Carolyn Robinson, a trained midwife, and veterinarian husband Peter Robinson, worked in developing countries for many years before settling in Tenterfield.
Carolyn had grown up in Stanthorpe as part of a farming family. The first thing she wanted to do on their own property was to garden. “I had a consuming passion to identify plants, to know where they originated and their habitat. I was passionate about gardening and had an overwhelming need to plant a garden,” she says animatedly.
Drawn by the unique beauty of plants, Carolyn loves combining her intuition and design principles to create living canvases. The Robinsons’ home and gardens, Eagles Bluff, is set against a backdrop of rugged beauty. “I was attracted by the landscape — the sight and the sound of the river and the mountains,” Carolyn says. “The majestic scenery captivated me — a glorious backdrop against which any gardening inputs would seem incidental. We have a 360 degree view. There is so much wildlife here. We have seen as many as 14 eagles circling at one time. There are platypus in the river.”
The home they built was inspired by another house the couple saw one day when driving to Toowoomba. They were in the early stages of building Eagles Bluff. “I wasn’t sure what we were going to clad with. We were thinking of some kind of efficient block or maybe render. Then we saw this house with galvanised iron cladding and it seemed so Aussie. It fits in so well with the landscape here.”
Each of the rooms, planned to bring the outdoors in with large timber glass doors and windows, is light and airy. The duo designed the home together. “There is never any dissension. Pete is involved with all decisions in the house,” Carolyn laughs. “He’s happy sleeping in a feminine bedroom.”
Outside it’s different. Whilst the garden is Carolyn’s domain and Peter encourages her, he does offer his thoughts. “Pete doesn’t make comments about plants but he will say — don’t you think you should put something here? It needs something … Of course there is a big contrast between areas that are planted to those that aren’t. So he is as much to blame.”
The gardens at Eagles Bluff are a kaleidoscope of colour and form depending on the seasons and Carolyn’s inspiration. She does not have colour phobias and likes putting silvers, pinks and purples together. “It’s a fusion garden combining natives with exotics.”
A wall for the garden pond was her first project. Her first plantings included native trees for sun and wind protection, and 90 rose bushes for striking colour. “The roses are mainly old fashioned David Austins. I just love the full petal look. They are bushier – more like shrubs.” An edible garden is located near the back door; Carolyn loves to cook using her own vegetables.
On their land, the Robinson’s graze herefords and droughtmasters. Sheep may be visible at times on the mountain, which belongs to the neighbour behind them.
Words by Angela Zujic | Images by Christella Zujic