Early in his medical career Dr Kennan realized that our culture lacked places to nurture the psychological and spiritual impact of illness, distress, trauma or disease: A place of retreat where the impact of the healing process could also be seen as a purposeful and creative attempt to reconnect with self, and make both necessary life adjustments and also purposeful changes.
Kennan’s tragedy of losing his partner and the demands of his young family thrust him into the midst of this realization in a very personal way. So, after he retreated to the Great Southern to recover, he purchased a twelve-acre rural natural hilltop sanctuary with the intention of going further into the healing process himself, but also with the intent of a wider professional application.
The retreat to this wooded bird sanctuary became Ganieda Sanctuary. Named after the sister of Merlin, who provided such a retreat to the magician in mythic history, at some deep level this choice of name resonated with Kennan’s own journey. With this dual purpose in mind – personal and professional – he set about developing Ganieda Sanctuary with the limited resources available to him.
As the family grew with remarriage and the addition of further children, Ganieda Sanctuary became a fun-loving rural idyll to the children’s development. But as they left, the professional – even vocational – dimension of Ganieda began to emerge and demand Kennan’s input for its realisation.
Having served Kennan professionally over time, as a different location for medical consultations and treatment programs, Ganieda also hosted seminars, workshops, and residential retreats. Its development continues to this day, as Kennan returned to the city to embark on his career beyond medicine.
Ganieda Sanctuary is close to Albany, the regional urban centre of Western Australia’s Great Southern. Yet Ganieda is pristine and free from many sources of pollution,being set on a hilltop overlooking a large lake that adjoins the ocean beyond. A natural bird sanctuary and with extensive bushland, Ganieda is visually isolated and relatively noise-free.
The bushland has been preserved to house three buildings, two of which are the residences of small families involved with Ganieda’s development and maintenance. A larger conference building that has served as Kennan’s home in the past is now used by him professionally, for both therapeutic and educational delivery.
The immediate environs are parkland cleared, blending into natural bushland. Other features have been added, including stone circles for ritual and ceremony, and an underground sweathouse for cleansing and spiritual exploration. The immediate properties surrounding are either reserve or for small farming usage, extending to the village of Elleker a kilometre away.
Ganieda does not exist in isolation. There is the Great Southern ocean and large reserves nearby, as well as other places in the environment – caves, climbs and other natural features of interest – that Kennan employs for therapeutic and spiritual purposes.
Ganieda Sanctuary is an extension of Dr Kennan’s work, as well as being his spiritual home.
Ganieda Sanctuary is an extension of Dr Kennan’s work, as well as being his spiritual home. She provides a place of personal retreat at a time of crisis, distress or life changes where someone can enter more deeply into the healing process.
Either just as a personal retreat or with Kennan’s professional involvement, Ganieda supports the healing and transition process. Becoming immersed in nature, expert support, and an extension to ritual and ceremony provides the spiritual depth necessary.
Presently Ganieda has a conference centre available for individual, couple or small family or group stay, supported by residential personnel. Extended stay or larger groups presently require accommodation in nearby Albany, but Ganieda is developed to the point that with further investment chalets can be built there.
Kennan structures his approach according to the demands of the individuals or groups involved. This ranges from the therapeutic, in the manner he delivers elsewhere, to the utilisation of the environment and specific features in response to need. Education is not only a significant extension of his approach, but no involves him in teaching and training in the health fields, that take advantage of Ganieda’s facilities in a proportionate manner.
Ganieda Sanctuary herself is at an important transition point. With the establishment of his professional profile in Perth supported occasionally by Ganieda in response to demand, Kennan is now keen to develop her further.
Although available for interim stay for himself and others, Kennan would now favour spending further time working there, developing his ideas and extending the retreat project in a practical manner.