Today was mid-winter, yet sunshine spilled into Cecily Douglas's extensive garden, creating pools of warmth protected by trees, shrubs and elegant curved garden beds.
Mount Lonsdale, located north of Mungalalla, and about three-quarters of an hour's drive west of Mitchell, is a cattle station that has been in the Douglas family for generations. Five years ago this country was ' down on its knees' after seven years of crippling drought. Today, after several excellent seasons, both the country and the cattle are thriving.
Cecily's garden is an oasis of green surrounded by extensive paddocks of grasses bleached golden by frosts and lack of moisture. This is summer rainfall country. After morning tea on the verandah, we wandered around the garden admiring Cecily's creativity. Pieces of sculpture blend into garden beds where colour, texture and shape have been artistically arranged.
The greatest surprise, as far as I was concerned, was a pear tree devoid of leaves, yet hanging on to its crop of desiccated pears. Apparently fruit fly spoiled the fruit for eating. The dry air of the outback has, however, preserved the fruit.
The cluck of hens, the distinctive call of guinea fowl, the chatter of apostle birds, the occasional bellow of cattle and the murmur of conversation -- these were the only sounds heard in this outback oasis.