Cottonwood, at Gladfield in south-eastern Queensland, provides a cool weekend retreat for Sandy and Sally Thompson.

Story + Photos Kim Woods Rabbidge

Just west of Cunningham’s Gap, in the Glengallan Valley of south-eastern Queensland, Sally and Sandy Thompson have developed a garden in which they escape from Brisbane most weekends. For Sandy, originally from central-west New South Wales, heading bush is his recharge after intense work as a QC. 

The Thompsons have owned Cottonwood, a 283-hectare property at Gladfield, since 2009, and another similar sized block nearby since 2014. They’d previously run a Red Angus cattle stud near Killarney. A couple of years ago the stud ceased, and now they run a breeding herd of 190 Red Angus cows, using 48ha of irrigated lucerne. 

“The place was a disused dairy before we arrived,” Sandy says. “We had to gut and rebuild the old house.” There were only four trees around the house, but the Thompsons have now planted hundreds. Cottonwood has developed into a relaxed, elegant garden and there’s a sense of the garden settling into the landscape. “We discovered gardening can be quite addictive. When it’s boiling hot in the paddocks, it’s always cool, and quiet, in here,” Sandy says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #118

Outback Magazine: April/May 2018