Cattle farmers Nan and Roy Robertson have turned the garden at Wanderribby Homestead in Wollomombi, NSW, into a spectacular but easy-care concern.

Story By Trisha Dixon

Spectacular views across the garden to the borrowed landscape of Cathedral Rocks National Park and Round Mountain as well as up the valley to Point Lookout in the New England region of New South Wales provides the focal feature of the Wanderribby Homestead garden.
The garden has been developed to frame this stunning vista with garden beds and trees protecting the southern aspect and wrapping around to the east and west of the house. The close proximity to the Styx River State Forest combined with the warm currents from the Macleay Gorges and the timbered hill to the west of the garden, have created a microclimate providing milder winters than much of the rest of New England. This has allowed the Robertsons – passionate gardeners and plants people – to grow a much wider range of plants than most.
“This close proximity to the forest and national park also mean that we get an incredible array of animals and birds living in or visiting the garden,” Nan Robertson says. “It is a joy to see the number of birds that feed here throughout the year. The previous owners, the Cornelsons, had an extensive plant collection including many rare plants and we have added to that. The rock walls and ha-ha were also built during their ownership. They had started the garden in 1958 from a bare paddock – selecting the site as the warmest, as this was where the cattle camped at night – in a saddle between two hills on a ridge that divides the Oaky and Styx rivers with a northerly aspect.”
First plantings at Wanderribby were the liquidambar drive and the large trees, many azaleas and rhododendrons, and a wide variety of shrubs. This was followed by natives such as wattles to create shelter belts for other plants to flourish, then gradually removed. This was particularly the case when the garden was extended and the dam and front terraces were established.
The Robertsons bought the property in 1985 and are Santa Gertrudis breeders. While what is beyond the garden takes first priority, both Roy and Nan are intelligent, intuitive gardeners with a love of design, and a growing interest in sculpture.
A number of stunning works have been ‘planted’ in the garden, but it is the moving sculptures of their grazing cattle beyond the ha-ha that add life to this wonderful landscape.

This story excerpt is from Issue #71

Outback Magazine: June/July 2010