Waterfall Cottage

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Waterfall Cottage

Ten years ago Jeanne Villani purchased “a cheap bit of land that somebody had put an old shack on”. The land was wet and swampy, the garden was overgrown with lantana and other weeds, and the little fibro cottage had been damaged by water. However, Jeanne saw the value in the little 3 hectare (8 acre) patch of rainforest right on the doorstep of Sydney’s CBD. A new sandstone cottage was built and the garden was developed to retain its natural beauty as well as incorporating exotic plantings. “My idea of a lovely garden,” says Jeanne, “is one that looks like everything is just growing there naturally. That’s the aim I had with this garden.”

Native and exotic plant mix

The garden contains many outstanding rainforest trees including native frangipanis, sandpaper figs, cabbage tree palms, bolwarras and coachwoods. Exotic plantings of orchids, canna lilies, wild ginger lilies, day lilies and justicia blend happily with the natives, as does a magnificent stand of giant bamboo. According to Jeanne the bamboo creaks like an old sailing ship when the wind is blowing. The garden also features sculptures, ornamental ponds, a large aviary and a gazebo.


Visitors to Waterfall Cottage during a dry spell might wonder how on earth the place got its name. The tiny trickle of water running over mossy rocks near the back door of the cottage is the answer. Jeanne says that it turns into a raging torrent when it starts to rain heavily. “It’s so exciting. I have a metal roof and the rain beating down on that and the waterfall roaring past the back door are just wonderful.”

Flora and fauna

Jeanne showed Don some photographs of the wildlife in the garden. Recent visitors included scrub turkeys, lyrebirds, kookaburras, possums and a powerful owl. She provides both food and a safe habitat for the birds and animals, and so they have increased in numbers over the years. Jeanne has established a trust to preserve the garden and its wildlife for posterity. She hopes that this will ensure that the garden will be maintained just as it is now for many years to come.

Further information

Waterfall Cottage is at 90 Cabbage Tree Road, Bayview, NSW, 2014.
Website: www.users.bigpond.com/villanij/
The garden is featured in the February 2001 edition of the Burke’s Backyard Magazine, available at newsagents for $4.60.