17 March 2014



When Jill's friend Annie took her on holiday to the family farm in Finley NSW, she didn't imagine what would happen next.  At age 14 and 16 respectively, Jill and Annie's brother John fell in love.  They wandered around the beautiful garden that John's mother created in the middle of the flat, dry paddocks of the Riverina, dreaming of a future.  It was not to be, for John absconded with a blonde to Canada.

Life works in mysterious ways and 32 years later, Jill and John met again.  John's brother Dave said "Johnno, see it as Destiny".

It was love at second sight!  They dreamed over the phone between Melbourne and Canberra- a house on the top of a hill, surrounded by bushland and overlooking the sea.  John moved to Melbourne and the search was on.  He wanted to buy a place to keep bee hives and found just the spot - at Glenlyon, with a house on the top of a hill, surrounded by bushland and overlooking the Loddon River.

Bee keeper Johnno

The property was called 'Fairweather Farm'.

The first year was cold and wet, before the drought set in.  Don, visiting from Tasmania and shivering in the cold snap in early January, said "Well Johnno, you've got to replace that sign. It's got to be 'Foul Weather Farm' or 'The Sodden Loddon'!"

Grand daughter Michaela, then three, solved the problem.  Unable to pronounce Glenlyon, she named the place 'Greenlion'.

The house was surrounded by a lake of mud which lay over a seam of rock and heavy clay.  With the use of the crow bar, drain pipes were laid and the first garden beds started.  Bags of gypsum were poured onto the clay and lashings of mulch were added.  Johnno, watching Jill pour barrow loads of mulch around the house finally said "Well Jilly, we're not going to live long enough to do it this way. I'm getting a couple of truck loads of soil".

Creating the garden with barrow loads of mulch
Now, 14 years later, the house is surrounded by a beautiful garden which protects the house from the heavy winds and brings masses of native birds and animals, as well as creating a sense of tranquility and containment.  The established plants, heavily mulched, are coping with droughts and the occasional flood.

Sheltered from the winds

The dam in Spring

A resident kangaroo
The river valley is a highlight of Greenlion, but initially the river could not be seen for the walls of blackberries and gorse.  Now, after years of clearing the weeds and regenerating the indigenous plants, the valley has returned to its natural beauty.  There is a spiritual quality to parts of the river, where huge basalt outcrops plunge into the shimmering rockpools.  Years of hard work have paid off and the river banks now provide habitat for the local animals and a playground for the children.

Searching for frogs

Basalt ridges plunge to the water

Jill and John intend to live happily ever after in this beautiful part of the world. Destiny?  Or good planning?  Whatever, it's magic.

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