Goolawah Co-operative is located between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head in NSW, about five hours drive north of Sydney. The land-sharing venture was started in 2000 with the objective of building a community in an affordable rural location.

As the Co-op is off the grid, member houses rely on solar energy, collect rainwater and use compost toilets; and gardens supplement food supplies for some members. Community activities and social life include building projects, Men’s Shed, music performance and protection of the environmental values of this special place.

Development Consent under NSW SEPP 15 legislation allows for 78 residential sites, which are grouped into several hamlets located in two areas of the property joined by a link road (see under Place). Owner-building by members is common.

Goolawah members reflect the wider community and contribute their own philosophies, interests and skills – with families, singles and a mix of life experience and occupations.


If you are interested in joining Goolawah Co-operative you can become a member and buy a share as opportunities arise.  Members have a right to occupy home improvement sites of approx. 5,000 sqm (1.2 acres), which are grouped together in several ‘hamlets’.

The Co-operative owns all the land on behalf of its members. Please be aware that you are not buying freehold land. You are buying a share in a co-operative with entitlements plus any improvements on your allocated site (dwellings, dams, gardens, sheds).

The Co-op has Development Consent under SEPP15 planning legislation for rural land-sharing, which requires it to be your principal place of residence. Individual dwelling development is subject to Council approval.

To help you learn about the Co-op, and decide if you would like to join:

  • Carefully consider our website information, including membership and costs.
  • Visit the land and talk to members. You must be accepted as a member by the Co-op before acquiring a share and access to land. Get in touch by email to make visit arrangements – you can also observe community meetings and attend social events.
  • Read ‘Creating a Life Together’ by Diana Leafe Christian (or view YouTubes).
  •  If you decide to apply, the application process helps you learn more about us and v.v.  Visiting Goolawah and meeting people helps complete some steps. A Membership Guide will assist you.

How to: Apply to Become a Member

  • Membership fees – on completion of the membership application process your application will be put to the community for approval. If successful and if you have found someone willing to sell a share, then you pay the joining fee and share capital to the Co-op.
  • Share capital of $7,000 is paid by the buyer directly to the Co-op and is recorded on the share transfer form and share certificate.
  • The joining fee is calculated as the sum total of all annual levies per share since the Co-op’s inception in 2000. For the third quarter of financial year 2020/21 the fee is $8814. The Treasurer will inform you of the exact joining fee at the time of your application.
  • Share transfer – once eligibility for membership is approved and payments made the community formally ratifies your share transfer. The Co-op’s official share register is then updated and a new share certificate issued to you.

Ongoing Costs of Membership 

To maintain active membership an annual subscription and other levies/charges decided by the Co-op must be paid, and are subject to change:

Annual Subscription:  $625 in 2020/2021 financial year for single or joint members.

Annual Work Levy: volunteer 18 hrs of your time to the community or pay $180 levy for each share owned.

Infrastructure Levy:  $500 in 2020/2021 is payable for each share owned. The Co-op built maintains 12 kms network of internal & external roads.

Other Levies/Charges: if the community incurs costs on your behalf (e.g. fire hazard reduction work on your site) these costs will be charged to you.

Other Outlays

• Dwelling structures must meet Australian Standards and receive Council approval. Contract building costs are similar to suburban constructions.

• When a Development Application for construction is approved by Kempsey Shire Council, it levies a one-off Section 94 Contribution (for public amenities like local roads and recreation areas) on top of DA fees. The S94 fee depends on the number of bedrooms (approx $3,700 for one bedroom in 2020) and is CPI-linked.

• The Co-operative is off-the-grid, so members need water collection and onsite sewage management systems that meet approved sanitation standards ($5,000+); and remote power systems (solar installations cost $10-20,000 depending on your energy needs).

If you are interested in becoming a member, please read  Joining Goolawah

For any other queries write to:

P.O. Box 4080 Crescent Head NSW 2440

Goolawah Co-op website: