Among the chirruping birds and restored landscape of Girragirra Retreat, Central West NSW, is a multi-layered garden rich in produce.

Story Kirsty McKenzie  Photos Ken Brass

It’s the golden hour of sunset at Kim and Wendy Muffet’s Girragirra Retreat on the outskirts of Forbes in central-western NSW, a short cooee from the Lachlan River. Sweet music to the Muffets’ ears is an insistent chirrup that, for those with long memories, sounds a bit like an old cassette deck being rewound. “That’s a reed warbler,” Wendy explains. “It’s a wetland bird that’s an indicator of a restored landscape.”

The call of this little bird is also a sign that the property is recovering from a flood in November 2022, when the Lachlan burst its banks, submerged the waterhole at the front of the property and turned their home and adjacent 2-bedroom eco-retreat into an island. “It was described as a once-in-a-100-year event,” Wendy says. “It broke the previous 1952 record and wiped out the native bulrushes and reeds in the waterhole. Fortunately, the house is designed to sit in water and a flood bank protected the garden. Everything is coming back.”

Kim and Wendy have lived at Girragirra (Wiradjuri for ‘be well, be happy, be merry’) since 2010 when, having sold their family farm, they realised their dream of building a substantial home and garden to share with others, showcasing the principles of living sustainably.

This story excerpt is from Issue #153

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2024