With more than a metre of rain each year, the historic garden at ‘West Park’ in northern Tasmania overflows with life.

Story By Ken Eastwood

Neil Graham’s cows are worrying him. Winters are often wet on the Dairy Plains of northern Tasmania, with annual rainfall of about a metre, but last winter and spring took the cake. Newborn calves were close to drowning, and the 120 cows were contracting mastitis as their udders dragged through endless mud on the 80-hectare property. “I’ve been farming since 1974, and I’ve never had it [like this] before,” he says.
Neil, one of those never-stand-still types with 101 projects on the boil, turns his head towards his slightly bedraggled, but still enchanting garden, where he spends days at a time working. “In the next few weeks I’m going to find a lot of dead plants – just drowned,” he says.
Former Angus farmers on 2400ha on King Island in Bass Strait, Neil and his wife Mimi moved to ‘West Park’ in 2006, falling in love with a 1830s convict-built residence near Deloraine with wild views of the snow-capped Great Western Tiers. It had a historic, established garden with park-like gently sloping open lawn areas, established European trees and a creek running through it. But Neil had grand visions of how to improve it, including draining a lagoon and putting drippers on all the trees for the dry summers.

This Story is from Issue #95

Outback Magazine: June/July 2014