LifestyleFantasy Garden brings happiness for the price of a hug

Fantasy Garden brings happiness for the price of a hug

Barbra Marshall with visitors to her Fantasy Garden Kayla, Miley and Jayda Ludke and Thomas Cluff.
Barbara Marshall with visitors to her Fantasy Garden: Kayla, Miley and Jayda Ludke and Thomas Cluff.

Woodgate Beach has many magical locations, but few boast the charm of a special place in the Woodgate Beach Holiday Park dedicated to a fantasy world for children.

The Children’s Fantasy Garden is the creation of 93-years-young Barbara Marshall.

Barb and her garden are an entrenched part of the holiday park. She holds the status of being the only permanent resident attached to more than 20 such holiday parks operated by NRMA.

Holiday makers and visitors alike can’t miss Barb’s special place located at site 109.

The garden operates every Sunday morning at 10am during school holidays to cater to the large numbers of children visiting Woodgate Beach and camping in the park.

The Fantasy Garden is a collection of every type of ornament and figurine imaginable.

Hundreds of ornaments in Fantasy Garden

The front yard is dedicated to frogs, parrots, teddy bears, Snow White and the 10 Dwarfs (Barb wasn’t happy with just seven), and a collection of native animals amid seas of colourful flowers.

The three Ludke sisters from Brisbane: Kayla, Miley and Jayda were joined by Thomas Cluff for the tour.

Barb, a former kindergarten director with a major in child psychology has them entranced within minutes.

A small section of the range of ornaments on show much to the delight of visitors to the Fantasy Garden.
A small section of the range of ornaments on show much to the delight of visitors to the Fantasy Garden.

“Can anyone see the three small frogs or the blue parrot?” she asks.

The squad dutifully scans the treasure trove of pieces and seek to be the first to locate the quarry.

“How about a dinosaur baby and a baby turtle hatching from eggs?”

Again, the hunt is on until the youngsters triumphantly locate the items. The group pauses in front of a sun ornament with a plastic snake dangling over it.

Barb explains how snakes like the sun and then asks the group if they know what to do if they encounter a snake.

“Stand still and tell an adult,” come the replies. She takes their responses and weaves it into a snake safety message.

Magic words unlock treasure chest

The finale of the tour involves a bit of Barb “magic”.

A toy parrot – “Polly” – welcomes the children and then amazes everyone with its uncanny knack of repeating everything they say to it. This leads to the arrival of “Miss Piggy” and the search for a treasure chest.

Barb and her “magic” helpers – Miss Piggy and “Polly” the talking parrot. Magic words unlock the treasure chest.

With the help of Miss Piggy and by loudly uttering the magic words “abracadabra peanut butter sandwich” the treasure chest is located and unlocked. The “treasure” is lollipop treats for the youngsters.

Barb then informs the group that it’s now time for payment. “But it’s not money I want – if money could buy it I would have no money left,” confides Barb.

“A hug,” says Kayla with eyes sparkling.

Payment is dutifully delivered with a hug from everyone, including this writer, followed by a massive group hug.

At 93 years of age Barbara Marshall continues to make a significant contribution to the lives of others.

Priceless. Barb receives a hug from Miley Ludke following a visit to the Fantasy Garden.
Priceless. Barb receives a hug from Miley Ludke following a visit to the Fantasy Garden.

Her late husband Joseph worked at Moura in the mines and it was here she developed a strong sense of community.

“I’ve pretty much done everything – even swam with sharks and dolphins and fed sea lions. But I love the involvement with children and the general community.

Creations support charity groups

“My hands are never still,” she says, and this is borne out by the ongoing contribution she makes to charitable groups through handcrafted items which are eagerly sought for countless raffles and cent sales.

Shopping bags are brought to life with glittering and colourful attachments, rugs, toiletry packs, home-made jams and relishes and a couple of items like her knitted Scotsman are “a bit rude” she confides but are proven fund raisers.

Barb and Joe came to Australia from England in the 1960’s. She touched the lives of more than 3000 children during her career as a kindy director.

According to Barb the joy she gives young children as they tour her Fantasy Garden is nothing compared with the pleasure she derives from bringing happiness into the lives of others.

Barb’s Children’s Fantasy Garden – a rare experience and all for the price of a hug.




  1. Wonderful Mrs Marshall at Woodgate. She was my 41 year old daughters kindy teacher and many other hundreds of Moura Children. Whenever I see her I ask How are you mrs Marshall and she says. It is Barbara. My comment. You will always be Mrs Marshall. Lovely lady

  2. Yes. I just turned 55. She lived next door to us and was my kindergarten teacher. Great to see the article.

  3. We love you Barb,always in our hearts ♥️ ????❤️Blessed continued great health for you massive HUGS Lou and Mantshologane (Gane) xxxxoooo

  4. That’s my grandma and she has always been the most loving generous person in every way my whole life and long before I came along.

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