During the week I was asked this question and I gave a pretty quick response. Many years ago we named our property Earth & Soul.
Donna & I are like chalk & cheese.
Donna is the earthy, practical one.
I am the airy, song-writing, spiritual one with my head in the clouds.
So, naturally, when we came to building cabins, the theme continued.
The Earth Cabin is built on the granite rock and closer down to the gorge.
The site of the Soul Cabin is softer, with less rock, and is closer to the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
There is a view, down through the trees, looking to the gorge.
Then I started to think about it.
The name Earth & Soul is deeper than just that.
Earth & Soul is 300 acres of natural granite belt bushland.
Cannon Creek crosses through the property meeting the Broadwater at the bottom boundary.
Over the years we have enjoyed the natural beauty.
I think for me that at times it has kept me alive.
Over the years we have developed over 18 kilometres of natural walking trails.
As my working life progressed, I found myself looking for more and more spiritual meaning.
There has to be more to life than this.
The top paddock, up near the gate, was cleared way before our time.
Only about 20 acres of the property has ever been cleared.
The top paddock, as we called it, about 7 acres of open field, had never fulfilled any farmer's dream.
For many years I have researched and studied the Tree of Life.
A model of life and energy and the cosmos from the Jewish Kabbalah.
In my search for meaning I found a new project.
I think I may be the first person on the Granite Belt to start putting rocks back in a paddock.
The Tree of Life Spiritual Walk became a reality.
Over the years, the open cleared area, once known only as the Top Paddock, has taken on significant spiritual feeling & meaning.
It is now a peaceful place to meander through the paths and to sit and take in the wonders of the universe.
Nevertheless, my search for spiritual meaning persisted.
A visit to the Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby introduced me to the Chartres Labyrinth.
Eventually I announced to Donna that I might build a labyrinth.
I recall a story about Noah's Ark.
God called to Noah and said "Noah, build me an ark".
Noah replied, "What's an ark?"
I think Donna's reaction may have been similar.
My spiritual interests in Kabbalah and the Tree of Life extended to tales of the Knights Templar.
This band of knights defended the temple in Jerusalem.
They became the architects and builders of many Cathedrals.
The 11 circuit Rose Labyrinth was designed and laid in the tile floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Some consider that it was designed as a pilgrimage for the knights when they could no longer return to the Holy Land.
The walking meditation returns to the spiritual centre, from the outside world, and then returns again.
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth sits in an open glade in the natural environment.
The circular pattern is enclosed by a surrounding perimeter of granite rocks.
Within the spiritual sanctuary of nature, this is a sanctuary for spiritual meditation.
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth continues to blossom and develop.
We built the Gazebo and the firepit area nearby.
Everything seems to work in a functional, interconnected way.
Then we thought, what are we going to do when we retire?
300 acres of natural beauty, 12 kilometres from town!
We built our natural, environmentally designed, rammed earth home on the property in 2009.
Our home is the display home for our builder, Shawn & Sandra Palmer (4th Pig Pty Ltd).
Visitor's fall in love with the quiet beauty and strength of the rammed earth.
Add to this the environmental design, set amidst the natural granite belt features.
The best way to describe the peaceful quality of a well made rammed earth building is to invite someone inside.
Sit down and feel the natural silence and warmth.
My natural desire is to then take the visitor for a walk down through Cannon Creek Gorge and to Doro's Hole on the Broadwater.
Our retirement solution was waiting for us.
The challenge was to become a business solution.
My challenge was to develop the dream organically.
This is the natural progression of my spiritual searching.
Our dream for the visitor is to offer an escape.
A retreat from the real world.
The Soul Cabin will retain the same design as the Earth Cabin.
We have added some colour to the walls.
A red line to represent the earth and the natural landscape.
A white line to represent the clouds and the spiritual dimension.
In the polished concrete floor there will be a fleck of red jasper.
The landscaping will be different and will probably include a smaller labyrinth in a garden setting.
There will be a tree line barrier between the Soul Cabin and the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
Seclusion & privacy will be assured.
Things are moving along quite fast.
As our sign on the gate says when you're leaving "Back to the real World."
regards... Mark & Donna
We are quickly moving from a Stonehenge type set of disconnected structures to a rammed earth building.
To be continued...
Since launching the Earth Cabin in May this year, Donna & I have had an amazing experience.
We have learned and grown.
Now, the building of the second cabin, the Soul Cabin has started.
Our builders are Shawn & Sandra Palmer of 4th Pig Pty Ltd.
(the 1st pig made of straw, 2nd of sticks, 3rd of bricks, 4th pig... rammed earth, naturally!)
This first 3 weeks of October we have made unavailable so we can make some serious building sounds. It is very exciting!
The intention is that all of the rammed earth earth walls will be completed in this period.
Donna & I can then focus on landscaping.
The big difference with the Soul Cabin is the addition of some colour in the construction of the walls.
We are also introducing some different colour into the polished concrete floor,
I see the two colours as representing the Earth & Soul theme, red for the earth and the white for spirituality and the sky.
This is the first wall of the Soul Cabin which we completed last Saturday, 9th October 2021.
So far, we have completed two wall sections and two columns.
There is a lot that will be happening this week and next week.
After that, Shawn & Sandra have building commitments elsewhere.
Construction will continue in the new year.
Hopefully we will be ready in time for the Apple & Grape Festival.
See you soon...
regards... Mark & Donna
A beautiful foggy morning for the last day of May.
This photo was taken at St Bernard Rock, just as the light started breaking through.
The Tree of Life was like a magical playground.
The Earth Cabin was outstanding!
Already, as soon as next week, they're talking about a chance of snow.
Find out first hand why this is Brass Monkey season.
If you like frost & fire and photography, you get some great opportunities.
Snowflakes in Stanthorpe isn't too far away.
This weekend Opera Queensland & Granite Belt Wine Country present
"Are you lonesome tonight"
The place to be!
Earth & Soul Retreat
You could be forgiven for thinking that it is winter already. A couple of cool mornings to start the week. Down to minus 3 yesterday morning & about minus 1 this morning. Beautiful clear blue skies and crystal clear night sky with that beautiful band of stars.
This time last year, this was the Earth Cabin site.
What a change a year can make!
It's great news to report that we have received end to end bookings for the last 4 weeks and already have another 4 bookings into July.
This is the site for the Soul Cabin.
Not as much rock, softer setting near the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
Many friends from Brisbane and elsewhere have preferred this site because of the open sky.
So, it will be a little bit different!
Building of the Soul Cabin is planned to start in November this year.
It will be interesting to watch and see this time next year.
Join our mailing list, go to the website (https://earthandsoulretreat.com.au) or follow Earth & Soul Retreat on Facebook to keep up with what's happening.
Shawn & Sandra Palmer, our impressive builders at 4th Pig, are currently working on a huge multi-million $ project at the Sydney Art Gallery. Practice makes perfect!
One of the beautiful aspects of Stanthorpe & the Granite Belt is the changing of the seasons - winter, spring, summer & autumn change the view... Winter comes with a mix of frost & fire... drink a glass of red and take the time to realise... and before you know it, spring's sneaking up you.
Now is the time to plan ahead. The Stanthorpe Rare Wildflower Consortium has posted the dates for the 2021 WILDFLOWER WALKS
Everyone, the 2021 spring time wildflower walks are as follows:
- Wildflower walk 1: Sun 22 August at Amiens state forest
- Wildflower walk 2: Sun 19 September at Broadwater state forest
- Wildflower walk 3: Sun 17 October at Girraween National Park
Lock in the dates.
For now, let's settle down in front of the fire & pass the port around.
Enjoy the Gem in the Crown, the Granite Belt of Queensland.
Earth & Soul Retreat
World Labyrinth Day
May 1st 2021
Walk as One at 1
We registered the Earth & Soul Labyrinth to participate in the "Big Connection", a Legacy Labyrinth Project designed to study the effects of people walking labyrinths in a rolling wave of energy, all around the planet, while focusing their minds on the one intention.
Prior to the walk we were provided with information and videos to help prepare for the event, particularly on the subject of Heart/Brain Coherence.
I feel humbled to be part of such a huge global project.
There is a sense of contentment that in this way we can play our part towards positive change. If what we do encourages others to think likewise then we have achieved.
The catch-phrase for World Labyrinth Day is
"Walk as one at 1".
Here at Earth & Soul we join in with others around the world and at 1pm on Saturday 1st May 2021, we will be walking the Labyrinth.
If you would like to participate with us then please give us a call or send an email to make arrangements.
Earth & Soul Retreat is located at 124 Barker Lane, Cannon Creek
Further details can be found at:
Earth & Soul Labyrinth - Earth & Soul Retreat (earthandsoulretreat.com.au)
and also at:
Earth & Soul Labyrinth - EARTH & SOUL (weebly.com)
Earth & Soul Retreat
Architect designed, luxury, environmental rammed earth accommodation.
Total relaxation, off-grid, fully inclusive, secluded 300acre bush retreat.
12km from Stanthorpe.
Mark Carter & Donna Kennedy
124 Barker Lane, Cannon Creek
Queensland Australia 4380
Hi & Happy 2021 to everyone. We progress relentlessly. As you can see above the decking is done. Not too long before the bath goes on the deck near the privacy wall. In the slide show below notice that the solar panels are on, we have lights and power.
The septic & tanks are in place and the place doesn't look so much like a minefield. The first tank is about 2/3 full so bring on the next deluge! We are digging out & preparing the firepit area and gathering rocks for the firepit and the natural granite paving around the pit. The shower is looking fantastic with clear views out to nature, the vanity is magnificent., and the bed loft is shaping up with the beautiful iron bark balustrade. The front step and landing were completed only yesterday. The Earth Cabin Retreat is really happening!
This is the site for the Soul Cabin Retreat. Shawn & Sandra Palmer (4th Pig Pty Ltd) promise to return in September this year to commence the next phase.
We are now contemplating the landscaping with a view to natural surrounds and predicting a launch sometime in early March 2021. We will practice with the Earth Cabin this autumn/winter, find out what we did well and whether we need to change anything for the Soul Cabin. If you would like to come out please call (0417669449). We will be announcing a date soon (early March) for the launch and open day. Catch you later - got to run - things to do...
Regards... Mark & Donna
On 26 June 2020 work commenced on the Earth Cabin site.
Today, 1st December 2020, we are getting closer to lock-up stage.
In the next 3 weeks heading into Christmas, there's still a lot to be done to get us ready for the new year, 2021. We hope to have the interior completed before Christmas, so January/February 2021we can lay carpet and start interior decorating. At the same time we want to get started with landscaping, so I need the earthworks around the septic trench and the tanks completed so we can start making it nice. Of course, not much can be done without sufficient water and so far the universe is holding back on supply. Hopefully I'll have heaps to share with you in the near future. Currently thinking on a March 2021 launch. Cross your fingers and watch with us. See you again soon. Regards... Mark & Donna
Hi, I'm Mark Carter.