Aggie will give you the best hugs ever. He knows what sort of stuff is actually valuable in this world. He has been living in the bush West of Cobargo, completely self reliant, for over 20 years, and has built the entire place himself, molding his home, gardens and workshops carefully into the native landscape using all recycled materials, treading as lightly as he can.
His gardens and orchards with free ranging chickens and ducks, are fenced for protection from wildlife, but those most determined critters still find their way in, and he doesn’t mind sharing a little of the abundance.
The original home was formed around a small caravan, which has been enveloped over time by room after room of collected building materials, and decorated beautifully to feel earthy, warm and comfortable.
There is an inside bathroom, but Aggie’s favourite place after a hard day is his outdoor bath and shower.
Aggie has lived this entire time completely ‘off the grid’ and managing his own water supply. Collecting water for his own personal use, and for the garden is of course important, but living in the bush in Australia means that bush fires are a real and constant threat during the summer months and much of Aggie’s water management set-up is focused on this.
To protect the human life in a bush fire situation, Aggie has built two under ground bunkers, each with double doors, sealed to prevent oxygen being drawn from the room by fire, and stocked with food and water.
In the early days Aggie relied solely on fire for power, but now he has 3 rooms of power cell storage and an array of solar panels which allow him to light his home beautifully with low wattage globes, and enjoy other small electrical conveniences.
Sharing a meal here with Aggie on this particular evening, you could taste the love and passion in every bite. The wholesome greens and homemade cheese, and fruit for dessert, washed down with red wine, memories of Aggie’s childhood in Wales, and tales of ingenuity, resilience and courage that are inherent in Australian bush survival.
I bumped into Aggie outside the post office last week and enjoyed another all enveloping hug. He tells me that there is a third fire bunker now, and that’s all the excuse I need to have to arrange another visit to inspect, and get a dose of a real life, lived well.