Desert Creek House

Practical ecology

802 Desert Creek Road,
Numbugga via Bega NSW 2550
Phone: 6492 8498
desertcreek(at)                         Back to Home Page

Last news - Page of DCH's Friends - Most recent documents
About Desert Creek House How to get to DCH . Practical ecology Building:
a community house
. My published books: The solution is simple...but demanding
A Vision and Strategy for a Meaningful Life in a Fracturing World
. Next program Past sessions
Photos of DCH Our daily program . Our solar house:
how it works
Climatic architecture . My books on this website - A practical Manual about:
Community, Land and Nature, A new Economy, Femininity
. Meditation day A selection of texts
Et si vous parlez français, allez voir les rubriques suivantes:
Page d'accueil DCH Plus de détails sur DCH . Mes livres: Mode d'emploi pour un bonheur partagé . Commentaires des Evangiles


At DCH, we are trying to implement an ecological way of life, in harmony with nature;
it means a way of life where all our activities try to integrate into natural cycles and to adapt to their different rhythms: day or night, drought or flood, heat or cool, sunshine or overcast weather...
We live on solar (no connection to the grid), have a composting toilet, recycle our grey water, practise biological gardening with a watering system which saves water... and many more interesting practices and ideas.

Here is a short presentation of what we do: be inspired and let us know your own practices and ideas, too!

See below:
ENERGY:   Solar electric system   Solar hotwater
WATER:   Rain and creek water usage   Composting toilet   Grey water system   
GARDEN:   The white elephants for the watering system   The netting of our orchard

SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM: 16 solar panels produce the electricity we need

We do not use electricity for cooking or for heating or for cooling; only for light and simple appliances, like hoover, tools, computer, toaster.
We are not connected to the grid and rely on our own production.

  • 14 solar panels of 64W produce the power for a daily maximum use of 2.4 kWh
  • 12 x 2V batteries store the power for a total capacity of 1380 AH at 24V (33kWh), of which not more than 8 - 10% should be used daily.
  • 1 inverter which transforms the power 24V DC from the batteries into 240V AC which can be used for any normal appliance.
For many more details about our solar electric system
Next topic

SOLAR WATER HEATER: 2 solar absorption panels heat the water we use.

The sun heats all the water we need for the kitchen or for our showers and baths.
A gas heater offers a possible additive booster when the sky remains overcast for many days.

  • The 2 solar panels are covered with glas to enable the glashouse effect (heat comes in but cannot escape);
    The panels are made out of a copper pipe which runs along a big flat black metal sheet which absorbs the heat from the sun and transmits it to the water.
  • As hot water rises, it goes into the 300 liter tank which sits on top of the system, and brings heat to the consumption water which accumulates in the tank (without using any pump).
  • The water circuit in the panels is distinct from the water flow we use for our consumption, because it contains glycol, as we live in a region exposed to night frost.
For many more details about our solar water heater
Next topic

COMPOSTING TOILET: saving water and getting free compost.

The toilet seat looks like a normal seat.
A big box collects the material where it is transformed into compost.
There are less smell than in water toilets, as the odors are not released into the room but immediately absorbed into the box.
  • The toilet is elevated as it has been added after contruction: a space underneath is necessary for the box.
  • This system saves a huge quantity of water (about 1/4 or 1/3 of the water a normal household uses!).
  • Wastes are selected at the origin instead of being mixed with pure water which has then to be treated.
  • The compost is a rich ingredient for the garden.
For many more details about our composting toilet
Next topic

FRESHWATER: We combine the use of rainwater and creek water

We have learned that storage is essential; our rain water tanks are maximum in order to catch big quantities of rainwater when rain happens to fall.
Our upper tanks, in which we store the water we pump out of the creek, are very big too; we try to pump when a lot of water is available (ideally in times of flood or abundant flow).
The upper tanks contain also a bif quantity of water for cases of bushfire.
  • We have two sources of water:
    1) rainwater in the house tanks which collect the rain from the roof (1 liter/m2 and mm of rain) and which we use first.
    2) and creek water which we pump into the upper tanks, from where water flows by gravity and which we use as back up.
  • Practically the two flows of water come together and a double valve allows to choose which water to use.
  • A pressure pump ensures a regular pressure in the house, whether it is rainwater or creek water.

Next topic

GREY WATER SYSTEM: a tank filled with sand filters our grey water which is then reused for watering the garden

As we have composting toilets, we can treat our grey water (water from the shower, sink, washing machine) to be reused for watering the garden. Except for the water we drink, each drop of water is used twice!
We store the water in a second tank; a 24V pump, connected to our solar system, pumps the water into the garden.

  • The grey water goes first through a grease trap where grease is separated from the water and must be removed regularly.
  • The first tank is filled with sand. A spiral releases the grey water at the top. A second spiral collects the water at the bottom of the tank, after it went through the sand.
  • The water is collected in a second tank which sits lower than the first; the water flows through the system by gravity.
  • A 24V pump is connected to our solar electric system and pumps the water up into the part of the garden we wish to water.
For many more details about our grey water system
Next topic

OUR WHITE ELEPHANTS: 20 liter containers are connected to a polypipe which allows water to drip slowly into the ground

We use this system to control the quantity of water we give to each tree.
We fill each container with water out of the rain tanks.
We let the container empty itself into a drainage pipe which is dug into the ground, under the roots of the tree.

For many more details about our white elephants
Next topic

THE NETTING OF OUR ORCHARD: a high structure out wooden posts and wires bears the netting which protects our orchard

The netting protects our fruit trees (apricot, nectarine, peach, cherry, prune, almond, fig, olive) from birds.
It seemed more interesting to have one big structure than many small ones for each tree; trees can better develop under a bigger cover.
It works well... but it is not without problems.

For many more details about our netting and structure
Next topic