Railton, Town of Topiary
“The Art of Trimming Shrubs into Fantastic Shapes”
In early 1999, local business owners Stephen Rand (Bluey) and Neil Hurley were chatting about how to bring tourism to Railton. Bluey was telling Neil about the old topiary shapes that used to be on side of the road to Hobart and how as children it was a highlight of the long journey. They discussed how it would be a good idea to do in the town and Neil suggested the name “Town of Topiary” with the idea of filling the town with unusual character topiary. From this beginning the idea grew, and they planned and planted their own topiaries – Neil planted Railton’s first character topiary at his shop “Looking Glass Cottage” in October 1999 – A horse and farmer working an old plough – a living monument to the pioneering farmers of the district. The next topiaries followed shortly after – “Ned Kelly” in Dowbiggin Street and Bluey’s “crocodile” outside the service station “Railton Motor and Tyre”.
During the period that his topiary had been under development at his shop Neil took the idea to other businesses and interested community members and tourists with terrific feedback and encouragement, taking his idea of topiary service men and women to be placed at the cenotaph in town to the local R&SLA, and they approved the project. The topiary memorial is a one of a kind at the Railton Cenotaph.
A group of interested residents and business owners decided to form their own working party to promote the theme within the local community, with the aim of communicating the idea to local residents, and gaining increased community and council interest and support for the theme. The Railton Topiary Group was formed and have been working ever since with endless enthusiasm to encourage more topiary to be planted, assisting people to re-shape existing hedges into shapes and assisting with advice on frames and plants. With assistance from Cement Australia the topiary map was produced by the Topiary Group and remains a free guide available to visitors to the town due to the ongoing support of Cement Australia.
The original members of the topiary group (Neil & Erin Hurley, Rodney & Wendy McCarthy, Zachary & Ethan McCarthy, Ruth Beaumont, Lars Weustenfeld, Les & Denise Nicholas, Doug and Joy Cope, Marie Parker) nurtured and promoted the idea until it has found it’s own place within Tasmania’s tourism attractions with over 100 individual topiary in the town – many forming their own story or scene.