BIDDING FAREWELL: Denise Ferne, Judy Luckie, Kerrie Murray and Gary Cockbain.
BIDDING FAREWELL: Denise Ferne, Judy Luckie, Kerrie Murray and Gary Cockbain. David Barwell

The pastures will be greener

AT 67 years of age, Sawtell Nursery owner Gary Cockbain is ready to take a permanent break from planting as he embarks on the newest chapter in his life.

Gary is closing his iconic garden centre at Sawtell after operating the much-loved family business for 37 years.

"I've decided to retire to the Sunshine Coast where all my children and grandchildren are," he said.

"It hasn't been an easy decision - I've met so many nice people over the years and that's what I'll miss the most."

Born at the Sunny Side Hospital in Coffs Harbour in 1948, Gary has always called the Coffs Coast home.

In 1978, Gary "took a gamble" and purchased the Hogbin Dr block for the nursery which has not only employed dozens of local residents, but remained in local hands.

Over the years, Gary says he's seen many businesses close around him, yet for some reason, he always lived to fight another day.

"Business has not always been easy but we've had a very good run," he said.

"I feel this has been due to the locals always shopping with my business, even with bigger and fancier looking competitors that have moved to the area.

"I know I can't thank everyone individually, yet I am forever thankful to their support."

The closure will also be bittersweet for the nursery's longest standing employee - Denise Ferne - who has worked for Gary for more than 25 years.

The land will be going to auction on August 20.

The Hidden Link Café by the Lagoon will remain open seven days a week from 9am-4pm.



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