Burrabungle Park offers possibilities for exciting and visionary projects in addition to its core project of biodiversity conservation and restoration.
The current owner, environmental philosopher Freya Mathews, has been interested in providing philosophical retreats at the mount for thinkers and writers committed to environmental goals.
As a philosopher, Freya is mindful of the fact that in ancient Greece, philosophy was understood first and foremost as a reflective way of living. Philosophers were people who sought to live a reflective life regardless of whether they also wrote theoretical treatises or delivered theoretical lectures. A philosophical life was defined as a life lived in the pursuit of wisdom. Ancients, such as those belonging to the Stoic and Epicurean traditions, discovered, through centuries of philosophical experimentation, that a reflective life is best pursued in the company of like minds and with the aid of daily exercises that help to cultivate awareness. Pierre Hadot, a famous French historian of philosophy, has written of ancient philosophy as “an art of living” and as comprised of “spiritual exercises”.
Ancient philosophers also discovered that the development of wisdom required of practitioners that they perceive their own individual existence from the widest possible perspective – from the perspective, in other words, of nature or the cosmos at large. To achieve such an expanded perspective, it was necessary first to investigate and understand nature, to grasp it in its essence. To understand nature was inevitably also to be awed by it, to develop reverence for it. Such understanding of and reverence for nature were promoted as the foundation for wisdom in human affairs.
In universities today, philosophy is no longer understood as the pursuit of wisdom. It figures merely as a body of theoretical texts or teachings. The emphasis is on analysis and critique rather than on the transformation of the philosopher’s own existence.
Ecophilosophy however calls us to expand our moral imagination in a manner similar to that prescribed by the ancients. It asks us to grasp our lives within the moral horizon of the biosphere or even of the cosmos as a whole. In this sense ecophilosophy may be seen as a present-day call for the revival of philosophy in its original sense.
The landscape of Mt Korong is already conducive to the classical imagination, its stony vistas, vineyard and olive grove all conjuring the classical Greek setting in which philosophy was born. At the same time, this archaic landscape, with its often figurative rock formations, evokes a sense of the animism of Aboriginal Australia that is deeply conducive to an ecological and even cosmological ethic and outlook. As such, Burrabungle Park seems well appointed as a site for recovering a more authentic and relevant mode of thinking and living adequate to the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Perhaps this idea that conservation is at the heart of human wisdom, and is thus as important for our own flourishing as it is for the flourishing of the earth, could be called “reflective conservation”.
In any case it was with this idea in mind that Freya added an extension to the homestead in 2013 in order to offer retreat space to writers and thinkers working broadly towards an ecophilosophical vision. She was also involved in the establishment of a network of properties – Bush Retreats for Ecological Writers (BREW) - likewise offering residencies to ecological writers.
While Freya is offering the propertyfor outright sale, she is also open to co-ownership options with any potential purchasers who might be interested in further developing this vision. Freya would welcome the opportunity to continue her association with the property as a co-owner.