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Red Cow Farm

Home > Canberra > Day Trips | Escape the City | Gardens | Outdoor | Wedding Venues
by Irenke Forsyth (subscribe)
A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at
Published September 8th 2021
Designed around an historic 1820's cottage, Red Cow Farm features 20 formally structured garden rooms as well as a woodland area of maples and rare trees, a lake, an orchard and a nursery set on 2.5 hectares in the picturesque Southern Highlands region.

Originally owned by ex-convict George Sewell in the early 1800's, Red Cow Farm was named for the red Hereford cows that were grazing in the surrounding paddocks at the time. The existing cottage was built as a gentleman's residence and remains much the same today as it did in the 1800's, although now part of it has become a gift shop.

Current owners Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrissey bought the property in 1990 and pursued their dream of creating one of the world's best gardens. They have certainly put a lot of work into Red Cow Farm over the years to make it what it is today.

My visit to this romantic country garden setting left me in awe. It's one of my all-time favourite gardens with so much beauty to it. A white picket fence entices you in to explore the creative areas. You'll be enchanted by walled sanctuaries where solitude invites quiet reflection, by stone statues of angels and gargoyles keeping watch and by the colours and scents of a wide range of plants wafting through your senses.

Your mind and body will be enriched by the fresh country air in this ambience that is visually and mentally inspiring. There's a monastery garden featuring artworks and statues of saints, a cottage garden full of old fashioned roses and perennials, an Abbess' garden, a Rhododendron Drive, a Camelia Walk, Hazelnut Walk and Crabapple Walk, all bringing their own charm. The stunning displays will provide gardening enthusiasts with plenty of ideas and photographers with plenty of images.

A beautiful old wooden bridge to an island in the lake further impresses visitors as do fruit trees abundant with apples, pears and stone fruits enticing some sampling, whilst the kitchen garden will impress those wanting to grow their own herbs and vegetables.

Each season brings a variety of blooms. Apart from the aforementioned flora, you'll also find the following -

In Spring - irises, rhododendron, magnolias, primulas, Lily of the Valley, tulips

In Summer - dahlias, foxglove, a huge variety of roses (including the California wild rose below), hydrangeas, lilium, eryngium, clematis

In Autumn - anemone, astrantia, dahlias, cyclamen, salvia, aster and the yellow and fire red hues of leaves on trees (as beautiful as blooms)

In Winter - crocus, helleborus, camelias, primulas

The above are just some of what you'll find as you walk around this amazing property in the historic rural village of Sutton Forest.

Whilst my visit was in spring, different parts of the garden had me feeling as though it was autumn, such is the magic of Red Cow Farm. Two seasons in one and the best two. You can't get any better than that. Oh, and the gorgeous colour of the water in the lake was pretty mesmerising, blending in perfectly with its surroundings.

The owners have done a great job here and should you need some gardening advice, Ali is available for gardening planning consultations, landscape design and plant selection. He is well known with more than 20 years experience and a design portfolio that includes prestigious private gardens in Sydney, Canberra, the South Coast and the Southern Highlands. He has also appeared on TV's Better Homes and Gardens and in numerous lifestyle and garden magazines displaying his design techniques.

Furthermore, the garden can be used as a wedding venue. It is ideal for small intimate ceremonies with up to 20 guests, including the bridal party. Your wedding photos, with so many spectacular spots as backdrops, will be the envy of your friends. Bookings are essential for this service. Enquiries can be made here.

The garden is open to the public for 8 months of the year, from late September to mid May, daily from 10am-4pm (entry cost below). There is no cafe onsite or rest rooms but facilities can be found nearby at Sutton Forest Pub or Exeter General Store.

Red Cow Farm is on the Illawarra Highway, just 5kms south of Moss Vale. Car and coach parking are available in the laneway adjacent to the garden.

Only 1.5hrs from Sydney and 2hrs from Canberra, this magnificent property makes for an easy day trip and certainly warrants it.
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Phone: 02 4868 1842
Where: 7480 Illawarra Hwy, Sutton Forest
Cost: Adult $15, Seniors & Groups $10, Child $5 (4-14yrs)
Your Comment
It really does look like a fairy-tale garden.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10118) 452 days ago
Red Cow Farm (article)
by Stella Bella on 14/11/2012
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