This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Sweeping Country Estate Created From Dust

Gardens

Every aspect of this Hunter Valley project by Dangar Barin Smith is ambitious. From the hillside location, to the dry, clay-like conditions of the soil, designing a garden here presented a host of challenges. But nothing was more daunting than its scale.

Luckily, a solid partnership between client and designer has resulted in an enviable garden, perfectly suited to the site’s sprawling proportions. Sometimes, it really is possible to create something out of nothing!

22nd March, 2021

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photos – Michael Wee.

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photos – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo (left) – Michael Wee. Photo (right) – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo – Michael Wee.

Photos – Prue Ruscoe.

Aerial photo – Michael Wee.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 22nd March 2021

When revered Sydney Landscape Architecture & Design firm Dangar Barin Smith was brought on to this Hunter Valley project, there was not a  single tree on site. Now the property contains at least seven different species of mature, flowering trees – though that was not part of the client’s original brief.

‘I try to steer my clients towards what they’re capable of in terms of management, and then work backwards from there,’ explains project director, Will Dangar. The initial plan was for a lush and decorative planting scheme, flush with flowers and exotic species; but when it got down to the nuts and bolts of such a maintenance-heavy idea, a tree-dominant palette made the most sense.

And what a vision! Elegant cabbage tree palms frame the northern aspect while Port Jackson Figs (the same ones that line Sydney’s Centennial Park) create a sense of drama. Will calls them ‘legacy trees’, and confides it’s the only time he’s ever used them in a project as they can stretch to 30m wide!

Weeping willows fringe the dams, their drooping tendrils grazing the water surface, while flowering crepe myrtles are dotted throughout the property. A full-time gardener (one of Will’s former staff members!) has been employed to maintain the rolling estate.

This pared back but ambitious design took a year to complete, after construction had already begun on the house. The two lakes were a result of the need to re-level the property, and situate the house deeper into the site.

‘The house was a rundown weekender that didn’t capture the views,’ says Will. ‘So a big part of the job was changing the levels. We had to move a lot of earth around because the house was quite high out of the ground, and we needed to nestle it lower into the site.’

The dams hence served two purposes: aesthetic, and practical. The soil dug up to create the adjacent watering holes was used to even out the gradients around the house, and set the residence deeper into the hillside.

Aesthetically, the lakes add lushness and vitality to the otherwise dry and dusty Hunter Valley landscape. Bore water is pumped into the top lake to keep it full, while gravity then feeds the bottom lake from run-off.

The combination of sculptural trees and wide, serene watering holes creates a romantic, lush paradise here – a testament to the vision of the talented team at Dangar Barin Smith.

See more projects from Dangar Barin Smith here.

This Week

2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

Shopping

A Childrenswear Label That Takes Us Back To The Golden Years - WIN With Goldie + Ace!

Get ready to send the kids back to school in style with the Golden Years collection from Goldie + Ace!
Sasha Gattermayr
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...

Architecture

A Mid-Century Reimagining Of A Bells Beach Home

Bones House by Lachlan Shepherd Architects is a mid-century inspired makeover of a brick veneer home facing Bells Beach.

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...

14 Brands Making Waves With The Wiggly Trend

From undulating limestone vases to wiggly steel coat-stands, here are 14 wavy furniture pieces and homewares we love!

11 Brilliant Lighting Designs That Will Light Up Your Life!

From delicate frosted tubes to sculptural glass chandeliers, these are the finalists in the Lighting Design category of The Design Files + L...

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Magical Family Garden As Productive As It Is Pretty

The lush suburban garden of passionate self-taught gardener Anastasia Elias - created from scratch in under two years!

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years. Step inside her paradise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

This Week

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

14 Brands Making Waves With The Wiggly Trend

From undulating limestone vases to wiggly steel coat-stands, here are 14 wavy furniture pieces and homewares we love!

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...
2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes

11 Brilliant Lighting Designs That Will Light Up Your Life!

From delicate frosted tubes to sculptural glass chandeliers, these are the finalists in the Lighting Design category of The Design Files + L...

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.

Shopping

A Childrenswear Label That Takes Us Back To The Golden Years - WIN With Goldie + Ace!

Get ready to send the kids back to school in style with the Golden Years collection from Goldie + Ace!
Sasha Gattermayr
  5 hours ago

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

Architecture

A Mid-Century Reimagining Of A Bells Beach Home

Bones House by Lachlan Shepherd Architects is a mid-century inspired makeover of a brick veneer home facing Bells Beach.

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Magical Family Garden As Productive As It Is Pretty

The lush garden of self-taught gardener Anastasia Elias - created from scratch in under two years!

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.