Debra's $1m retreat

The Chronicle/May 10, 2002
By Warren Murray

Magnificat Meal Movement leader Ms Debra Burslem has splurged almost $1 million on a luxurious Lockyer Valley rural retreat with a swimming pool, olive plantation and its own church.

The property of more than 150 hectares near Grantham was bought recently by the Helidon sectleader's company Pelican Investments International from businessman Mr Peter Waschka and his artist wife Renata.

The Chronicle has been told Ms Burslem, formerly Geileskey, paid $950,000 in cash for the Sandy Creek Road property.

Visible from the dirt access road to the farm are three large houses, two in colonial style, and an eight-car garage, all painted in shades of khaki, as well as the pool, numerous outbuildings and the church near the front gate.

Friends of the Waschkas said the couple moved the church to the land as an office for Mr Waschka and an art gallery.

Yesterday it appeared to be undergoing a revamp, with several windows removed. Laundry was hanging from a fence.

Other features of the well-maintained property are an art studio with self-contained accommodation, and a plantation of apricot trees. Farm equipment was also part of the deal, The Chronicle has been told.

Signs saying "Mon Repos", meaning "My Rest" in French, have been attached to the church and a gatepost.

A young olive grove stands between the road and the main buildings, and a "Keep Out" sign hangs on the main gate.

Telstra was yesterday installing a telephone line to the church. Meanwhile, workers were busy with a tractor digging pestholes in the yard of one of the houses.

No one emerged from the property but a white van came out, drove up and down the road, then went back in.

Ms Burslem is the sole director and secretary of Pelican, a company registered with $1 in shares and with its office at a Gold Coast professional services firm.

It is understood the Waschkas have moved to Germany.

The Chronicle rang several phone numbers for Ms Burslem yesterday and was brushed off. A female speaker who would not identify herself answered one call.

She was "absolutely positive" neither she nor Ms Burslem had any comment to make and questioned whether the deal was anyone else's business.

Real estate dealings have been a feature of the MMM saga.

Ms Burslem split with her then-husband Mr Gordon Geileskey in 1999 and their parting was followed by a flurry of legal action over property including the cult headquarters at Helidon.

Mr Geileskey has also been taken to court by former MMM members who bought houses from him at Helidon when they were embroiled in the group.

The Geileskeys were cleared of suspect real estate dealings in a Consumer Affairs investigation.

When Ms Burslem last made the news she was said to be selling Herbalife weight-loss products

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