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Mona’s pet pig unlikely star attraction of Braidwood Open Gardens

He’s a pig who thinks he’s a dog and just happens to reside at the poshest address in Braidwood.

The pint-sized porker leaves the gruntwork to the gardeners and can be found rooting through the undergrowth of Mona’s leafy canopies, hoovering up blossoms and only occasionally eating something he shouldn’t.

Owner Rose Deo says he came to the farm as a tiny piglet, was christened Daddy Pig by her four children and quickly took on the characteristics of canine companions Biggle the groodle and Nessy the labradoodle. 

He’s trained to sit for food, loves a tummy rub and has endeared himself to the whole family.

“He really is very sweet. His favourite thing at the moment is eating roses, though he’s not too destructive,” Rose says.

Good thing, too, when the garden you’re talking about is an immaculately maintained, historic five-star estate. The 124-acre farm, originally awarded as a land grant to Thomas Braidwood Wilson in 1837, includes a sprawling historic homestead and award-winning gardens.

It’s taken Rose and her crew four years to bring the property back to its former glory, overhauling the gardens and refurbishing the homestead and outbuildings before reopening in March as a luxury wedding, accommodation and conference venue.  

“When I bought it, it was really overgrown and falling apart,” Rose says.

The result is impressive but Rose says the workload took her away from her four top priorities.

“I was laid up after an operation recently and the kids just loved it. They said they’d never seen so much of me and it made me realise something had to give: I could either give everything to Mona or everything to them. You only get one chance to get it right.”

So she’s reluctantly decided to move, listing Mona for sale and turning her energy to a property at Bowral where she plans to focus on her passion of horse breeding. 

Before the family says goodbye to Mona, they are opening the gates to the public one last time for the Braidwood Open Gardens this weekend, to help raise funds for the local not-for-profit preschool.

Visitors will be able to wander the grounds, listen to talks by landscape architect Michael Bligh or visit the pop-up cafe and nursery.

And, of course, say hello to Daddy Pig should he choose to make an appearance.

Properties open during the weekend include Wynlen House Slow Food Farm, where owners Bronwyn and Helen will give guided tours of the produce garden and showcase the fruits of their labour at the Garden to Plate Cafe. 

Or visitors can take a look inside Bedervale, a Georgian Colonial-style house designed by well-known Australian architect John Verge and built by emancipated convicts in the late 1830s.

For the first time, the public has a chance to visit Nithsdale homestead and its park-like gardens, a property steeped in bushranger history. Several rooms of the home will be open for inspection, as will the old gaol which played a role in the capture of the Clarke gang who terrorised the region during the gold rush of the 1850-60s.

Also open is 14 Solus Street, a lush oasis located on the sweeping bend into Braidwood from Canberra, and Tillararra, a tranquil country garden with incredible views over grazing land and distant mountains.

The open gardens are part of The Braidwood Festival weekend which includes the town’s annual Airing of the Quilts, a garlic fiesta, auto show, markets, exhibitions and carriage rides.

BRAIDWOOD OPEN GARDENS

Properties: Mona, Bedervale, Nithsdale, Tillararra, 14 Solus Street, Wynlen House

When: November 25-26, 10am-4pm

Cost: $5 a garden or $25 garden pass

See: braidwoodgardens.com.au and visitbraidwood.com.au

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