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Wrotham Park Homestead - the magic of irrigation

2001 August 2, Thursday. Elizabeth Creek.

After another day of cycling across dry land in 30-35 degree heat, Wrotham Park rose like a mirage on our otherwise barren horizon. Our only sign of civilization for many miles, aside from the trough sheds of hardy Brahman cattle, the station stretches for 1,300,000 acres, and is home to the Burke family.

Surrounding the main homestead is a lush garden area, the contrast of which, when compared to the desert setting, is staggering. Under the shelter of the hundreds of year old mango trees, one could not tell that only fifty yards out, the sandy, cattle trodden earth is as inhospitable as we might imagine the red center to be.

The cultivated area is formally set out, and includes flower beds, vegetables, a greenhouse and a herb garden. A full-time gardener is employed to tend the plot, which helps to feed the thirty staff who work the property, and their families. Mareeba, a few hours drive south of the station, is the closest supply point, and is visited around once per month for restocking.

A menagerie of cats, dogs and pet birds bask in the garden in an interesting co existence. Working dogs and pet dogs of all shapes and sizes intermingle about the yard, playing with each other and with the children of the farm workers.

Water is gathered in a dam for the garden and for waste water, and enough rain is collected each wet season to satisfy the need for fresh drinking water all year round. The garden is an incredible example of the potential of this desolate land to support luxuriant growth with a water supply and a little care.

What kind of plant life surrounds your home? Who planted it there? Have your family ever grown their own food in your garden? What would grow where you live if people had never settled there?

Wrotham Park


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