Grand opening: Jasper Terry and his pet goat Nethy outside the new community hall at Billen Cliffs Eco Village, at Larnook, with the Neenan, Gilmour, Gough and Terry families lining the veranda.
Grand opening: Jasper Terry and his pet goat Nethy outside the new community hall at Billen Cliffs Eco Village, at Larnook, with the Neenan, Gilmour, Gough and Terry families lining the veranda. Jay Cronan

Eco Village open after 17 year wait

GOOD things come to those who wait, and don’t the residents of Billen Cliffs Eco Village in Larnook know it.

After 17 years ‘under construction’ the village’s community hall will finally swing its doors open this weekend – that’s if the hall actually had any doors.

“It’s not entirely finished, but we have interim DA approval and it can be used,” village resident Andy Gough said.

The hall, built by the residents, will be a performance, entertainment and art space.

It is powered by a grid interactive solar system, in keeping with the community’s ecological ethos.

The village is a 320-hectare strata-title community, owned by 115 shareholders. Each has just under a hectare of land on which a house can be built – the rest is common land and conservation areas.

“I think the community is a good model for sustainability,” Mr Gough said.

“It started as a denuded paddock and now it’s filled with lush vegetation.”

Michelle McDonald has lived on the community with her husband, Anthony Neenan, and their three children – Oscar, Lillian and Charlie – for 10 years. She said life there was like living in an extended family.

“I know all my neighbours,” Ms McDonald said.

“My kids can walk around and I know they are safe.”

Ms McDonald said these day’s people tended to be disconnected from their neighbours, but life in the village was more like how things used to be.

“If I need anything, there is always someone willing to help,” she said.

The community operates under a number of bylaws which ban domestic pets, firearms, chemical pesticides and enforces a speed limit of 20km/h throughout the community.

Most houses on the community operate using solar power systems.

The hall will be opened by Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell on Saturday at 10.30am. There will be market stalls, food and entertainment.

The day will also feature a sustainability forum, kicking off at 1.30pm, covering renewable energy, permaculture and biodynamic farming.


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