Gypsy’s House

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Gypsy’s House

Don visited gypsy Catherine Johns at ‘Teach Dragon Draiocht’, her mystical retreat near Mt Barker in South Australia. Catherine told Don that there are thousands of gypsies, or Romany people, living in Australia, and every year they get together at a festival held in Bendigo.

 Dragon magic

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Catherine’s property is that there are dragons everywhere, including a massive gargoyle on the chimney that blows smoke when the fire is burning. Catherine also has a tattoo of a dragon on the side of her face. She explained that the dragons represent magic and the beauty of being alive in the world, and they remind her to take care of the world. Her father taught her that heaven is not after you die, it is right now. The importance of that philosophy was brought home to her when she had a horrific accident at 16, and nearly died.

Catherine has planted 4,000 trees on the property as well as a cottage garden, an orchard and a vegie garden. She sows the land with love, magic and the help of an old Clydesdale horse. One day she hopes to rediscover her origins by hitching the Clydesdale to a traditional gypsy wagon and travelling to the Bendigo festival. As well as horses, she also shares the property with dogs, cats, ducks, geese, chickens and a donkey called Cleopatra.

Book details

‘A Resilient Spirit’ by Catherine Johns (ISBN 073440090X, paperback). Printed by Lothian Books, Melbourne and distributed by MacMillan Publishers. Available now in all good book stores, rrp $29.95. For more information phone: 1300 135 113.

Further information

The Bendigo Romany Festival is usually held on the last weekend of November. For more information about the Festival or about the Romany community in Australia please contact Marie Olaussen of the Romany Association of Australia on phone: (02) 6072 7519.