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Sneak peek at Maryborough Open Gardens

If you love gardens, then you won’t want to miss the annual Maryborough Open Gardens event, held each year in late August.

From traditional gardens to those with a more modern twist, the event is a rare opportunity for visitors to see some of the best private gardens in the city.

Hosted by the Maryborough Horticultural Society, the private gardens are open to the public for just two days every year, but there’s more to it than just seeing beautiful gardens.

Maryborough Open Gardens also raises funds through plant sales that go to local charities and encourages people of all ages (even children) to take up gardening as a hobby.

With 14 beautiful private gardens opening on 27 and 28 August 2022, it was no wonder that many visitors had trouble deciding which they liked best.

Wendy Ford from Stirling House in North Street said the fantastic response from hundreds of garden enthusiasts was wonderful to see.

“We moved into Stirling just 10 months ago and this is our first year opening to the public as part of Maryborough Open House,” she said. “It was fantastic.”

So without further ado, let’s take a look at two of the 14 gardens on show in 2022.

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these gardens are sure to inspire you.



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1. Stirling House

As I walked up the driveway toward Stirling House, Suzanne McLean’s painting at the entrance first drew my attention.

Wendy Ford’s exquisite artwork closer to the stately manor also showed Stirling House was not just a place of beauty and tranquillity, but also of storytelling.

“The painting was a gift from my neighbour, Suzanne McLean, who is a beautiful artist,” Wendy said.

“She has lived over the road for decades, raised her family there and her grandchildren, and yet had never been inside Stirling.

“We formed a lovely friendship because we both enjoy our art.

“So, I invited Suzanne over, and then when her children visited, I invited them over; and when her grandchildren visited, I invited them over.”

Wendy said the children dubbed the house ‘Rapunzel House’ because it looked like the balconies in the Rapunzel story.

“Suzanne gave me this painting as a gift, which I just still can’t believe. It’s so beautiful. She called it Wendy’s Garden. I said, ‘Let’s call it Wendy’s Garden Rapunzel House’ because that’s their history and the gift to us.”

Suzanne’s gift to her new neighbour was a wonderful way to greet the newcomers from the Brisbane suburb of Wynnum.

Just over 10 months ago, when Wendy’s husband, Bruce Ford, noticed a real estate advertisement for the sale of Stirling online, he said to her, “We should buy this place.”

“Let’s!” Wendy replied.

Five days later, they purchased it.

Previously owned by romance novelist Anne de Lisle, and before her Rod Grieves, the house dates back over 140 years.

The stunning home features some American Gothic styling combined with the look of a Queenslander.

“Anne had the house set up beautifully, but since then we’ve made a lot of changes to the gardens. Wendy is the gardener. I’m the labourer,” Bruce laughed.

History and nature thrive in revamped gardens.

Goldfish love to swim around in the large 3-tiered fountain, where they can explore all their favourite nooks and crannies. The original smaller fountain is also home to many of them as well.

Restored garden seats provide a place for peaceful resting.

The hedges have been replanted, and arbours remain with two Petrea Volubilis and other plants like Yellow Bells, Jasmine and Climbing Roses.

The garden is a colourful oasis with new plantings including Summer Sense, Murraya, Gardenias, Rhoeo, Bromeliads, Magnolias, Rosemary, Lavender, Grevilleas, Lilies, Blue Eyes, and annuals.

“A mango tree was dying, so it’s now with the local wood turners’ group where members are turning it into bowls and other beautifully turned pieces,” Bruce said.

Maryborough Open Gardens - Stirling House

Maryborough Open Gardens - Stirling House



2. 296 Lennox Street

It was easy to see why the garden at 296 Lennox Street is one of Maryborough’s finest. The lush greenery and beautiful flowers were what first caught my eye.

A leisurely walk through the beautiful and diverse gardens took me on a journey of discovery, with intriguing plants like azaleas, citrus trees, and potted flowers.

At each turn, there was another world full of fauna and flora that offered their own gifts for visitors keen to explore the natural space.

As well as the mature trees, palms and explosion of colour one might expect to see in a traditional garden, there were also rarer plants such as Phoenix palms surrounded by agapanthus, hoya plants, and Indian rope plants growing under the shade of the historic Queenslander home.

The southwest side of the house was home to a giant mango tree that was originally planted to shade the house from the western sun. The tree also provided ample shade and shelter for a rock garden and shade-loving plants beneath.

Beside the mango tree was a large deciduous Persimmon Tree, and a Coral Tree coming from India and Western China that was just getting its little flowers on the top.

Along the side fence, a stunning Fraser Island Creeper (Tecomanthe hillii), was just coming into bloom, a rare thing at this time of year.

The house itself is relatively unique because it straddles two blocks of land. Built in the middle of the double block, it dates back to about 1905.

There aren’t many houses built on two blocks of land in Maryborough.

Maryborough Open Gardens - 296 Lennox Street

Maryborough Open Gardens - 296 Lennox Street

PHOTOS: Jocelyn Watts

So, if you’re a fan of gardens, or just want to see some beautiful ones, mark your calendars for next year and head over to the Maryborough Open Gardens website to find out which gardens will be opening.




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So, if it’s time for a new adventure, check out some of our travel destination posts here today!

Fishing shack transformed to a modern beachside home

It’s hard to imagine the stunning beach-side home of Keith and Daphne Buhr in Hervey Bay was ever a little fishing shack.

The original owner, if still alive, would never recognise his former cottage. Even a subdivision of land has changed the street number.

Keith from Core Architecture admits that even he did not realise the cottage’s potential when they bought it about three years earlier.

When he and Daphne moved from Brisbane seeking a semi-retired lifestyle they bought two blocks of land in the street. They intended to keep the cottage as a boat shed on one block and build their home on the other.

“It wasn’t until later that we realised this block with the fishing shack had more potential,” Keith said.

The northeast aspect suited Hervey Bay’s climate perfectly.

While living in the rickety old cottage, Keith set about designing their dream home based on what was already there including the huge albesia tree that now shades most of their backyard.

Two and a half years later Keith and Daphne had a striking beachside home that, to the untrained eye, looks simple in design. The reality is, however, every nook and cranny has been carefully planned to make the most of their environment.

“We installed an air-conditioner in the main bedroom but we have only used it once for heating in winter.”

A new building stands beside the old cottage, which is now a self-contained guest room, with a covered deck joining the two sections.

In keeping with the original style, the home was built with tin and timber. Daphne has completed the beach look with original Hervey Bay artworks throughout.

Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle’s My Place feature, 2009.

If you enjoyed this story, perhaps you’d like to read about Ilfracombe

Fishing shack renovation

Stunning renovation of an old fishing shack to contemporary living.














Woodstock stands the test of time

Nestled under towering Norfolk and Bunya pine trees on the banks of the Mary River is a significant piece of Maryborough’s history – Woodstock Estate.

Woodstock, the 160-year-old home now belonging to Maryborough businessman Rollo Nicholson.

Difficult to see from the river or its Lennox Street frontage, Woodstock Estate does have an impressive history and its future looks bright.

Mr Nicholson said Woodstock was built in the mid-1850s by Mr J.E. Brown, a pioneer of commerce who was not interested in attending civic events but instead focused his attention on education and horticulture.

Much of Maryborough State High School owes its beginnings to Mr Brown’s benevolence. He also built the Wharf Street building now occupied by the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum.

Woodstock Estate was once the centre of Maryborough’s social life and notable guests including the Earl of Normanby, Governor of Queensland 1871 – 1874, Lord Henry Phipps, and his son slept between its walls.

Fraser Coast architect Marian Graham said the home was constructed using the ballroom of another local mansion and it still had a formal dining room that was almost subterranean.

Over the years, the home on Woodstock Estate has been renovated numerous times in styles that haven’t been always been sympathetic to the original era but as architect Marian Graham points out, every renovation is part of its heritage.

When asked how long he had owned the home, Mr Nicholson’s replies: “Too long – my plans have been on the drawing board too long.”

About two years ago, his controversial plans to turn the historic home into nine units and a house were met with opposition from a few people who insisted such a development would destroy the significant piece of Maryborough’s heritage.

Mr Nicholson won the battle and his redevelopment is expected to be complete a year from now.

“It is not heritage-listed,” he said. “None of the outside walls is original and a lot of the original timber has rotted away.”

Indeed, the transformation promises to return the property to a “centre of social life” as it was in its heyday.

Mr Nicholson said a front section of the Woodstock Esate home would be demolished to make way for a new living room overlooking the river.

There will be a swimming pool in the back yard, between the home and the river where tennis courts used to be, and an entertainment section that he expects will be a popular meeting point for residents to socialise around the barbecue and games room.

Turning back the clock at Woodstock Estate

If you turned back the clock 160 years while driving along Lennox Street, you would be driving through the wide entrance gates of Woodstock Estate.

The massive block of land belonging to Englishman J.E. Brown, one of Maryborough’s pioneers of commerce, stretched from the riverbank to John Street.

On it, in the mid-1850s, he built a cottage, the front gates of which were erected where Lennox Street now crosses the grounds.

A story in a 1941 edition of The Steering Wheel and Society and Home magazine, tells of Mr Brown adding large living and reception rooms to his home after his marriage to Miss M. Portus.

It goes on to say the home was constructed of specially selected timbers including cedar.

In one wing was a billiard room that housed the first billiard table in the Wide Bay district, which attracted a lot of interest.

There was also a large reception room with the floor specially sprung for dancing.

The main section of the house included a large drawing-room, dining and children’s dining rooms, bedrooms and guest suites. Beneath this was a special cellar stocked with wines of rare vintage. Latticed verandas separated the staff quarters, pantries and huge kitchens.

The grounds of Woodstock Estate were about 38 acres, of which 18 acres were used for grazing horses, ponies and cows.

Woodstock was the centre of social life, dating back to the mid-1800s with notable guests including the Earl of Normanby, Governor of Queensland 1871 – 1874 and his son, Lord Henry Phipps. Government officials were frequent guests of Mr Brown, who often put his yacht at their disposal for trips to Fraser Island.

Historic horticulture at Woodstock Estate

Mr Brown was recognised for his love of horticulture.

A Sydney botanist, when importing trees and shrubs to Australia, sent choice specimens to Mr Brown and as a result, his property was filled with:

  • Hibiscus shrubs, Bunya and Norfolk Island pines, jacarandas, magnolia and poinciana trees plus a cork tree from Spain,
  • There were also patches of maize, Lucerne, sorghum, banana palms and a vegetable garden,
  • In the fields were plums, Bauple nuts and ornamental shade trees, and
  • Native companions (brolgas), emus and wallabies roamed freely.

Possession of the Woodstock property remained in the Brown family until 1911 when the extension of Lennox Street cut the grounds in halves.

Present owner Rollo Nicholson said a front section of the home was also removed when Lennox Street was built.

In the 1940s, what remained of old Woodstock home and about two acres of the garden was returned to the possession of the family – Mr A. H. T. Brown, a grandson of the pioneer.

The estate later passed to the family of Maryborough’s Dr Tom Dunn and more recently, businessman Rollo Nicholson.

Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, June 2011.


If you enjoyed this story, perhaps you’d like to read about Ilfracombe.



A new era for Ilfracombe

A curtain has drawn on the Hyne family’s ownership of Ilfracombe, one of the most prestigious historic riverside homes in Maryborough.

After almost 80 years in the Hyne family, the chamfer board timber home now has a new owner.

James Hyne, resource manager at Hyne Timber, recalled the many days he spent on the bull-nosed verandas chatting with family and friends or quietly contemplating the world as the muddy waters of the Mary River flowed past.

“My grandfather Lambert left the home to Dad and it became the family home about 1985,” James said.  “The most memorable day for me at Ilfracombe was the day I married Jodie on the front lawn.”

Beautifully positioned to host weddings, James’ uncle Chris Hyne and his wife Carol also chose Ilfracombe as their wedding venue.

They were married in the drawing-room where the original anaglypta-lined vaulted ceiling still exists.

Over the years, Ilfracombe’s sweeping garden with its many large established trees has been the scene of many functions, the last of which was a garden party in May for this year’s Biggest Morning Tea in support of the cancer research.

Sadly, James’ mother Margaret succumbed to cancer just three months after his wedding in 2000. His father Warren died seven years later.

Manors on Mary: Ilfracombe 2021

Manors on Mary: Ilfracombe, 2021.

James said it was also sad the home was destined to be sold and would no longer be in the Hyne family.

“There are just a few minor renovations to be done and it’ll be ready for sale,” he said.

Over the years, rear sections of the home have been removed and replaced, and the kitchen extended.  Despite many internal renovations, many original features remain intact including the drawing-room ceiling and a fireplace with painted tiles.

James is the son of Warren and Margaret Hyne and great-great-grandson of Richard Matthews Hyne who established the iconic timber milling business in 1882.

Ilfracombe history

Concealed from street views, the state-heritage-listed manor Ilfracombe overlooks the Mary River close to the heart of Maryborough.

Originally named Blairholme, the chamfer board timber home with corrugated iron gabled roof, which includes an attic, decorative finishes and large garden, is characteristic of the large timber homes built in Queensland in the late 19th century.

The historic river-side home is associated with prominent Maryborough families, the Wilsons and the Hynes.

Queensland Heritage Register archives show Ilfracombe was built between 1893 and 1895 as the residence of Margaret Blair and her four children following the death of her husband in 1893. Margaret was the sister-in-law of Andrew Heron Wilson on whose land the house was built, adjacent to his home, Doon Villa.

Mr Wilson arrived in Maryborough about 1866 and established Maryborough Sawmills before teaming with R. Hart and J. Bartholomew to build a larger sawmill for Wilson, Hart and Co. in 1881, where the Brolga Theatre now stands.

After Mr Wilson’s death in 1906, the land was transferred to the Queensland Trustees Limited but the Blair family stayed in the home until 1935 when the allotments were subdivided and sold.

Hugh Keys bought the land on which Ilfracombe stood and two years later the property was transferred to James Richard Lambert Hyne, a member of another prominent Maryborough timber milling family.

J.R.L. (Lambert) Hyne was the grandson of Richard Matthews Hyne, an English carpenter who founded the Hyne dynasty on the banks of the Mary River in 1882.

The Hyne family had a family home in Lennox Street called Ilfracombe and when they bought Blairholme the name was transferred from this earlier residence.

On the death of J.R.L. (Lambert) Hyne, the property was transferred to his son Warren Henry Hyne who lived in the home with his wife Margaret (pictured below) from about 1985 until their deaths in 2007 and 2000 respectively.

Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, June 18, 2011.

If you enjoyed this story, perhaps you’d like to read about Woodstock