Canberra to Jindera Pioneer Museum: off the beaten track

Spring is on its way in Australia, and the rolling fields around Canberra are full of bright yellow Canola (rapeseed) crops and soft green grass …..wonderful to see.

On our recent trip from Canberra to Melbourne, we decided to go off the beaten track and enjoy the scenery. As good luck would have it, we also found a fascinating pioneer museum in a small town called Jindera. (not far from Albury)

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Jindera was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people.

The explorer Hamilton Hume came to the Jindera area in 1824, but it was another 40 years before the first German settlers arrived, having trekked from Adelaide to Jindera in horse drawn wagons.

These settlers were fleeing religious persecution in Germany, and the land around Jindera offered fertile soil and a regular water supply.

We regularly drive from Canberra to Melbourne, and the journey takes about 8 hours, with a break for coffee, and another break for a tasty country lunch.

Just imagine those poor German settlers trekking from Adelaide (in the state of South Australia) to Jindera (on the New South Wales border with Victoria) in horse drawn wagons!

In 1874 Johann Rosler and Peter Wagner built a store and a three-roomed residence known far and wide as the Wagner’s Store. Nearly a century later, with the strength of the local community, the Wagner store and residences were restored and made into a museum.

The volunteers in the community range in ages from 65 to 93, and over one-third of them have been here since the early days. The museum recreates the culture of the early German settlers, and is much loved by all historic groups and school children and tourists. Not to mention their famous Tea Room, which I believe is open every Sunday for Devonshire tea with a variety of sweet and savouries. (I bet all is homemade!)

The rooms of the museum are full of photos, clothing, furniture, needlework and much loved personal artefacts donated by the families of early settlers.

It is astonishing to think that women sewed such elegant clothes, despite the rough living conditions, and the heat, dust and rain!

The museum has a pretty garden and is surrounded by museum sheds. A very popular part of the museum is the Machine Working Shed, largely donated by the well-known former Member of Parliament Tim Fischer.

The Working Machine Shed is the far building painted red.
The historic post office would be an eye opener for children!

We spent some time in the the Cottage Gallery, which features an extensive collection of paintings with direct connection with the district. One of the volunteers told us that the well-known Australian artist, Russell Drysdale, lived in this area for some time, and had donated a number of paintings and sketches to the Cottage Gallery, and was a patron of the gallery.

Unfortunately the strong sunlight in the room prevented me from taking many photos so I settled for one sketch by Russell Drysdale and one painting by a local artist.

A country Squire by Russell Drysdale.
Jindera Gap by Beth Kilings

In bygone days, the town had many churches, and this pretty Anglican church is the closest to the museum. Further along the avenue is a thriving Lutheran school and church.

We visited the museum twice, and each time my eye caught the photo of this wonderful woman, Margary Clara Wehner….doesn’t she just seem to have character and style?

Margary Clara Wehner, dedicated to the village of Jindera.

I know blog readers are generally very busy people, but if you have time to read her story it is a very interesting account of her life, and that of her husband, Ernest, known as Frosty, who was the local Blacksmith.

The Blacksmith’s shed is still standing!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post this week, and three cheers for those volunteers and people in small communities who come together to help and share their stories and their time.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Maleny a warm friendly country town in Queensland

Many years ago, escaping the winter in Canberra, Paul and I stopped off at a small town in Queensland, called Maleny.

Maleny is two hours drive from the city of Brisbane

Our memory of this pretty country town was that it had three bookshops, and a huge expanse of land which was about to be developed into Maleny Botanic gardens. The setting was half way up a mountain, and my memory is that we stood looking at the carved out land, and said to each other….this is going to make a wonderful Botanic garden.

This is a photo taken by the Maleny Botanic Gardens

This year, we decided to make a trip to Maleny again, and the town and surroundings are as beautiful as ever. However, as with the best laid schemes, things did not go according to plan. First of all I left the battery for the camera at home. As everyone would know it is very hard to track down a specific camera battery unless in the city or online.

A wonderfully helpful young man in a Pharmacy cheerfully said that he could provide me with Hearing Aid batteries, but definitely no camera batteries.

So almost all the photos of this holiday are taken from my phone or Paul’s (many thanks to Paul)

The Botanic Gardens covers a large and hilly area and has many paths and transport vehicles to get around.

Our second setback was much bigger. Recently there had been severe rainfall and flooding around parts of Maleny, and many of the mature Botanic Garden trees and shrubs and small bridges were destroyed.

Very sad to see, and very costly to start again in some areas. However, we walked through the parts of the Botanic Garden which had survived.

We could see the Volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains in the distance
This photo shows how damage had been done, not only to the plants, but to the beautiful variety of waterfalls and ponds.
Fortunately, many of the lovely tree ferns stayed intact .
This photo shows the layers of colourful plants which had survived.

For anyone who is interested the website for the Maleny Botanic Gardens is very comprehensive, and the photos are gorgeous. (https://www.malenybotanicgardens.com.au/).

The website mentions the extensive aviary and colourful birds to see, however, we did not have time for this part of the gardens.

The town of Maleny still has three bookshops and we spent the afternoon in Rosetta Books which had a varied collection, from poetry to children’s books and many genres in between. The owner of the bookshop told us that Maleny has many book clubs and active readers, and some authors too. The local library is also known in the district to be very popular.

We had booked into AirBnB just a short drive out of Maleny. Here is the cabin we rented for four days. (apologies for the sun shadow across the photo)

Way up on the side of the mountain, the ever changing views of the mountains and valley below were wonderful. I did wish I had my camera, (and a long lens, which I don’t have)

Early morning view …no birds in sight, but we heard many of them…

The generous owners of the cabin had provided us with local milk, yoghurt, butter and fresh fruit. Looking in the fridge, I was reminded of a quote by a fellow blogger, Laurie Graves “Notes from the Hinterland” who wrote that Mainers have a saying,

‘when we go to town, bang goes the butter money”‘

Well, I have to say, ”when we went to Maleny bang went the low cholesterol diet!

The shadows come across every afternoon…

The day we left the mist was rising and it looked as if rain was coming, so we were very very lucky.

As we waved goodbye to the curious cattle, we also saw a few distinctive and interesting Queensland houses along this stretch of road. Characteristically Queensland houses are made of timber and raised off the ground, built on stilts or stumps for the sub-tropical climate. This is to counteract the extreme temperatures, flooding and to avoid termites and pests.

A sad goodbye to this dairy farming mountain and picturesque Queensland farm houses…including our lovely cabin.

Thanks for taking time to read my post, and as they say in Zimbabwe… go well…during these unsettling times.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Winter in Canberra: walks in Haig Park, birds, and a Book Barn when you need it..

Winter arrived in Canberra on 1st June with snow falling on the Brindabella Mountains

The first day of Winter: Photo: Canberra Times

During autumn we had seemingly non-stop rain and so the occasional wintery, but sunny day was welcome. The storm water drains around the inner city were flowing steadily with water, hard to believe after so many years of drought, not so long ago.

We have taken to walking our daughter’s dog Charlie once a week, which is very good exercise and we visit parts of the city with good walking/cycling tracks.

One of my favourite walks is through Haig Park. This park reminds me of parks in Europe, perhaps as so many of the mature trees are European, and as in Europe, people stroll through the park all week and all through winter.

The park was planned and trees planted in about 1921, as a wind break shelter within the city. 7000 trees were planted, mostly exotic evergreen and deciduous trees.

Since that time the park has had times of neglect, but is now a wonderful addition to inner city living.

However, in contrast to European parks we have possums rather than squirrels and many different colourful birds..

Despite the regular walkers, and a very popular, busy market in the park on the weekend, there are plenty of birds to be seen everywhere.

Eastern Rosellas are very shy parrots, so I was happy to get a photo of these two Rosellas.

Needless to say the cockatoos are everywhere..

Last week we went to Sydney to visit Paul’s mother, and on the way home we stopped off at one of our favourite bookshops Berkelouw Book Barn.

This inviting Book Barn has a roaring fire in winter, and is a wonderful place to browse for books, (second-hand and new ones) at any season of the year. We always have coffee and sometimes cake, which provides the fuel needed to hunt out new books and second-hand books. We came away with an interesting pile of books, as always..

Berkelouw Book Barn Bookshop Photo: Trip Advisor.

Nowadays the Book Barn is also a restaurant and a wedding venue as well. However, these don’t start until midday, so the very best times to visit are the mornings and week days if possible.

Lastly, a flashback to autumn when we visited our family in Melbourne. We always stop about half way, at a small town in the Alpine region called Myrtleford. Next door to our Air BnB is a vacant block of land, which is used as a wildlife sanctuary.

This family of Kangaroos always come down cautiously to see us…no feeding required, .. they are just curious, or as the Aussie expression would have it, they are Sticky beaks!

Finally, my favourite photo of the year so far, a young kookaburra in our garden. Every winter about this time a family of kookaburras come to our garden. I’m sure the family love the fact that we have many birdbaths filled with water for them, and many worms in our vegetable garden..(Paul doesn’t love that side of things)

However, I like to think, and I’m sticking to my story, that they also come back to show us their latest very cute offspring.

Best wishes to everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

We are living in a turbulent world these days, and during times like this I remember my mother, who concentrated always on the small, simple and pleasant parts of life, to help get through the difficult parts, and her favourite quote, as I have mentioned before:

When the world wearies and society does not satisfy…. there is always the garden.” by Minnie Aumonier

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Melbourne….. a gift for the future

Urban green spaces are the markers of what we value in our land. They are our commitment to history and our gift to the future. Alisa Piper.

The evening light across the water from our accommodation

As regular readers will know, we frequently visit our daughter and family, who live in Melbourne. During our visit in May we stayed in accommodation close to our daughter’s suburb, but in a new area for us to explore; Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown North, (named Jawbone because the shape of the sanctuaries are roughly the shape of a human jaw.)

We drove south from Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) to Melbourne and Jawbone Sanctuary is on the Port Phillip Bay.

We arrived in the late afternoon, and as good fortune would have it, our apartment had views across the Sanctuary to the sea.

When we looked out of the apartment window in the morning, I felt as if I was back in my childhood home in Africa.

The grasses, the colours, the still water…. I almost expected to see a hippo coming up out of the water!

Barely ten kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, two coastal havens, Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, and Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, provide a peaceful stretch of nature reserves, in what was an industrial area (and in some parts still is..).

Years ago this particular area was a rifle range, (once famous for target practice leading up to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.)The range only closed in 1990 as surrounding housing was developing.

This reserve land, with uninterrupted views of the sea could easily have been swallowed up by developers, however, finally, it was decided that the reserve should be set aside for conservation.

Fortunately the local community formed what is now known as The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands. This wonderful community group have worked tirelessly ever since to ensure the reserve continues to be well protected.

Salt water plants such as Samphire and Glasswort grow and can change colours with the seasons, and at the end of autumn there is a wonderful mix of colour to see.

The mangrove amongst the basalt rocks, along with saltmarsh mudflats and seagrass beds, provide an important habitat for many species of seabirds and shorebirds.

On our first morning walk we could see the long landscape of land and sea, and the big skies…

This photo was taken on my iPhone, and somehow seems to make the sky endless!

In the distance the tankers and ocean liners are sailing by…

The houses built along the edges of the reserve all have enormous wide windows, and ever -changing views of the weather on the reserve and out into the sea.

Bird watching is very popular in this area, and more than 160 bird species have previously been recorded at the Reserve. Migratory seabirds and shorebirds can be seen among the mangroves, mudflats and saltmarshes.

This was just one of the colourful signs showing some of the birds sighted in this area. The Royal Spoonbill looked quite regal I thought.

Our grandchildren enjoyed seeing a Purple Swamp Hen (with unbelievable claws) and her chick coming very close to the window of our apartment every morning. Our granddaughter’s favourite was the black swan and her signet.

This peaceful sanctuary protects 30 hectares of coastal waters and fishing, netting, spearing or taking marine life is prohibited.

The Reserves are now well known, and enjoyed by all for diving, snorkelling, walking, jogging, bird watching, photography….and I was very pleased to read the Sanctuary is also well know for sunset watching… here are two of the sunsets we saw….

The water near us turned golden one evening as the birds settle down for the night.

A lovely memory on our last evening at Jawbone sanctuary.

Many thanks to the The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands and, indeed, to volunteers and community groups all over the world who give up so much of their own time to maintain public places for us all to enjoy.

Just a week later and here we are back home, looking out over the almost constant rain, wind and freezing cold weather……..winter has arrived with a vengeance.

Paul and our daughter’s dog Charlie are bravely walking around our garden in this wet windy weather…Paul is checking on our veggie crop and Charlie thinks he can smell possums (and he is right!)

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog today, and may the sun shine even in winter!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Anzac Day, the 7th Light Horse Harden Brigade, and Anzac biscuits in Jugiong

Australia and New Zealand have a national day of remembrance for the first landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and it is also a day to remember all those who served and died in all wars.

Traditionally Anzac Day begins with a dawn service and then a commemorative march through cities, country towns and villages, in both Australia and New Zealand.

In Canberra people gather for the dawn service along Anzac Parade, looking up towards the War Memorial.

The Australian War Memorial looks across Anzac Parade to Parliament House

This year, there were record numbers of crowds at the dawn services and marches all over the country, perhaps as there have been no services in the last two years as a result of Covid.

However, more likely, the graphic and desperate war inflicted on the Ukraine has been a salutary reminder of the horrors of war, the effect on ordinary people, and the fragility of democracy.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canberra

Paul and I often walk past the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and see the many tributes and flowers offered to the Ukraine people. Some of the posters and art work from the local schools are extremely moving.

For many people Anzac Day is a once in year event when they can enjoy time with colleagues, friends and families. Not far from Canberra in the country town called Harden, the first Light Horse Brigade was formed over a century ago. (This Brigade was one of the founding units which made up the Australian Light Horse when all mounted troops were amalgamated in 1903 as a result of Federation)

The 7th Light Horse Harden Brigade Photo: Aussie Towns.

Although we have not yet seen the Harden-Murrumburah march, Paul and I know this area well because we often travel along the Hume highway on our way to Melbourne to visit our daughter and family.

The village of Jugiong is nestled in amongst the Poplar trees. Photo: Aussie Towns.

We always break our journey at one of the nearby villages called Jugiong. This is farming area, with plenty of history, a stopping place for farmers, and families who are camping along the Murrumbidgee River.

cattle being herded through Jugiong Photo: visit nsw.com

We have never seen cattle being herded through the town, but you never know what you are going to find in a country town..

However, we stop off in Jugiong, like many others, to visit the unassuming looking Long Track Pantry.

Long Track Pantry in Jugiong Photo: visitnsw.com

Juliet and Huw Robb, owners of Long Track Pantry combine their interest and knowledge of food, recipes, and cooking with local produce to make delicious light meals, homemade cakes, biscuits and scones, lovely frozen meals…the list goes on.

Juliet Robbs, owner of Long Track Pantry

They also have Jules Leneham, a Cordon Bleu trained private caterer who runs cooking classes every Tuesday. Needless to say, we always organise our travelling to avoid Tuesday as the café is closed for the classes.

However, we always choose some of their lovely frozen meals to take with us to Melbourne (and on the return trip home…their soups are delicious in winter after a long drive) Occasionally we have their well known, simple, but tasty Anzac biscuits, with our coffee. This year I noticed they are doing a very special recipe, and calling it, Golden Syrup Anzac Cheesecake….it looks good!

Autumn is upon us here in Canberra, and we are having some lovely mild sunny days, almost time to visit Long Track Pantry again!

Best wishes, enjoy your spring or autumn plans, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved

Flinders Village, the Mornington Peninsula…… beautiful one day and perfect the next…

It is ”blowing a hooley” here in Canberra today. I first read the expression ‘‘blowing a hooley” from bloggers who live on Islands or coastal landscapes, where you expect severe wind. However, in Canberra, a landlocked city, we are joining the coastal crew today.

Given the changeable weather all over Australia, it is nothing short of a miracle that we recently had a wonderful holiday at the very tip of Australia, in a small village called Flinders, along the coastline of Victoria.

Flinders is a beautiful and historic coastal village overlooking Western Port and Bass Strait on the Mornington Peninsula ..an hour’s drive from Melbourne. We visited this area a few years ago, and I’ve always wanted to return because the landscape is stunning and the clear air is a photographer’s dream. The first few photos were taken on our first visit.

This golf course would be a challenge for golfers on wild windy days
Views stretching across the coastline of Victoria
One of the earliest buildings in Flinders.

There are many bushwalking trails in this area and we decided to walk along the pretty fern gullies to the coast to see the lighthouse at Cape Schanck… I’m wondering how people could live in a lighthouse, without going slightly mad from the winds, which would be perpetual.

We were lucky enough to go for this walk on a gloriously warm sunny day.

When I looked at a map of the coastline there were some interesting names, Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary, Bushrangers Bay, Cape Schanck, a town called Rosebud…..so much history in this area…

The countryside on the drive back to Flinders

The village itself has a General Store with an ever cheerful staff, and we spent a lot of time buying food there because it had such a range of tasty ready-made food. Nearby there are some craft shops, small restaurants, and a well known chocolate shop with delicious ice-cream. What could be better on a holiday!

In the early days of the twentieth century, the clean air, and (usually) mild climate made the village a popular destination, especially for people who live in Melbourne.

This quiet village atmosphere has over time attracted many people from Melbourne to build holiday homes in the village.

I enjoyed many early morning walks watching the sun rise, as I walked around the quaint beach roads and houses tucked away from the winds.

The gardens of these homes were full of plants that could survive sandy soil and salty air. Piet Oudolf would have been proud of the use of grasses by many homes owners…

The small coastal roads wind around interesting gardens, and houses dotted on coastal cliffs…

This was a family holiday, which made it extra special, and our holiday house was not far from a lovely lookout where we could watch the sunrise …

and the sunset….

We were lucky to strike those sunny, warm days in such a lovely part of Australia.

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you are able to enjoy some fine days wherever you are in the world today.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

The garden, the birds and an occasional kangaroo….quiet distractions from a weary world.

Having featured the Sydney Opera House in my last post, this week the Opera House had displayed the colours of the Ukraine, appropriate for these times

With such turmoil in the world this week, it was a quiet distraction and a joy to take a photo of this lovely Gardenia….the creamy petals are just soaking up the rain amongst the dark green foliage. We have two Gardenias in our garden, and this one has never flowered until this summer. ….it has tried, but the flowers never quite made it.

This summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, in our region, we have had 200% more rain than our average summer rainfall. As Canberra is often in drought, there is something magical about rain, and everything is green and growing. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and parts of Queensland and New South Wales are experiencing severe flooding. It is either a feast or famine in Australia.

Meanwhile, our garden is greener than normal, and the zucchinis threaten to take over, along with the borage… I’m looking up recipes which include zucchini whenever I can..

Canberra’s usual season for newborn birds is spring: September, October, November.

This very young magpie is a February baby, and is bravely learning to fly.

Perhaps the abundance of food this year has increased breeding time.

The cockatoos are having field day eating from all the fruit trees. In our immediate neighbourhood they are enjoying plums, apples and almonds..no wonder they look so healthy!

…..and you can just throw the rest away, Paul and Gerrie will clean up the mess

These young Galahs look quite endearing, but when they are waiting to be fed they make a very insistent chanting call. I’m glad they are not in our garden!

One of the paths we walk almost every day.

Recently my neighbour went for an early morning walk, and as she past Ken’s garden, she saw a kangaroo grazing. Kangaroos sometimes come down from Mount Taylor to eat on the sweet and abundant grasses in the surrounding suburbs.

I rushed out with my camera, but the kangaroo had disappeared by the that time.

Red Hot Pokers, in Ken’s garden, and Mount Taylor in the distance..

However, I’ve added a photo of a kangaroo, because we do have many kangaroos living in the bushland between suburbs in Canberra. It is not unusual to see kangaroos on our morning walks. The photo below was taken on an early morning walk along Chapman Ridge.

Kangaroos waking up slowly on a winter’s morning on Mount Taylor.

When the rain finally stops, it is a joy to see the Brindabella Mountains again, especially as it was only two years since the devastating summer bushfires were burning on these mountains, how nature replenishes and repairs…

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and best wishes to all those, especially children, trapped in the madness of war. Having taught many children from war-torn countries, what they taught me is to never give up hope.

Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

David Miller, Artist from South Australia.

In my previous post I wrote about Australia Day 2022. I was lucky enough to have two lovely photos of the Opera House on that day, thanks to photographer Tim Read.

The Opera House at dawn. Photo: Tim Read: All Rights Reserved

The second photo shows the artwork of artist David Miller, senior Pipalyatjara man, from South Australia.

Sydney Opera House: artwork by David Miller. Photo Tim Reid.

At sunset on Australia day, another piece of David’s artwork was displayed. However, I have been unable to purchase/find a photo of this display, and perhaps it is no longer available.

Suffice to say, it was an equally striking piece of artwork, and although I cannot show you the painting, I can tell you the story behind the painting

it was a Dreaming story of the songline of the Wati Ngintaka (the giant perentie lizard man) as he searches for a special grindstone, creating water holes and food sources on his travels.

And here is a photo of the Perentie lizard, the largest lizard (goanna)in Australia.

David Miller lives in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, in the North Western Desert of South Australia.

As a young man he lived and worked on Curtin Springs Station in the Northern Territory.

Ninuka Arts

He became a member of the original Tujunga Playa Art centre and he is now the chair of Ninuku Arts.

Tjingu Playa Arts Centre

David has been painting since 2005, and has a portfolio of collaborative and personal work which is displayed nationally and internationally. (he recently had an exhibition at the Royal Museum of Belgium.)

Many of his paintings depict important tracks of his region, overlaid with the physical and spiritual geographies associated with them.

this photo is the centre piece of the painting projected onto the first photo.

In David Miller’s own words

”The painting tells the story of my father’s country. I’m very pleased my father’s Dreaming was displayed on the Opera House.

I’m very proud and honoured.”

The Sydney Harbour is a very busy, and exciting place on Australia Day. After the early morning ceremonies, the Australian and Aboriginal Flags were then raised to the top of the Harbour Bridge and will remain there permanently.

This seems a wonderfully positive sign of respect and celebration, during a time of much unrest in the world. ..and a big congratulations to David Miller!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and best wishes during this extremely windy, and rainy February. (for Canberra)

I never thought I’d ever say it….. I’ve had enough of rain!

Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

The Sydney Opera House on Australia Day 2022

My blog is intended to highlight Canberra, and green spaces, but every now and then, Sydney, this beautiful city, takes over, especially on Australia Day!

Recently I featured two of Tim Read’s photos of Bondi Beach, and this morning Tim was up before dawn to take these lovely photos.

The Sydney Opera House Copyright Tim Read: All Rights Reserved.

The Sydney Opera House is located in Sydney Harbour and is made up of a series of gleaming white sailed-shaped shells as its roof structure. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most photographed buildings in Australia, and especially beautiful at dawn and dusk.

The Dawn Projection and much of the Sydney program this year is guided by First Nations representatives and features many of the First Nations artists showcasing their stunning artistic works on the Opera House.

What a wonderful start to Australia Day!

As my blog is about green spaces, I marvel that early urban planners in Sydney, have managed to save so much greenery, especially around the beautiful Opera House. You can only imagine how developers these days would love to build on these green spaces!

Hyde Park

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and many thanks to Tim for getting up before dawn to take such lovely photos of the Sydney Opera House.

Happy Australia Day!

An anniversary weekend, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

Piet Oudolf, the famous Dutch garden designer says you should have a little of what you like in your garden, and I think this is a very good, simple philosophy for life generally, and especially on an anniversary weekend. We often go to the Snowy Mountains in January, for our anniversary. However, this year, most of the accommodation was booked out, so we decided to visit the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

The Southern Highlands is a two hour drive from Canberra, and has a milder and wetter climate. The rolling hills and farms look lush and prosperous, the fields are green and the dams always full of water. There many small towns and historic villages, many open gardens and vineyards, good food and wine, and bookshops. Perfect for us.

Our first stop was to Red Cow Farm open garden. It is a cool climate garden in the rural village of Sutton Forest.

Close by the roadside into Sutton Forest is the Cottage, surrounded by a white picket fence, and brimming with flowers and shrubs, colours and smells, bees and butterflies, and not far away, a black bird singing.

The farm has been designed into about twenty garden rooms, and has been a labour of love for the gardeners, since 1990.

We were lucky enough to see some of the garden before it rained, and these photos are, mostly, of the cottage and walled garden.

The cottage garden is surrounded by mature rare trees and maples, and throughout the garden there is an extensive collection of 800 roses.

Beautiful liliums, dahlias, in the background Eryngium (sea holly)

The gardens are flourishing in these rainy conditions, and the garden beds were full of dahlias, foxgloves, hydrangeas, liliums, clematis and eryngium.

This deep red Canna lily reminded me of our garden in Africa
Echinacea (coneflower)
I think the pretty red flowers in the above photo are Monarda
Astilbe
This gorgeous Stipa Gigantea looked wonderful, waving in the breeze, and well placed on the corner of the garden bed.
This variety of hydrangea was new to me
Californian wild rose
The yellow liliums in this garden were weighed down by rain, but none the less, stunning!

The monastery garden features art work, and statues, including the patron saint of gardens, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Peruvian Lilies

We had to cut short our walk around this wonderfully diverse garden as the rain started.

We had a booked a lovely AirBnB, and the thoughtful owner had shelves of interesting books and a coffee table with glossy gardening and country magazines….so a quiet afternoon of reading and watching cricket was in order.

Our weekend ended with an delicious evening meal at Harry’s on the Green. This photo was taken before the pandemic, we had the table tucked away in the corner, with no tables around us. It was a very pleasant evening in every way.

Photo from Harry’s on the Green website

When we were first married, we had a small but thriving garden, and, on weekends we often spent money on books when we were really trying to save for a house….after all these years, we have a bigger garden and a pleasant home, and far too many books!

Best wishes for the New Year, and I hope you find the time to have a little of what you like today!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.