Australia’s first and only fully off grid urban home is a terrace located smack bang in the middle of Sydney.
How is this possible?
I’m walking down Myrtle St Chippendale — It’s a tiny, very old terrace suburb at the southern end of the city, sandwiched tightly between Sydney’s grand central station, the huge Sydney University campus grounds and two major arterial roads.
I’m looking up and around each house… Fully expecting to easily recognise Australia’s only true off grid city home. Surely I’ll see this thing, I mean it produces all of its own electricity, captures all of its water and stores 20 years of excrement.
Wow…It’s incredibly green around here. I thought.
I started imagining all the things I would see (or smell) — A giant stack of solar panels…Maybe like a tree sticking out the side of the wall…A big water tank protruding from the ground…Some crazy motorised glass roof…Something extraordinary, that would justify to me the reason off grid house are so unique and rare.
The owner of the house Michael Mobbs (the off grid guy) regularly gives tours of his home and the surrounding suburb.
I set out in 1996 to renovate my inner-city Sydney terrace and make it almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and waste disposal. It was a journey few other Australians had attempted but I’ve shown it can be achieved and that it’s possible for almost anyone.” — Taken from Michael’s website sustainablehouse.com.au
So I booked a $25 tour on Airbnb — I just had to see this house…
Was it true? Was there a secret hiding in the basement? Was he Batman?
Well, I walked past it twice…
On the third return, I spotted a man stepping outside his front door. I paused just a moment before the entry way, darting my eyes all-around looking for a clear sign this very unassuming, old style terrace was the famous house I was imaging.
As the man stepped out, he looked up and I knew immediately it was Michael. I stuck my hand out and introduced myself ‘Hi Michael, I’m Brendon’.
This house is two fingers up to those who say ‘you can’t do that’. – Michael said to us at the beginning of the tour.
Michael gave us a wonderful tour of his terrace and the food gardens planted all around the suburb (why the streets so green). Speaking of his journey, being an environmental lawyer, renovating his family home in 1996, to when he eventually disconnecting himself from mains electricity, water and sewage.
Which means he never gets a utility bill…Ever.
All the electricity used on my property comes from the sun. All the water we use comes from rain and all the sewage is stored within the property.
In context, this is incredible…
No one else has EVER, done this.
You’re far more likely to have a helipad on your roof or own a tiger than utilise the natural energy, water, and earth around you to live.
But… the crazy part is, the house was completely underwhelming…
It looked totally normal — there was no special expensive, unknown engineering secret that made this home able to go “off grid”…
A house made 100% sustainable with such simplicity, fills me with so much hope for the future — But it’s equally terrifying that it’s so rare.
Now we’re not all meant to be trailblazers like Michael, but the great news is we don’t have to be. Michael has done such a thorough, practical job doing all the ground work for the last 20 years, all we have to do is be open to the possibility.
The light that’s coming from this lamp, 8 minutes ago it left the sun. – Micheal
There’s something so special about this house – Maybe becuase it’s fully integrated with nature.
It’s a true example of a human-made ecosystem, how we can live with harmoniously with the environment, with bees, plants, bugs, and also maintain our unreasonably high standard of living.
Imagine your own house exactly as it is now, but instead of burning old liquid dinosaur bones for electricity, it just arrived from the sky. A gift from the universe to you.
Imagine turning on your tap and instead of bleached stagnant dam water piped in from 100km away, it just fell from clouds into your water tank.
There’s an understandable element of the unknown here, so many questions and fears…
How clean is the water? Does the sewage smell? Is all this legal? How much would it cost me? What if I’m just renting?
What you need to do is go visit Michael and his off grid home…
Listen to his story, see the simple changes he has made and most importantly feel how incredibly wonderful it is to live connected with nature.
There’s something extraordinary that draws us all to nature.
Where we have these rare experiences of deep connection.
When we’re surfing in the ocean, hiking in the forest, camping in the bush or looking at the sky. – Brendon
We imagine getting away from it all, spending a week at the beach, in a national park or up in the mountains somewhere.
We chase nature as an escape from our life, for relaxation, serenity, and energy.
What exactly are we getting away from again?
Why do we feel so drained and disconnected?
Michael proves we can have it all — Right here in the city.