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2018 Ashram Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

Friday 23 February – Saturday 10 March 2018

2017 Ashram PDC


Are you looking to create a more sustainable lifestyle?

Meet like-minded people?

Retrofit your house, your community and your life?

Become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?

Design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?


The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 15 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.




The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

Accommodation is camping in the grounds of the ashram. You will need to BYO tent and gear. Alternatively you can choose to stay in a gender segregated triple share dorm room or a private room. Please note, these last two options incur additional fees.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.

The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.



You will learn from the co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.



There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles and writings by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.


Course content

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture. You will learn permaculture ethics, principles and design, and their application across the domains, so that you can integrate them into all aspects of your life.

Topics include:

  • permaculture ethics and principles
  • ecology and natural cycles
  • weather and climates
  • soils
  • permaculture food growing
  • energy literacy
  • reading the landscape
  • appropriate technology
  • built environment
  • design processes and practices
  • animals in permaculture
  • health and spiritual wellbeing
  • urban retrofitting
  • finance and economics
  • community strategies

The classroom experience will be complemented by field trips to working permaculture farms, homes and gardens including one of the best documented demonstration sites, Melliodora.

You will work on a design project of part of the ashram during the course. You will be guided by experienced tutors and learn the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.


Payment and extra charges


Item Fee (AUD$) Due
Non-refundable deposit – Australian participant $500 Upon enrolment
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – earlybird $1700 Friday 1st December 2017
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – full fee $1900 Friday 26th January 2018
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – earlybird $2200 Upon enrolment, before Friday 1st December 2017
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – full fee $2400 Upon enrolment, before Friday 26th January 2018
Payment fee via PayPal 3% With payment – per transaction
Gender segregated, triple share room $2475 $2275 earlybird price
Private accommodation at the Ashram $3450 $3250 earlybird price


Is there a concession price?

Yes, we do offer a concession rate on a needs basis via an application process. Please fill in this form before Friday November 17 2017 to be eligible.

* * *

Still have questions? Please read through our FAQ page.

Bookings now open!

If the 2018 Ashram PDC sounds like it’s for you, fantastic! Please secure your place by registering.



Advanced Permaculture Planning + Design Process

Have you completed a PDC but feel there is more you’d like to learn?
Are you interested in design principles and ethics but are not quite sure how to integrate the processes into your thinking, designing and decision making?

On this four-day residential course, tutors David Holmgren and Dan Palmer will take you through various approaches and methods that they implement in their own design processes to help you establish your own framework for designing and living.

Participants are encouraged to arrive on the night of April 10 and camp over, ready to begin the course at 9am on the 11th. Dinner will be provided on the 10th, and brekky on the 11th, as well as all subsequent meals for the duration of the course.

More information + bookings here.


PDC in 2016

Ashram Garden and CompostingThinking about learning permaculture for a while? It is time to make the first step, and join us in February for a very special Permaculture Design Course. Organised by Tread Lightly Permaculture and Holmgren Design, this course is unique, like no other, because

Taken by Constanza von Marees during the 2015 PDC.

Taken by Constanza von Marees during the 2015 PDC.

  • You will learn from the very original cofounder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of world class permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this very special standout PDC. There will be ample opportunity to socialise with the presenters outside the session times.
  • This is the course designed specifically to the twelve principles David details in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability. We will focus on one principle a day, and by the end of the course, you will be equipped with the foundations of permaculture philosophy, design and knowledge. You will receive a certificate at the end of the course which makes you eligible to practice or teach permaculture commercially and to proceed towards the Diploma in Permaculture Design.
  • The course will take place in the Wombat Forest south of Daylesford at the beautiful Rocklyn Yoga Ashram. This remote setting away from towns, traffic and the temptations of noise and junk food, will be ideal for learning permaculture.
  • You will see many working examples of permaculture during the course. The Ashram’s extensive garden, designed and completed by David and Hamish MacCallum, will feed you during the course.  You will also see permaculture design applications in both urbane and rural settings in the local area including one of the best permaculture demonstration sites in the world, Melliodora.
  • The serene and spiritual focus of the Ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and thinking with reflection, a point not normally emphasised in PDCs. You are encouraged to take part in the Ashram’s daily yoga programs.
  • 2016 PDC at Rocklyn AshramDelicious wholesome and nutritious meals will be prepared by Su Dennett with the Ashram’s catering crew. Most of the food for the course will come from the Ashram’s extensive permaculture gardens. With plenty of love and care, Su will make sure that what you eat will be delicious, and at the same time, meet permaculture standards. During the course, in other words, you will live a “permaculture life”.
  • Within close proximity to Melbourne, Castlemaine and Ballarat, the Ashram is centrally located, though the overwhelming feeling when you’re there is of being in a very special relaxing environment, another world.
  • You will work on a design project of your choice during the course, guided by experienced tutors, you will experience the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.

The list can go on, but the available places are limited to ensure the quality. Take a positive step, and be early. For booking and more details, see the Event page.


APC12 recap


Oliver and Richard were really energised by APC12 !

The 12th Australasian permaculture convergence held at  Penguin in early March was a milestone in the return of permaculture to its Tasmanian origins. 

With a few too many great distractions I missed 75% of the sessions but was lucky enough to see Kat Lavers Skyping from Melbourne with her caring for your worm-farm presentation (watch those hot days). My partner enjoyed a workshop with Hannah and Steve Cooper interpreting the Principles through art. A highlight for me was the cheerful display of edible foods from around the world on the venue walls. Burnie local, Bruce French presented the Food Plants International database with stories of his times overseas teaching people to eat their local food (fresh, free, and many times nutritionally superior) rather than the western food in the supermarket. Bruce likes ‘helping hungry people feed themselves’ and to do this he insists on at least 50% female representation in his overseas (aid) work (as it works). Another local from nearby Somerset, Con Rhee, gave a talk which I found very helpful, practically, about designing the solar system for your needs. Minimise your needs first, says Con, invest in what you need, and keep the embodied energy investment in the hardware to a minimum….with the added benefit that you will be more likely to understand the system and may even be able to fix it yourself if anything goes wrong. Our local Castlemaine team Ian Lillington & Marita Zeh posited a ‘permie diet’ (no grains)! Their wonderful examples of fermented foods had a huge crowd trying them out at the end of the talk (no problems getting these living organisms across the border). These sessions were just a few of the 50 odd on offer.

David Holmgren looking short with tall poppies of Tassie permaculture  Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstom

David Holmgren looking short with tall poppies of Tassie permaculture Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstom

One of the presenters, Rosemary Morrow, couldn’t get to the convergence which also meant that the follow up Permaculture Teacher Training Course with she and Hannah and Anton of Good Life Permaculture had to be postponed. The course has been rescheduled and the new dates are 19-25 April.

Rowe Morrow, one of the world’s most experienced permaculture trainers will help build on the energy generated by the convergence. Rowe’s past history in teaching and training some of the most effective permaculture activists around, combined with the organisation and facilitation skills of Good Life Permaculture hosts Hannah and Anton, promises a great course, rare and not to be missed if you’re starting up in permie teaching, invigorating for those already teaching. Highly recommended.

says David Holmgren.

Each of the key note speakers deserve their own posts, meanwhile read David Holmgren’s keynote speech here,


Beautiful sunny Penguin and ~200 happy permies

I left Penguin with a huge appreciation for the creativity and energy alive and thriving in the aussie permie world and several month’s worth of top web links to explore.


Permaculture Forestry Course

AppleMark  David Holmgren viewing Willow removal in Spring Creek  AppleMark

Permaculture Forestry Course – presented by Holmgren Design and Regrarians

(This course is now fully booked.)

The complementary knowledge and skill sets of permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and Regrarians whole farm planner Darren Doherty come together for four days of presentations, discussions, site tours and practical activities in April 2015.

For owners of small areas of forest, this course will show the low cost ways to reduce fire hazard, improve amenity, obtain a yield and improve future timber and environmental values.

For farmers wanting to better integrate and manage timber trees within their farm landscape, this course will provide an overview of tree growing systems, species, management techniques and value added processing options that will diversify and strength the farm economy.

For environmental activists wanting to deepen their knowledge of sustainable forestry, bioenergy, catchment management and novel ecosystems to create a better world, this course offers an opportunity to learn from greenies with chainsaws.

For those already with training or experience in farm forestry, this is an opportunity to glean and share new ideas with two sustainable land use innovators from outside the bounds of the forestry profession who have made a significant contribution over decades to the resurgence of interest in farm forestry.

Using the concepts of permaculture, keyline, riparian rehydration, holistic management and ProSilva the course will provide a deep foundation for practical forestry in both natural and planted timber forests that provide environmental services and secondary yields of fuel, fodder, nectar and food.

Holmgren’s home property of Melliodora and the adjacent Spring Creek Community Forest combined with a side trip to Holmgren’s box forest property adjacent the Fryers Forest ecovillage near Castlemaine will provide a range of examples relevant to urban, riparian and farm forestry in mid and high rainfall temperate Australia.


The course venue at Hepburn Springs primary school adjacent Melliodora and Spring Creek Community, provides camp accommodation. The final night’s camping will be at “the Wild” adjacent Fryers Forest ecovillage near Fryerstown.

The course is fully catered with local, in season, organic and wild food at Melliodora and “the Wild”. David Holmgren’s partner Su Dennett, renowned local food advocate, will be catering and their son Oliver will be assisting with course logistics and forestry activities.

David or Darren will lead sessions but both will be present to contribute through the whole course.

If you are engaged in, or enthusiastic about, growing and managing trees and forests for timber and multiple values this course is for you.

See Events for more information.

Fryer's Forest poles  IMG_5808  IMGP9586


Early bird is flying away

Just a friendly reminder, that the early bird deal will soon come to an end for the Holmgren designed PDC at the Rockly Ashram. If you are thinking about making a “life-changing, horizon expanding” experience, as described by a participant last year, make sure you save $200 by paying full fee by Dec 12 by registering here.

w42TgAMdR_D28PUc2o-uEPeoRINsCS2q1NHWEtvXua8This PDC course is designed along the twelve principles Holmgren devised and detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability.  It is a fully catered (by none other than Su Dennett and the Ashram cooks) residential course, with all access to the Yoga program at the Ashram. Teachers include some of the best permaculture tutors including permaculture co-founder David Holmgren himself, Ian Lillington, Beck Lowe, Angela Enbom, Patrick Arnts and Simon Reid.

The caring nature of all the presenters shone through and having the opportunity to eat with and socialize with presenters and the Ashram people has been just amazing.

Be the one to experience this (and save a couple of hundred bucks).


PDC (+ yoga) starts this week

There are many PDC courses available these days, but this one is different. As the following testimonials sum up:


‘A perfect blend of aesthetics and spiritual beauty combined with intellectual endeavours’.

Earlier this year, working with Tread Lightly Permaculture, we held our first PDC course at the Satyananda Ashram in Rocklyn. It was a bold experiment mixing yoga and permaculture. We wondered, will it work?

‘Absolutely best site you could have come up with’.

‘Absolutely loved the blend of permaculture and yoga. The lifestyles’ fit together beautifully’.

‘Work rest balance was beautifully calibrated’.


Yes folks, due to popular demand and the overwhelming positive response of the participants, in February next year, we are going to do it again, mixing a Permaculture Design Certificate course with Yoga.  Again, we are assembling some of the best permaculture tutors including permaculture co-founder David Holmgren, Ian Lillington, Beck Lowe, Angela Enbom, Patrick Arnts and Simon Reid.

‘Teachers were very well organized, confident, enthusiastic and knowledgeable’.

‘All amazing, genuine & generous. – yes I valued the diversity’.

‘The caring nature of all the presenters shone through and having the opportunity to eat with and socialize with presenters and the Ashram people has been just amazing’.


IMG_1723Why don’t you be the one to take part in the “life-changing, horizon expanding” experience? This PDC course is designed along the twelve principles Holmgren devised and detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability.  It is a fully catered (by none other than Su Dennett and the Ashram cooks) residential course.

‘More than exceeded my expectations’.

‘I came wanting to get direction on how to apply permaculture to my property, but got so much more’.

‘Left feeling inspired’.

‘Touched deeply by these 10 days’.


Check it out on our events page, or go straight to the online shop now. Course size is limited to guarantee individual attention.


Yoga and Permaculture mix well

The Rocklyn PDC was an amazing experience, I don’t know what I would like to commend the most, the quality of the presenters, the venue (and the yoga!) or the fantastic coverage of cutting edge perspectives on sustainability, on the state of the world and most importantly what we can do about it.

says Robin K, one of the course participants.
Indeed, the ten days went very quickly at the Ashram. Days were choc full of PDC learnings, while the participants were served with yummy (mostly) local food, prepared by the kitchen team, lead by our passionate locovour practitioner Su Dennett. And plenty of yoga, of course…. And the field trip to the Rod May’s farm where the king of fermentation, Sandor Katz, dropped by. And a whole day at Melliodora.
All in all, the novel mixture worked well, thanks to all the efforts put in by the teachers and organisers, and participants. By the look of it, we will have more PDC courses at Ashram, but in the mean time, do not forget to check out all the PDC courses David is involved in, at permaculture and other courses.









All photos are supplied by Steve Areen.


Experience permaculture life

Our PDC course began the other day with keen participants and is now in full swing, in the serene atmosphere of the Rocklyn Ashram. Reports on the course will happen later. But for now we would like to take this opportunity to let you know that there are many other courses on offer for those people keen to learn permaculture from David Holmgren and his experienced permaculture practitioner colleagues._MG_2049

In March, we will run a 7 day residential course focusing on seasonal activities at Melliodora. You will be involved in all the tasks and assignments relevant to autumn,  harvesting abundance from Melliodora’s farm garden system, preserving for the leaner months, and preparing the winter garden. This is a more hands-on, and learn-from-experience-course. Living and working with permaculture co-founder David Holmgren and his partner, Su Dennett is an opportunity not to be missed if you are keen to make your life more sustainable or would like a taste of permaculture life. The course offers a unique opportunity to live and experience permaculture for 7 action packed days. Being a part of the family at Melliodora will be a “life-changing” experience.

Here’s some of the testimonials made by the participants of the seasonal cycle course earlier this year.

It was so refreshing to be able to get away from the rat race, and be immersed in the world as it should be. The week at Melliodora far exceeded my expectations.  Not only did I learn new skills, but also how to do every day tasks better. All the time I felt like part of the family, and now have new friends.

Here are some of the things I have since done with my new skills and knowledge, taking me further along my journey to a self-reliant life:
– baked sour dough bread, (and muffins)
– started non-chemical control of blackberries on my land
– growing tree cutting and seedling trees from Spring Creek to use to reforest a dam gully
– captured a bee swam on my own
–  along with the passive solar home design

I would love be part of the Autumn course, the season of abundance, with lots of produce to harvest, process and preserve.  I can’t make it this year, but hope to next year. (BH)

And here’s the testimonial from other participant (JC).

Being able to have the opportunity to live in a mature permaculture system was inspirational and a privilege. Sue, David & Rick are generous hosts who are only too happy to impart their wealth of knowledge to permaculture new comers. From splitting wood, blackberry stomping (control), food preparation, garden maintenance, to tending to goats, yabbies and bees made me realise that living sustainably is a full-time job which I found highly rewarding and wanted to experience more.

The number of places offered is strictly limited. Grab it while it is still available. More details here.

And there are also the PDC courses; David has over the years taken part in VEG PDC course near Melbourne, the Food Forest PDC in Gawler, South Australia, and the Milkwood PDC in Sydney. Adding to this list, he will teach at the Good Life Permaculture PDC in Hobart, Tasmania. All the courses are very popular, so if you are thinking about learning permaculture from its co-founder, we urge you to book well in advance. For more details and bookings please click the links.


Rocklyn Ashram Permaculture Design Course

Only a few weeks left to book into our new Permaculture Course  in the Wombat Forest south of Daylesford at the beautiful Rocklyn Yoga Ashram.

Garden3This wonderful location was chosen for several reasons;

The Ashram has been expanding its focus over the last few years to encourage and emphasise sustainability and permaculture;

David Holmgren and Hamish Macallum completed a permaculture design at the Ashram which has been being put into practice, so there is much to look at and discuss;

The spiritual focus of Ashram life complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and thinking with reflection, a point not normally emphasised in PDCs;

Being quite close to Melbourne, Castlemaine, and Ballarat, it is centrally located and very accessible, though the overwhelming feeling when you’re there is of being in another world.

The Ashram has extensive gardens to cater for their visitors, and course participants; Most of the food for the course will be produced on the property. Vegetables

This PDC will cover all seven Permaculture Domain topics, study the twelve Permaculture Principles, as well as the three ethics, there will be at least three excursions to significant local demonstration sites, with twice-daily opportunities to attend Yoga sessions, as well as a meditation/havan session daily. 

The location, the venue and the forest around it, is very beautiful and will invite you to explore or just sit in peace, in the program time out allowance.

With seven highly experienced tutors, the depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will be another unique feature of this very special PDC.

If you’re thinking about attending this course, send us an email enquiry, or call Ian Lillington on 0478297057 for more information, and refer to our earlier post,