In the Beginning
In September of 1987, a notice appeared in the Personal Column of the Cairns Post that read: ‘Spiritualist Church Psychic Centre forming Cairns shortly. Interested persons, please phone’.
This notice attracted nearly 40 people to the library in Lake Street later that month and Ollie Wilson addressed this meeting. He was from an English Spiritualist family and was seeking a group of like-minded souls to start a Spiritualist church with teaching/development groups running on a regular basis in Cairns.
A small number of people came forward volunteering to be active in making this happen. They were, Paula Ripley, now returned to her native New Zealand, mother of two Michelle Brown, Lesley Wells, a nursing sister, (all have since left Cairns), and Molly Quick, still actively involved in Cairns spiritual work. Others committed to attending arranged meetings.
There was also a German gentleman, name not remembered, who, after some debate on suitable venues kindly booked and paid for rooms at The Lakes Centre on Little Street for a meeting to discuss the format of the proposed organisation. This mysterious gentleman attended only this meeting and was not seen again.
Deciding a Name
At least a dozen people attended the first of weekly get-togethers in early October. This led to a discussion on a name. Cairns Christian Spiritualist Church was decided upon and a bank account was opened in that name at Northern Permanent Building Society, in Lake Street.
On a Tuesday evening in October 1987, the first official open meeting was held at the Lakes Centre, on the corner of Little and Greenslopes Streets. A good number attended and Ollie presided, as he had plenty of experience in addressing public meetings of this nature. It soon developed into an open circle and a forum for discussion with much eager input. From that time on the meetings were attended by more and more people each week. Ollie departed Cairns, also quite mysteriously, before Christmas of that year leaving Paula, Molly, Lesley and Michelle to run meetings and wondering if Ollie had been a figment of their imaginations.
It is of interest to note that Cairns Crystal Ball Bookshop also opened for business in October 1987 quite independently and unknown to each other. The proprietors were Ralf and Marion Wenske and the premises were in Lake Street where Central Fitness now stands. In 1987 this area was considered well off the beaten track from the main city block!
As Lesley’s work and Michelle’s parenting took priority it was left to Paula and Molly to keep things running. As both of these people now took the bulk of the responsibility meetings were scaled back to fortnightly. Not long after that, wanting to provide quality rather than quantity, they became monthly on Tuesday evenings.
By the end of November 1987, other valuable input had arrived in the forms of Rene Montgomery, an elderly Spiritualist of many years standing, Lois Stilson, Norm Reichart, Phyllis Denham, Elizabeth Inch and Cheryl Winn with Christine Scott joining in December.
The first Christmas meditation was held on a Friday night at Molly’s home, with about fifteen people attending. Everyone brought along a children’s toy, unwrapped, to put under the Christmas tree for the spirit children to play with during the evening. These toys were later given to charity. This Christmas tradition continued for several years.
The Name & Format Change
It wasn’t long before a name change was decided upon. It had been Ollie’s wish to create a church but as no one was of reverend status the majority decision was for it to be a group for spiritual and psychic learning. A decision was made to move away from strictly spiritual subjects to encompass all New Age-related aspects as they were becoming popular at this time. It also wished to be non-denominational, so the word Christian was dropped from the title and shortly after that Church was exchanged for Group and the ‘ist’ for ‘al’, thus creating the name as it is today “Cairns Spiritual Group”.
The early gatherings always seemed to be successful, always attracting more folk each time. Although Lesley Wells was an excellent medium she could not always attend. Molly had had some experience doing flower readings in Spiritualist Churches and many years of personal study behind her and Paula had the wisdom and natural vision of her Maori heritage. There was no minister, no music, no clairvoyant and yet successful meetings continued with people flowing in, all leaving with a thirst for more knowledge. Some were surprising themselves as their psychic and clairvoyant gifts started to open.
The rent was always covered and the bank account was growing. Some people were a little shy about being seen at such ‘strange’ meetings. Many would peep around the door to see who was there before they entered. One lady always brought her little dog with her and he would sit quietly under her seat for the duration of the gathering. She said that taking the dog for a walk was an excellent answer for anyone asking her where she was going!
Other people to become active in the group during its early months were, John Buzacott, Karen McMahon, Sheryl Braund, Les Sharpe and Barbara Huntley.
First Visiting Speakers and Helpers
During those first months of 1987/8 the group had made contact with some of the spiritual churches around the country seeking information and advice. One of the first to respond was The Valley Spiritualist Church in Boundary Street, Fortitude Valley. Ordained minister Frank Bruce and his wife Dorothy visited Cairns in the winter of 1988. Their input and assistance was invaluable. Frank gave a public talk and channelled address at the monthly meeting as well as holding some small groups at Molly’s home.
Dorothy did some overhead clairvoyance on both of these occasions. It is doubtful that anything of this nature had been seen at a public meeting in Cairns before, and it was great encouragement for many to learn more about their own spirituality and spiritual gifts.
Other visiting speakers in the early days were Psychic Artist Julie Keeffe, Clairvoyant Ray Speers and Psychic and Healer John Fraser (president of A.S.H.A) all from Brisbane, and Healer and Lecturer Georgina Reagan from the U.S.
Mention must be made of John Lawton, a local channel and wise adviser then living at Bellenden Ker. His assistance and that of the guides working with him were of enormous help to the fledgling group. Also channeller Dan Littlewood and his guides gave valuable input.
Courses, Classes and Circles
Meditation evenings started Wednesday evenings in late 1987 and initially, these were to help the development of those actively involved in running meetings, making contact with the guides and assisting each other gain experience.
These Wednesday groups soon opened to the public in various venues and were run by Paula Ripley, Molly Quick and later Rene Montgomery and Christine Scott. The Wednesday night meditations continued at Chrysalis Relaxation Centre, with facilitator Joy Gale.
As the thirst for knowledge grew, so did the numbers. People were wanting more than the monthly Tuesday evenings could manage. In November of 1988, Molly held the first’ Introduction to the Psychic and Spiritual’ course. There were three students, John, Coral & Lou and it was held in her lounge room. Demand for this course grew it became necessary to rent premises at the Neighbourhood Centre, Birch Street, Manunda on Monday nights on an ongoing basis. Extra assistance was given in part by Graham and Elizabeth Connett from Port Douglas with Merryl Arthy also a co-facilitator.
Jennifer Thomas was now a part of things. She ran a small coffee lounge in Abbott Street and offered services to the group after hours. Introduction Courses were held here together with a couple of workshops. Jennifer was also a channel and her son Keith, became regulars at Rene Montgomery’s home circle for several years.
Into the Suburbs
The Introduction Course had been modified over the years and still ran intermittently as demand required with one in progress at the time of writing: September 2003. These were held at Chrysalis Relaxation Centre facilitated by Molly Quick and Christine Scott.
In 1990 Barbara Huntley and Sheryl Braund began an open meditation/healing group on Monday mornings at Barbara’s home in Kewarra Beach..
In 1991 Alan Walsingham began development groups from his home at Yorkeys Knob.
In the autumn of 1991 a healing group was started each Friday evening at the Birch Street rooms by Lois Stilson and Rene Montgomery were inst. Lois continues her valuable healing work in what was later to become a support group for those with life threatening illness. Again still running as an open healing session on Wednesday mornings at Cairns Spiritual Centre. Rene Montgomery was persuaded to run some spiritual/psychic development circles which she did at her home several evenings a week, right up to the time of her passing in 2003.
Word of the group’s willingness to investigate ‘hauntings/ghosts and psychic disturbances’ had become public knowledge and some members who were prepared to help these souls did this work. All sorts of weird and wonderful requests were addressed and, in most cases, assistance was given.
By the end of 1988, some sort of administration meeting was needed. These had always been social events that happened infrequently with up to ten people in Lois’s home. Discussion on the group requirements and allocation of tasks which they could fulfil, their time, energy and expertise permitting. It was always an exciting and willing group gathering beginning with a meditation invoking harmony and the highest good for all. Soon these included requests for guidance in finding a permanent venue for us to use instead of everyone’s home.
Alan and Joan Walsingham, formerly of the Victorian Spiritualist Union had joined the group and he published the first Spiritual Group Newsletter in October, 1990 – forty copies of half a page of print asking for input and ideas. The first news-sheet contained the following prophetic words from the editor.
“Gradually this little sheet will grow and will all be an important part of this group”. The newsletter’s first advertiser was the Health Food Centre, run by Ken and Marilyn Reid, then at 74 Grafton Street and Earlville Shopping Town and later at Cairns Central. Judging by a scan through past news letters it seems that they have advertised in just about every issue since.
When Alan Walsingham returned to Victoria some five months later, Christine Scott took over as editor and with the added expertise of Clemens and Gerry Vermeulen, the group was now producing six hundred copies each month. In 1991 and Clemens’ knowledge of computers, the format changed from A4 to B5 booklets. Regular contributors were Rene Montgomery and Lois’s Inspirational writings, Molly Quick’s channelling from Russha and Vince Margiotta’s book reviews.
Helping the Community
At the end of 1990 the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ opened a chapter in Cairns. The Spiritual Group aligned themselves with them and was able to make donations to several children in difficult circumstances who were either living in or visiting Cairns.
An example of this was in 1991 CSG gave $100 to twelve-year-old Zak Strange from North Carolina USA. Zak had shown interest in buying some stuffed cane toads and a T-shirt with crocodile tears and blood on it! He wanted to show his friends back home that he had really experienced life in Australia. Some members helped to raise funds for Make a Wish by joining a roster to make hamburgers on their stand at the 1991 Cairns Show.
At about this time, Phyllis Denham and Lois Stilson began their healing work by offering help and counselling to those with life-threatening illnesses or experiencing bereavement.
By the group’s 4th Birthday in October 1991, the following services were being offered to the public:
Public awareness through the monthly meeting and newsletter
Introduction to Psychic and Spiritual Classes
Healing and meditation nights
Directory assistance for associated activities
Workshops by visiting facilitators
At the age of four, CSG joined L.E.T.S. Clem and Gerry Vermeulen ran this.
The logo, which was used for the first time on the cover of the 14th issue of the Magazine in May 1992, was designed by Glenda Johnston of Atherton. It depicts the four elements of fire, air, earth and water through the symbols of the sun, bird, plant and lake, representing Light, Freedom, Growth and Tranquillity.
Original Psychic Expo
The first fundraiser in the form of a psychic expo was the brainchild of Barbara Huntly and Sheryl Braund who put together a delightful afternoon at the Lakes Centre on Saturday 7th December 1991 entitled ‘A Psychic Affaire’. Keeping in mind that ‘fortune telling’ was still illegal under the Vagrancy Act at that time, a newspaper article reports the event was to include ‘New Age activities such as fun readings of tarot, astrology, palmistry, auras, character analysis, dream analysis and psychometry. Therapists would be available for aligning mind, body and spirit, aromatherapy, massage, essential oils and herbs, reflexology and crystals’.
In this article Barbara describes the fundamental principle of the Spiritual Group as being “The continued existence of the consciousness after the transition called death, and communication between those who have passed to that state of existence and those still on the earth plane”.
Success of the Expo
Our result was exceptional and our newsletter #13 in February 1992 reports: “
Hundreds attended and the following were available:
Water purifiers, L.E.T system, reflexology, P.R.O.U.T., metamorphic massage, Crystal Ball Bookshop, naturopathy, iridology, Australian bush remedies, body workshop, spiritual healing, Louise Hay, Sunrider with Chinese herbs, massage, books and tapes from the Health Food Centre, ringing crystal bowls, Bach flower remedies, crystals, healing wands etc. Colour puncture, Brain Gym, herbs and homeopathy, stained glass modules, books from Healthy Affaire and a Giro machine. Eight people did readings in the categories of palm, aura, tarot, colour harmony, direct contact with spirit through a channel, dream analysis, past lives and astrology. Demonstrations of Yoga and Aikido were also popular.”
Having just acquired new premises at Mulgrave Road, the next Psychic Affaire was set for Sunday 5th April 1992. Barbara and Sheryl again worked their magic to make this occasion a winner. Modalities included Feldenkrais, hypnotherapy, quantum Healing, Kirlian Photography, karmic blueprints, Esogetics, Reiki and Kinesiology were added to the list of presenters. Speakers and demonstrations included a Native American medicine circle, magnetic fields, UFO research and Tai Chi. The new Spiritual Centre and surrounding grounds were filled. It was the wish of the organisers that monies raised would start the ball rolling for a spiritual retreat somewhere in the area.
Our first Premises
A major event in the history of the group took place on the 1st of February, 1992 when the dream of having premises of their own became reality.
It was Lois who first heard the news that 129 Mulgrave Road, an existing Yoga Centre, was up for rent. The rooms were clean, carpeted and within financial reach, largely due to the first fundraiser. It was all hands on deck with donations of time and furniture and the Cairns Spiritual Centre was created.
Now it was obvious that a formal committee and manager were required, with a view to becoming incorporated, with Barbara becoming president and the centre manager. All existing events were now operating from the centre along with rooms to rent for gatherings of similar nature. A small collection of donated books started to grow and the centre now had a small library.
First Book is Published
Molly received direction from her guide to put his channelled words into book form and with Clemen’s skill they produced “The Little Book of Words from Russha”. Stacey Fuller, a talented artist had just arrived and offered to illustrate each piece. Several hundred were printed and sold for $4 each raising enough money to buy a new fridge and cover publication costs. No more, no less. Leftover books could not be sold and were given away.
Since its beginnings, 35 years ago, Cairns Spiritualist Group/Centre has moved and changed both management and venue over those years. This continues to be a Not for Profit Community Service run by dedicated volunteers with a passion for sharing and caring for our Spiritual Self. As an ever-evolving community, with lots available online these days, Cairns Spiritual Centre offers humanitarian face-to-face, have cuppa and a chat while our knowledge and conversations continue to flow and grow.
Love N Light to Molly Quick