For Bolton Clarke Fernhill retirement living resident Marg Wachter, the Caboolture community has always been associated with home.
Marg’s mother worked in the laundry at Newman House, which was adapted to house the site’s first veteran residents after World War II, and she spent her childhood playing on the farmland.
“It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do in my life, I always seem to keep coming back to Fernhill,” Marg laughs.
“While I was in school my mother worked in the laundry of Newman House, so before and after classes I would jump the fence and spend time playing in the gardens and on the farm.”
Fernhill was originally a dairy farm with cattle as well as chickens, pigs, seasonal vegetables grown on the land, roaming peacocks, emus, Guinea fowls and kangaroos that would sun themselves on the tennis court.
“My favourite place was the Chinese Gardens, they were absolutely breath-taking and manicured to perfection. There was a wishing well, a sun dial that dates back centuries and you could walk over the bridge to see the goldfish in the pond below.
“Newman House was unbelievably beautiful; it was a beacon for the Caboolture community. The public would just come up and walk through the grounds just to have a look and the children from the school used to play in the gardens.”
The Fernhill land was originally donated by the Newman Family in 1947 to RSL Queensland to house returned World War I Veterans, however the family still resided on the property for many years after.
“I was good friends with the three Newman boys – we used to go square dancing as a group together. I remember Mr Newman well, we called him Poppa Winter and I can recall him walking around in his gardens,” Marg says.
From the age of 14, the teenaged Marg followed her mother into work at Newman House in the kitchens where her tasks included washing up, cooking and cutting vegetables. She quickly moved up the ranks and became assistant cook, preparing food for Fernhill’s World War I Veteran residents.
“It was very simple but nice meals back then, plenty of corned beef and cabbage. The assistant cook was in change or making fresh cakes and puddings every day,” she says.
“They were so lovely, we as staff had plenty of contact with our residents. The teams used to put in extra time with concerts, dances and activities to keep them occupied. I think they were very grateful for what we did for them, we made it feel like home.”
After working in the kitchens for four years Marg moved onto a farm with her family. However a bad drought forced the family to return to Caboolture and once again she returned to Fernhill to work in the kitchens.
After she retired, she began searching for somewhere new to live.
“I remember saying to my son, I bet you any money I wind back up at Fernhill,” she laughs.
True to her word and what seems like the gravitational pull of the community that has been such an important part of her life, Marg moved into the retirement village 16 years ago.
Now, she is watching the start of a new era as work begins on Future Fernhill, co-designed with residents and with green space and gardens once again a focus.
“I am excited to see the new developments going up. I think change is good and you have to keep moving forward with the times,” she said.
“It is always nice to look back and remember – it will always be a special place for me.”
To find out more about the developments at Fernhill you can visit www.futurefernhill.com.au.