Over the past 14 years, the Barkly Homestead has been transformed into a green oasis for weary travellers.

Story + Photos Kerry Sharp

The verdant gardens surrounding Barkly Homestead are a striking contrast to the adjacent rolling plains of yellow Mitchell grass stretching as far as the eye can see. Weary travellers who pull in to rest at this isolated NT roadhouse, on the Barkly Tablelands 260km from the Queensland border, feel instantly replenished by the sight of lush hedges, garden plots, whispering trees and extensive lawns gracing the 75ha freehold precinct.

Bordered by vast cattle stations, the gardens were planted from scratch 14 years ago as part of a major revamp of the historic roadhouse complex by its new owners, long-time NSW sheep and cattle farmer David Mayne and family.

“We’d been looking all over Australia for a business to buy, and Dad discovered the Barkly Homestead was up for sale,” says part-owner Andrew Mayne, who managed it with his brother Tom. “When we bought it in May 2006, it was very tired and run-down, and had no garden apart from a couple of circles of grass and a few established trees growing in the red dirt. The whole place needed restoration from the ground up.”  

The family renovated the roadhouse and motel, spruced up the kitchen and bar area, built six new upmarket cabins, and transformed the surrounding red landscape into an outback oasis.

This story excerpt is from Issue #136

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2021