Invisible fences and a hedge shaped like baby elephants add a touch of fun to a picture-postcard heritage property in Tasmania.

Story By Trisha Dixon

In a secluded valley at the foothills of the Western Tiers in northern Tasmania, there is much mirth. The reason – a ha ha. Ha ha? For those not in the know, a ha ha is the ultimate in garden fencing – it is virtually an invisible fence, a sunken retaining wall. This provides an uninterrupted view of the landscape from within the garden. The term “ha ha” is apparently the exclamation of mirth by those watching people fall over. It was apparently originally “Ah! Ah!”, which was the exclamation of surprise upon falling into one.
At “Old Wesleydale”, Scott Wilson has been building a superb 100-metre-long ha ha to allow views to the majestic brooding mountains beyond the boundary without any visible barriers. This is the brainchild of Scott and his wife Deb in their sustainable organic garden surrounding the 1829 Georgian two-storey home they fell in love with on a drive through the valley from Cradle Mountain nine years ago.
The original boundary fence was moved when they moved from Coolah in New South Wales to Old Wesleydale at Mole Creek nine years ago. Wanting to embrace those amazing views to the mountains, they decided to extend the boundary and removed the fence at the front of the house. The hedge that grew against the fence (a small-leaved honeysuckle) was trimmed – and in so doing, the fun started!
This has become the other subject for amusement and whimsy at Old Wesleydale. The hedge has been cut with an old-fashioned tea cutter, which requires two people to use, leaving a curved top to the hedge. The rounded shapes looked a little like elephant bottoms and so, with lots of imagination, fun and fiddling, the most handsome line of baby elephants was modelled out of the hedge.
Scott and Deb were immediately drawn to the picture-postcard quintessential Tasmanian home set amid hawthorn-lined paddocks nestled into a broad-farming valley. They were stunned to see the property was for sale, only to have their dreams dashed by the real-estate agent who assured them contracts were already being drawn up elsewhere. Leaving their contact details, they headed back to Coolah where they had been farming for 19 years. “Having experienced the difficulties of gardening in central NSW with very limited water and years becoming hotter and drier, we decided we wanted to move to greener pastures,” Scott says.
A phone call from the real-estate agent a few months later had them on the first available flight back to Tasmania. After an inspection they were smitten.

This story excerpt is from Issue #56

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2008