. . . take a drive to Sunnymeade Garden in the Strathbogie Ranges in North East Victoria

‘Sunnymeade’ a hidden gem in Ned’s ‘beloved’ Strathbogies

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Darryl and Julie Starr
Story/photos: Darryl and Julie Starr 

LOOKING out a carriage window, bushranger Ned Kelly is said to have told a police officer guarding him on a train taking him to Melbourne: ‘I guess I will never see my beloved Strathbogie Ranges again’.

True. He didn’t, hanged on November 11, 1880, for the murder of a police officer at Stringybark Creek in 1878.

The Kelly Gang used the rugged range south of the town of Euroa in Northeast Victoria to elude troopers looking for them. At times they sheltered in a well-concealed cave.

Fast forward 106 years and a young gardener also saw how the Strathbogies could be put to good use, not as a hideout, but as a place to create a dream by transforming a few paddocks surrounding a weekend cottage into one of Australia’s most beautiful gardens.

For the past 35 years, Craig Irving has toiled on his ‘Sunnymeade’ property just east of Strathbogie village without any professional help to create 16 self-contained spaces, each with its own character and linked by steps, pathways, openings, and ponds, with the odd stone building, a Victorian-era gazebo, and archways adding to each theme.

Many of Craig’s inspirations have come from books and from overseas travels.

Gardens aside, the stonework and sculptures are a work of art in themselves.

We visited ‘Sunnymeade’ for the garden’s November two-day open event, which was a sell-out.

We had visited the gardens previously but so much has been done between visits.

‘Sunnymeade’ is open to the public a few times a year, but to experience the garden in spring is something else.

The spectacular show of peonies, roses, and other spring blooms was amazing, as where the backdrops of hedges, espaliered pears, and magnificent stands of trees such as silver birch.

The 15 themed gardens open to the public (one other is under construction) include the Incan Wall and Garden, Persian Garden, Yellow Garden, Rose Garden, Walled Garden with Moon Gate, Sunken Garden, Fruit Garden, and Hathor’s Peony Garden.

A backdrop to the gardens is a two-storey residence, plus there is a self-contained cottage for short-term accommodation set amidst the gardens.

Afternoon tea is available on open days.

The gardens are located at 213 Boundary Hill Road, Kithbrook, a farming community four kilometres northeast of Strathbogie.

It can be accessed from the Hume Freeway at Euroa via Strathbogie, or from the Hume Freeway at Violet Town via Boho South.

Open garden days and other information regarding ‘Sunnymeade’ is available at its Facebook page, web page – www.sunnymeade.com.au, or by phone (03) 5790 8519

The Strathbogie General Store offers coffee, breakfast, lunch, and takeaway, and boasts a growing selection of local and regional produce and wines.

After wandering the gardens, and if time permits, the Strathbogie Ranges is a treasure-trove of discovery.

There are award-winning cellar doors nestled among the high, open spaces, rolling farmlands, spectacular views and scenery, and dramatic granite outcrops,

The cool climate and rich soil of this young but vibrant wine-growing region favours pinot noir, shiraz, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, vermentino, and arneis which can be tasted - and purchased - at more than 25 cellar doors.

You can also explore the region's gold-rush heritage in its scattering of small towns and villages, plus there are waterfalls and pristine bushland which accommodates an abundance of wildlife.


PS: Ned may have been a hardened criminal, but even he would be proud of what Craig Irving has achieved.


Where - Sunnymeade Garden

Address – 213 Boundary Hill Road, Kithbrook, NE Victoria

Contact – (03) 5790 8519

Distance from Albury-Wodonga – 166km via Hume Freeway to Violet Town, then follow signposts to Strathbogie (Harrys Creek Road/Bonnie Doon Road, Boundary Hill Road)

Time - 1hr 50min