Our Personal Journey

Who is this couple who started Ecoburbia? Where did they come from?

Shani  Graham was born in Jamaica to Australian parents, but lived most of her early life in Canada. Her family had a small urban homestead, where they grew most of their own food and raised rabbits, chickens and goats for meat, eggs and milk.

Shani always wanted to be a teacher of children with disabilities, and spent the first part of her career working as an Education Support Teacher, Visiting Consultant, and then a Principal. Shani’s last positions with the Education Department were as Principal of Fremantle Primary School and the facilitator of a support program for graduate teachers.


Tim Darby has degrees in both Fine Arts and Recreation. He loved working as a stone mason and wrought iron sculptor, and is the brains behind the design of all the building projects Shani and Tim have undertaken together. He has renovated about seven houses!

2005 was a pivotal year for Shani and Tim. Tim had become increasingly physically affected by years of hard labour and Shani was stressed after twenty years as a public servant. While having some time off: (at Ecoburbia we call it ‘permissible limbo’) they became increasing concerned about climate change, peak oil, and other environmental issues.

This led to a ‘sea change’ in 2006, when they established The Painted Fish, a business providing sustainable bed and breakfast accommodation in South Fremantle. After also completing a sustainable retrofit on a small cottage (called Shimtani) in the same street, Shani and Tim moved to the Ecoburbia property in 2013 and began work on the current Ecoburbia project.

And ten years on? As well as working in the garden and milking goats Shani is presenting most of the Ecoburbia workshops, and is enjoying paid work as a MC, motivational speaker, and marriage celebrant. You can find out more here –www.shanigrahammarriagecelebrant.com

As well as all the ongoing maintenance and special projects at Ecoburbia, Tim has two current passions: sand sculpture and music. You can check out his website here www.timdarbycreative.com