Avatar's Abode , Woombye, Queensland
Meher Baba arrived and stayed three and a half days at Avatar’s Abode – 3rd to 6th June 1958
For a more comprehensive description of the visit to Avatar's Abode, click on the following button or under-scored name to visit the other web page for this visit in the "Event" folder.
This visit of Meher Baba was the second to Australia, the first visit occurred in the winter of 1956 in which Baba travelled and stayed briefly in Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales and then to Melbourne, the state capitol of Victoria. Both visits to Australia followed intense scheduled visits to the U.S.A. where the season there was summer, hence Baba wearing heavy winter clothing for the southern hemisphere's cold winter weather.
Meher Baba flew into Sydney's Mascot Airport on the 2nd of June 1958, on
a Qantas Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft, accompanied by
4 of his close men followers ;
That same afternoon - they took another flight north to Brisbane, the state capitol of Queensland. There is no record of the plane types or flight details on this journey within Australia. The group and others, stayed a night at the Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane and the following morning of the 3rd June, they all drove to the Avatar's Abode property.
Almost as soon as Francis Brabazon learnt of Baba's plans to have a sahavas in Australia, he set about locating a place that would be suitable to hold it. He drove far and wide — to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and up into the New England Highlands near Armidale, as he felt a city was not the best place for a center. Then, on 11 January 1958, Mani ( Irani )sent the following letter to the Australians:
As in the USA, Baba will give his sahavas in Australia at one place only. Baba leaves the sahavas arranging to Francis, with loving and willing co-operation and help from all as possible. Baba has outlined the main points, and leaves the details to you. For the site of the sahavas: Baba gives first preference to Queensland, and second preference to Beacon Hill. Baba would like Queensland if the climate is good during June, and if the place is practical from all angles — finance, convenience, climate, accommodation for all, etc. But you should not feel bound by this. If Queensland is not found to be practical from the above mentioned points then you should drop the idea and make arrangements at Beacon Hill for all concerned. If Queensland is found practical, then it would be ideal — for Baba would be blessing with his presence yet another part of Australia. Baba wishes Francis to let him know which is decided ...
Mt. Kiel, Woombye, Queensland - Aerial view
This was a total surprise. Neither Francis nor any of the Australian Baba group had any connections to Queensland, or had even visited there before. However, Francis knew that Baba would prefer a warmer climate for his sahavas during the Australian winter (which begins in June), and as Baba had indicated a "preference," Francis decided he would do everything possible to make it happen, despite the limited time.
Within a week of receiving the letter, Francis was driving around hillside locations in Queensland including Tamborine Mountain and Buderim. Finally he came across a run-down 82-acre pineapple farm on Kiel Mountain. It had been started 88 years earlier by Heinrich Kiel, the descendant of a German Lutheran missionary.
The site lay 75 miles / 120 kilometers north of Brisbane. Francis felt he had found the right place. Francis cabled Baba a detailed description. Baba cabled back that the spot was "excellently suitable."
Using money received from the late Baron von Frankenberg's estate, Francis purchased the property, which Baba later named Avatar's Abode. Being on the summit of a 450-foot hill / 137 meters, Avatar's Abode had 360-degree views — out as far as the Pacific Ocean (some six miles to the east). The region — the Sunshine Coast — was sub-tropical, renowned for its surf beaches, rainforest waterfalls and small fruit and dairy farms. It was an area dotted with tiny church halls — one of the most religious regions of Australia.
For the 1958 Sahavas in Australia, Baba and the mandali flew from San Francisco on Qantas Flight 743/032, at 11:00 A.M., on Saturday, 31 May 1958. After stopping in Honolulu at 6:15 P.M., where they had a four-hour layover (and a complimentary dinner, courtesy of Qantas), crossing the international date line and again stopping in Nadi, Fiji the following morning at 8:00 A.M. for half an hour (where they had tea), they arrived in Sydney at 3:30 P.M. on
Upon arrival at the Sydney Airport, they were met by newspaper reporters. In talking with them, Adi said, "Meher Baba knows everything. He knows what you are thinking now."
One reporter asked, "What am I thinking now?"
Exchanging a glance and smile with Baba, Adi replied, "Baba knows but he won't tell you."
From Sydney Airport, Baba and the mandali departed by Trans Australian Airlines ( TAA ) for Brisbane at 6:15 P.M. They arrived that night around 8:45 P.M. Baba walked slowly across the tarmac steadied by Eruch's arm. They were met by Francis, Bill Le Page and John Bruford and stayed at the Bellevue Hotel overnight. Bill had chosen the spot because at the time it was the most scenic area of Brisbane — adjacent to Brisbane's tropical Botanic Gardens and the State's majestic Parliament House. Also the Bellevue was a beautiful hotel that contained a small ground-level cottage where Baba could enjoy some privacy. Thus Bill was quite disappointed when Baba complained he had one of his "very worst nights" there. Unforeseen by Bill, trucks used the night hours to unload large quantities of beer barrels for the hotel's use. The noise from this had apparently kept Baba awake.
The next morning, Tuesday, 3 June 1958, Baba called Francis and Bill into the cottage of the hotel and asked them about arrangements for the journey, checking that all had been done.
The group left Brisbane around 9:00 A.M. John Bruford drove Baba, Eruch and Francis to Woombye in his new Peugeot 403. Bill followed in another car with the other mandali. This was a long drive through small towns, countryside and forest. The Australians pointed out to Baba the Glasshouse Mountains (strangely-shaped volcanic plugs). The group had only one stop — at Beerburrum, where they refueled and telephoned the others that they would soon be arriving. John Bruford had been most particular when purchasing this new car and was thrilled Baba was riding in it.
They arrived at Avatar's Abode at 11:20 A.M. — somewhat earlier than expected because along the way, for part of the journey, Baba had asked John to drive very fast. John was a one-footed driver due to polio and probably would have considered being a race car driver if he had been physically able! He enjoyed driving fast and so took full advantage of the opportunity. But he was perspiring terribly because the car's windows were rolled up as Baba wished, and the heater was turned on.
Although no Baba lovers lived in Queensland at this time, Francis had earlier managed — in less than four months, in the rain and with no electricity or running water — to prepare the roads and erect a house and gathering hall at Avatar's Abode for Baba's use, complete with a sound proof bedroom, and furniture and bedding specifically tailored to Baba's needs. Francis even had part of the road dynamited to decrease the slope, so that Baba would suffer less discomfort in arriving. Australian Baba lovers either stayed on site to help, or repeatedly drove up the long distance from Sydney and Melbourne to work on the property whenever they could. Francis and his group had additionally arranged accommodations for the 50 or more people expected to attend the sahavas from the states of Victoria and New South Wales. The original farmhouse had been moved to a site lower down the hill to be used as the women's quarters and kitchen, and a new house was built adjacent to the old farmhouse site for Baba and the mandali. The men at the sahavas were accommodated in tents near the main entrance.
Most of the 58 guests had arrived the day before, and the work of preparing meals, sweeping, washing dishes, et cetera, had been allocated on a roster system.
It had recently rained, so the paths and roads were sticky with mud. But the sun was shining when Baba's car arrived, and he was driven to his house.
As Baba was driven along the road, those Australian lovers gathered at the farmhouse, waved at Baba, but as the farmhouse was ahead, 40 feet below the road, Baba did not see them and did not wave back. Baba's seven-colored flag (that had flown at the Meherabad Sahavas) was flying from the flagpole, but no one was around. In fact, some of the Australians ran away when they saw Baba, because they had been told by Francis to all gather at the farmhouse if Baba arrived. Also they were keen to tell the others, so they raced down, shouting: "He's here! He's here!" Arriving at the house that had been built for him, Baba thus asked Francis with a surprised expression, "Where are my lovers?" Francis explained that he had told the group to wait at the farmhouse, in case Baba needed to rest after his travels. Baba sent word for the group to come up to the Meeting Hall, a short distance from "Baba House."
Baba also asked "Where are the children?" and added "Never mind, I will see them later." The children had been lodged in a nearby farmhouse and some were indeed very eager to see Baba and mindful that they had been instructed the sahavas was for adults only.
Francis then handed the key to the house to Baba, who unlocked the door. Francis opened the door for Baba, and the party entered. He was shown around the house and the room specially built for him. Baba was also shown the sweeping views that were at that time visible just behind and in front of the house. Standing there, Baba commented, "In 700 years, Avatar's Abode will become a place of world pilgrimage." Robert Rouse recalled Baba also said it would one day be truly "the Abode of God."
After the group was assembled in the Meeting Hall, Baba was carried from his house in a chair specially built by Reg Paffle, to decrease the trauma on Baba's hip. Reg wanted to help carry the chair as he had built it, but he did not push himself forward. Baba, reading his thoughts, beckoned Reg to be one of the carriers.
The Meeting Hall was a simple structure with only Hessian walls except in the back end where Baba was to sit, where the walls were corrugated iron.
People simply sat on logs or slabs of wood on tins over the earth floor. At the entrance, Baba stepped down, and leaning on Eruch, walked slowly to the front of the hall. Everyone stood as Baba entered, their hearts full with joy at having their Beloved with them once again. Baba sat on a chair on the small concrete dais, and despite his hip injury, he looked as radiant and lovely as when they had seen him last, two years before.
Baba then explained the purpose of his visit: "You are here for four days to experience my sahavas, or company. Each morning we will meet at 9:00 A.M., have an hour for lunch and start again at 1:00 P.M. until 4:00 P.M. What arrangements have you made for food? The mandali will eat the same as everyone else. Why are the men sleeping in tents by the side of the road?"
Francis explained that it was not a public road but the road on the property, and that Baba's house was also on the road.
He asked Francis, "Who owns the property?" Francis said that it was now Baba's. Baba replied, "I hold no goods or property in my name." He then instructed Francis to register the property in his own name.
|Motto||a stopping place on the road to the Beloved|
Avatar's Abode is a 99-acre (40 ha) spiritual retreat about 75 miles (121 km) north of Brisbane, Australia dedicated to Meher Baba. The site has a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean to the east and over valleys, farmlands and rolling blue hills to the west. By Meher Baba's wish, Avatar's Abode can never be sold, but must be kept as a place of pilgrimage.
The urge to establish a place dedicated Meher Baba in Queensland grew out of a letter from Meher Baba’s sister and disciple, Mani Irani. In 11th January 1958, she wrote to the Australian group of followers that Meher Baba wished to give his Sahavas (company) in Australia at one place only, and that Baba would "like Queensland if the climate is good during June, and if the place is practical."
This letter impelled Francis Brabazon - a major figure in the early group - to drive from Sydney to a number of Queensland locations in search of a possible ‘first preference’ venue. Using money willed to him by the Australian Sufi leader Baron Von Frankenburg for such a purpose, Brabazon eventually found and purchased an eighty-two-acre pineapple farm on Kiel Mountain, Woombye, Queensland. Brabazon telegramed Meher Baba to approve the purchase of the property which was then used to host Meher Baba on his second visit to Australia in 1958.
At that time, neither Brabazon nor any of the Australian Baba group lived in Queensland or knew the area. Thus to develop the centre for Meher Baba's visit, devotees travelled back and forth for several hundred - or even thousands - of kilometers between Keil’s Mountain and their homes or work in Sydney or Melbourne. Others simply camped out. Despite such distances and several other obstacles – no power, no running water, and a great deal of mud and rain -in a few months the group managed to construct roads, buildings and water supply on the property.
Meher Baba Himself named Avatar’s Abode. He stayed there for three and a half days in June 1958, meeting people and giving various messages and instructions. Although the property was given to him, Meher Baba handed it back explaining that he held no property. He also had workers reimbursed for their contributions, and - over time - requested a number of families or individuals to either reside at Avatar's Abode or to help develop it. Over the next decade, Meher Baba gave various instructions as to the management and development of Avatar's Abode - changing arrangements according to what was required or what was occuring there.
After Meher Baba's death, between 1969 and 1984, the poet Francis Brabazon lived at Avatar's Abode. His grave is situated on the property. Around the same time, Avatar’s Abode emerged as a transit/ meeting point for Australian youth investigating Alternative/ Eastern lifestyles and spiritualities, and as a focal point for many people dedicated to Meher Baba.Indeed, by the 1980s, a small community of followers started living in and around the centre.
Avatar's Abode Today
Today, through Avatar's Abode Trust and the Meher Baba Foundation, Avatar's Abode preserves buildings and items associated with Meher Baba's life and helps distribute information and literature about Meher Baba. It features forest walks and gardens, structures used for performances, dining and reception, an extensive archives, and a range of bunk and family accommodation for persons interested in or committed to Meher Baba.
Avatar's Abode is a quiet retreat for followers and persons interested in learning more about Meher Baba. Visitors from all over the world, including close disciples of Meher Baba, stay from time to time. The centre sees considerable use during festivals marking special days associated with Meher Baba's life, or for other gatherings of youth or adults. The largest of these is the annual anniversary which celebrates Meher Baba's visit to the property. This can draw several hundred attendees on some years.