Acclaim for garden

December 02, 2016

National treasure: Cactus Country's Jim and Julie (pictured) Hall's gardens have been listed as a must-see destination in Australia.

Strathmerton’s little slice of Mexico has won national acclaim after being mentioned on a list of unmissable Australian natural attractions.

Cactus Country was named number 16 on the Herald Sun/’s list of must-see natural wonders that aren’t expected to be found in Australia.

The story featured attractions that were off the beaten path in a guide to the ‘‘most unique, unusual and Instagrammable Aussie icons that you’ve probably never heard of’’.

The list features just two natural wonders from Victoria.

Alongside Cactus Country on the list is The Pillars at Mount Martha.

Seven of the other destinations are in Western Australia, five in Queensland, three in South Australia, two in Tasmania and one in NSW.

Cactus Country’s Julie Hall said it was fantastic for a local business to be recognised alongside some of the country’s natural wonders.

‘‘(Husband) Jim was absolutely blown away by the article,’’ she said.

‘‘When it was just a glimmer of an idea in Jim’s mind to create a garden, he would never have imagined it would become something like this.’’

‘‘Move over Arizona,’’ reporter Tianna Nadalin wrote of Cactus Country in the story.

‘‘This prickly point is actually a man-made nursery, garden and Mexican-themed cafe in the Victorian town of Strathmerton.

‘‘We’re here all week, try the cactus cake. But seriously, try it.’’

Mrs Hall said the list described the most unique and Instagrammable locations in the country.

‘‘We think it’s really impressive,’’ she said.

‘‘When we travel overseas and look at the world-class gardens over there, like in Spain and Mexico, we feel really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve here.’’

The destination has been growing as an attraction, with many of its visitors day trippers from Melbourne.

Social media has also been a big part of promoting Cactus Country outside of the region, with more than 21000 Instagram followers and more than 5000 likes on Facebook.

On average, it gets about 1000 visitors a month — a dramatic change from the 120 a month it got when it first started out more than two decades ago.

‘‘We had 27 car loads on Melbourne Cup weekend, on the Saturday and Sunday,’’ Mrs Hall said.

‘‘It’s really gotten crazy and we’ve had to put extra staff on as a result, which is fantastic.

‘‘Social media has a real influence for us, especially when the cacti are flowering.

‘‘Jim puts something up and soon after people turn up, because they want photos of themselves with the unique cacti.’’

The business is also set to grow in the future, with Jim and Julie’s son John currently travelling overseas for inspiration and ideas to add to Cactus Country.

— Cobram Courier

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