Living here is enriching.
We are a community that shares a common purpose.
By investing our time and energy in managing the Co-op together and by each committing to the Co-ops rules and policies, we are able to enjoy living in a place of unique beauty.
We live independently of each other, but come together for meetings, work parties and informal social occasions. We are an integral part of the Bend of Islands community which offers more opportunities for conservation and social interaction.
Living in the bush, on the Co-op, is a lifestyle that is very different from living in the suburbs.
Residents live along three access tracks; each site being strategically located to minimise impact on the bush. Each house site is a maximum of 1500sqm, which can include a kitchen garden.
Most houses have been constructed from mud brick and aim for minimal visual impact. We want the bush to be seen rather than houses. We use a limited palette of colours and materials that have been approved for their ability to blend into the bush.
The Co-op’s expectations regarding site management are set out in the lease and in our site standards policy, both of which are aimed at reducing and containing the impact of our living in the bush. Each site also has a site plan for weed management in which leaseholders record the various weeds found and the work done to control them. There are rigorous planning and environmental controls in the Bend of Islands and Members must manage their house site in accordance with these.
We live without domestic animals or fences, enabling us to enjoy the native wildlife. We restrict exotic plants to kitchen gardens and landscape our sites using only indigenous flora. We leave fallen trees as habitat and we don’t clear vegetation (except as part of an approved vegetation management plan for the creation of defendable space in the event of a bushfire).
Each site is visited at least once every two years by Directors to inspect and advise on site management, including environmental and visual impact.
Living on the Co-op is different to owning a freehold property.
The Co-op has oversight of all leaseholds and leaseholders are expected to seek approval from Directors for a range of things including building and renovating (materials and design), landscaping and sub-letting. This ensures that the Co-op maintains its environmental objectives.
All buildings and renovations on the Co-op must meet statutory regulations and have the required approvals. Directors have the power to approve, reject or require change to applications.
Note, that building a new house on the Co-op may be expensive and difficult due to the Bushfire Overlay and the requirements of building to a BAL rating. We cannot guarantee the approval of a new building.
Members must ensure all residents and family Members, visitors, contractors, etc, understand and abide by the Co-op rules.
Experience has shown that it is practical to utilise only a small portion of the site for a kitchen garden, due to the poor soil and the amount of water required to maintain a large garden. The Co-operative does not aspire to self-sufficiency.
All sites on the Co-op have underground power and telecoms. Wi-fi is available; some residents opt for satellite. Mobile reception can be erratic and unreliable depending on the location.
We are not connected to mains water or sewerage. Leaseholders collect rainwater for consumption as well as for bushfire fighting and most sites use a septic system or a worm farm system.
The Shire provides rubbish collection – waste, recycling and organic.
Driving is a necessity when living in the Bend of Islands. The Co-op is on a dirt road and care must always be taken when driving in the area to avoid local wildlife, including large deer.
There is no public transport. The closest train stations are at Wattle Glen and Eltham, 20 to 30 minutes-drive away.
Reaching schools, shops and other services all require driving. Research, Eltham, Diamond Creek and Warrandyte are the nearest suburbs and the nearest townships are Kangaroo Ground, Wattle Glen, Panton Hill and Yarra Glen. Most residents shop in Eltham, Warrandyte or Yarra Glen.
The closest State primary schools are Kangaroo Ground, Christmas Hills, Yarra Glen, Wattle Glen, Research and Hurstbridge. Local high schools include Eltham, Diamond Valley and Warrandyte. There are also several nearby private schools including Eltham College and Catholic Ladies College.
We live in a high-risk bushfire area and Members are expected to inform themselves of the risks. Members are encouraged to join the local Fire Brigade (Christmas Hills), join our two Fireguard groups, attend CFA information sessions, utilise the online tools provided by the CFA and get advice from the CFA on individual sites.
All residents are responsible for their own bushfire preparations. This includes vegetation management to reduce fuel levels, cleaning gutters, checking the water supply and access, and developing a written fire plan, including whether to “stay or go” in the event of a fire. Preparation activities continue throughout the fire season.
Monitoring the weather and the various channels for information about local fires is part of the day to day reality of the fire season. Fire restrictions are in force from November / December to May, depending on the season, when no fires can be lit without a permit.