Fernhill resident Lynda with her 40 year old orchid.

Lynda with 40 year old Fernhill orchid

When Lynda McKewan moved to Bolton Clarke’s Fernhill retirement village at Caboolture, she didn’t first appreciate what a homecoming it would be.

“I truly feel like I’ve come home,” she says. “I have so many connections to Fernhill.”

Lynda’s family first moved to Caboolture in 1946, taking a house on Pumicestone Road. She was eight years old and attended Caboolture State School.

She first encountered Fernhill when the property was still the home of local businessman JM Newman and his family.

“I knew the family from my school days, and I used to play with Mack, one of Mr. Newman’s sons,” she recalls.

She went to school with many who worked and later lived at Fernhill before both working and now living there herself.

“Nursing was my first love,” she says.

“I did my training at Wondai Hospital 50 years ago, and then worked at the telephone exchange for 18 months.

“My first nursing appointment was at Redcliffe Hospital in 1979, but I only stayed there six months before starting at Fernhill in 1980. I worked in the first and second nursing homes and it was a privilege to look after older people, especially the veterans. They had been through a lot, but they were always happy to chat with you.”

Lynda worked under notable Fernhill matrons including Jean Thurlby and Gwenda Shaw, whose name adorns the new Fernhill’s Shaw Wellness Centre.

“I retired in 1995, the year after Gwenda was awarded her Order of Australia medal, and the girls from the telephone exchange and I went to the café for a catch up, it was lovely.”

Lynda’s taken little pieces of Fernhill with her everywhere, including some stones and plants from the original gardens.

“While I was still working there they were doing some landscaping, and some of the large rocks were going to the dump – so I said perhaps they should dump them in my front yard – they are still there today.

“I also was able to take a cutting from an orchid that once stood in Mr. Newman’s original orchid house. So, there’s a plant in my backyard that’s 40 years old – and it’s come home, too.”

From Lynda’s backyard, she can see behind her a house that her sister and brother-in-law lived in, and another they built next door.

“It’s meant to be, I think. It’s a lovely unit. It appealed to me when I saw it. It’s comfortable, and I feel peaceful.

“It’s like life has come full circle.”