The Woods family gathers on One Tree Hill to celebrate Margaret’s wedding in 2008. Back row: Ruth, Barbara, Margaret, Elizabeth, Francis. Front row: Ellenor, Florence, Frank, Janet. Penny Riddoch Photography

The Woods family gathers on One Tree Hill to celebrate Margaret’s wedding in 2008. Back row: Ruth, Barbara, Margaret, Elizabeth, Francis. Front row: Ellenor, Florence, Frank, Janet. Penny Riddoch Photography

Thousands and thousands of dollars have been raised by the Woods family at One Tree Hill, a property that has been in the family for 100 years. Matriarch Florence invites the community to help celebrate her 80th birthday.

by Dale Jacobsen

“This is a sacred place to us. A place we can go and sit beneath the tree and gather our thoughts and get our bearings. And talk to Dad.” Margaret Woods, oldest of eight children of Florence and Frank Woods, is obviously emotionally attached to the place her father’s family has called home for 100 years.

Affectionately known as One Tree Hill, the property which overlooks the Glasshouse Mountains is a much sought-after place for photographs, proposals, and even the laying of a child’s ashes.

“One time, Dad came across a bloke leaning on the fence, gazing at the view. He said: ‘Are you okay mate?’ The man explained that he had to stop as he had seen a photo of this tree, and the mountains, in London.”

Annie and Johnstone Woods moved to Maleny (not long from Ireland) in 1917. Two years later they purchased the property. Frank was born in the old Maleny Hospital in 1924, the same year the house was built from timber off the block. In 1965, Frank married Florence, who still lives in the family home.

Over the years, the Woods boys (Frank, John and Allen) added other properties to the Woods’ holding — John’s Retreat at Wootha and Fort Lodge (named after the family property in Ireland) at Booroobin — where they ran three successful dairy farms. That was until deregulation.

“First of November 1999; I remember the date well,” said Margaret. “With deregulation, we had to turn three independent farms into one. I did the last milking at 8.30am in time for the truck to come and ship our herd of 97 to the Booroobin property. It was the saddest day. It was the first time I’d seen Dad cry.”

But Frank still loved cows, so he restocked two properties with beef cattle: One Tree Hill, where they turn out the weaners, and John’s Retreat with breeders. Fort Lodge remains a dairy farm, supplying Maleny Dairies.

“It’s run by my brother, Francis, and my daughter Kelly Kay. She milks 200 head twice a day!” said Margaret.

But, back to the tree and its magical views. Around 1992, Member for Glasshouse, Bill Newton, asked Frank and Flo if he could bring his daughter’s bridal party onto the paddock to use the Glasshouse Mountains as a backdrop for the photo shoot.

Frank was then approached by MAD Photographers, who had a connection with Maleny, asking how much for the use of the paddock. He suggested they make a donation to his favourite charity, The Heart Foundation, who had been good to him during open-heart surgery.

“It snowballed from there,” said Florence. “Before we knew it, people were asking from all over the place. I was on the auxiliary of Erowal, and we were raising money for a hydrotherapy pool, so they benefited too.”

Every cent donated to One Tree Hill goes to charity. Each year, a considerable amount of money finds its way to various charities such as The Men’s Shed, the Maleny Historical Society, Busy Needles, Maleny Senior Citizens, the Naval Cadets and the Maleny Show Society.

Florence explained: “We look at who needs it most in the community, then decide as a family where the money will go”.

The tree, identified by Spencer Shaw as a sour cherry (Syzygium corynanthum), is estimated to be between 60 and 100 years old. Spencer took cuttings a year ago and is working to produce some back-up plants.

You’d think that people would respect the privilege of being able to enter private property for their celebrations, and while most do, there are some who take advantage.

“People must remember that this is a working cattle property,” explained Margaret. “It is their dining table. Anything that people leave behind, like confetti, cigarette butts, even small pieces of plastic, end up in the cows and makes them very ill.

“Then there are the people who presume it is public property and they have the right to enter without permission. I get very annoyed at this.”

Frank passed away in 2010, in the new Maleny Hospital, surrounded by his extensive family – “He was a wonderful father and grandfather” – and Florence remains in the 100-year-old home.

This month, she celebrates her 80th birthday, and she would love to share her special day with the community of Maleny.

“Everyone is invited to join us for an afternoon tea on July 29 at the Maleny RSL,” smiled Florence. (RSVP by July 15, 5494 2115)