One of the 69,000 hectares on Queensland’s Arizona Station is a flamboyant garden thanks to Tania Curr’s flair, hard work and need for nursery retail therapy.

Story By Kim Woods Rabbidge

Rumbling along the dusty Taldora road, 160 kilometres north of Julia Creek in Queensland’s Gulf Country, it’s hard to imagine the lush homestead garden on nearby Arizona Station. At its entrance, a simple path emerges beneath a flamboyant arch of hot pink and white bougainvilleas, before wending through an expanse of manicured, verdant lawn.

In the five years McKinlay shire locals Philip and Tania Curr have lived on Arizona with their three young daughters, Charli, 10, Chloe, 8, and Mackenzie, 7, the garden has transformed into a 0.8-hectare sanctuary. Tania’s the garden planner. “Due to the climatic conditions I’ve gone for a tropical look,” she says. Her passion has resulted in the addition of perimeter beds around the buildings and fences with colourful and textured foliage plants such as acalyphas, yuccas and agaves.

A grateful legacy of the previous owners, Philip’s aunt and uncle, Richard and Judy Makim, was the many shade trees planted between the three buildings they constructed from locally made mud bricks, which embrace a central grass courtyard. Poincianas, cassias, peltophorums, mahogany trees, bauhinias, gums, grevilleas and callistemons – some mature and others more recently planted – now anchor the garden. The Currs have also added a pool and thatched gazebo – an idyllic retreat for staff and family, and the perfect aspect from which to enjoy the garden.

“In the first two years I went berserk madly planting. I drove Philip crazy!” Tanya laughs. “We used all the leftover mud bricks and carted in soil from the yards. Now most of the establishment is done.” While he’s not so ‘hands-on’ inside the fence, Philip’s happy to share stockmen and women for Tania’s thrice yearly garden blitzes. “Sometimes he wanders around and says, ‘God, it’s looking lovely out here’. It’s hilarious. He totally appreciates it and supports me but won’t get involved,” Tania says.

During these frenzied working bees the garden is mulched and pruned, and thanks to the Braham-cross cattle grazing Arizona’s 69,000ha, a plentiful nutrient supply is gathered from the yards. “Good old horse and cow manure is so important because the summers are so cruel; if the garden’s like a jungle it helps keep it cool, and when there are lots of plants they help protect each other,” Tania says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #79

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2011