Open Gardens 2013

Thank You for an Amazing Event!

The Open House and Gardens was an huge success!

Thank you to all the people who opened their homes and to the incredible team of Volunteers who organised it, especially Diana Roberts and the Nimbin Community Centre.

Over $5,000 was raised on the weekend!

The information below is here for historical reasons.

Open house and garden etiquette and information

These homes, farms and gardens have been created with a lot of love, dedication and hard work.
The owners have generously agreed to open them to the public to raise funds for the 7 Sibley Street Sustainable Living Hub project.

Out of respect for their work, and care for the sometimes fragile plants, animals and objects in their environments, we ask that you follow some basic rules.

Strictly no cats or dogs (except guide dogs).

Respect the privacy of your hosts. Do not enter houses except on open house tours or with the householder’s consent.

Please don’t enter sheds, outbuildings or animal enclosures unless invited. Please refrain from picking flowers, fruit, vegies etc.
No taking cuttings or offshoots. If you ask your hosts they may oblige. Park in marked areas only. Please follow signs.

Check toilet availability before arriving at a house/garden.
To avoid damaging plants, no bush-bashing; stick to obvious paths.

Parents: please supervise children.
Some gardens and farms may have water features and other hazards that could pre- sent a safety risk. Others may have young animals that could be frightened by chil- dren handling them.

Thank you to all the people who generously opened their houses, farms and gardens, and conducted the tours.
Houses and gardens:
Diana Roberts, Samuel Herren, Jim Sinclair, Karl Langheinrich and Wendy Sarkissian, Pam Craven, Mandie Hale.

Farms: Paul Wilson and Kerry Wilson, Silvia Kramer, James Creagh, Mark, James and Wendy Wright.
Tours: Robyn Francis, Ben Grose, Peter Hardwick, Sue Edmonds, Pauline Ahern.

Thanks to all the many people who gave their time to help in numerous ways including helping at the venues, sitting at information stalls or cooking cakes. There are too many to personally acknowledge but you know who you are, and that you have helped us to raise funds for this worthy cause.

Thanks also to Nat Meyer for taking on many extra voluntary tasks as well as her usual demanding workload.

The organising committee: Cat Anderson, Diana Roberts, Jim Sinclair, Mandie Hale.

89 Cecil St: Open garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This 10-acre property is part of one of the original farming properties in Nimbin. The beautiful federation farmhouse known as ‘Bellevue’ was built in 1896 by the Stewart family, and the property itself once included Nimbin Showground, Jarlanbah, Djanbung Gardens, Rivendell, Belleridge and more. The property has stunning views en- compassing Nimbin Rocks, Lillian Rock, Blue Knob, the Nightcap and the Border Ranges.

The well-kept, established garden is home to many different types of palms, massive fig trees, over 30 different types of food bearing trees, bamboo groves, bunya nut pines, hoop pines, she-oaks, staghorn, elk ferns and much more.

Surrounding the house are camellias, fan palms, orchids, gardenias, magnolias, rho- dodendrons, aspidistras, maidenhair fern, Davidson’s plums, bromeliads, cliveas and a huge variety of lush undergrowth, as well as mysterious pathways and sunny glades. There are bird-baths and water features, sitting areas for quiet contemplation and a palpable sense of peace surrounds the property.

Weather permitting it will be possible to walk through dappled gullies complete with bangalow palms, ferns, stags, quandongs and various other rainforest plantings. There is also a well-established and prolific vegetable garden. No garden of this na- ture is complete without healthy hens foraging around.

Diana & Sam will be serving morning and afternoon tea on their back verandah, over- looking Nimbin Rocks, complete with espresso coffee, a wide range of herbal teas (Diana is a herbalist) and Sam’s famous and sought-after crème caramel.

Highlights at a glance:

Extensive well maintained gardens with a wide variety of plants, a vegetable garden and rainforest plantings.
Delicious morning and afternoon teas with espresso coffee served on the verandah of a beautiful historic house.

Beautiful views.


Access: good
Toilet: yes
Parking: Yes, signed
Wheelchair access: Some. Drive up to house for drop-off Picnic: Yes, plenty of picnic spots

Walagala, 2/269 Upper Tuntable Falls Rd: house and garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A visit to this interesting semi-circular, solar passive sustainable house with its beautifully maintained landscaped gardens offers a chance to see what’s good about Alternate living. This home on a small friendly community has been a labour of love for the owners over many years, allowing it to be reasonably low on cost and high on creativity. The house was de- signed after calculating the angle of the sun for each day of the year, ensuring it is warm in winter, cool in summer, and low in energy use. The house opens onto a large plant filled pa- tio area, and the house and a small art studio sit within two acres of mature gardens.

In the house, a spacious lounge and kitchen area opens onto an atrium featuring a small deep goldfish pond which acts as a heat sink and ensures a cool cross breeze between the main bedroom and the bathroom. Double storey windows let in maximum sunlight in winter, warming the water, and in summer admit no direct sun, maintaining the coolness. The white walled atrium functions as a light-filled gallery space for paintings and sculptures as well as a home for sensitive house-plants. It opens onto a tropical pool area.

The interior features creative use of colour, and has a warm and earthy feel, filled with local and indigenous artworks and an eclectic mix of rugs and textiles from the owners’ travels. Flowers, books, and well-curated collections of interesting objects feature here.
A variety of building materials have been used including tumbled brick (both plain and ren- dered) sand/sawdust/cement infill, hardwood timber, and recycled materials. The colourful kitchen features curving red quartzite bench-tops installed by a local stonemason.

Although the house is connected to mains electricity, 16 solar panels feed into the grid and provide a back-up system for the house, and hot water is produced by a heat pump. Heating in winter is a wood heater, using timber from the property. The water supply is rainwater. A composting toilet ensures low water usage and recycles waste.

The house is surrounded by two acres of gardens landscaped according to the terrain. Steps and paths wind through a decorative sub-tropical garden of massed foliage plantings beneath small trees, palms and tamarillos, and lead to a small creek shaded by rainforest trees plant- ed over the last thirty years. Flat open areas of lawn are planted with native trees including culinary, mass plantings of native and exotic flowering shrubs, and a wide variety of citrus trees. There’s an extensive bromeliad collection. A sunny cottage garden surrounds the house and studio. A large walled organic vegetable garden keeps out the wildlife and fea- tures raised tank beds and netted areas, and open beds planted with perennials including edible ginger, turmeric, galangal, asparagus, rhubarb and yacon.

Highlights at a glance:

Creative interiors with an emphasis on creating a beautiful and functional space. Unique semi-circular design with a range of sustainable energy features.
Extensive well maintained gardens with wide variety of plants including many edible ones.

Plants for sale, including succulents, begonias, orchids and a large selection of bro- meliads.


Toilet: Yes. Access to disabled toilet a couple of minutes drive away.
Picnic: yes
Access and parking: easy and signed
Wheelchair access: almost all, including house.

Nimbin Valley Dairy: 392 Tuntable Falls Rd: Artisan Cheese Makers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On this one hundred and twenty hectare farm, with spectacular panoramic views, a herd of around one hundred and fifty lucky goats range freely in the rich pastures, can access shelter when they need it, have regular health checks and even have their own nutritionist. On this farm Paul and Kerry place an emphasis on the welfare of their animals, the sustainability of their farming practices, and a commitment to re- ducing their environmental footprint.

Pastures are improved with legumes and composted manure, greenhouse gas emis- sions from the animals are offset by a rainforest tree regeneration program, and packaging is recycled plastic.

Nimbin Valley Dairy has a commitment to producing food free of chemicals, hor- mones, antibiotics and genetically modified ingredients. Come along and hear them explain how they do this.

Above all, they make great cheeses! Both Paul and Kerry grew up on dairy farms in the local area, and Paul’s passion for cheese making has seen the dairy win a num- ber of awards, including the gold medal at shows in Brisbane and Melbourne. The dairy also supplies milk and kefir;; you may have seen their produce at local farmers’ markets. Paul and Kerry are generously offering the public the chance to taste a range of their cheeses on this farm visit. They will begin the milking early so that peo- ple can see how it’s done, and there will also be kids (baby goats) to pet.

This is a real working farm where the cheeses are made and packaged on site. There will also be ice cream available.

Highlights at a glance:

The opportunity to see best practice animal husbandry, food production and sustaina- bility.
A rare opportunity to enjoy a free tasting of these delicious cheeses.
Informative hosts

Wonderful views.


Parking: yes, signed
Wheelchair access: yes
Toilet: no…but toilet avail at three venues further along the road, including disabled. (See Tips on Page 2 and the Map)
Refreshments: cheese tasting and ice cream only.

Note: This event is open one day only. Tours on Sunday from 2 -4. Max 30-40 peo- ple. You’ll need sensible shoes, boots if it’s wet.

Toffee Apple Farm, 258 Upper Tuntable Falls Rd

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This five and a half acre organic farm is situated in the Tuntable Falls valley, which it shares with the Co-ordination Co-operative (from whom the owner leases a further five acres) and the smaller Walagala Community. Its backdrop is the beautiful forested hills, and it is bordered by Tuntable Creek, which provides the water supply. The owner and her family have lived here for nearly 8 years, enjoying a semi self- sufficient lifestyle, which includes baking bread and cakes and making cheese and quark.

With fruit trees, mainly citrus, a vegetable garden, chickens supplying eggs and a small herd of milking goats, there is always some fresh farm produce on the table. Milk production will start again at the beginning of September, when the goats are due to kid. There is also a cow and calf, though the cow is no longer milked, as she is quite old.

The goats and cow come running to Silvia’s call, and she has provided a very nurturing and comfortable environment for them. The chickens have a spacious pen and free range during the day, and there is a small open barn where Silvia stores hay, which provides shelter for the goats and the cow and calf. Nearby are a number of compost bins, which utilise the animals’ bedding and manure to produce rich compost full of earthworms. This is used in the vegetable garden.

A lovely feature of the property is the creek; with a flat rock bed to sit on, small cascades running into pools deep enough for a swim, and behind it all the lush rainforest. It is the perfect place for quiet contemplation.

Sylvia will be serving morning and afternoon tea on the veranda, and her legendary cheesecake is a must to try. There will also be a stall selling small SE Asian craft objects for the family’s charity ‘Kids for Elephants’, which supports the rehabilitation of sick and injured Asian elephants. All proceeds from the weekend will go to this chari- ty.

Visitors are welcome to relax at the creek and it may be lovely to grab some of Sil- via’s cakes and picnic there. Rugs will be available for visitors to use. Be aware that the track leading down the bank to the flat creek area may present difficulties for anyone who is unsure on their feet. Children must be supervised at all times as the water is deep in places.

The name of the farm originates from the name of the family’s first goat, Toffee, and her daughter Apples. Note: The two dogs are friendly.

Highlights at a glance:

Small homely organic farm where the animals’ wellbeing is a priority.
Delicious morning/afternoon teas.
A chance to get close to goat kids and Silky chicks; children of all ages will love this. ‘Kids for Elephants’ charity stall.
Magical creek area.


toilet yes. Disabled toilet nearby—see tips on page 2.

Refreshments: morning and afternoon teas, delicious cheesecake a specialty.

Access: easy. Parking: yes, signed.

Tutti Fruitti Farm, 4148 Kyogle Road, Lillian Rock: Food Gardens

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The gardens on this large property have been created by a group of passionate gardeners who practice permaculture, bio-dynamics and organics in growing mostly fruits and vegetables. The three huge vegetable gardens are a testament to the effectiveness of these methods; all the plants are very vigorous and healthy. The hard work put into the gardens is evident; the beds are weed free and highly productive.

The gardeners here have planted hundreds of fruit and nut trees. There is a very large citrus orchard, and also many unusual varieties of fruit trees including yellow sapote, mamae sapote, rollina, soursop, jackfruit and yellow mangosteen.

There are around twenty beehives, and James is always keen to share information about the importance of these amazing insects. James is a firm believer in making strong connections between plate, planet, people and culture and has been growing food for his local Blue Knob Farmers market since it began. Workshops on bio-dynamics and beekeeping are occasionally offered on the farm, and on Sunday’s tour Brad and James will include a simple step-by-step demo of planting out a bed of veggies.

Highlights at a glance:

Extensive, well-maintained and highly productive market gardens Variety of unusual fruit trees
Enthusiastic growers who are happy to share their knowledge Unusual varieties of fruit trees

Views of the caldera
A must for anyone interested in biodynamic growing.


Access: easy
Parking: up to 30 cars.
Toilet: yes
Refreshments: No
Wheelchair access: yes, to vegie gardens and bees, but possibly not orchard. Mostly flat ground but dirt paths.

Tours at 12 pm Sunday only.

White Beech’ Farm 277 Blue Knob Road: Sustainable Hardwood Plantation

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For anyone interested in sustainable mixed hardwood plantation forestry, or wanting to know more about the best timber species to grow on a small acreage, this is a fantastic opportunity to see best practice.

The owners, siblings Mark, James and Wendy Wright, recently won the Australian Forest Growers NSW Tree Farmer of the Year award for their business Super Forest Plantations. Over the past thirteen years they have trialed a range of timber species on 250 acres of the 500 acre former grazing property.

In choosing the trees, consideration was given to their suitability for local conditions, as well as their usefulness as timber products. An impressive stand of Gympie Messmate eucalypts shows how well adapted these trees are to our heavy clay soils.

A passionate commitment to sustainability and using environmental farming methods underpins the practice on this farm, from collecting the seed to returning the nutrients from the bark to the soil. The family business is also undertaking remediation of the riparian zone on this property with a variety of rainforest species. A large landslip has also been remediated.

Original trees have been retained, and a highlight is a stand of habitat trees, which includes Turpentine, Ironbark, Bloodwood and a magnificent White Mahogany, estimated to be between 150 and 200 years old. The plantation is home to wallabies, possums, microbats and a variety of birdlife.

Mark is a storehouse of information on everything from the cultivation of trees to the properties of timber, and he is happy to share his knowledge, including the things that haven’t worked well. The business supports the local community in a number of ways, and provides an information bank for people starting their own plantings. Timber products are sold at the farm gate at affordable prices.

Highlights at a glance:

An example of best practice large farm forestry
A very informative and enjoyable tour
A beautiful stand of old-growth habitat trees
A number of spectacular views can be seen from the property.

Two tours –Sunday only, Tour One at 10am and Tour Two at 11.30am. 90mins tours.
Meet at car parking area.
Parking: yes, signed

Toilet: no

Jahlanbah Permaculture Hamlet Tour including Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre and two open gardens and houses

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The tour begins at the renowned Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre (74 Cecil St). Designer Robyn Francis has transformed a barren cow pasture into five acres (two hectares) of edible landscapes supporting a wide variety of plant spe- cies ranging from tropical to cold temperate species. This permaculture demonstra- tion site showcases sustainable water systems, technologies, animals and wildlife in- terconnecting in harmony. Buildings include an interesting earth brick education cen- tre and three railway carriages that provide accommodation for students and guests.

During the half hour tour visitors will be shown the gardens, food forest, buildings and animals.

From Djanbung Gardens a short guided creek-side walk will lead to Levity Gardens, a community garden that is part of the Jarlanbah Permaculture Hamlet, before walking along Jarlanbah’s attractive tree-lined internal roads, to visit an open house and a house and gardens.

NOTE: For anyone in a wheelchair we would advise that after seeing Djanbung gardens, you drive the short distance (well signed) to Levity Gardens, from where the tour will proceed along the sealed roads within the Jarlanbah hamlet.
* A toilet at the Jarlanbah Community Centre will be available to tour participants.

Lot 10, Rhubarb Road, house and garden,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

included in Jarlanbah tour This unusual timber house, situated on a half acre, north facing block, comprises three distinct spaces on differing levels linked by timber walkways. The attractive house has been described as having a Balinese or African feel about it; certainly it has an appealing openness that typifies the relaxed lifestyle of the subtropical North Coast. Verandahs overlook a small paved courtyard that provides a visual link be- tween the house and the surrounding gardens. A feature of the house is the well de- signed and colourful council approved commercial kitchen, which suits Jim’s small catering business. The home is nicely furnished with antiques, small artworks and ethnic finds.

The house has a number of sustainability features. It has 8 solar panels connected to the grid; Jarlanbah buys the electricity in bulk and the residents buy it at a relatively cheap rate from the community. Two large tanks provide the house with an abun- dant water supply and hot water is heated by solar with a gas back up. The compost- ing toilet is a simple but effective wheelie bin model; the bins when full are left in the sun for about 6 months, then emptied into an old spa bath for further composting and then used in the garden.

The garden was almost non existent when Jim moved onto the property just over 2 years ago and is still very much in the development stage. It features mainly bird at- tracting natives, but also many of Jim’s favourite exotics. The soil is a very heavy clay and consequently the plantings are generally done to suit. The garden has bor- rowed views of mature native plantings and a community pond where water birds can sometimes be seen.

Highlights at a glance: 

unique expanded house design
Tropical style garden including native plantings Environmental features
Attractive interiors with antique furnishings and artworks.


Toilet: if required
Access: Easy.
Wheelchair access: sorry, not at all. Parking: limited on-street, signed. Refreshments: no

Lot 4 Neem Road

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The house is a 2/3 bedroom dwelling designed by a young designer from Brisbane based on the owners’ description of objectives and desired functions and then owner- built over a 4 year period.

The house design reflects Christopher Alexander’s notion of a pattern language. The house incorporates specific pre determined patterns. For example, a place to sit your shopping while looking for the keys or freeing a hand to open the front door. The de- sign as far as possible reflects some 50 living patterns. One thing the owners original- ly forgot was a place to chop and store wood. This has since been resolved.

The house incorporates all the features required for a couple ‘to age in place’. It is designed to enable an aged person to be cared for at home, it includes a separate living space for a carer and is wheelchair accessible.

The articulation of the house reflects the owners’ desire for the building to open up to the environment, rather than hide in it.

Highlights at a glance:

Interesting attractive house
Sustainble features
Well thought out design for living and ‘ageing in place’.


Wheelchair access: Yes Good access and parking Toilet: if required Refreshments: No

Suburban Wild Food Foraging Tour: NIMBIN VILLAGE

Led by wild food expert Peter Hardwick, this tour will take you foraging around the back streets of Nimbin. Peter will introduce you to the season’s edible weeds and native bush foods, and point out which are safe to eat.

The tour will be from 1.30 -3pm on Saturday only. Meet at the Nimbin Apothecary (see Map) just before 1.30. 

1557 Upper Tuntable Falls Road: house and garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This impressive house, many years in the making, is a superb example of craftsmanship and atten- tion to detail. It sits beautifully within extensive gardens, and makes good use of the lovely surroundings. A large water feature frames one side of the front entrance, while a deck off the kitchen catches the morning sun and overlooks the valley.

This is a building on a large scale, and features include huge timber beams, and some notable wrought iron work. As you walk in there is a sense of space, with double height handmade windows overlooking a side courtyard with a water feature. However, other rooms are intimate and cosy. The well equipped kitchen features unique hand crafted timber cabinetry.

Colour has been thoughtfully chosen throughout the home, and the recycled furnishings, fittings and objets d’art all contribute to the overall aesthetic, which is predominantly Art Deco. Everything in the house has been well chosen and there is a lot to look at here. An extensive range of building materi- als and fittings, often sourced from demolitions, has been harmoniously integrated throughout the timber house. Some massive timber beams in the house were serendipitously sourced from the Ar- nott’s biscuit factory in Brisbane, days before its demolition. Many other pieces have a story to tell.

The solar passive designed house has a number of sustainable features including a grid interactive solar system, composting toilets, solar hot water. The property also features an attractive three bed- room rendered ferro cement cottage. A feature is the use of railway bridge timbers. Another feature of this cottage is the creative use of space.

In the mature and well maintained garden, paths wind through massed plantings of decorative shrubs, mostly native. There is a wide variety of interesting feature plants and an orchard. A plantation of edible bamboo surrounds a large dam, which has a generous deck for relaxing on in summer.

Highlights at a glance:

Impressive craftsmanship.
Interesting and attractive interiors
Environmentally sustainable features
Lovely cottage demonstrating thoughtful use of space Lush gardens.


Parking: yes
Disabled access: mostly. (Disabled toilet is 3-4 minutes drive away) Picnic: yes
Refreshments: yes, morning/afternoon tea and light lunch.

What is 7 Sibley St: Nimbin’s Sustainable Living Hub Project?

7 Sibley Street is a social enterprise project which will:

Promote Affordable and Sustainable Housing Create Jobs
Promote Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Enhance Local Food Security

If you are interested in joining the Project Working Group or email list please contact NNIC on

For more info including How to Donate and the Master Concept Plan, please see the project’s website