Homesteading on a South Sea Island

A couple leaves the trappings of suburban Australia behind them, deciding to relocate by homesteading on a South Sea Island.


| November/December 1985



096-026-01-sea-around

The sea around us is an excellent provider. Here I'm tending to our net and crab traps on the beach in front of our home.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

This couple shares their adventure moving from suburban Australia in order to start homesteading on a South Sea Island.  

Six years ago, my husband and I put the trappings of suburban Australia behind us and went homesteading on a South Sea Island called Wild Cattle Island, a tiny puddle of sand off the Queensland coast. Although there are a few holiday homes that share our island, we're the sole permanent residents, and we lead what some would say is an idyllic life. (And, to be honest, we'd have to agree with them!)

From the beginning, in fact, our island lifestyle has been pure pleasure for us. We were in our late forties when we made the move, with five children grown and independent, and we had no more taste for city life than we did for prepackaged, preservative-laced foods. Everything around us seemed deodorized, synthesized, and sanitized. We yearned for realness, for a life truly of our own making. And nothing, we decided, would be more real, or more satisfying, than living on an island on our own.

So we bought a small piece of Wild Cattle Island—just enough property to live on and support some fruit trees, a garden, and some chickens—and today we find ourselves in the best of both worlds: We're close to the mainland (we do like to go shopping and socialize on occasion), but we're also just 25 miles from the Great Barrier Reef. The center of the island is ancient forest—with huge, primeval trees that probably once sheltered aboriginal tribes—and the perimeter is sandy beach. Kangaroos in all shapes and sizes bound to and fro. We breathe unpolluted air and drink rainwater untainted by chemicals. And, instead of the constant cacophony of trucks and traffic and sirens, we hear only the cry of sea birds and the rhythmic breaking of waves against the shore.

A SOUTH SEA PARADISE? WELL, NO.

Before you get the impression that we lead a completely carefree life, I should point out that there are serpents in this Eden of ours—both literally and otherwise. There are many poisonous brown snakes here . . . dangerous box jellyfish sometimes inhabit the waters . . . and when there's no breeze blowing, clouds of biting sand flies come out of the mangroves to pester us.

Then too, more often than not we go to bed exhausted from a day spent tending our garden and chickens, harvesting food from the sea, maintaining our home and equipment, and cutting firewood (there's a great deal of dead timber here, so we don't have to sacrifice living trees for fuel). Ours isn't exactly an easy life, but it is a very satisfying one. Fortunately, God endowed both of us with practical abilities. (There isn't much in the way of machinery that my man can't fix.) And when we run up against a particularly perplexing problem or need, we simply put our heads together and figure something out; more often than not, we work by trial and error, but the point is, we do eventually find a solution!

maclilus
11/12/2013 12:44:14 PM

Basically, to achieve a certain level of self-sufficiency on a South Sea island - just how much in food stocks, plants, trees, vines, etc., should one plan for sustainment. Assume population ranging from one to four people. What would be the must-have sources for food?






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