Dramatic lines, sharp edges and hidden delights characterise Jo Lethbridge’s garden on YoYo station.

Story + Photos Mandy McKeesick

Rusty owls snuggle inside a tree stump, sculpted meerkats peer from behind a wooden gate and chicken-wire brolgas look on as an echidna trundles over a lush lawn towards the spines and spikes of Jo Lethbridge’s garden. It’s a dry season on the 4400 hectares of YoYo station, west of Taroom in central Queensland, and water is prioritised for stock and human health. “The cattle come first,” Jo says. “We have a turkey nest dam by the house and each day we check it is full before we even say good morning.” In such a water-constrained environment, Jo’s garden is an inspiration to all who desire green space in drought.

YoYo is part of an agglomeration of cattle country run by Jo’s husband Rob and his brother Don. In a good year, nearly 700 millimetres of rain will fall on the rolling brigalow and softwood scrub. But this is not a good year and, with temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius, any garden is going to do it tough. “When I started my garden plans Rob told me I was only allowed to pump water on weekends and I thought, ‘Well if he’s being tight, I am going to have to build something very drought hardy’,” Jo laughs. “But that suited me, because I didn’t want to be married to a garden. I wanted something low-maintenance.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #126

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2019