Jane and Vic Carroll built their home in and around a native garden on the granite-dotted plains of southern New South Wales.

Story By Trisha Dixon

Among the gnarled gums, the woolly grevilleas and massive boulders at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in southern New South Wales, Jane and Vic Carroll have created the most elusive of all gardens – a truly Australian garden. Debate has raged long and hard over what defines an Australian garden and all sorts of models are put forward. But entering the Carrolls’ garden, there is no doubt that this place epitomises our national identity and is deeply in tune with its surroundings.
Low-key plantings soften the boundaries between the garden and the beauty of the natural bushland, and there is a genuine sense of place – the most intangible element in the design of gardens. When Jane and Vic purchased the Monaro property, they set about creating a home that would both nestle in, and float over, the site. Finding architect Peter Duffield, a skier from Sydney who had built himself a stone-and-iron weekender on Varneys Range, just out of nearby Berridale, was a serendipitous move.
“He initially sounded reluctant but agreed to look at the site the next time he was down,” Jane says. “Finding himself on a hilly expanse of bush adjoining a reserve, seeing twisted eucalypts growing from lichen-covered granite rocks, he changed his tune and enthusiastically agreed to design us a house. Our brief was for a house sympathetic to the environment with large, simple spaces. It needed to accommodate two adults, three children and a big dining table. We liked the idea of timber, iron and glass, despite the obvious risk of fire.”
Peter designed a modified pole house to ‘float’ over the rocky terrain and to settle in – indeed, to embrace – the trees. A weeping bottlebrush and an apple box live in the middle of the decking. North-facing glass traps the sun, while the windowless southern walls of western red cedar shut out the cold. A roof of corrugated iron curves over the length of the home, its shape mimicked by the raked internal ceilings, and a tallowwood deck draws you through the house to the bush outside. Harder to describe is the ambience Peter created, which has grown over the years. “We feel a sense of peace, calm and love in this house,” Jane says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #60

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2008