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So does everyone work on the vegetables and on the cows?
Yeah. Saturday morning is Garden Morning so we all have a go down there and everyone has their own little patch as I showed you, and Friday morning is what we call Family Work Day or Community Work Day and so there are these two major work commitments per week. And there are other chores that are rostered like milking and cleaning the main house, cooking – they’re all on rosters. So it’s all pretty organised, things don’t happen organically – you’ve got to have systems.
We’ve developed these systems and everyone – your commitments are cash and in kind, you know? So your rent, as it were, every adult pays sixty bucks a week and does their work commitments to the best of their ability. Yeah. The money goes into a communal kitty so any infrastructure, roads, pipelines, communal houses that sort of thing, all get paid for with that.
There are five or six communal evening meals a week. Not everyone shows up, I mean obviously people have other commitments on some nights. People as you’d imagine have busy lives, varied lives and so not everyone’s here every night. For example Ellen’s away at the moment; she’s doing a one week course on Buddhism down in the Blue Mountains. She’s now a teacher in the whole Zen and Vipassana traditions, so that’s her. Other people have got all sorts of things going on so it’s not as if…. Back in the old days yeah, we were all here all the time.
We were all as poor as church mice in the old days and there were only one or two vehicles on the place so if someone was going to town everyone’d pile in. There was a lot more car-pooling, we’re a lot more affluent now, yeah it was a lot more communal in that sense in those days. If you borrowed someone’s car, we’d worked out how much you had to pay per kilometre. I mean I remember in the first years Ellen and I were here – I think we got back from the States, Ellen had nothing, I had about $2,000 and Mum gave me $10,000 cause I’d finally got married. She wasn’t going to give it to me you know, she said ‘Look I’ve been saving this up for you,’ and that’s how we managed to get in here and build a house. The first part of the house here cost us $7000. I worked out we were earning five thousand dollars a year between us and half of that was going to keeping the kombi on the road. (laughs) Money was in scarce supply I tell you and the communal kitty – because there was only a few of us putting in for it. But yeah things have got better; we’ve all got reasonable jobs. Ellen was doing work at TAFE, had a full time job at TAFE for many years. Then went and did a degree in Psychology at UNE part-time and she ended up being a student counsellor there at TAFE in town and at Wollongbar.