Electric car, 4 year review

On the 20th of January, a month ago, we notched up 4 years in our Hyundai Ioniq plug-in electric hybrid car.

In the past 4 years, we have driven 37,763 kms. That’s a little under 10,000 kms per year.  9,440 to be exact.

During that time we have spent exactly $771.05 on petrol.

That means that we are getting about 50 km to the dollar, or 75 km to the litre, or 1.33 litres to 100 kms.

This is very fuel efficient for a car that weighs almost 2 tonnes. (because of the battery)

We go to the petrol station about every 3 months and put in $30, plus when we go on a long trip, say down the coast, we put $50 in there.

Needless to say that we are very happy with these results, because I actually spend more money putting petrol in the lawn mowers each year!

We have had 2 very minor issues with the plug. Once it wouldn’t dis-connect, I had to do it manually rather than electronically.

Then another time it wouldn’t engage with the plug electronically, so I had to do it with the manual switch.

Very minor issues. I don’t know why and it never happened again. 

However it is disconcerting when something that is a standard everyday event suddenly doesn’t happen as usual. The first time that it happened, I had to read the manual!  

If in doubt, read the instructions!

We do all our local driving on our own solar PV from the roof, we don’t need to use any petrol. Hence the name ‘Plug-in hybrid’.

We can go to town in the morning, come home and plug it in, 2 hours later, after lunch, we can go out again. It’s so simple. 

If we come home at night and need to use the car first thing the next day. I can still plug it in and charge it up in the dark from our own stored sunshine in our battery.

However, when we go on long trips. Then we need to come home on petrol. But that isn’t very often.

This style of electric car suits us perfectly. As yet, we haven’t ever used a charging station. On 2 occasions we have plugged in at a friends house to allow us to drive home on electricity.

We paid just over $40,000 for this car. The most expensive car we have ever bought, and the second most expensive thing after our house at the time.

If I’d known that we were about to be burnt out. I wouldn’t have dared to spend so much money on a car. But as I can’t foretell the future. I’m now very glad that I did. Because we now own it and enjoy the benefits.

The current version of the ioniq, due to be released tomorrow, is priced at $80,000! Unbelievably expensive. I’m so glad that we bought this ‘cheap’ one when we did.

I’m also very proud to be able to drive nearly all of the time on our own sunshine.

More Mea Culpa

More info on recycled sewage.One of my other PhD friends, Bill, a retired biologist sent me this little snippet from ‘The Conversation’. 

The thick plottens! 

They may have to do further treatments to BioWaste to cope with increasing amounts of PFAS, or ‘Forever Chemicals’ that are showing up in our waste stream.

‘Forever chemicals’ have made their way to farms. For now, levels in your food are low – but there’s no time to wastetheconversation.com

The author, Ravi Naidu, from Newcastle Uni, Points out that there are treatments to neutralise PFAS chemicals, but isn’t very forth coming on what they are.

He does recommend heating the boiwaste to create biochar, which would destroy or break down the chemicals.

However, later on in the article, he recommends reading the following link;

Read more: ‘Forever chemicals’ are everywhere – here’s what you need to know about them

Which points out that they are very high temperature stable, and aren’t easily broken down by heat. It’s a worry. and far beyond my ken, but then later there is this link to another publication about the breakdown of PFAS.  break down Which is more positive.

Bio char is well known to be very beneficial to soil health and fertility. We use it. We make our own. Janine sieves out all the charcoal pieces from our fire place ash when we make ash glaze. I add the charcoal ‘crumb’  to the soil in the veggie garden. Being extremely porous, it absorbs and holds water releasing it slowly over time, as well as its nutrient value. I believe that it helped our garden survive the recent drought. 

As all the wood that we burn is collected from our own land, there is little chance of it concentrating any heavy metals and /or PFAS in our garden soil.

PFAS are a major ingredient in non-stick kitchen pans. Luckily I like to collect and re-use old stainless steel lined copper pans for cooking, so we only own one non-stick item, a modern copper fry pan with a non-stick coating. I only use it for poaching/steaming delicate soft white fish, as it doesn’t stick and break up when lifted out of the pan. I’ll have to try harder. I’ll need to put it away and go back to plain stainless steel lined copper.

If nothing else, it makes me feel a lot better about growing all our own vegetables and fruit here, using our own compost. However, our system fails when I use chicken manure from outside as a fertiliser! No easy solutions. Mea Culpa again.

Mea Culpa. Update on Pee Poo and Phosphates

My friend Stan, a retired scientist, with a PhD in chemistry, has corrected me on my post about all of our ’Night soil’ being pumped out to sea.

Apparently, the sewerage treatment works located around Sydney and Melbourne, do in fact seperate, compost and then sell-on the processed sewerage

This processed human poo is called ‘biosolids’ and has been supplied to specific farms in a very controlled and supervised manner for a long time. Who knew?

“Melbourne Water (MW) produces sufficient biosolids each year to provide a useful soil supplement for approximately 30,000Ha of farm land, based on a re-application every 5 years in accordance with Environmental Protection Authority Victoria (EPAV) Guidelines.”

“Farmer demand for Sydney Water’s biosolids program – which turns human waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser – is currently outstripping supply. The program, which has now been running for 20 years, is known to increase crop yields by 20-30%. “

You can read the full article here ; <https://www.melbournewater.com.au/media/10026/download>

Thank you Stan. I found it really interesting. I like to be corrected when I get things wrong, because then I can pass on the correct information, so that we all have a better grasp what is going on. Perhaps everyone else out there in the ‘real’ world knew all about this? I live in a self made, environmentally sustainable, romantic bubble here, fairly well insulated from the lies, grossness, violence and political corruption stories that fill the nightly news. I just don’t want to watch it. I look instead for more positive and uplifting stories, but they are harder to find. If it bleeds, it leads, was never so true.

I googled Sydney Water and found this simple diagrammatic explanation;


I remember swimming in the ocean off manly when I was a kid, and there being visible particulates of raw sewage in the ocean at certain times depending on the tide and currents at the time. It was pretty gross. Sewage was still being dumped into the ocean off Sydney, up until around the year 2020. Somehow, I missed seeing these news items at the time.“Surveyor Daniel Fitzhenry said before the deep ocean outfalls, Sydney’s sewage was pumped off cliffs near some of Sydney’s most famous beaches.”  “ Manly was like a septic tank, it was dreadful,” he said.  

“There were huge surface plumes and the beaches adjacent were really polluted.”


“A spokesperson for Utilities Minister Don Harwin said work would start in 2019 and finish in 2020.”  https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/finance-news/2023/02/14/nbn-bonuses-labor/

So there is very slow progress and things are getting better bit by bit. But it appears to be glacial in its progress at times.

Pee, Pooh, and the Phosphorous Fertilizer Crisis

I have been reading an interesting article in a recent edition of the ‘New Scientist’ magazine. 28/2/23, P17. No. 3423.

Some genius has come up with an astonishingly new idea to solve the worlds fertiliser shortage crisis.

You can use human and animal faeces as fertiliser!!!  Who’d have thought!  Amazing!

And it’s safe.

It is apparently being used in some 3rd world countries at this very moment.  🙂

Just in case you hadn’t realised. We (Australians) pump all our precious phosphorous and nitrogen out to sea. No one ever thought that we would ever run out of anything.

After-all, it’s only shit isn’t it.  Well, It seems that we have, or are, running out of lots of things. The days of plenty are coming to an end, or have ended. We have to take account.

Now ’super’ (super phosphate) is in short supply and crop yields are dropping. International shipping is in dis-array. So many shortages, and we are still pumping all of our own good fertiliser out to sea. It’s going to take years to turn it all around.

A few years ago, I posted on my blog a brief review of a book called ‘Farmers of 40 Centuries’

This book is basically a review of Asian farmers use of manure and compost to keep their soils fertile for over 4,000 years of continuous agriculture.

There are no new ideas. 

It was first published in 1911. I read the facsimile re-print in the mid seventies. 

Janine and I have been using composted manures, mostly chicken manure, in our gardens and orchards for 40 years without any ill effects, that’s just 1% of the history in the above book, but we do what we can.

We pump our septic tank over flow into trenches in, around and under our fruit trees in our orchards, instead of just allowing it to seep into the lawn area.

There is a lot of good nitrogen and phosphorus in that effluent, we don’t want to see it go to waste.

I have also been re-reading ‘Famine on the Wind’, another book that I first read in the ’70’s. a history of agriculture and plant diseases, and ‘The Seed Detective’. A history of seed collecting and seed merchants. He looks back as far as Pliny the Elder for info on plants, seeds and the development of our most common vegetables. Both really interesting reads.

I don’t know where I find the time to read, but it is usually in those few minutes before going to sleep.

Clay and Soufflé

We are finally back at work in the pottery. Proper work.

There was still so much to finish off in and around the pottery. We have been trying to achieve the impossible. 

To rebuild in a few years what it took us 40 years to build up over a lifetime of potting, collecting and restoring.

There is still a lot to do, but most of all the pressingly urgent stuff is complete and in place. The extraction hood over the electric kilns was the last really necessary thing.

I am currently working part time on a flame combustor, spark arrestor and scrubber for the top of the wood kiln chimney. That will be completed in the next few months in time for the cooler weather and the first wood kiln firing of the season.

This week I made up a batch of rough stoneware body made from crushed shale. I had to spend some time crushing and sieving the shale. I have had this stuff for some time. It had come through the fire and is full of charcoal from the fire. It wasn’t too arduous, as it was only through a coarse mesh.

After mixing the two x 125 kg batches of body, we pugged all the clay twice. Once all through the pug and then stacked on the pug table in a pyramid stack. We then cut off all the ends of the sausages and re-pug it all another time, such that each sausage that comes out of the pug is comprised of a mix of all the previous pugs of clay. This is to ensure that there is very little variability from the first to last sausage of clay.

After finishing up, the pug mills and tables are all washed and wheeled out of the way and all the floors are wet scrubbed and mopped to clean off any small amount of clay that finds it way onto the floor, which it inevitably does. The floor is scrupulously clean all through. All the clay is bagged and boxed. Everything ship shape.

This is the best pottery workshop that we have ever had. Having been burnt out 3 times over our careers. I have designed and built this 4th workshop/studio with every piece of equipment on wheels to facilitate flexibility and cleanliness.

We have been picking lots of food from the garden, then cooking and preserving all the excess. We are up to our 5th batch of tomato passata.

Oven baked pumpkin is great on its own and can be used up all week in all sorts of ways from frittata to salads.

Tomatoes, basil, capsicums, chilli and pepper corns go into the passata.

We had an over ripe banana and a few eggs, so I made us a banana soufflé for desert. It worked out really well.

All part of our attempts at self-reliance. It seems to be working out OK.