In the Beautiful Blue Mountains

Festival 2022
We’re back!

Sat-Tues 1st to 4th October

Garden No.2 – Karoola, 28 Malvern Road

Garden courtesy of Chris and Murray Wilcox

Karoola is at the entrance to The Leura Peace Park and the Lone Pine Memorial Gates. It is a modern house designed to sit harmoniously within its gardens in a secluded gully with a creek running through to the adjacent Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park.

The small cottage at the lower gate was built as a farmhouse by the Knight family in the early 1900s. There they established a market garden of one and a half acres.    They named the farm Karoola and it became a Leura institution selling fresh produce to the community through twoWorld Wars until the 1970s. The property stayed in the family until the remaining member of the family, Ethel Knight, died at the age of 96 in 2001.

The property was purchased by Chris and Murray Wilcox in 2002. They were attracted by the north facing aspect and the prospect of building a new house and garden.  With the assistance of bush regenerator Alex Strachan they set about taming the weed growth of poplars, privet, blackberry, and honeysuckle etc, sprawling across the whole site.

They also engaged a friend, the eminent Australian landscape architect Craig Burton who saw the potential of the site. His plan was to regenerate the section north of the creek, back to the native vegetation endemic to that valley. South of the creek he designed a lawn, sculptured with gentle curves to embrace the house. 

To reflect the heritage of the more formal Blue Mountains gardens, he designed formal terraces and plantings of autumn and spring flowering trees beyond the 100 year old rhododendron behind the cottage. Under the rhododendron is a woodland of hellebores and bluebells. Paths and steps lead down the terraces to an enclosed pebble garden fringed by lavender and white wisteria.

Importantly Craig Burton introduced Chris and Murray to a young and talented architect, James Stockwell,

As you walk through the garden the main interest is how the house sits in its location. The geology of the Blue Mountains and its landscape of cliffs and edges, inspired its design. This idea unfolds and the house is a last step in a series of landscape spaces from the valley to the verandah. James was awarded the 2008 Wilkinson Award for domestic architecture for his design of the new Karoola.

There’s a bushwalk with wonderful natural features, but visitors will need to have a high degree of mobility to access them, and exercise particular care.

This walk begins just below the corner of the garden terraces where the lower path leads to a bridge marked with a wooden sign. From the bridge you can enjoy the play of a creek running over golden bedrock and into pools like a mini Leura Cascade. Crossing over the bridge, take the path into a rainforest of Sassafras, Coachwood, Pepperberry, Cedar wattle and ferns. Down to your left you look into a grotto of mossy boulders, ferns and beautiful shallow ponds. Following the path across the top of the block you have filtered views back to the house and lawns, down through a mix of tall Eucalyptus mannifera with an understory of teatree and other native schlerophyl shrubs. In the top corner of the block a 16 year old Wollomi pine stands sentinel to a flight of steps descending to a creek crossing of stepping stones then up a short steep flight of steps, through a gate to a path below the lawn. Seeking further, just off this path, you’ll find access to two delightful ponds along the creek.