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The spiritual retreat surrounded by flames

One woman’s diary of the efforts to save her retreat from the ravages of NSW bushfires

Donna Mulhearn and Martin Reusch have spent two desperate days alongside rural firefighters, defending Blue Labyrinth Bush Retreat – the stunning rural retreat they co-created – from the ravages of bushfire.

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Located in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains, in the area from Wentworth Falls to Glenbrook, on the south side of the Great Western Highway, their property is “a spiritual retreat centre especially designed for people to come away for silence and solitude, inspired by Jesus’ invitation “Come away to a quiet place and rest a while”.

Eternity asked Donna if battling the bushfires felt spiritual to her, given the property’s purpose?

“Yes, it did,” she replied. “But I also felt it was being defended for us, because it was so special. And the firies sometimes made a comment about how the wind kept changing now and then and how it didn’t make sense to them but that it was helping.”

“I just smiled. This is sacred land, the Aboriginal paintings in the cave mean it was a meeting place for spiritual purposes, so we are just bringing the land back to its original purpose. Thanks to God, we felt protected and were.”

Mountains folk: Bushfire behind our place lost of smoke and embers, anyone in or near Riches Ave any info please let us know what's happening…if its out of control will reach us quickly…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Thursday, 7 November 2019

Firies are here, they are legends

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Thursday, 7 November 2019

Internet has gone down, only have patchy data… We are struggling to get up to date info on Hazelbrook and Woodford…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Thursday, 7 November 2019

We can see fire near bottom yurt someone please tell Firies to come back urgent, moving fast hurry

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Thursday, 7 November 2019

Fire truck has returned, ready to defend house, thanks everyone

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Thursday, 7 November 2019

Just heard ABC report things are downgraded in Woodford tell them we have flames approaching our house from the bush,…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Feels so strange, watching our bush burn, getting closer, orange everywhere I'm living my worst nightmare. But there'…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Someone tell ABC TV news their report is wrong, we are surrounded by flames, getting worse down Park Road…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Bring choppers back please!

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Anyone got large long box and other box for the peacocks andcan come pick them up? Just need a largish pen

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Please can someone call for another truck down to 30 park road Woodford, one hose not enough, out of control moving fast

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

In the end, (and I hope it's the end) we were saved by a labyrinth. I kid you not. That was a very intense last…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

We will be here a few more hours, flare ups going on but seems OK, but can someone who's still up please tell me, how are the other houses going? Any lost?

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Our Firies who've been here since 2pm are finally being relieved, new crew just arrived still got the hoses out for the flare ups – thanks so much Lawson RFS! Now to stay awake all night and keep watch!

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Oh bugger, big flare up on other side… But fresh crew here ready to go

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Midnight at our place

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

After ten hours on my feet now taking a break, keeping watch with crew, still a lot of flames and flare ups cos of the…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

New threat, hoses out, ready to go get it

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Now need the other labyrinth to save us, it's between our house and this…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

It's 1.45am and this is the view from my deck,

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

View from deck 2.40am, it's never ending

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Fire 5-10 metres from Rumi the Persian yurt, but we're on to it 3.04am

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

3.25am fire is about 25m from house but under control, Firies commenting that it's gonna give us good fire protection for a few years!

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

The blue light of dawn is appearing after a long night, Fire truck still here chugging away pumping water from the pool,…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Good morning! Managed to get 2hours sleep, Martin been out there since about 5am putting out spot fires, a new RFS crew…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Some shout outs: our first RFS crew from Lawson brigade who fought the main front last night came back this morning to…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Friday, 8 November 2019

Dear friends, I just want to give an update following the bushfire on our property on Friday. Firstly, thank you for…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Sunday, 10 November 2019

Just want to share some "after" shots at our place. We were absolutely convinced our bush yurt would have been engulfed…

Posted by Donna Mulhearn on Sunday, 10 November 2019

Postscript, from Donna:

Also, I carried these in my pocket – prayer beads given to me by an Iraqi man the night before the bombing started in Baghdad in 2003. They were his own personal prayer beads and he wanted to give them to me to have during the bombing, which I indeed did, and I have carried them with me many times to places of danger around the world. As soon as things looked hairy on Friday night, I went looking for them and kept them in my pocket all night.

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