinese food and just see what we can evolve with that.” and that’s pretty much how it’s evolved so as you said you know they go to the gardens they ask beforehand what do you want for lunch they go to the gardens they get the stuff and then Linda and the girls have just keep working together to come up with awesome stuff like the chocolate mousse and the salad crumble it’s cool right it’s actually probably healthy for you there’s no dairy in it it’s got chocolate nibs from here and you know vanilla from here and stuff like so yeah it’s um it’s very much been Linda’s baby really for all these years. I sometimes joke when i come down the restaurant people ask me questions and I say look i don’t know i’m just the pretty face around here there’s apart from the pretty face thing that’s pretty true is you know Linda and the baloney staff are the people who get the credit for so much of what you see here.

H: Yeah well the attention to detail is something that I definitely noticed there’s that feeling that everything’s been thought of even the lights down the path the hooks in the bathroom there’s there’s a lot of thing that’s overlooked in a lot of places but everything’s thought of here.

N: We just really want… We travel a lot, usually, and you know when we travel, if we find a place which feels like a little home for a day or two of course that’s so much more memorable than just another frigging hotel. So each of the bungalows is a bit different and each one should feel like we our family would be happy to come and stay here so that’s also something that we take seriously is you know we want people to feel like they’ve got a little home for the time they’re staying here not just a unit that’s been repeated a dozen times in a row and again much of the much of the um praise should go to Linda and the staff. 

H: Well, that that sort of brings me to a segway in regards to what you’ve done here. You’ve actually managed to bring the modern world that people are used to into the world that’s thriving with nature. So one of those amazing examples is your natural pool that you’ve just built. i’d love for you to share a little bit about this this natural pool that is using how water works but you’ve done it in a way so people aren’t irked by mud or anything or can you talk a little bit about the natural pool?

N: Thank you i’m super proud I’m crazy proud about the the pool. We just finished it before the lockdown so mainly it’s the family who’s been enjoying it for these last few months. One thing i’ll say is that my attitude has always been that we have to be able to find solutions to the to the issues that are mainstream acceptable. Because you know I mean those of us in the alternative movement if you like already converted you don’t have to do any work there. What we need is if we’re going to save ourselves from ourselves is to get mainstream acceptable solutions we need to get the mainstream on site so that applies to a bunch of things we’ve done over the years but in terms of the pool, there’s not a lot out there. There’s no textbooks and you know you do the youtube thing and you find that most of the natural pools that you see out there kind of look like a fish pond that you can swim in. Not really mainstream acceptable so i figured there had to be a way to make a swimming pool that looks like a swimming pool feels like a swimming pool but it doesn’t have any chlorine or salt or anything else in it. So there’s a little bit of a gamble I’ve worked quite a lot with water before um and studied on it for anybody who’s interested there was a great german who uh who figured out a bunch of important stuff about water his name is Schulberger. Go and check out his work, Victor Schulberger, who’s an inspiration for Steiner too um and so you know based on experience and what I learned uh we made the pool and it’s turned out to be an awesome success it’s really clear all the time there are fish in there but they thank goodness they hide in the wetland in the daytime so you don’t see much in the way of fish life during the day just those little guys you’ve probably noticed who come and give you the free foot spa but at night when we turn the lights on then a whole bunch more fish come out and there’s frogs and tadpoles and a little shrimp all working to help keep the pool clean all help we don’t throw any food in there it’s a swimming pool and what we’re trying to do is reduce nutrients. So that’s the big tip by the way for anybody who wants to try this filtering out particles is not too hard but what we really need to do is keep the nutrient levels in the pool very very low so that algae doesn’t go crazy. When we see lakes with fish kills and rivers with fish kills it’s a it’s a nutrient problem tied up with algae so same with the pool you don’t want to have a lot of algae in there and so reducing nutrients is the key um and having the little fish cleaning up what algae does grow having plants in there sucking nutrients out of the water. It’s a little ecosystem that’s been designed to keep the water nice like it was a creek or a pond the um the input that you can’t get away from is the the power required to run the pumps. But apart from that as you’ve seen um you know it feels like you’re swimming in a creek when you open your eyes they don’t sting um like you’re in a creek. You know there’s no there’s zero chemicals we don’t use any chemicals at all and it’s been running now for four months and it’s perfect there’s not much maintenance. So I’m now putting myself out there a bit to help people convert their existing swimming pools to that and i would say by the way and I think this is important for every aspect of life there are solutions along those lines many of which are more accessible than a natural swimming pool pest control heaps of solutions for that cleaning heaps of solutions for that architecture and construction heaps of things we can do to make our buildings more environmentally friendly and more comfortable um and healthier. I mean, for us, the idea that you would spray a pesticide around the place is just apparent we’re like “Nah, it’s nasty” and the same with cleaning products you know we don’t use stuff with chemical smells um we don’t like the idea of trying to you probably know all this stuff already you know like vinegar? Great. Baking soda? great. Whole bunch of other things that we can do. This applies to managing your waste, it’s rubbish and composting and liquid waste sewage and safety tanks and so on we have each of our bungalows here and the restaurant have its own dedicated wastewater garden so we have a waterproof safety tank and then the overflows go straight to a garden and we grow food like bananas and papayas rather than polluting the groundwaters or the rivers and again. It’s about getting the nutrients out it’s not a germ thing and it’s not a chemical thing here but nutrients kill rivers and they kill lakes and they kill coral reefs so this is a big deal. But there are there are solutions where by you know we have a pretty western lifestyle in many ways we’ve got a big flat screen tv and we watch football and stuff we have internet and we all have computers and we travel and blah blah blah but in each case we try and find something that’s more environmentally benign and try and bring benefits the idea is that you can’t have a lifestyle that doesn’t have some negative impacts on your environment, that’s a dream. But what you can do is try and have sufficient positive, minimise the negatives and have sufficient positive impacts on the environment so that when you look at that life imbalance the balance is that you’re bringing more benefits to the environment than you are hurting in some way yeah and so overall you can imagine a fantasy world where everybody’s doing that the world’s getting better instead of getting worse um of course there’s still going to be some negative impacts we’re using computers and they have some issues yeah okay we can also plant a bunch of trees and do a bunch of other things provide habitat for nature and so on but you know push the balance the other way well that’s.

H: That’s what i like to talk about on thriving with nature if we align with the force of nature if you just look at nature if we walk away nature naturally regenerates, it’s naturally thriving. So if you create an environment where you yourself is regenerating that area you know in the overall balance of it all then yeah, like you said if each individual family unit are doing that, then this planet can turn around.

N: I think there’s lots of examples [Music] in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane in Australia something we see and take for granted a bit is bird life. What a bird life see cockatoos and kookaburras and lorikeets and whatnot flying around and flying to people’s brands to get food and generally enjoying life in the city. To people over here that would be it’s hard to understand you know oh my god, nobody’s catching them or whatever. So that’s something i think that can give us hope is that if we just change our lifestyles we can have an awful lot of habitat an awful lot of nature can be invited back into the city or the town. And it’s okay your own garden you might if you stop with all the chemicals and the nasty stuff it can be lizards and beneficial insects and all sorts of things can live in your garden and you know it makes life better kids love that stuff when i grew up we had a fairly big garden and um you know part of life was the things that were hanging out there in the garden and on a mulberry tree i had a tree house in that i could eat mulberries and so yeah just kind of going back to a lot of that don’t have to have such radical switches we made but there’s so many opportunities i have to say this also nature doesn’t always yeah i kind of agree with you that nature will come back we just stop hassling it and disturbing it but there are other times for example in a rainforest here up the mountain there’s a few hectares that were cleared illegally many many years ago in the 70s that never regenerated because there are vigorous imported vines that keep smothering the seedlings so yeah you know the forest keeps putting seedlings there but they never get up because of these imported vines that are rampant so you have these areas that are just covered in this imported vine and can’t regenerate even over quite a long period give it hundreds of thousands of years maybe but in our lifetimes so years ago we got a project that was funded by a big bank where we went up there and cleared the vines and planted a whole bunch thousands of native trees and then when the bank had finished paying we at the ecologic kept paying a couple of local guys to go up there once a month and clear the vines off the seedlings because if you don’t do that they’re going to get smothered again once the trees got up to a point where they created a closed canopy and it was shady on the ground the bones couldn’t grow anymore and we could leave alone now when we go back up in there it’s like a forest it’s actually kind of hard to find the spots that we replanted because it feels like the native forest that’s amazing so there’s a bit of both of those that yeah i agree with you in many cases just leave it alone you’ll be okay but where there’s something that we’ve caused like these veins it requires invention yeah it’s okay to get out there and help the nature of it come back yeah plant trees and you’ve got I look around here some of these things I’m looking at that thing there creates thousands of berries yeah Singapore berries and we don’t eat them they’re sweet and nice but we don’t they’re there for the birds and the bats yeah um and this other thing down here is the same and so you know do that when you live in a city or a town bring in put in some food and nature will come. If you’re in Australia you know keep your cat into it and so on, you know, do things like that it makes a huge difference.

H: It really does. Well, I mean i could talk to you for hours about all of this. I just want to say thank you. And for those of you who are listening or watching on Youtube, check out the link below BarleyEcoLodge.com and as soon as the planes are open I would be booking. Just leave me a space because I’ll be back regularly. It’s it’s a place where you can get reconnected and reminded about how humans can thrive with nature so thank you so much, Norm for being here on the podcast today thanks.

N: Thank you. It’s a pleasure and thanks for coming.

H: Yeah i absolutely love it so thank you everyone and have a beautiful day!

N: Peace!

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