FIFTEEN minutes inland from Eumundi, the small community of Bellbunya explores environmental and spiritual sustainability and practises respectful community living.
Amid a world flooded with conflict and with the health of our planet in jeopardy, this little-known Sunshine Coast community is proving non-violent, sustainable co-existence is possible.
Founded in 2008, Bellbunya is home to residents and visitors interested in living in a purpose-built community on 16ha, and building a sustainable future together.
This is no modern-day hippy commune and to call it that would devalue its aims and achievements.
Volunteer Madeleine Ford said community support was important to her well-being.
"To me, Bellbunya is about community, self-development and an alternative way of living to the western suburbia model in a beautiful environment,” Ms Ford said.
The centre runs on 100% renewable energy using a solar-grid system, and boasts spectacular views, wildlife, a creek and lagoon.
Bellbunya has an organic vegetable patch, 20 chickens for eggs and two rainwater tanks.
The community has a policy of buying only organic produce from local farmers usually no more than 200km away, with the exception of rice.
Resident Joan McVilly said the community managed to live successfully together because attention was paid to harmonious living.
"I think one of the most important qualifications for living here is being willing to look at your own stuff, to accept that I am responsible for my relationships with the people around me,” Ms McVilly said.
"I think it's one of the most important things we are doing.
"Because if we can live together in this community and work out ways to do it - and we do have certain processes and so on that allow us to address issues - if we can do it, then it can be done on a larger scale, and ultimately that's what the world needs is people willing to address difficulties with each other.
"What I would hope people would take away from Bellbunya is a feeling that it is possible to live together in a respectful and caring way, even though they see differences.
"All the techniques in the world, like how to make compost or whatever, don't mean squat if you can't do that.”
Volunteer Tharinee Tharantham said she would definitely recommend people visit Bellbunya.
"Especially for people who stick on the same working routine for (a) long time and start to question their way of life ... this is the place where you might discover the alternative way of thinking,” she said.
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