Jindibah Community - Summary

1. Introduction

Byron Shire is at the leading edge in Australia of the world-wide movement to apply the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) to land development. This means achieving a 'Triple Bottom Line' balance between social, environmental and economic development. 

The intent of this community is to use these principles in a democratic way to help create a natural environment for peaceful living in a country setting. The infrastructure is now complete - that's roads to the 12 houses/sites, bridge over the creek, power and phone. The rainforest regeneration program along the creek and on the steep slopes is already well under way. 

Funding raised through the sale of community sites was also used to develop the 'fun stuff' - amenities for convenient and pleasant living. It also allowed for the establishment of our 'sinking fund' used for property maintenance. 

Revenues from agribusiness and other property sources will fund help the on-going cost of maintaining the property, progressively regenerating rainforest, and improving the soil along ESD principles.

Jindibah has created a non-profit community shared wireless broadband network ('JindiNet') providing internet access for Jindibah members and neighbours living in the surrounding catchment area. 


2. ‘Jindibah’

a) The Property

‘Jindibah’ is a 46Ha (113-acre) property located in Fowlers Lane, 1.7 km off the Pacific Highway between Byron Bay and Bangalow in Byron Shire, NSW - Australia’s most easterly point. The climate is sub-tropical with plenty of sun and rainfall.

‘Jindibah’ (so-named after the local aboriginal word for both ‘tawny frog-mouth owl’, and ‘wisdom’) is in the catchment area of Sleepy Creek which runs through the property and whose source is just upstream.

There are at least six swimming holes along its shady banks, some overhung with patches of rainforest and full of wildlife, with countless birds, eels and lizards, fish, platypus, echidnas and turtles to be seen. Some of the fields are bounded by old stone walls, built in the days when labour was cheap and the land needed to be cleared to make way for the grazing dairy cows and cattle which have lived on this land most of this century.

The land is undulating, offering pleasant walks through the cool, grassy meadows along the creek, while from the top paddocks, there are lovely views of the South Pacific ocean, Byron Bay lighthouse, and the surrounding rural countryside.

For shopping and working, five towns are close by: Lismore (30 minutes by car), Ballina (20 minutes), Mullumbimby (15 minutes), Byron Bay (11 minutes) and Bangalow (5 minutes). Three airports are between a 20-minute and 45-minute drive, and there are many state and private schools in the district.

Jindibah was purchased by the founders in 1994. After a two-year application process, a 12-dwelling Multiple Occupancy was approved by the Byron Shire Council in September 1996. The founders worked with other residents in Fowlers Lane, to develop a Local Area Management Plan for the Sleepy Creek catchment area as input to Council’s overall development planning process.

After the release of the 1998 Byron Shire Rural Settlement Strategy, the founders applied to Council to convert Jindibah from a Multiple Occupancy (which could be described as a rural version of ‘Torrens’ or company title) to Community Title, a rural version of Strata or condominium style. This will benefit all shareholders as banks recognise each individual's title to their house lots, thus providing security for mortgages.

Our DA was approved by council on the 19th September 2007 and our plan of subdivision for DP286220, Lots 1-13, was officially registered by the NSW Govt's Dept of Lands on 22 Apr 2009, completing our 10 year MO to CT conversion process.

b) Vision & Philosophy

The intention of the founders is that the the community is run in a democratic way, reflecting the ĎTriple Bottom Lineí principles of finding a sustainable balance between social, environmental and economic life - remembering that if itís not fun, itís probably not sustainable.

For more information, see the Jindibah Vision & Philosophy.


We aim to create a supportive environment for a group of people to live and work in a convenient and tranquil rural setting. Jindibah is a beautiful and spacious place, where residents may easily share the community’s considerable amenities and agricultural resources, yet with enough space to allow for complete personal privacy.

It is intended that the property shall continue to contribute to its maintenance. The potential is there for investment in agribusinesses or even provide shareholders with a modest income stream.

The property also offers the potential for residents to become self-sufficient in food production. There’s plenty of room for gardens, orchards and chickens around each house. House lots average 1.85 acres. Residents may choose to fence off less than this, depending on how much land they want to be responsible for maintaining. Currently the cows "mow" the rest of the grass. 

The founders support and apply the common sense principles of ESD. In a land improvement program, we also aim to upgrade the quality of the soil and arrest erosion by regenerating the subtropical rainforest once covering this area.

Initially we worked with Greening Australia to re-afforest creek-side remnants of Big Scrub and we are now progressively planting native trees and bushes in buffer zones and re-vegetation areas. We are working closely with the Bangalow Landcare Group to this end and have planted more than 8,500 trees to date.

At another level, the world is entering an era when the consequences of Climate Change are converging with those of Peak Oil. The science suggests that this is likely to progressively alter the basis of industrial society. 

The longer it takes for the world's 'leaders' to agree to take effective global action by 'declaring war' on emissions, the worse the consequences will be.

Thus it is becoming increasingly important for communities to be able to become resilient against the effects of climate change and become self-sufficient in food, water and energy, as fast as changing circumstances make that necessary. 

Some things take more time to reach that point of self sufficiency than others. One example is the number of years it takes from planting an orchard tree, to the time it starts to bear fruit. So implementation will be driven by such lead times

Fortunately, Jindibah is well endowed with higher than average rainfall and good growing soil.   

Energy independence is high on our wish list, waiting only for proven technology to become financially viable. 

To reduce per capita CO2 emissions towards the global target of 2-3 tonnes per person, we aim to stop using electricity generated by burning coal and migrate fuelling our transport away from burning oil. 

A solar energy farm, connected to the grid is planned to generate 100% clean electricity to meet our needs during the day. A number of shareholders have already installed 134 solar panels, more are planned.

Excess electricity is returned to the grid. When available, EVís and PHEVís will be recharged at off-peak green electricity rates at night or via solar system battery back-up, when installed.

On the social side, we practice democratic decision-making, aiming to achieve a consensus on major financial issues. 

People living at Jindibah understand that means being constantly involved with other people, and embrace the principle of working through any problems with goodwill and integrity. 

We are a diverse group, and see having differences as a natural part of life. We've found this can bring useful creative energy to our problem-solving. 

When conflict does happen, 'staying in awareness', though, is sometimes hard. At Jindibah we run regular facilitated workshops to help develop the necessary interpersonal skills and understanding of ourselves and each other (see 'Living together at Jindibah' in the 'Contents' frame).

Living on Jindibah 

It is understood that people of all personality types are welcome at Jindibah.
We celebrate the differences between us, as they are expressed in our various personalities.
At a deeper level, however, we do share some strong intentions.
We are all actively engaged in our ongoing personal evolution.
As an expression of this commitment, we explore our vulnerabilities, and work to strengthen our skills to communicate with each other (even when feeling vulnerable).
Therefore, skilled interpersonal communication is highly valued at Jindibah.
Our intention is to engage each other with integrity in a compassionate, open, robust and respectful manner.
We acknowledge that the process of personal evolution is circular and therefore no one is further ahead than anyone else.
It gives us great pleasure to support each other in our evolution.

3. Financials

a) Jindibah Membership Structure

The basic infrastructure is now complete. The community is a reality with 22 adult members and 13 children.

The existing infrastructure includes the construction of a sealed internal road to all house sites, a bridge across the creek, the connection of electricity and phone throughout. We have a tractor with a bucket and slasher plus other agricultural equipment to help us maintain the property and the new tree plantings.

Each of the 12 lots is entitled to one dwelling site on the property and a vote on the Management Committee.   Lot owners are invited to participate in the decision-making process. if necessary by email.

Contributions from members buying-in funded the budget for:

ii) Residents’ amenities, so that living on the property is both convenient and pleasurable. Current ideas for amenities include landscaping our swimming hole and barbeque area; walking tracks; seats located at shady ‘reflection’ places. We have upgraded and weatherproofed the large existing community barn, built 60 years ago as a dance hall.

iii) A Sinking Fund has been created from which funds can be drawn to contribute to the cost of maintaining the property. As in all Strata Units and Community Title properties, members also contribute annual fees to the Jindibah Neighborhood Association.

Should incoming members have the skills and interest, the land potential exists to create agribusiness projects, in which case excess produce could be available to residents. Such agribusiness activities could also generate paid work opportunities at commercial rates.

Historically, cattle have always been raised on Jindibah, and they are still used to maintain the pasture and help pay for property maintenance. The opportunity exists to diversify from cattle alone in order to improve the soil quality, arrest erosion and increase property income.

Feasible investments include the development of tree crops such as mangoes, coffee and/or macadamia nuts for which the soil is suited. Establishing a solar farm is also a priority as soon as the technology becomes financially viable.

b) Membership Structure

The original MO development application was approved by Council (in 1996) and the infrastructure is now in place.

The community has since successfully applied to convert from the original MO structure to Community Title. The re-zoning for this was approved by the NSW State Government. Byron Council approved the Development Application to convert and Community Title has now been achieved, giving each member legal title to their block.

This change of structure has opened the way for members to obtain mortgage financing.

As well as a house site, new members who decide to choose this way of life receive: 

See 'For Sale Now' for current property available.