Through flame and ashes: Narmbool gardens are born again

BORN AGAIN: The historic Narmbool Homestead and surrounding gardens have undergone a massive transformation since the 2015 Scotsburn bushfires.
BORN AGAIN: The historic Narmbool Homestead and surrounding gardens have undergone a massive transformation since the 2015 Scotsburn bushfires.

When bushfire ripped through the rural town of Scotsburn in December 2015, families and businesses were devastated by the sheer scale of destruction. 

The historic homestead of Narmbool was not left untouched by the flames.

Over 90 per cent of the 2000 hectare property was burned and three thousand head of sheep were lost in the inferno. 

Since then, the team at Narmbool and members of the local community have been at work bringing the carefully cultivated gardens at the homestead back to life. 

Manager of Narmbool Education and Operations Damon Monetti said revitalising the gardens after the fire has been a monumental effort. 

“Initially after the fire this whole garden had to be completely relayed and since then there has been a lot of new additions," he said. 

“All of the bottom end of the garden around the boardwalk has been replanted only in the last two months and effectively, from the steps down, is all new plantings from the last two years.”

Members of the surrounding communities as well as environmental and landcare groups have all pitched in to help the Narmbool recovery. 

From the local men’s shed making nesting boxes to aid returning wildlife to green army and school groups helping with the replanting efforts. 

“If you add up all the man hours and physical investment put into the garden you are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work,” Mr Monetti said. 

“But really there has been a lot of emotional investment from the people that were here pre and post fire to try and get it to a point where everyone is happy for the public to come in and see the start of the regeneration.

“I don’t think there is any real monetary value you can add to the emotional side of things; the people who do it are doing it because it’s their job but it’s their passion as well.”

While the garden has gone through a re-birthing, Mr Monetti said it has been a healing process and the beginning of a new chapter for the homestead. 

“Life in Australia is a constantly evolving thing and so is this garden; this has been a kind of a genesis,” he said.

“In some respects, it’s no different from going from a period of drought into a really prosperous time, you have to learn how to bounce back from these things when you live on the land.” 

The staff at the garden will host an opening day on Sunday, November 19, to showcase extensive restoration works undertaken to the English cottage garden at the foot of the homestead.