Possum Valley Philosophy


Every B&B reflects the ideas, philosophy and personality of its owners.  Explicitly or implicitly.  They are more varied and individual than hotels or motels, which reflect commercial market positioning.

I bought Possum Valley 43 years ago in the hippy days because I could see the rainforest disappearing around the world and because I had an idea to do the self-sufficiency thing.  I knew rainforests were important to the world even in that era before the alarm bells of climate change were ringing loud and clear.  I largely failed with the self-sufficiency bit, due to colossal ignorance of things horticultural, the vast army of animals and bugs keen for some exotic fare, and the ‘galloping rots’ which affects most imported European vegetables unsuited to the wet tropics.  If I had some knowledge of tropical produce, I am sure a productive garden is possible, as this is a prolific environment.

I like to think I have largely succeeded with other aspects of the simple life-style.  The cottages and homestead were constructed by me with local and re-cycled materials with the least site disturbance possible.  The games room and sauna hut came almost entirely from discarded material.  I designed, built and installed a power system which after 37 years still has all its original components still working, long after having paid off costs and energy input.  I still try to live a life of minimum consumption consistent with reasonable comfort.  Hey, I’m no spartan!

So yes, I was mildly green when I came here, and getting greener by the year (some people put it down to tropical molds), as more evidence of rainforest habitat loss and climate change comes to light.  I am irritated by green politics which timidly fails to spell out that to save the environment and to leave some resources for our children and grandchildren, we have to consume less , spend less, work less, stress less, strive less, expect less material stuff and let’s spell it out here…… be poorer.   It ain’t so bad.  I’ve been doing it here for 36 years, come join me and see if it’s so awful!

43 years ago I saw de-forestation, climate change, species loss, resource plunder, pollution and over-population as threats to our future.  I don’t anymore.  No longer threats but our current reality.  No longer issues for the future to deal with, but  with the consequences affecting us now.  Back then I thought we had time to learn the facts, digest the issues, form an agenda for action, and then implement actions to forestall the coming crisis.  Little has been done despite the evidence of the accelerating degradation of the planet.  I am ashamed that I will hand on to my children and grandchildren a poorer planet than I inherited.  Business as usual will lead us to the brutal reign of the four riders of the apocalypse.  Politicians talk and talk, maneuvering to gain a slight political or commercial advantage.  They don’t realise that you can’t negotiate with reality!  The laws of nature can’t be overturned by a supreme court!  You can’t legislate away gigatons of carbon already in the atmosphere!  Arrrgghhh #!**#.  Ah well, life goes on……. even if is only slime molds and bacteria, as it was for the first 3 billion years of the planet.

I know there have been major climate swings in the past NOT caused by humans as the burgeoning science of paleoclimatology (history of climates) has discovered.  Thought to be caused by a combination of short term events like volcanoes and asteroid collisions, with mid term events like wobbles in the earth’s orbit, and very long term events like continental drift that has seen Australia for instance, visit both poles twice in its long journeys.  All against the background of a sun 25% hotter than when earth was thrown together.  Genetic studies seem to indicate our humanoid ancestors barely survived previous climate changes.  Now our population has increased enormously and so have the threats.  Sea level rise could drown mega cities and whole countries like Bangladesh, making a billion refugees.  Floods and droughts could devastate agriculture causing conflicts over diminishing food.  Some consider the strife in Dafur a warning, a ‘warm-up’ event brought on by warming and drought leading to a scramble for survival.  It seems insanity to me to bring such calamities on ourselves and multiply disasters by our own hands.

I said that each B&B in some way reflects the ideas of the owners, so how do my ideas manifest at Possum Valley?  I consider our culture suffers from “Affluenza”, being over concerned with consumption and appearance so I have fled to the boundary of civilisation.  I like to think I have over the years acquired a little immunity to this dread disease.  I am loathe to waste anything, and consider functionality more important than appearance.  I mend and repair things rather than replace, and like to create things from materials at hand rather than buy new.  Like the solar hot water pre-heater system at Maple Cottage made from an old tank from the tip, some angle iron for support and 3 different kinds of pipe I had laying around.  Total cost of new materials less than $100.  I used a discarded off-cut for a shelf for pans above the window at Blackbean and bush sticks for stair rails.  I could afford to buy new (or rather you could, as I’d have to put up the rates), but alas, I don’t think the planet can afford our profligate ways anymore.  I really think we have to downsize our consumption and waste now, to make the future bearable.

So if you are looking for shiny, new, modern decor, you won’t find it at Possum Valley.  Think rustic, woody, quirky, hand-made, simple and comfortable I hope.  If you seek a 5 star, pink gin by the pool, immaculate sophistication, well, I don’t even know what that looks like.  If you are are habituated to a man-made and sterile environment, you may encounter mud, invading birds and animals, leeches, and other rainforest realities beyond your comfort zone.  If you are used to a background of traffic noise and constant city light creeping round your curtains, you may find the silence and utter dark (when no moon), unnerving.  If you lack the confidence to immerse yourself in nature, to accept you are an embedded integral part,  you may be intimidated by the rainforest.  If you expect a picture-postcard “Fern Gully” scene in bright sun, you may be disappointed as it is called r-a-i-n-f-o-r-e-s-t.  With rain as a constant reality for most of the year.  I am trying to frighten off the people who might not be suited, who may be unhappy at Possum Valley, but I really do think I have something special here.  Choose wisely.