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Meet Scott Pollock

Meet Scott Pollock - Manager, Retford Park

James Fairfax believed that his beautiful Southern Highlands property, Retford Park, should be preserved for the enjoyment of the community. So he gave it to the National Trust, who took over the reins in August 2017.

In conversation with Robin Powell
Images by Ray Joyce


Meet Scott Pollock - Manager, Retford Park.


Tell us a little bit about the history of Retford Park

The Hordern family built the house way back in 1887, and then in 1964 James Fairfax bought the property for the bargain price of 15,000 pounds and began transforming it from an agricultural property to a gentleman’s residence. There was already a substantial garden here, and he brought in other garden designers over the years to bring it to what it is today. As we all know, he had a passion for art, and that is evident inside the house and in the garden. Quite spectacular.


The Hordern family built the house way back in 1887


What are the challenges of managing an historic and important property like Retford Park?

To be honest I never see it as a challenge, it’s just so stunning. It’s amazing what doors open when you have something of such beauty to share. Though of course maintenance will be the thing, it’s been left in such beautiful condition. The more I learn about the property and about James Fairfax himself, the more I wish I’d met him. He was obviously an incredibly generous and thoughtful man.


How many gardeners are working at the property?

Rick Shepherd is the head gardener and he’s here four days per week, then there’s Jordan who’s full time and Sam does a few days per week. They've been working here for six years so really know the garden well.


Lilliums ready to go into the garden


What is your favourite part of the gardens?

I don’t have one yet, but I’m walking around every evening, experiencing it all. I was at Everglades, the Paul Sorensen garden at Leura, for eight years before I took on this role, and it took me a while to find my favourite spot there too. But I certainly did - under the big elm tree at the end of the cherry terrace, with the beautiful stone steps leading up to the old squash courts.


There’s certainly plenty of candidates for favourite spot at Retford!

Yes, maybe it’s where the emus live, or the knot garden, or the pool pavilion - it’s amazing to think that that Guilford Bell designed that very modern structure 50 years ago! And of course, when it’s in full bloom it’s hard to go past the peony garden - that just blows my mind.


Retford Park has its first open weekend on March 31-April 1, with an Easter Egg hunt for children on the Sunday, and will then be open on the first weekend of every month. 1325 Old South Road, Bowral.


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Author: Robin Powell