Spotlight on a member: Kris Galea

My childhood inspired me to get into the landscape design field. My favourite place was my grandparents’ farm in the granite hills behind Euroa. My brothers and I would disappear for hours exploring the hills, creeks and rocky caves. We would play ‘hide and seek’ and create imaginary worlds and I fell in love with the outdoors.  Gladstone Park was a new suburb at the time, lacking mature trees and the play spaces were uninspiring and it was always sad returning home after the adventures of the farm.

When I was 10 we moved to a 36 acre property between Kilmore and Wallan. I spent the rest of my childhood falling off horses, losing gumboots in the creek and helping out with the berry farm. When it was time to look at different career options I wanted to combine my love for architecture and outdoors and my Dad suggested Landscape Design. We journeyed down to the Burnley Open Days and I fell in love with the gardens and hand- drawn plans created by the students. My future was set…or so I thought.

I gained entry to Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at RMIT in 1990. This was predominantly a design-based course, with all drawings undertaken manually on drafting boards. The intake was small and I was fortunate to study under the likes of Dr Jim Sinatra. It was an exciting time for the industry as it was progressing from a fledgling industry into the dynamic and diverse profession it is today.

I graduated in 1994 as Melbourne was recovering from the recession of 1990-91. I gained some contract work whilst volunteering at the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, hand-drafting the planting plan for the Australian border. Work was slow and not inconsistent. With my restless mind, I needed work which was noisy and busy and I ended up as a Recruitment Consultant for 7 years, tottering up and down Collins Street in my high heels. Never again! Give me my steel caps any day.

After I had a family, I had the time to revisit my original passion for landscape design. I was keen to not return to the corporate world and needed something where I could balance family and work commitments.  I enrolled into the Cert IV Landscape Design and Construction at NMIT in 2010 and this was the turning point. I was accepted into MIFGS 2011 student design competition sponsored by LIAV and was thrilled to win bronze with my installation ‘Reflections’.  I taught myself Vectorworks so I could make the leap from hand drawings to CAD as I saw this as the biggest obstacle to gaining work in the industry.

Fast forward 10 years on and I run my own practice as a Landscape Architect, based in my home office in Keilor. Working predominantly with Councils across Melbourne, my work extends from dog off-leash areas to playground design and reserve upgrades. As I progress I realise the more I learn, the more I understand how little I know! That’s what keeps me coming back every day. My restless mind is constantly challenged by the enormity of knowledge required in the industry from playground and sporting facility standards and human development through play to dog behaviour and plants and horticulture, there is always plenty to learn!

I have been a member with EWHA for many years and have met and been inspired by the individual stories of many members. It seems the shared passion for plants is alive!


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