The 2023 Murrnong Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is a 14 day course over 6 weekends from summer through to late autumn. Based at Murrnong farm, North East / North Central Victoria, this extended format gives you time to take what you’ve learnt each session, thoroughly digest it all, absorb the sometimes life-changing content, and grow together as a learning community through these seasons.
This PDC engages and immerses you in design examples ranging from intensive urban to rural, from grass roots to better resourced, and we meet a terrific range of people as tutors and site hosts. The home base is our outdoor learning space at Murrnong, with easy access to the many features of applied permaculture design on the property.
Who will be teaching
David Arnold is convenor and the host tutor throughout the course. David has more than 30 years of experience in permaculture, initially in the urban context in West Preston, Melbourne, and then developing Murrnong since 1996. Along the way he has done permaculture design and development work across North East and North Central Victoria. David has extended expertise in design and development for home self-sufficiency, farm planning, farm scale tree and shrub landscaping, farm forestry, homestead orcharding, tree crops, ecological building and energy efficient retrofit of existing buildings.
Beck Lowe co-anchors with David Arnold, and collaborates with the design and content of the course. Beck manages a fairly wild garden with chickens and goats and regenerating forest at her Heathcote property, is an author, edits permaculture books including David Holmgren's RetroSuburbia, and teaches on various permaculture courses and retrosuburbia workshops.
Guest tutors join throughout the duration of the course. For the May weekend our special guest tutor is the co-originator of permaculture, David Holmgren. It is a treat for us to have David over for a weekend each year.
For more about tutors and site visits please visit this page and this page.
Exciting, challenging, empowering, an absolute journey that reassures, encourages and educates…….(David A) your teaching style is gentle, generous, and backed by vast knowledge. you are patient, open and a very clear communicator so the learning journey was easy and uncomplicated.
Jade - Course participant
The course structure
Each day has a mix of teaching, demonstration and discussion, some days include hands-on activity. Through a series of design exercises you will be supported to prepare a retrofit plan for an existing building, or design a new building, and then to prepare a permaculture landscape plan for the land around that building.
You might choose your existing home and garden, or a project you have in mind, as the subject for this design work. We workshop the development of these plans in small groups, supported by tutors. You get to consult with your tutors and fellow participants for your building retrofit and for your landscape plan. You also get to act as consultants with the tutor and other participants, helping each of your companions to think through their projects.
On completion of the course you will receive a permaculture design certificate.
I have to say it’s been one of the best educational experiences for me. I see changes that I can make everywhere & it’s opened my eyes to a depth of living in a way that I really didn’t know existed. I am honestly more excited about my future now, & that of those around me, than I have ever been because of it.
Krystelle - Course participant
What will I learn in the course?
You will gain analysis and design skills, an understanding of our domestic and human ecology within the global context and an introductory understanding of how our landscapes function. You will experience solutions and strategies that are already being developed, and gain an understanding of the methods being used to achieve this.
We look at how houses can be designed or modified to be energy efficient and comfortable, and how home gardens and farms can be set up to be productive, healthy and attractive spaces for the people and animals that live there. You will learn to identify how buildings and landscapes work, and ways to modify this so they work better, and require less external input.
You will be special guests at exciting permaculture sites, each quite different, to gain an understanding of the scope and scale to which permaculture can be applied. Within these sites we engage with elements ranging from intensive urban to rural homesteading, farming, forestry, ecological building and energy efficient retrofit, from long established to under recent active development, from semi-arid to cool temperate climates, and a diverse range of presenters.
We will see and discuss how any permaculture is a combination of people and place, an expression of the culture of the people doing it. You can join our culture of earth care, people care, and fair share, with pragmatic and respectful solutions, to create a world that we want.
The topic areas cover the seven domains of permaculture action, below, with particular focus on solutions to the practical challenges we face in our own efforts to re-localise ourselves, our families, and our communities.
The principles of permaculture design are explored and returned to throughout the course. For more information about these principles and the permaculture domains, (and an answer to ‘what is permaculture’) see Richard Telford’s permacultureprinciples.com
I loved the content – it made sense to me and my focus in life. …one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. …And the food was awesome, loved the sharing and storytelling about food too. …I was on a permaculture high after our last weekend.
Nicky - Course participant
- Feb 18/19
- Mar 11/12/13
- Apr 1/2
- Apr 22//23/24
- May 13/14
- Jun 3/4
We understand that occasionally someone will have a dates clash. If you have to miss more than two of the days, we can arrange something to catch you up.
Course days run from 9am to 4.30pm (you are invited to come for a cuppa beforehand at 8.45).
The Permaculture Design Course has a home base at Murrnong, and includes day trips to other active permaculture properties in the region. Through these visits we engage with seven home gardens, seven house/ building retrofits, and 3 or 4 farm enterprises.
Murrnong is easily accessible by road or train, just at the end of the Violet Town main street, (google map link here), which is a 1 km walk from the train station. We encourage carpooling to access other sites.
We offer free camping for course participants to camp overnight, each PDC weekend. This is to reduce travel and stress, and enrich the PDC experience. Camping is in the low irrigation treecrops area, stone pine, bunya pine, carobs and oaks. These trees have become big and shady, and it's now also a lovely campground.
On days at Murrnong we all contribute to a shared lunch. This becomes a highlight and an inspiration for what we have each been able to produce at home, or source locally.
Fruit and nuts from the Murrnong orchard are supplied with morning and afternoon tea.
Produce grown and made at Murrnong Farm is available to purchase.
When we visit other properties we usually take our own provisions.
Cost and discounts
For one person, $1,390
This includes 14 days covering all topics required to award you with your Permaculture Design Certificate and give you the thinking tools to develop your own permaculture life practice.
Bring a friend and pay together, full PDC for two at $2,580 ($1,290 each)
Book 3 tickets together for $3,720 ($1,240 each)
Alternatively reduce bank fees by contacting us for our bank transfer details. We can discuss staged payment if that helps.
If you wish to apply for a scholarship, you can write to us. We ask you to describe what you have already done and are doing to live in a self-reliant low consumption way, and how you have begun to educate yourself about permaculture. Please outline your reasons for applying for a scholarship, and your circumstances.
For any questions or additional information, please contact us.
Phone: +61 428 981 679
4446 Murchison Violet Town Rd
Violet Town, Victoria 3669