Coffs Harbour Garden club gets green-fingered thumbs up

The Coffs Harbour Garden Club airside garden team with Karen Heeney, the Technical Services Officer from Coffs Harbour Airport, far left, who volunteers to support the group.

A WELL-EARNED, green-fingered thumbs-up has been given to the Coffs Harbour Garden Club (CHGC) by Frank Mondello, General Manager of Coffs Harbour Airport, for their work on the airport’s new airside garden, unique as the only airside garden at a regional airport in NSW.

Speaking about the initiative, Frank told News Of The Area (NOTA) he was thankful for the time and effort of the local volunteers.

Coffs Coast ClotheslinesAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

“This is a great initiative led by a local group of gardening enthusiasts, and I would like to thank the group for volunteering their time.

“The hard work of these volunteers ensures arriving and departing passengers are left with a great impression of our airport.”

When the new airport operators, Palisade, took over the lease in 2021, knowing which side their bread was buttered, kept the volunteer gardeners on in their light gardening role.

Noeline Sell, from Coffs Harbour Garden Club, who manages this project told News Of The Area, “The members do the pruning, weeding, general tidying up and we provide some gardening advice.

“The airport management team does the heavy work and the mowing.

“Keeping the plants to a certain height is an important job so nothing grows too tall and obscures the view.”

Maria Bell, a Garden Club member and airport gardening team volunteer, told NOTA about the garden design.

“The garden was designed by a horticulturalist who went for a subtropical feel which has been successful.

“The main plants are xanadu, strelitzia aka ‘the bird of paradise’, cordylines, crotons, bromeliad and cycads and some native grasses.

“Some of them grow quickly so pruning them to the height requirement is always on our agenda.

“The cycads had to be controlled because it’s quite a spiky plant and we couldn’t have kids getting scratched as they walked past on the walkway.”

The history of CHGC working at the airport began in 1996 with a request to design a new airside garden onsite.

A committee was formed under the guidance of the then President Rhona Brooks.

At the time current member Pat Roser OAM was the Secretary.

Pat was made a life member of the club in 2005, having joined the club in 1992.

In 2000 extensions to the terminal involved the removal of all plants in the garden, to be re-potted and temporarily re-homed in the council nursery and cared for there.

“They were returned, and replanting was undertaken by members.

“The new garden’s shape was narrower and more formal, keeping plantings low with a minimum of variety, and regular maintenance was resumed,” said Noeline.

In 2002 the club was awarded The Garden Clubs of Australia ‘Lallie Coombs’ Award for participation in the community which included the maintenance of the airside garden.

In 2017 the last major extensions were undertaken by Coffs council which appointed a garden designer to create the new layout, and once again the club returned to do maintenance with council.

Protocols around Covid put a stop to the volunteer gardeners’ working visits.

In 2021 under the new management, it was back to business as usual.

“Passengers and visitors through Coffs Airport have, over the years, given glowing praise of the beautiful garden.”

If you are interested in joining the CHGC, see


Leave a Reply