Konraad van’t Hof arrived in Australia with his wife, Anna-Maria, and four sons in 1952 and initially share-farmed at Springbrook. In 1956 the family purchased a 25-acre farm that had previously been the home of the Read family and later, the Turramurra Guesthouse, owned by the Shelley family.
A former train guard, it’s thought that Konraad had little experience with tulips beyond mistaking them for onions in the past and serving them with white sauce. It seems that he became far more familiar with the plant as, within a short time, the van’t Hofs were creating new varieties of tulips in the cool climate of Springbrook from the bulbs initially sent from Holland.
On 14 September 1963 the family opened their Tulip Farm to the public. It was a great success with thousands of tourists travelling up the mountain to admire the tens of thousands of tulips, daffodils and other flowers on display in garden beds. The tourist attraction had a Dutch theme throughout with staff wearing traditional costume and serving Dutch food in the café. At the time the van’t Hof family were the only commercial tulip growers in Queensland.
In 1967 following extensive damage to the tulip beds caused by tropical cyclone Dinah, the Tulip Farm closed and was sold the following year. The property was later renamed The Sanctuary and became a health retreat and guesthouse.
Sources of information and further reading
- Hall, Pamela, Springbrook where the Clouds Touch the Earth: a history of the plateau. Springbrook: P. Hall, 1999.
- Manuscript held at the Local Studies Library, LHM 6113.
- The Australian Women’s Weekly, (Sydney, N.S.W.) 6 Nov 1963.
- “Dutch train guard grows tulips here.” Good Neighbour (ACT : 1950 – 1969) 1 Mar 1963: 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176530211
- “English garden is attraction in tropic clime.” Good Neighbour (ACT : 1950 – 1969) 1 Mar 1964. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176530553