The vine and the olive

Elizabeth Farm, showing the enormous olive tree on the right.

Elizabeth Farm (detail). Photo © Christopher Shain

In 1831, when Thomas Mitchell set off on his Journey into the Interior, he started the account metaphorically at Elizabeth Farm, in ‘A Garden’.  The description of Macarthur’s estate served both as a symbolic starting point for his journey into the unknown,  and also as a contrast to what he would describe as he journeyed into ‘the wilds’, leaving first the elegant houses, the gardens, the fields and, finally, even the scattered sheep-herds of the colony behind.

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Before tinsel there was Christmas bush

An arrangement of flowers, greenery and candle shades on the chimneypiece at Elizabeth Farm.

Christmas at Elizabeth Farm. Photo Scott Hill © HHT

Think back to a time before tinsel, fairy lights and singing Santas. In early 19th century Britain, the favourite Christmas decorations were the age-old ‘holly and the ivy’, along with evergreens such as mistletoe and pine. In Australia however, where the vegetation was evergreen, the symbolic value of a few precious green leaves emerging from a snow-covered landscape was replaced with scenes of abundance.  Continue reading

Recreating a kitchen garden

The kitchen garden at Vaucluse House is a magnet for visitors.  Starting on the sunny hillside, west of the house, fresh seasonal ingredients can be traced from the garden to storage in the larder, dairy and cellars, then to the kitchen where the cook prepared the family’s – and servants’ – meals, to the dining room and, ultimately, to the scullery – where the maids dealt with the inevitable washing up.
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