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The irony of being off-grid

The irony of the off-grid cottage (part 2 of the farm’s history).

The farm settled by Robert Bruce was eventually taken over by his son William (Bill) Edward, and his bride Marian Nancy (née Brockman). Bill talks about the times they didn’t have two shillings to rattle on a gravestone, but together, as a team, they dug in and made things work.

Bill and Marian were responsible for bringing power from Cowaramup, along Leiper’s Road (now called Miamup Rd), and west along Harmans Mill South Road (now called Tom Cullity Drive), to the property now inhabited by Vasse Felix wines.

It’s quite ironic then, that the Settlers Rest cottage is off-grid.

home baked bread in the woodfire oven

Off-grid back in the ‘50s wasn’t a choice. It was living with a diesel generator and making do with only essential electrical items — lights, mainly. And a radio to keep up with the world news. It meant milking the cows by 6pm, having an early dinner, and going to bed early (ready for the next milking at 4am).

Bill recalls being delighted to be able to sell his generator as soon as the power was turned on at the farm. It was a true advancement in their comfort and home life.

Why then, would we choose off-grid, when we have scheme power at our gate?

Because we have the technology now to live simply, in comfort. We have 6 solar panels that feed a 1.8kW battery system with a Victron inverter and controller and 12 2V 830 amp-hour batteries. This system is enough to keep the fridge and water pump running even during consecutive cloudy days.

It feels as though we have come full circle — in scaling back the devices and mod cons, we can immerse ourselves in the beautiful simplicity of an uncomplicated way of being.

Perhaps it’s not as “rough” or basic as the settlers would have done it, but it sure does give us a sense of connection to our place in the world.

Written by Anita Revel, curator and Superhost of the AirBnB properties at @MRHeartland