Bali Style January 2015
Early in 2009, the Blundstone family took off on a camping trip through northern Australia seeking a new direction. Months into the trip in Kakaudu, they met the Van't Hoff family – creators of Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, Mt. Batukaru, in remote central mountains of Bali, Indonesia.
"The Van't Hoffs suggested we pay them a visit if we didn’t find what we were looking for in Australia, says John Blundstone. "A few months later, we took them up on their offer".
“We fell in love with the mountain and its way of life,” says John.
Norm and Linda Van't Hoff provided the Blundstone family with the inspiration to ‘make the leap’ across cultures, and find beautiful land on which the sustainable ecological business could be established. They provided invaluable assistance with regard to putting the project together - advising on building and food garden design, waste water management, sourcing materials, and finishings.
This amazing 200 are of land which the Blundstones discovered is now Bali Eco Stay. It is leased from its traditional owners, providing them with a constant source of annual income which not only increases with inflation and prosperity; but also stays in possession of the family for the benefit of future generations.
Bali Eco Stay has abundant springs, rice paddies, food forests, a crystal clear natural spring fed stream with a 12 meter water fall, and stunning views down the valley to the distant ocean, 15 kilometres away.
After an intensive nine month build with an entirely local crew of 40 plus villagers, working seven days a week apart from ceremony days, the eco stay opened to guests before the end of 2010. Six bungalows and a restaurant were handcrafter by local crews and supervisors. Extensively landscaping and permaculture food gardens were also established in that nine month period, and a hydro electric generator was installed to harness energy from the stream and waterfall. The hydro electric system has undergone several design variations in the last five years. Recently a German designed cross flow system was installed and this meets all power demands excepting refrigeration.
“We are eagerly awaiting new solar technology which may see us totally off the grid,”says Blundstone.
At Bali Eco Stay bountiful springs supply pure oxygenated water to all the bungalows, the restaurant and to the food garden for irrigation.
“In our organic permaculture food garden” says Blundstone, “we grow one of Bali’s traditional rice grains, we breed fresh water fish, we harvest free range eggs, mangostene, papaya, pineapple, banana, durian, jack fruit, buni and mulberries, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa, limes, mandarins, coffee and kadongdong, turmeric, ginger and guava… not to mention the huge variety of salad ingredients and fresh herbs we cultivate – free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides”.
The emphasis on gardening and food production at Bali Eco Stay is demonstrated by the higher ratio of garden crew to staff n the kitchen as well as room maintenance staff.
The bungalows have been designed to optimize airflow so as not to require air-conditioning or fans. Each has it’s own beautiful outlook and “space” to itself. Bed linens are made from bamboo and produced in Bali by BambooKu.
Guests are provided with natural soaps and cleaning products sourced from Bali Asli. “These are used in conjunction with vinegar, lime juice and bicarbonate soda,” Blundstone explains. “Because we care about the affect out operation has on this land and it’s inhabitants.
“As an Eco business,” he continued, “ part of our ethos is contributing to the community.”
“Bali Eco Stay achieves this by a number of means. For instance we install rubbish bag frames in strategic positions throughout the surrounding five villages, and provide a monthly collection service. We endeavor to support Balinese cultural heritage by providing teachers in dance, music and martial arts to local children. We provide English tuition to local kids and adults. We have established a library at the local school, which was recently re-roofed with the assistance of donations from our Eco Stay guests. We contribute to the local Banjar, of course, and have contributed substantially to local road upgrades.”
Bali Eco Stay is also a great supporter of friends of the National Park Foundation, John Fawsett Foundation, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Bob Brown Foundation and the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.
Bali Eco Stay is off the beaten track and accessing the location can sometimes be a bumpy ride yet guests who make this journey understand that this is what guarantees the sanctity and authentic beauty of the area.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud, to experience a part of Bali from days gone by – and if you don’t mind a little adenture – Bali Eco Stay is a great place for you to unwind, relax and connect with nature and the authentic island of Bali and it’s people.
“To live and work in Bali has been serendipitious,” Blundstone says, “and we feel blessed. It’s been truly rewarding to create and operate a sustainable business in every sense of the word”.