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VIDEO: Families' dreams destroyed in failed 'alternative community'

TURNING AWAY: Sarah Kirkwood at her dream family home site in Mt Burrell, before the collapse of the Bhula Bhula Intentional Community.
TURNING AWAY: Sarah Kirkwood at her dream family home site in Mt Burrell, before the collapse of the Bhula Bhula Intentional Community. Contributed

A COUPLE with four children who saved $40,000 for a home deposit, dreaming of one day owning a rural property, have been left living in a caravan following the collapse of the Bhula Bhula Intentional Community at Mt Burrell.

The couple claim they invested in the Global Awakening Intentional Community - later named Bhula Bhula - after hearing about the idyllic community land-share project on Facebook two years ago.

RELATED: "Living in a nightmare": Failed 'Intentional Community' serves as a warning

"They pitched dreams of living off the land and community living," Tamati Kirkwood said.

"We were drawn to the concept of living sustainably, self-sufficient, off-grid, and working together with like minded people."

 

Victims of the Bhula bhula Intentional Community scheme in Tweed Valley are Sarah and Tamati Kirkwood, with their children Rangimarie, 2, Wiremu, 5, Zachary, 7 and Manaaki, 15.
Victims of the Bhula bhula Intentional Community scheme in Tweed Valley are Sarah and Tamati Kirkwood, with their children Rangimarie, 2, Wiremu, 5, Zachary, 7 and Manaaki, 15. Jamie Hanson

The couple sold their Perth home, borrowed a caravan and left WA for Tweed, after purchasing their share at Mt Burrell in July 2015. They expected three hectares of private land for their use.

"Once we arrived, it felt so real," Mr Kirkwood said.

"We were there, making compost bins, tending to the fruit trees, taking barbed wire down, fixing the tractor and slashing the property, and the children claimed a small place to play.

We felt like we were home."

When the community collapsed in 2016, Mr Kirkwood took over as director of the Wollumbin Horizons Pty Ltd "to try and right the ship".

 

HOME: Tamati Kirkwood sold his Perth home for a share in the Bhula Bhula Intentional Community.
HOME: Tamati Kirkwood sold his Perth home for a share in the Bhula Bhula Intentional Community. Contributed

But he was unable to resolve problems plaguing the community, including infighting, unauthorised development, and financial strain.

Mrs Kirkwood claimed of the 20-or so unit holders, some paid up to $160,000 and now want refunds.

"It would be amazing if we were fully paid out. If that happened, their next projects would have my blessing as it would be proof of their good intentions," she said.

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