RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future

AUD $85.00

This 592 page manual shows how Australians can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens, communities and, above all, themselves to be more self-organised, sustainable and resilient into an uncertain future. It promises a challenging but exciting mix of satisfying work, a more meaningful way of living and hope for the next generation.

RetroSuburbia is divided into three main sections: the Built, the Biological and the Behavioural along with the introductory section ‘Setting the scene’.

For wholesale sales visit the Melliodora website. See a list of stockists below Available in the USA from our partners at Permaculture Principles and in the UK from Ragmans.

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Outline of RetroSuburbia

Setting The Scene

The first section explores the big-picture issues, concepts and thinking tools that David thinks are useful in creative household level responses to the challenges of the coming years and decades.

Key challenges and retrosuburban responses outlines the connections between the personal and global challenges of the near future and how suburbia might a good place to survive and thrive in challenging futures. It also introduces some of the thinking tools, such as permaculture and pattern languages, to help retrofit suburbia one household at a time.

Built Field: Patterns of Human Habitats

The Built Field covers the recurring patterns and design solutions relevant to retrofitting detached houses and the other physical systems that support suburban households. This is an obvious starting point for many who want to make their place a better long-term prospect.

Retrofitting is less costly than new construction, allowing permaculture downshifters to focus on food production, water systems, home-based livelihoods and community resilience rather than sinking all their efforts into state of the art eco-housing.

Biological Field: Patterns of life and growth

The possibilities for retrofitting the Biological Field are many and varied. Every residential block has soil with a history of use and/or abuse, established plantings, some of which may produce food, and a wider ecological context of sunshine, water, wind, vegetation and wildlife that influence the site.

This section introduces recurring patterns and proven design solutions for abundant garden farming in suburbia. It doesn’t tell you how to raise seedlings or graft a tree but it will help you select and design the best growing systems for vegetables and fruit trees, along with guidelines on what to grow to make best use of what space you have without moving to a rural property.

Behaviour Field: Patterns of decisions and actions

The Behavioural Field includes everything about how we live in the Built and Biological Fields, from our most unconscious actions through to complex collective organisation that extends from the household out into the wider community and economy.

In every chapter David has tried to provide a strategic overview, practical tips and encouragement to collaborate in bringing retrosuburbia to life – and making it the new normal in your household, street and neighbourhood. Even when we can’t change the building, the season or the people we live with, we can always change how we see and experience life for the better.

This is just a taste, for more information check out

Book details

  • 592 pages
  • 90+ watercolour illustrations by artist Brenna Quinlan
  • 400+ full colour photos
  • Foreword by Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia)
  • 34 chapters, spanning 3 fields – the Built, Behavioural and Biological
  • Includes case studies: real-life examples of households creating change and building resilience
  • Designed by Richard Telford
  • Published by Melliodora Publishing, Australia
  • Printed in Australia by Focus Print Group
  • Printed on Australian made FSC certified paper (30% recycled)

ISBN 9780994392879





Readings – 314 Drummond St, Carlton Victoria 3053
Hill of Content Bookshop – 86 Bourke St, Melbourne Victoria 3000
CERES Permaculture and Bushfood Nursery – Cnr. Roberts & Stewart Sts, Brunswick East Victoria 3057
EnviroShop – 253 High St, Northcote Victoria 3070
Bulleen Art & Garden – 6 Manningham Rd West, Bulleen Victoria 3051
Andrew’s Bookshop – 183 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe Victoria 3079
Verso Books – 1/222 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville Victoria 3777
Collins Booksellers Sale – 216 Raymond St, Sale Victoria 3850
String and Salt – 42 Smith St, Warragul Victoria 3829
Aesops Attic – 70 High St, Kyneton Victoria 3444
New Leaves Book Store – 81 High St, Woodend Victoria 3442
Stonemans Bookroom – 101 Moyston St, Castlemaine Victoria 3450
Collins Booksellers on Lydiard – 22 Lydiard Street, Ballarat Victoria 3350
Beechworth Food Co op – Boilerhouse Lane, Beechworth Victoria 3747

New South Wales and ACT

Botanical Bookshop – Aust National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St, Acton Australian Capital Territory 2601
Reader’s Companion – 151 Beardy St, Armidale New South Wales 2350
Florilegium, the Garden Bookstore – 65 Derwent St, Glebe New South Wales 2037
Megalong Books – 183 The Mall, Leura New South Wales 2780
Candelo Books – 208 Carp St, Bega New South Wales 2550
Bissys Cafe Orange – 88 Warrendine Street, Orange New South Wales 2800

The Rest of Australia

Avid Reader – 193 Boundary St, West End Queensland 4101
Rosetta Books – 30 Maple Street, Maleny Queensland 4552
Petrarch’s Bookshop – 89 Brisbane St, Launceston Tasmania 7250
Matilda Bookshop – 1/8 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling, Adelaide South 5152
Booked at North Adelaide – Shop T20, 81 O’Connell St, North Adelaide South Australia 5006
Urban Revolution  – 284 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park, Western Australia, 6100

New Zealand

The Eco School – 223 No. 2 Line, RD 2, Whanganui 4572

David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept following the publication of Permaculture One in 1978. Within the growing and international permaculture movement, David is respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture ideas through practical projects and teaching by personal example, that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism.

As well as constant involvement in the practical side of permaculture, David is passionate about the philosophical and conceptual foundations for sustainability, which he explored in Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change (2009), and Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003). With an increasingly high profile as a public speaker, David Holmgren provides leadership with his refreshing and unorthodox approach to the environmental issues of our time.

David lives with his partner Su Dennett at “Melliodora”, a one-hectare permaculture demonstration site at Hepburn Springs, Central Victoria, Australia. Visit his web site at

Additional information

Weight 1.8 kg
Dimensions 275 × 210 × 41 mm

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