Editor Jen Gourley discovers a garden that hits new heights – combining rocks, plants, historical artefacts, a little bit of whimsy and a whole lot of art.
When I was invited to visit this garden, I’d heard it was something rather special. But as I drove slowly up a winding hill, just a few kilometres past Thangool, I didn’t know I was in for such a delightful surprise.
As I reached the top, I discovered a house aptly named “Cobbedah” (an Aboriginal word meaning house on a hill). This stunning home, with its 360-degree views of farming land and natural softwood scrub, seems like it exists in its own little world, with more than a touch of magic in the air.
“Cobbedah” belongs to Warren and Evonne Lobegeier, a semi-retired couple who decided to built their house on the hill 16 years ago, after their farm in Banana was bought out by a mine.
They initially had their eye on another property near by but when they saw the land at the top of the hill, they knew it had to be their next home.
“There was absolutely nothing here when we came here,” Evonne said. She and Warren had bought just a bare hill on rocky country – no house and no garden.
So, Warren, being the ingenious fellow that he is, designed them a spacious brick home, and local builder Kevin Bennett built it for them (going on to win a House of the Year award for his efforts).
“Cobbedah”, however, is more than a stunning house on a hill. It’s what surrounds the home that makes the property so breathtaking. The Lobegeiers’ gardens are a combination of the couple’s creative gifts. Evonne (a talented seamstress back in her day) looks after the flowers, and Warren, well, he builds, designs, digs and creates the most amazing rock gardens.
It seems wrong to just call them gardens though, as I’m taken on a tour on a hot and steamy day under stormy skies. No, they’re not just gardens – Evonne and Warren’s home is surrounded by ART.
Stones of all kinds – natural agate, pumistone, basalt and crushed marble just to name a few – have been arranged by Warren in breathtaking sections, all over the property. Stones are lined up neatly to form borders, they’re swirled in wonderful patterns and they’re arranged with such thought and detail, alongside petrified wood, whimsical figurines, and mystical looking stumps from ancient ironbark and Burdekin plum trees.
And then there’s the old machinery added to the mix as well. Harvester wheels and an old-time cotton planter are featured and shaded by beautiful big bottle trees that were once the size of Warren’s finger. There’s an old tree trunk with poles added to it for butcher birds to perch on, and rocks with natural hollows filled with water that make perfect bird baths.
As well as the old machinery, there’s plenty of special items from Warren’s father and grandfather’s properties – old dairy gates and posts that were made using a handsaw and a chisel. There are special rocks with plenty of meaning artfully arranged in the gardens and special memories for Warren wherever he turns.
They said home is where the heart is, and that is true, but in this case, for Warren and Evonne, home is where the art is. Amazing, beautiful, natural art.
* Warren and Evonne have since left the area, but it is still a joy to see the photos of this garden and all the hard work and creativity that went into it.
This story first appeared in View of the Valleys magazine in 2021.