It has been years that our traditional lawned oasis has struggled through a lack of water and frequent mobs of hungry kangaroos, so this change was in order. Our main objective is to ensure our Arkaba garden reflects our greater purpose, to conserve and encourage our natural environment to flourish. As the long-standing homestead fence was pulled down, Arkaba field guide and designer, Melissa Robertson, was tasked with finding a way to bring the Arkaba ethos right to our homestead’s back door.
With a Bachelor Degree in Design Arts and armed with 8 years’ experience running her successful design business, I Am Melissa, in Melbourne, it was fitting that Melissa Robertson took on the role of Arkaba Landscape Designer. Melissa strived to create a design with meaning and greater purpose, taking her inspiration from the land, to mirror the surrounds of the stunning Flinders Ranges, whilst creating a sustainable guest space.
Our new garden design is modelled off the aerial view of the vast ranges that tower around Arkaba and include the well-known geological anomaly, Wilpena Pound. As you walk out into the back garden you are greeted with a rustic central fire pit (being that of Ikara, Wilpena Pound), paying homage to the dreaming stories of the country. The ABC Range and Heysen Range are stretches of meticulously placed rocks that run outward from that towards Arkaba Creek, whilst the majestic Elder Range runs south toward the front of the homestead. The garden will provide another medium through which we carry out our mission to not only conserve our environment but to inspire, educate, and reconnect guests with the bush.
It was pivotal, with sustainability in mind, that the Homestead Landscape design focused on utilising resources from around the property, to reflect the unique micro-environments at Arkaba. Each geological range that is referenced is inspired by the rock formations of that specific range paired with the vegetation found in these landscapes. Guests will, literally, have a taste of what Arkaba has to offer in our back garden.
Melissa is passionate about featuring native vegetation from Arkaba, propagating a variety of species to be planted. This means reintroducing specific natives like the Sturt Desert Rose (Gossypium sturtianum), which have not been seen on Arkaba for some time and encouraging indigenous threatened species like Slender Bell Fruit (Codonocarpus pyramidalis) to flourish.
Not only will the garden represent a ‘land that once was’ but it will reflect the species that miraculously manage to thrive in this semi-arid region of Australia. The benefit of using and encouraging native flora from this region means that it is naturally adapted to surviving with minimal rainfall – which is essential as we sit at the end (hopefully) of a five-year drought. This will ensure our garden is naturally sustainable and will need very little input from our human hands. We also pay homage to our station heritage, repurposing farming materials throughout the design. From the path edging made out of old fencing pickets to old Cypress Pine fence posts as retaining walls for our outdoor dining space.
It is a huge effort by our guides, head chef, and general manager during these extraordinary times, to achieve this vision. We are sure as the landscape naturally changes around us, our native garden will evolve along with it and we are all looking forward to seeing what happens next!