Matthew Hayden’s Home Ground

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Overview

We meet up with Matthew after his retirement from the Aussie test cricket team to find him in a relaxed, thoughtful mood.

After many years living out a suitcase touring and competing internationally, he finally has more time to spend on home ground with his wife Kellie and kids Grace, Josh and Thomas.

His plan is to develop roughly an acre of his two-acre plot into a flourishing kitchen garden beside his house.

Episode 1.

In this, the first of six episodes we meet up with Matthew after his retirement from the Aussie test cricket team to find him in a relaxed, thoughtful mood. After many years living out of a suitcase touring and competing internationally, he finally has more time to spend on home ground with his wife Kellie and kids Grace, Josh and Thomas. His plan is to develop roughly an acre of his two-acre plot into a flourishing kitchen garden beside his house. Any downtime can then be spent indulging his passion for cooking, a passion that’s already seen Matthew produce several cookbooks. The journey begins with the unveiling of the garden design by Landscape Designer Nicole Moon, who bases her plan on the principles of permaculture: whereby the garden forms its own ecosystem allowing nature to do most of the ‘gardening’ for you. Moonie’s aim is equal parts practicality and charm so she divides the garden into three distinct zones, where areas for herbs, vegies, chooks and wildlife are placed according to how often they need to be looked after or accessed. At the heart of these zones is the central dry stone fire pit.

Episode 2.

Matthew’s new kitchen garden is just underway. Day two of construction and it’s looking disconcertingly like a cleared building site, but the foundation has been laid. The base is ready for a dry river bed and pond, and the soil’s been shaped into mounds or ‘swales’: a permaculture strategy that uses the contour of the land to slow the flow of water when it rains.

Next on the scene is master stonemason Saul Cafarella who, with help from a willing apprentice (Matthew) is responsible for the two all-important dry stone features in the garden – namely the central fire pit and the herb spiral. While Saul gets underway on the spiral, Matthew heads north to Garnisha in Boreen Point for ideas on what to plant in the herb spiral. Garnisha is a working garden on seven acres which produces all manner of herbs, spices, chutneys and curry pastes. The owner Tim Warren is a deft hand at curry making thanks to his abundant, fresh herb and spice supply including turmeric, cardamom, tamarind, lemon grass and galangal. So as you’d expect the prawn curry he makes with Matthew, with its rich, aromatic stock base, turns out to be a rare, deeply satisfying treat for the taste buds. Also in this show we learn that the root of Matthew’s passion for cricket stems back to his childhood in Kingaroy.

Episode 3.

It’s all creatures great and small as this episode explores the various options for adding livestock to Matthew’s new, more productive garden. Keen to expand his currently modest base of chooks and bees, Matthew sets off to meet various experts in raising chickens, bee-keeping, and pig and goat farming. The quest is to ascertain what might be right for the family at this point in their lives.

Meanwhile, Landscape Designer Moonie has grand plans for re-locating the chooks (or girls as they’re fondly known) to fabulous new up-market quarters close to the main house (for easier egg collection). Dubbed the ‘Hen Hilton’ this resplendent federation abode comes with five-star features like stained glass windows, lighting, insulation, and a spacious grapevine-draped outdoor area. Its construction is a process in itself and includes great tips for avoiding pests, easy cleaning, and collecting eggs. The end result is so inviting that Matthew suspects it could end up as his dog house!

Episode 4.

Day 10 of construction and we’re halfway there. It’s now time to consider the orchard area, which will be fenced off from the central garden closest to the house. Matthew’s property enjoys a tropical climate suited to mangoes, avocados, lychees, citrus, pecan, custard apples and olives which thrive in warm conditions and are coincidentally all family favourites.

Meanwhile, work continues on the timber elements of the garden as Matthew’s brother Gary pitches in to help construct the walkway, an arched bridge for the pond and a beautiful, meandering picket fence, which will allow the chooks to roam free in the orchard – and als00o aid tree fertilization.

Episode 5.

With the structural elements of the garden just about done there’s time before the pay-off-planting and garden-greening to take a much needed break with the family. Whenever they get a day or two spare the family head for nearby Stradbroke Island. Matthew gets to indulge the water-loving side of his nature: the passion for surfing, fishing and boating you might not expect in a boy from the bush. It’s also a place with a lot of memories for Matthew and Kellie, as they spent many hours here running sandhills together whenever Matthew was in training.

Back home, Matthew is paid a visit by his old team-mate and neighbour, Andrew Symonds. Simmo brings a mud crab, which Matthew cooks to perfection.

After a final visit to garlic growers Super Natural Organic, where Matthew checks out how to grow one of his most treasured ingredients; things come full circle as mentor and permaculture guru Liz Hanson drops in to offer some final tips and advice on where each plant should be placed for maximum benefit. That done, the planting can finally begin.

Episode 6.

It’s been six months since the garden was finished and after a busy period away from home, playing in the Indian Premier League, Matthew and the family are hosting a backyard BBQ for family and friends. During the planning and preparations, Matthew reflects on why it was important for him to embark on this journey. He explains how creating an edible garden for his own children has reconnected him to his happy memories of a loving childhood on the land.

Matthew discusses what he’s been doing since the project finished, a time that has largely been taken up with training and playing IPL with his team, the Chennai Super Kings. India has had a huge impact on his life – professionally and gastronomically! Two of the dishes he cooks for the BBQ evoke the love of spices this country has given him.

Of course the IPL is just one element of what’s been happening in a somewhat active retirement. It’s clear that cricket will continue to play a big part in Matthew’s life well into the future.