By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on April 9, 2020
IN A world where fights are breaking out in supermarkets over the last roll of toilet paper, a Great Southern woman has been preparing for this modern apocalypse for the past 30 years.
The woman asked not to be identified, so for the purposes of this article will be referred to as Mary.
Mary’s interest in self-sufficiency began when she was a teenager watching a TV show.
“When I was about 16 there was a show on TV called The Survivors, and it was a very realistic account of what would happen should a plague come through,” she said.
“It was a very serious one, and it put in my mind that all the systems we’ve set up are a lot more frail than you would think, so over the course of my life I’ve spent a lot of time looking into how our civilisation works and how it can break down.”
Since then, Mary has spent her free time learning skills that allow her to live almost entirely off her own back.
Some of Mary’s skills include knowing how to grow her own wheat, mill it into flour and turn it into bread, being able to collect her own salt from the ocean and having the tools to complete everyday household activities without the need for electricity.
“I started by going back and looking at the early modern period, where we were still relying on our own skills and knowledge of the things around us to keep us alive,” she said.
“We’ve lost a lot of skills due to mechanisation, it’s great because we have everything we need, but we’ve also lost the knowledge in those few generations of how to do everything ourselves.”
Mary said despite new isolation and lockdown laws being introduced, she’s feeling pretty comfortable at home.
“Happily, we are in the position where we can do a full lockdown, and what we run out of is not going to be a big deal, I can find some way to replace those things,” she said.
“It reduces the anxiety to know I am quite capable of supporting myself.
“There is a limit to what you can do, but I think I could maintain my lifestyle pretty well.”
One online Australian self-sufficiency group has seen an increase to membership of 43 per cent since February, and Mary said some of the best information can be found online.
“With the advent of YouTube, you can learn anything online,” she said.
“I read copious books and articles before the internet was available and I’ve been quietly working away at all of that knowledge, but everything I’ve learnt over 30 years you can probably learn in a week online.”
Mary said for people looking to learn, it’s not just about having a garden envied by the neighbours.
“It will give them the purpose of keeping their family alive, and what could be more important than that?” she said.