Shirley is a sheep and cattle property in south eastern New South Wales. The family’s forebears settled on the Monaro in the 1860’s. Shirley was purchased by the family in the mid 1920’s to adjoin their surrounding grazing property. The homestead was built in 1908 and designed by architect Henry Budden.
The garden at Shirley has been created over three generations. It started immediately after the grandparents of the current owner, John Cottle, purchased the property. They commissioned Claude Crowe from Berrima to lay out the original garden. He introduced many rare species of conifer trees rarely seen in Australia, which provided a rich and unique foundation for the garden. John’s grandfather also had the lake built originally to provide a water source for the garden. A man-made lake of this scale and beauty is more commonly found in larger English gardens. The lake has become the main focal point of the garden and adds greatly to Shirley’s tranquil landscape.
In 1997, John and his wife Sally-Ann moved into the homestead with their children Georgie and Harrison. They commissioned landscape designer Paul Bangay and in 2006 they commenced redesigning the garden to Bangay’s master plan. Sally-Ann and John wanted to incorporate their love of French and Italian gardens into the garden at Shirley.The garden is mostly maintained by John. Their son Harrison has now returned to the property and has taken over most of the stock work on the property, to his parents delight.
John and Sally-Ann Cottle established the retreat to build on the values they consider important with good design and appreciation of beauty being integral.
The Cottle family welcome those with a desire to spend time in a beautiful landscape and have renovated one of the overseer’s cottages on the property for self-contained accommodation. As an interior decorator, Sally-Ann also runs creative lifestyle workshops several times a year on the property.