The Garden Station
The Garden Station is 117km north-east of Alice Springs, in the MacDonnell ranges. The Garden got its name as market gardens there once supplied the nearby Arltunga mining community of some 300 people.
In 1934 Mr Robb of JE Robb & Sons (SA shippers trading in remounts) said, in discussion of breeding horses in the Alice Springs area, that there were some station owners who had specialised in producing high quality horses. “Mr J. Turner of the Garden Station, Mr Cavanaugh of Ambalindum and Mr Bloomfield of Loves Creek Station now have ideal types for artillery remounts”.
The Garden concentrated mainly on heavy work types but did ultiise the thoroughbred in their bloodlines. Pistol, son of Carbine, ran on the Garden Station at one time. Horses were bred in these areas for work, racing and the India trade although the primary trade was cattle.
The Garden horses recorded here were bought in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s from saleyards in Alice Springs. A government program to get rid of brumbies under the TB-Brucellosis eradication program meant they were going to the meatworks in unprecedented numbers and there was a chance to save a few to continue their old Australian bloodlines. Reg Wilson, then a surveyor from Darwin, knew the area and personally contacted station managers to ensure the horses were of old background without new blood.
Dave Berman (NTCC) said in 1994 that these horses remained undiluted by modern bloodlines. By having horses with the earliest connections to those brought to South Australia and the Territory, the Garden horses have a great genetic legacy.
Garden foundation mare Mega was a much loved and admired Waler ambassador at the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Melbourne for over a decade, participating in their young Farmer’s programme and introducing farm visitors to good old-fashioned Waler horses, just as horses used to be.
A bit of personal history, in comments on a July 2023 FaceBook post about Mega Debi Robinson writes:
My G.Grandparents settled The Garden Station after leaving Arltunga NT 1905 approx..They built a small stone house and started a garden to supply veggies and tobacco to the miners and the few people living around the Government well which became Alice. My G. Grandfather Sam Nicker mustered Brumbies which he overlanded solo to what is now known as Threeways and beyond to horse sales and races. His wife Lizzie staying to manage the gardens and raising three sons there. A lovely connection..In later years his daughter would select one of the first mobs for the then new Waler Association for Reg Wilson.