A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about forest

Low impact Building/style of living.

Location : Stekene, Belgium. Carl's hard work. His Hamadryad.

semi-overcast 15 °C

When we went on the HelpX website checking out what kind of hosts were out there in Belgium, we definitely were shocked to find out there were only 4 (this was in spring 2010). Luckily one of those four was exactly what we were looking for. A low impact building project in Flanders.


After having been backpacking throughout Europe for about 11 months we planned on ending our adventure where it had started. A lovely tiny little country named Belgium, my country of origin. I bet I know what you’re thinking right now… Mmm Belgian chocolates and waffles. Well yes, I won’t deny that we do have those tasty things. But what we are more proud of is our Belgian fries and especially our Belgian beer. Let me give you all just one little tip. If you go to my country, go to one of the many old traditional style pubs and ask the person serving you which local beers he or she would recommend. You’ll have a wonderful beer experience, that I can promise you.

So we went to Carl’s place in Flanders, situated close to Antwerp and right on the border with The Netherlands. Needless to say we were extremely happy when we were welcomed with a visit to the local fries shop and a couple of Belgian beers. Carl aka Wolf had bought a little piece of land located in an historical forest well known for smugglers activities back in the day. His dream is to build a house and incorporate a lifestyle with a low impact on the nature surrounding him and he knows his stuff. An enormous amount of reading and other research had finally brought him to design his own little perfect spot on this planet. He constructed a website where he explains every single detail about the project and where you can follow his progress. This link will take you to one of his posts that talks about the stage we were involved in. http://www.hamadryad.be/?p=58
If you are interested in finding out even more, I can highly recommend downloading his brochure that is if dutch is one of your languages though. Browsing his website will give you a good idea too.

The part we were able to help out with, was constructing the wooden skeleton of the house. We didn’t use any mechanical machines that would cause harm to his land, which created a very interesting, mathematically challenging and sometimes dangerous work environment. Don’t worry, we weren’t harmed in any way except for numerous mosquito bites. Carl made sure, he was the only one involved in risky business. When we first arrived there was only one beam up. The foundation and the chimney, which would be the central point that would carry all the weight, was already in place. Our accommodation was in a trailer on the property and Connor helped finished building an outdoor kitchen. Collectively decided so there would be less fries shop visiting and more home cooking. Eventually towards the end of our stay, Carl’s girlfriend moved in along with her chickens and cats and it all started to look even better! A perfect picture.
The next stage, which we unfortunately weren’t around for, would be putting in straw bales as walls and finished off with cob rendering. Next to a green roof and even an underground ice cellar, there’s so much more to this low impact project.


Carl’s project is a beauty and I sincerely hope everything works out as it is supposed to. Next time we will pass through my home country again, one thing that’s definitely on the list is to go visit and talk about all that has been going on over a couple of delicious Belgian beers.

Flemish girl.
(I’d kill for a cold Duvel right about now.. )

Posted by flemishgirl 23:26 Archived in Belgium Tagged the netherlands forest belgium border fries waffles straw_bale belgian_beer fries_shop smuggler ice_cellar green_roof

The Blue Gum Forest

Hiking and camping in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. Katoomba - Blackheath area. The Grose Valley.

sunny 30 °C

"You guys have plans for New Year’s yet?” Our French friends and fellow helpXers asked us this question and we shrugged our shoulders. “We are going to see the massive fireworks show in Sydney. Do you want to come?” We didn’t really care much about going back to the congested city to see some pretty lights. We kind of just wanted to enjoy the sunny weather and our days off. I find New Year’s celebrations to be highly overrated. You are in the Blue Mountains only once so we preferred to rather be hiking and camping in nature than be spending heaps of money on costly drinks . And that’s exactly what we did..

We were going to hike from Perry’s Lookout on one edge of the Grose Valley to Govett’s leap Lookout on the other side. We decided to split the hike up in two parts and camp overnight in the illustrious Blue Gum Forest. The hike itself actually only takes about 6 hours. But it’s an awfully steep descent from Perry’s Lookout and there’s only one site, Acacia Flats, for camping allowed along our planned route. It was also very grueling to hike back up. I got in trouble trying to achieve that last part. In my defense it was almost 35 Celsius outside and immensely sunny.

Once you get to one of the famous and very crowded, especially on sunny days, lookouts, you'll immediately understand why they call it the "Blue Mountains". The gum trees (different kinds of eucalyptus) show this characteristic blue haze that is not only to be found here in Australia of course. There’s lots of Blue Mountains throughout this world. I think that the blue haze probably has a scientific explanation that has nothing to do with gum trees in particular. But seriously.. how magnificently blue these mountains look.


So we started the hike at Perry's Lookout after our lovely Helpx host dropped us off. Margaret really enjoyed showing us around and always offered to drop us off and pick us up anywhere in the area so we could go explore. This amazingly steeper than I thought downhill part had many astonishing views but my knees were starting to tremble a bit.


Finally after about a full hour or two we got to The Blue Gum Forest. These towering eucalypti seemed to exude mystic vibrations. It is quite the spiritual hike through these magical trees.


So after much admiration from us both we set up camp. There was an abundance of wildlife present. Especially the birds blew us away. We explored the area and found ourselves a giant flat rock in the middle of the Grose river to hang out on.


Another animal that we encountered for the first time was the Mountain Dragon. They were everywhere and not shy at all. After snoozing on our rock, my husband woke me up and signaled me to keep still. Right there on an adjacent rock there was a Mountain Dragon, silently snoozing himself. He was quite huge and didn’t seem to mind us. By sunset time the forest really seemed to come alive. The most extraordinary colored birds came to take a dip or sip from the river, while singing their equally colorful songs. The only disappointment of the whole hike was the five lane wide ant highway that had formed itself across our tent diagonally. We had to fight some of those flying big ones off and moved the tent a bit further down. Problem solved. It did freak me out a bit though to be honest.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and hiked further up the tracks to have breakfast at yet another beautiful spot on the river. Don’t forget to bring a water purifier or tablets, people! Fresh water is not always healthy to drink for us humans. The water in the valley for example was contaminated and we would have gotten sick if we didn’t have those tablets with us.
After about 4 hours off climbing up, first gradually then the irregular sometimes steep steps of Rodriguez Pass and eventually the steps up from Bridal Veil Falls to Govett’s Leap Lookout, we finally arrived at our destination. But not before we spotted two very rare Black Yellowtail Cockatoos. That made our day!! We’d heard so much about them. They’re supposedly worth 50.000 dollars each on the black market.


I had to catch my breath for a while. It was after all extremely hot outside. Not a cloud in the sky. We made it up there by noon. Now, I blame it on the weather but all we could think about was to walk to downtown Blackheath and grab a pint in the local pub. And that’s exactly what we did.

The End.

Flemish Girl.

Posted by flemishgirl 03:05 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains trees birds water hiking australia mountain river blue valley steps falls gum forest katoomba dragon pass color dragons lookout ants steep rodriguez campervans leap eucalyptus blackheath grose govetts wicked

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