Winstanley House, 4711 Kings Highway
Although situated on the busy Kings Highway between Braidwood and the coast, Winstanley House has an aura of calm once you turn off the road.
A long meandering driveway leads from the road under the shade of native bush and through a grove of rhododendrons, camellias and waratahs to where it divides: one side leading steeply up to the front of the house and the other through pillars topped with stone pinecones to the shed.
Nina and Geoff Gage have lived at Winstanley House for 15 years. The house itself is relatively new, built in the 60s, and the bare bones of the garden were in place when they bought the property but it was haphazard, the previous owners having apparently planted things with little or planning for when the trees reached maturity.
The property covers 150 acres with the garden occupying 2 acres of hillside, sloping northwards down and away from the house towards the road. There are 12 sections to the garden, each carefully delineated but leading seamlessly from one to another.
The section around the house is traditional, with an ornamental grapevine around the verandah, a gazebo and a water feature enclosed by a low hedge.
The local satin bowerbird has his bower tucked into the garden near the driveway. Geoff has put in retaining walls for garden beds around the house and the orchard.
Through the riotous colour of azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, the slope down towards the road finally reveals a pond with a small hut, nestling into the slope. The hut, which is actually deceptively large, is built of timber and corrugated iron and is used for functions. It appears almost as an organic part of the landscape itself.
The Gages have retained the original stockyards from the property as a feature at the edge of the garden, their timber rails and rusty gates melding into the native bushland.
The entire garden is watered by a bore-fed watering system. The position of the property is protected from the worst of the winds and extreme conditions that can wreak havoc on gardens in this region, creating a micro-climate that enables the exotics to thrive.