Monthly Archives:October 2005

Australia’s best eco-resorts and luxury spas

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Are you listening eco-retreat owners? – We are always searching for and reviewing remote, stunning, wild eco-retreats.

Short-listed candidates in The 2006 Australian’s Travel & Tourism Awards include:


(Last year’s winner was Cradle Mountain Huts & Bay of Fire Walks )


Western Australia

Set among dunes on the cusp of the astonishingly beautiful Ningaloo Reef in the dramatic Cape Range National Park, this low-impact eco-camp takes travellers back to basics. Tents are simple but comfortable with queen-sized beds, composting loos, solar showers and hammocks strung to make the most of the stunning reef views. Provisions are delivered daily from Exmouth and guests pitch in to cook dinner from The Retreat Recipe book (BYO alcohol) before dining by candlelight. Sunny days are whiled away snorkelling with turtles from deserted beaches (the coral reef is only metres offshore), sea kayaking or swimming, with expert guides on hand to provide advice.


Free real estate ad for reader

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House for sale

“I just want to thank you for building such a great site, and let you know I’ve lived off grid in Supreme Style since 1998,” says one of our readers.
It took 2 years to build my dream home near Springfield, Ill (well we’re Simpsons fans, so how could we resist?). I bought the land 18.4 acres with rolling hills and a creek going through the property, my private driveway is 1/2 mile long and my home is secluded. In 1996 and started building in the late fall. I had my home completely framed up and a tornado force wind came along and leveled it. I’ll never forget that morning I came out to work on it. I came up the hill to the home and found a pile of toothpicks.

At last – Green Cars you could truly want

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I am sorry, but the Toyota Prius just doesn’t do it for us. It’s a car your boring Uncle could drive on his way to the marketing convention. And the selection of celebs that have been queuing up to own one are certainly on the naff end of the A-list spectrum. Donny Osmond and (Seinfeld co-creator) Larry David??? Puh-lease!!
Plus Prius had to recall every single car they had ever produced in order to correct a safety fault in the onboard computer.

If auto transport is a must-have, there is a huge line-up of Green Cars on the starting grid, and sales are beginning to take off.

What a corker

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Scientists say they can use corks as an alternative energy source, the BBC reported. They noticed that a cork bobbing about in water generates power, so they set about designing a machine which could convert wave power into electricity. The bobber uses floats instead of corks which are attached to a rig in the sea. the partially-submerged floats bob about in waves and generate energy which is converted into electricity.

Tests suggest it is capable of producing more that double the amount generated by off-shore wind farms.

Inventor Peter Stansby said: “The Bobber’s output of five megawatts is the mean power output, with the potential of more depending on the conditions.” This he said, compared favorably with a wind turbines ‘maximum output’ of two megawatts. The team, based at Manchester University, is now trying to secure funding for a full scale trial, the Engineer trade journal reported.


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Microgrids promise reliable, efficient, environmentally-friendly electricity in a ‘peer-to-peer’ network:
In 1996, a sagging power line in Oregon brushed against a tree, and within minutes 12 million customers in eight states lost power. Such is the vulnerability of today’s power grid. To address this, Berkeley Lab scientists developed a cluster of small, on-site generators serving offices, industry, homes.
The system designed to shoulder the US’s growing thirst for electricity without building the 1,000 new power plants required to meet demand, will lead to a revolution in the way we can live.

Wood stove sales heat up

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Rising costs of fossil fuels are ushering wood stoves back into homes, and making people already surviving on wood fires feel like they made the right choice. Its also creating a windfall for dealers who are hustling to keep pace with demand.

In Alaska, always a good indicator when it comes to measures to protect against cold, wood stove dealers are reporting sales for September up 300 percent over September 2004, and it’s not yet even the peak of the sales season.

Dumbing Up

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Maxim, a magazine better known for its Video Vixens than its interest in the environment has surprised us all with a feature on how to go off the grid. And its rather good advice, albeit delivered with its usual dumb and sexist attitude.

“Be self-sufficient and stick it to the utility companies by living a meager lifestyle!” says the kicker to last month’s story, alongside pictures of Kelly Monaco, Rachelle Leah, Vanessa Minnillo and Jessica Alba.

Anyways, the advice they give is spot on. To see the advice, click :

Land boom in the boondocks

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Second-growth forests in east and north Washington State are sprouting a new crop: residential real estate.

The metal rooftops of several luxury recreational homes punctuate the forest canopy on the bluff above Swift Reservoir’s turquoise waters. View lots at Swift Cove, Marble Creek Estates and Swift View are going for up to $169,000. Swift Cove’s 14 lots sold in three years, and buyers quickly snapped up the four lots at Marble Creek.

Signs for Pine Creek East, along Forest Service Road 25, advertise “a new recreational community” with lots from $59,900 to $129,000. The subdivision, carved into second-growth forest stands 22 miles east of Cougar, is the first stage of a planned 200-house community that will include property within the Muddy River and Pine Creek watersheds.

$600 gets your house on solar power

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Reading an interesting/informative article by Rex Ewing titled “Piecing together a spanking-new $600 solar-electric system,” we were appalled that this pioneer of alternatives to standard grid living could be the same Rex Ewing who played guitar in the naughtily brilliant SHAGNASTY band.

Fortunately its a different Mr. Ewing — a knowledgeable practitioner on the maturing frontier of solar applications…..and this is what he had to say:

Got 600 bucks hiding in an old book somewhere? Maybe it’s time to bring electricity into that little homestead you’ve got tucked away in the woods. But wait a minute, you say, with justifiable hesitancy. Solar-electric systems all cost thousands, don’t they? No, just the expensive ones.