Our History

Discover the rich history of the magnificent Tieve Tara.

A 19th Century Summer Retreat

In the 19th century, Mt Macedon became known for its summer retreats, with grand homes and exquisite gardens in the tradition of the hill stations of the British Raj in India.

The cool climate and deep rich soils made it the perfect environment for the creation of beautiful gardens. Today, the area is renowned for some of Australian’s finest gardens, among them, the beautiful Gardens of Tieve Tara.

Historic Tree

Early Beginnings

Tieve Tara was originally part of an extensive property bought by W. Christian in 1854, and was to become known as Christian’s Orchard.

George Gratham purchased the property in 1907, and the original house was built on the present site. It was named ‘Tieve Tara’, a Celtic reference meaning ‘side of the hill’.

In 1937, Tieve Tara was purchased by G Arthur Cooper and it remained in the family until 1966.

In 1983, the property was purchased by John and Dawn Wade, who built the current two residences on the property. In 1995, the property was acquired by John and Judith Brand until its sale in 2021 to the Le Family, who are excited to have become the custodians of such an enchanting property.


The Garden’s Origins


It is believed that two local landscapers, Messers Taylor and Sangster, laid out the original garden in the early 1860’s.

Messers Taylor and Sangster were held in extremely high regard, as they had worked for Governor Sir Henry Barkly at Government House, Melbourne.

The original garden extended to the present Ligustrum hedge. Below that was a horse paddock, and along the creek was a lawn area with many deciduous trees.

The Evolvement of Tieve Tara

Mother Nature has played a big role at Tieve Tara. In 1962, fire destroyed the original house, causing damage to the gardens. The Ash Wednesday fire that engulfed Mt Macedon in 1983, severely damaged the property. The house was destroyed and the gardens ravaged.

While the Azalea Walk was completely destroyed and some of the large trees bordering the creek were lost, including a scarlet oak of some renown, many of the century old trees amazingly survived.

These wonderful trees are the basis around which the garden has been rebuilt. The Wades built the existing residences and engaged in extensive landscaping of the former paddock.

Tieve Tara Today


When John and Judith Brand purchased the property, they began work on ambitious plans to further enhance the beautiful garden. With assistance from landscape architect Peter McGain and Head Gardener David Johnston-Bailey, they set about rejuvenating and developing the garden, bringing it to its current glory.

The bottom lake was deepened and a top lake was added, enabling the slope to be recontoured, creating its amazing rolling lawns.

New features have been established, including the Rose Walk and Arbour, many new beds including the large perennial bed of the top lake, the fountain and bog garden area, and “Treasure Island”, a fantastic children’s playground amongst the soaring Eucalypts and tree ferns. 

An exquisite Japanese garden was designed and created by Australian based, Master Japanese Gardener, Fumio Ueda. Fumio’s design integrated many of the established plants, within the new Japanese garden. Designed to inspire reflection and meditation, the garden incorporates the five sacred elements of air, fire, earth, water and spirit.

Tieve Tara Garden

Open Garden Legacy

To share the exquisite natural beauty of Tieve Tara, we have chosen to maintain the legacy of the Brand Family and open the property to the public during selected dates in spring and autumn.

Many visitors have created their own ‘history’ in the garden, as a setting for photos of their wedding day, a romantic place to propose to their loved one, returning to celebrate anniversaries, first birthdays, annual family picnics and so much more.

The garden has become a joyous living history for so many over the years.

What People Are Saying About Tieve Tara

‘For 25 years Tieve Tara has been my life and my work. With the guidance of the late John and Judith Brand, I have helped to shape the gardens of Tieve Tara for the enjoyment of thousands of visitors from Australia and throughout the world. It had been an absolute privilege.’
-David Johnston-Bailey

Head Gardener

‘I love wandering along the hidden paths of Tieve Tara, under the canopy of the mature trees, admiring the swathes of delicate hellebores in the cooler months. The beautiful ghost white bracts of the Dove Tree are a favourite of mine in spring, and the overall tranquility and beauty of Tieve Tara fills me with gratitude’.

-Nikki Kenn