HEALING HOUSE: Heather Johnston with one of her favourite artworks on the walls of The Green House at Buderim.
HEALING HOUSE: Heather Johnston with one of her favourite artworks on the walls of The Green House at Buderim. Tracey Johnstone

Buderim healing house open to all

NEAR the top of the Buderim Forest is a little green house which a shy senior willingly opens the front door to members of the indigenous and broader community.

A sharp turn off Lindsay Rd takes the visitor into The Green House site where indigenous culture is celebrated in various ways, protected by the glorious natural bush that has walking tracks that go as far as the creek below.

It's founder Heather Johnston, 70, opens the house to indigenous groups for discussions and art exhibitions, and to the public to rent for community meetings, and peaceful walks led by indigenous tour guides.

"There is also a group of disabled men who have been coming here once a week for 12 or 13 years," Ms Johnston said. "When they first came here they would do landcare like wedding, but now they are past it so they just hang here and do crafts."

The reclusive and quietly spoken nature of this senior masks a woman with an extraordinary inner determination.

Leaving behind a psychiatry practice on the Gold Coast where she focused on generational issues and disadvantaged people, Ms Johnston returned to the family home in Buderim in 2005. "When I came back there was 35 acres of bush," she said.

Her brother Dan Johnston, sister Sue Pitt and herself had inherited their father's passion for the land. "We organised for the 35 acres to be made into a nature refuge which means it's permanently preserved," Ms Johnston said. "It doesn't matter who owns, it can't be developed."

With social justice her passion in retirement, Ms Johnston purchased the nine acres adjoining the nature reserve, which included the Green House.

"I concluded that to tend to the land you need to attend to its history," she said. "I moved towards indigenous reconciliation."

She turned the house into a community centre with a focus on indigenous culture. From there she established a charity called Beulah which now owns the land. The charity also owns other sites on the Coast all of which she hopes she can in the future handover to indigenous volunteers to manage.

The Green House has given her a chance to share the many stories of Australia's indigenous community with the surrounding non-indigenous community. "I think awareness of past trauma is important to reconciliation," she added.

The Green House has meeting areas, outdoor seating, parking, a kitchen and quiet bush outlook. To book a space, phone Heather Johnston on 0416 336727.

The guided bushwalks run 10am-12pm on the last Saturday of the month. Other tours of the grounds of the house and Memorial Garden, the various art works, bush tucker plants, the grinding stone, and a scar tree are available by arrangement through indigenous tour guide Michael Ward by phoning 0477 771548.

The next Beulah events are an art exhibition at the house during the July NAIDOC Week and the Australia Day Bunya festival at Baroon Pocket. It is the largest gathering of indigenous people in Australia. During the festival there will be an Bunya-theme exhibition featuring original art and craft works by local artists and a display of historical material and talks

There will also be a similar exhibition and events for Remembering the Frontier Wars, to be held in the week of Anzac Day.

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