For Marg Murray (nee Wachter) Fernhill has always been her home. Her mother worked in the laundry so she spent her childhood playing on the farmland and fondly remembers Malcolm Newman as “Poppa Winter”. Today Marg is a resident of the retirement community and was kind enough to share her memories of Fernhill.
“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 live cattle, chickens, pigs that were sent to the abattoir in Toowoomba, seasonal vegetables grown on the land, roaming peacocks, emus, guinea fowls and kangaroos that used to sun themselves on the tennis court.
“My favourite memory of Fernhill is 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 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 can recall him walking around in his gardens,” she said.
From the age of fourteen Marg began working in Newman House in the kitchens where she would do the washing up, cooking and cutting vegetables. After a few people left Marg quickly moved through the ranks and became assistant cook preparing food for the World War I Veterans.
“They were 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 said.
“They were so lovely, we as staff had plenty of contact with our residents. The teams used to put in extra time in 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 a 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 Marg came back to Fernhill to work in the kitchens again.
After she retired Marg 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 Fernhill, Marg moved into the retirement village sixteen years ago and has happily lived there ever since.
“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.”