Australia has had a history of intentional communities throughout its colonial history with religious and other communities up until the 1970’s. In the early 1970’s Australia had its own alternative revolution that saw many people seeking alternative lifestyles around the country and developing intentional communities.
The heart of this was the 1972 Aquarius Festival in Nimbin, NSW, where after the festival, we saw the establishment of land-sharing communities around the area.
NSW became the epicenter of land-sharing communities, in part due to legalisation in the state that allowed ‘land-sharing communities’ on rural land that has multiple dwellings and community facilities on one parcel of land. There are estimated to be over 250 land-sharing communities in NSW (real number not known) with over 180 in the northern NSW region. Another small centre exists around Bellingen NSW with roughly 40 land-sharing communities in that area. Land-sharing communities range in size from 10 to 200 people with varying levels of facilities, intentionality, vision and collectivism. Many of the land-sharing communities would not identify themselves as an intentional community rather a group of people sharing the same piece of land for a sustainable affordable lifestyle.
There was also a wave of Sanyasins in the 1980’s to Northern NSW which saw the establishment of a number of intentional communities with an Osho focus. There are also other religious intentional communities developed in the region.
Other states such as South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria restricted such uses in the late 1970’s which stopped the growth of intentional communities in these states with only a few established prior to legal issues. Queensland had more liberal planning laws than other states and therefore enabled communities to be established there in different formats.
There has also been the establishment of more planned larger ‘ecovillages’ in Australia concurrently however as they are hard to establish and finance only a dozen of these exist in the country such as Aldinga Arts Village (SA), Crystal Waters (QLD), Currumbin Ecovillage (QLD), Cape Paterson Ecovillage (VIC), Narara Ecovillage (NSW) and Tasman Ecovillage (TAS).
The amount of co-housing communities in Australia is small and underdeveloped with only around a dozen existing as its still a largely unfamiliar living/development type for Australians.
The total number of intentional communities, ecovillages and land-sharing communities in Australia is unknown however there are estimated to be over 350.