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News and Events         The Local Newsletter - January 2009

Gold Coast Sun Article - December 2008

Swiss scientist with the pioneering spirit

One of Mudgeeraba's most notable senior citizens and more recent settlers, Dr Peter Ochsenbein, is proud to have been born in 1928. He reckons the late 1920s - otherwise known as the Roaring Twenties - were very special years.

"Mickey Mouse was created in 1928," said the sprightly senior who swims three times a week and does yoga. "The Great Depression started in 1929 and Queen Elizabeth, who is just a year older than me, was born in 1927."

Born and raised in Bern, Switzerland, Peter Ochsenbein studied chemistry and physics at a Basel university where he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry with the highest possible honours.

In March, Dr Ochsenbein, a bachelor, celebrated his 80th birthday and was honoured for his renowned local charity work through his Mudgeeraba Foundation Centre, a community recreation centre, in School Street. Last week he was busy organising his annual donation ceremony as part of the centre's biggest annual vent, the 10-day d'Arcy Doyle Awards.

The Swiss scientist might not fit the category of district pioneer, but he has pioneered one of the Coast's most remarkable charities that will leave a lasting legacy.

"My will is not operative yet because I haven't signed it." he said. "According to my will everything will go into this foundation. But the will also has a deed attached so my followers will be bound to continue the work I've been doing."

Dr Ochsenbein came to Mudgeeraba in 1990 looking for land after retiring from a life engrossed in scientific research as secretary general with the Patent Documentation Group. The international body provided information and documentation on scientific research.

"I never married - I never had time," he confessed. "As I never had any children that I'm aware of I was able to travel to 80 countries and many islands," he said. "But I came to decide the Gold Coast was the best."

In 1990 he drove from Coolangatta to Nerang with a real estate agent looking for a place, and had no doubts when he found his Cromwell Court property at Tallai that it was the right place.

He said his wealth came from his well-paid position with the scientific organisation, savings, a good superannuation fund and the high value of the Swiss franc against the Australian dollar. "My salary in Switzerland was about the same as (then prime minister) Paul Keating's back in the 1990s," he said.

ln1999Dr Ochsenbein decided to 'put his money into something useful' and start the (Mudgeeraba Foundation) centre. He bought a block of land in School Street, not realising it would take him two years of battling with council bureaucracy to get the centre built. The wily Swiss scientist formed a board for the centre before it was even built, and stacked it with influential local people. The strategy worked and the council eventually overruled the objections of the bureaucrats.

Built heritage-style, it eventually opened in 2004 and has become a central part of Mudgeeraba's community life.

THE MUDGEERABA FOUNDATION   -   Trustee: Mudg Pty. Ltd. / Director: Dr Peter Ochsenbein
Phone: 07 5530-4907       Fax: 07 5530-4430      

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