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Probus Club of Tea Tree Gully Explores Karkoo Nursery

On the sunny morning of October 11, 2023, 37 enthusiastic members of the Probus Club of Tea Tree Gully in South Australia embarked on a delightful outing to Karkoo Nursery. Located on Oakwood Road in Oakbank, nestled in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, this adventure was met with perfect weather conditions, with temperatures soaring to a pleasant 30 degrees.

Karkoo Nursery, a grower direct outlet, was established over two decades ago by Jane and Peter Rowat. Initially, it served as a wholesale garden center in Mount Gambier, South Australia, and continues to flourish. In 2016, they expanded to Blackwood, an Adelaide suburb, and in 2021, they acquired the Historic Johnston Brewery site at Oakbank South Australia in the Adelaide Hills, creating a retail space that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the history of Karkoo and the Johnston Brewery, dating back to 1843.
The Johnston Brewery, founded by James Johnston and his family, Scottish immigrants, commenced its brewing journey in 1843. What started as small-scale ale production for personal consumption soon grew into a successful venture, with the brewery supplying local pubs. By 1845, the brothers built their first Maltings and Brewery building, and in the late 1880s, they were serving up to 12 hotels. The Oakbank Brewery reached its peak in the early 1880s, producing a staggering 3500 gallons of ale per week. However, by 1914, after seven decades in the brewing business, the Johnston brothers shifted their focus to managing an impressive chain of acquired hotels.
Upon arriving at Karkoo Nursery, members of the Probus Club of Tea Tree Gully indulged in a delightful morning tea at the Garden Café housed in the brewery's main building. With the words "Johnstons Brewing Company" gracing the wall behind the counter, everyone relished refreshments before embarking on a journey to explore the 3-acre garden center.
The nursery grounds boasted various captivating buildings, including a room filled with garden and homeware antiques. Some of the younger club members humorously suggested that the older ones might have used many of these quaint relics. There was also a blacksmith's shed, a spacious rustic event/conference room, a trendy clothing store catering to a younger audience with dresses, scarves, and more, alongside a restaurant and an expansive outdoor area for enjoying morning or afternoon tea and lunch. Hidden behind the property, adjacent to the restaurant and vegetable garden, a magnificent rooster ruled over his bantam hen harem within a charming chicken run.
The nursery itself offers a vast selection of horticultural delights, including seedlings, camellias, native plants, shrubs, fruit trees, berry vines, succulents, pots, ornaments, wind chimes, and much more. It was a delightful place to leisurely explore, and many members couldn't resist making a few purchases.
After a satisfying morning at Karkoo Nursery, the group proceeded to the Balhannah Hotel in the Adelaide Hills for a delectable lunch. The gathering, which included 36 attendees, featured former President Leon (now a non-active member) and his wife Carol. The day was expertly organised by the club's dedicated Activities Officer, Joan.
In conclusion, the outing to Karkoo Nursery proved to be a delightful and relaxing experience for the Probus Club of Tea Tree Gully, allowing members to appreciate the rich history and natural beauty of the Adelaide Hills.