A Growing Interest: creative Brisbanites share their favourite landscapes

Philip Agnew and Natalie Hall

I’m really excited to be bringing you the second in our quarterly series ‘A Growing Interest’.

Today we’re hanging out with Brisbane’s favourite baker, Philip Agnew, and his talented partner, graphic designer Natalie Hall.

Self-taught, and with a convert’s zeal for real, hand-made bread, Phil rises each morning at an impossibly early hour to bake for Jocelyn’s Provisions. He documents his baking, and ongoing testing and trialing, via a “flour-coated iPad mini”, posting daily to his enormous Instagram following. 

 Phil's fresh sourdough about to be slathered with my mum's lemon marmalade. Oh yeah!

Phil's fresh sourdough about to be slathered with my mum's lemon marmalade. Oh yeah!

By contrast, Nat’s Instagram feed is a lovely mix of everyday moments interspersed with teasing garden snippets: forests of basil, happy sunflowers, blushing capsicums, wheat sprouting between the pavers, courtesy of Phil.

Recently we found a quiet moment in their busy schedules to talk gardens and landscape.

Nat, tell us where we are today:

We are down by the water at Cleveland Point Park–overlooking beautiful Moreton Bay.

 Phil and Nat by the Bay.

Phil and Nat by the Bay.

What do you love about this place?

Everything! I love that when we come here–each visit is special and unique. It never ceases to get tiresome. There is real pleasure in simply stopping to sit in the sun or under a tree or both and watch the world go by.

The bay can be very changeable. I love the dramatic contrast – gentle sea breeze one minute, strong gusts–putting the wind up your tail– the next. The taste of salt air, the thick cool grass underfoot and the different sounds of the wind through the various well established trees (a mix of pine and Moreton Bay fig) makes for a perfect place to throw anchor (aka picnic blanket) for a good hour or two ... easy.

I love the central open space for throwing a frisbee and the big skies that on dusk transition from the lightest of blues to the palest pinks in a perfect-hued gradient of colour. A great spot to watch clouds if you are so inclined.

My kids would argue that playground is what they love best. Recently upgraded, it is here in the sandpit that the little gnats’ imaginations run wild. Great cities have been created, conquered and destroyed using any tools on hand – thongs, sticks, takeaway cutlery ...

Regardless, it is a great space which identifies and connects with the surrounding local environment and has a great sense of place.

The park itself juts out into Moreton Bay providing ample 270 degree water views. There is for me, a real disconnect between the mainland and where we sit – a real sense of ... here and now.

Cleveland Point is also famous for its lighthouse. Built around 1864, the 12m high, timber clad, 19th century lighthouse was built to assist the local farming settlements of Moreton Bay who relied on small ships for transportation. Travel by ship could be very dangerous as the mudflats and sandbanks of Moreton Bay constantly change with the tide. It is one of only three hexagonal lighthouses erected in Moreton Bay and is the only remaining timber- structure of its time.

Did I mention you can also purchase some pretty amazing Gelati for a small fee?

How long have you been coming here?

I have been coming here since I was a kid. During the holidays, my grandparents would drive my sister and I down to either Cleveland or Wellington Point for a swim on a hot summers day. I’m not so sure I would jump at the chance of a swim these days, but this place sure holds great family memories for me.

More recently, my partner Philip Agnew and I bought a place at Wellington Point–a short drive from here. It’s small, but big enough. We have both fallen in love with the area. In particular, we love how people greet you on walks when they pass by. It probably has something to do with our small-town upbringings– you rarely get that in the city.

 The shadows of promenaders...

The shadows of promenaders...

 ...and other friendly locals.

...and other friendly locals.

What changes have you noticed in that time?

The infrastructure has certainly improved. The park facilities and playground have all been upgraded to a much higher standard than what i remember as a kid. The barbecues work well and the covered eating areas are very popular for parties or gatherings with family and friends.

How is this place important to your creative work?

I like this place, because it is simple and modest. It doesn't try to out do with massive amounts of play equipment. The setup is simple. The facilities clean.

 Panels of artificial turf create hard-wearing yet inviting lounging spots beside the promenade.

Panels of artificial turf create hard-wearing yet inviting lounging spots beside the promenade.

This place makes you stop and appreciate the natural beauty of Moreton Bay – the smells, colours and sounds assault the senses. It is a place of inspiration, but also a space to let go. To mentally stop and recharge. To shift focus. It’s great food for the imagination.

Describe your dream garden for us:

Our current garden is exactly this ... a dream (on paper) ... at least for the short term.

I think for us, our dream garden will be one which feels at ease with the local area. One that relates to its environment, but that challenges you to think differently. It will explore contrasts by being both visually beautiful yet functional by providing seasonal produce for our family. It will be somewhere to relax and recharge and appreciate life’ s simple pleasures. Phil is adverse to the idea of manicured lawns and mowing, so this will certainly be down the list of inclusions.

 

I can't wait to see what this lovely pair create.

 

A huge thank-you to Natalie and Philip for sharing their favourite local landscape with us. I hope you've enjoyed spending time with them as much as I did. If you'd like to see more of their creative endeavours and daily observations, you can follow them on Instagram: Phil here, and Natalie here.