Home and History
A Milestone in the History of ‘The Mudgeeraba Foundation’ (TMF)
The Foundation was established in June 1999 (last month of the last financial year of the last century).
In June 2001 it had its first annual donation ceremony. To organize the event and to increase public
acceptance a “Board of Governors” was created and acted as a very helpful temporary body.
The idea was that a charitable organization should not only be based on legal documents and on a bank
fund. but should also include real estate in the form of a community centre. Therefore, one of the few
vacant 1000 m2 blocks in “old Mudgeeraba” was bought and building plans were lodged parallel to
the first donation activities. To have all this reached was the first milestone in the foundation’s history.
Those involved from the very beginning remember that the realization of the seemingly simple idea
of erecting a centre was not easy. One obstacle was that the corner block Regency Place/School Street
had to be re-zoned from residential to commercial. Another was that the term “recreational” activities
caused suspicion and led to 10 individual submissions and a petition of 25 people against the project.
However, with a majority decision the GCCC finally approved it and in February 2004 the building,
now called “Mudgeeraba Foundation Centre”, was opened. This was the second milestone. Since then
close to 50 Users have offered a fascinating variety of teaching areas. Some classes stayed only for a
few months, others never left. Big events, e.g. an art exhibition, added to the successful MFC story.
In December 2012 a third milestone marked the history of TMF, this time without publicity. After 15
months of intensive negotiations TMF was able to purchase a property completing a perfect triangle
with the two already owned by Peter, a triple lot of 2-acre blocks (approx.25000 m2=2.5 ha) in Tallai,
closest suburb of the village. Together they form the “Mudgeeraba Foundation Residences” (MFR).
This milestone most probably also marks the last step in the third period of a life full of cornerstones.
Still to be written before the finish line marked by the grave stone (which shouldn’t be a milestone!)
is an update of the Will that already contains working concepts and structures. In other words: The
stage exists - all what will be needed are a few new actors prepared to invest some voluntary work.
PS: Text and photos about TMF, the MFC & the MFR have been updated and are part of this notice.
From Meiringen to Mudgeeraba
Private foundations are often named after the person/s who established them. The Mudgeeraba Foundation is perhaps one of a few in Australia named after a village. Although the founder and owner, Peter Ochsenbein, is not eager to have his name immortalised, he is proud to stem from an ancient and historically known family in his home town of Bern, the Federal City (capital) of Switzerland. He was born close to the Bernese Alps in Meiringen, famous in connection with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictitious detective Sherlock Holmes. Peter spent his early years in Interlaken with his family. They then moved to Bern where he studied at schools and the University, mastering in chemistry and gaining a PhD in natural sciences.
Peter’s whole professional career (1960-1991) took place in Basel. His last position was Secretary General of an organisation consisting of approximately 30 of the largest European multinational companies. During his holidays he used to travel around the world. He visited almost 80 countries and was on more than 100 islands, dreaming of an ideal place and climate for his retirement. He finally decided for Queensland and the Gold Coast . A visit to Mudgeeraba would then make his decision easy as to where exactly this would be and he settled on the first hill behind the village which became Peter’s new ‘local capital’.
Developing a living standard for the conservation of the heritage
In Bern Peter enjoyed reminiscing the past of more than 800 years with its 15th century arcades, 16th century fountains and original medieval facades. Peter was one of a group of students who in the 1950’s created a political party (‘Young Bern’) fighting for the preservation of the town of which he ran for a seat in the local parliament. In 1983, it became clear how justified these efforts were when the town centre of Bern was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, being the first living town worldwide to receive this honour.
The reason for Peter’s choice has to do with the special and similar characteristics of Mudgeeraba and Bern, as well as many towns and villages in Switzerland. Naturally he immediately felt a special bond to Mudgeeraba when he observed its heritage character reflecting more than 100 years of Queensland’s early settlers’ culture and architecture. Based on his experiences Peter is convinced that conservation of heritage can go hand in hand with high living standard. Nothing could better illustrate this than Bern which together with Sydney, Zuerich and Geneva, is ranked among the top ten in the world-renowned 2010 Mercer quality of living survey. In 2009 Mudgeeraba was elected ‘Queensland’s Friendliest Town’ which proved to Peter that he could be proud of the name he gave his foundation
When Peter arrived in 1992 there was grasslands with black and white cows on the eastern side of the highway where now Robina stands. His hopes are that Mudgeeraba will not become ‘Robina West’ but will retain its identity which he wants his foundation to be a part of. Peter’s political temperament is still awake and free of personal ambitions. In the meantime he feels fully integrated and calls himself a ‘Swaussie’ after receiving Australian citizenship in 1997. Peter’s roots are Swiss but in19 years of living here he has never had the opportunity to venture back to Europe nor has he travelled to anywhere else overseas. He had simply no time because he had never been a house- and landowner before and realized only now that in this subtropical climate he was almost daily confronted with time consuming gardening and landscaping work.
From a broad concept to a local institution
Moreover, shortly after his arrival in January 1992 he created a broad foundation in which local organisations were embedded as an important group of beneficiaries. He pursued this project for almost 7 years, driven by his mainly global interests. However, the stronger Peter's bonds with his new environment emerged, the more the idea matured to establish a purely local foundation. Much influenced by his Yoga lessons he further decided to build a recreation centre as the “real estate part” of the foundation. The building should be occupied and looked after by a residential caretaker.
The legal proceedings to establish the foundation and the purchase of land took only a few months, but the planning and construction of the building lasted more than 4 years, due to red tape of re-zoning, resistance and alteration of plans. In hindsight, Peter believes that the change of concept after years invested in the original broad approach and later the obstacles to be overcome with regard to the building were necessary to finally reach the best possible solution. He is proud that despite all the delays, the birthday of the foundation in June 1999 is still dated in the last financial year of the last millennium and he is especially pleased that the foundation centre, built with excellent architectural advice, has turned out to be a popular venue, That’s why he enjoys his 7 days-a-week voluntary retirement job. The real headquarters of his foundation is Peter’s private office in Tallai.
Charity as altruistic realism
Luxury has never been Peter’s goal. Having seen the world before mass tourism began, he feels no desire to socialize on cruisers or to queue at airports. Throughout his life he stayed unmarried and a nuclear family did not come to fruition. Peter has great admiration for the many genuine philanthropists dedicating their whole professional life to a worthy cause. He sees himself more as an altruistic realist who uses the last third of his life to make an idea become true instead of just writing it down in a Will. He regards his foundation to be a prototype of a private independent charitable institution that can be copied, evolved and will be passed on to other hands when the wheel of time will require it.