It is the oasis of native plants which typically draws locals into the backyard of this Bundanoon cottage.
But on this cloudy Saturday morning in the Southern Highlands, a few dozen people have gathered for a different reason.
Penny Ackery is standing before them on the back patio, talking about her grassroots campaign to unseat energy minister Angus Taylor at the upcoming federal election.
A black "Put Angus Last" sign leans against the wall. Rows of coffee cups line a trestle table, ready for morning tea. There's a plastic white tub for donations.
The teacher-turned-aspiring independent candidate for Hume is telling the audience what she would do if elected to the Federal Parliament.
She would demand a federal anti-corruption commission, advocate for renewables and press for action to tackle gender inequality.
It's a familiar platform, reflecting the same set of political priorities pushed by other independent candidates trying to topple prominent Liberals at the looming election.
Similar too are her campaign colours.
The same shades of teal, purple and electric pink splashed across corflutes and T-shirts worn by Ackery's supporters can be seen on Sydney's northern beaches or Melbourne's affluent inner-eastern suburbs.
Ackery insists she is fiercely and unwaveringly independent, who, if elected to Parliament, would be answerable only to the voters who sent her down the highway to Canberra.
The optics of independents seen acting in cahoots with others are "dreadful" and have become a "whip used to beat us", she tells the backyard meeting, which Australian Community Media attended.
She takes a veiled swipe at Zali Steggall and her donations scandal and proudly declares she won't accept funding from independents fundraising vehicle, Climate 200.
Ackery might not be part of some de-facto political party, as her critics allege, but she is without question part of a political movement.
It's a movement which could define the federal election campaign and even determine whether Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese forms the next government.
Three years after Steggall used a pro-climate platform to end former prime minister Tony Abbott's political career, a new cast of doctors, business leaders and teachers - including Ackery - are attempting to replicate the Winter Olympian's success.
So what is behind this almost entirely female-led push to shakeup Australian politics?
What hope do any of these political outsiders have of winning seats and, if elected, deliver the change on climate action, political integrity and gender equality they say the nation so desperately needs.
And are these independents truly independent, or as their Liberal opponents claim, merely Labor, Green or left-wing activist candidates in disguise?
As part of its federal election coverage, Australian Community Media has explored the prospect of this year's poll turning into Australian politics' "Independents Day".
Beneath the euphoria of Scott Morrison's surprise win and anguish at Bill Shorten's shock defeat, the 2019 election result contained a sobering message for both the Coalition and Labor.
Voters delivered the major parties their lowest primary vote in years, further evidence, experts say, of the public's declining trust and growing disdain of Australian politics and politicians.
"Support for the two major parties is basically at an all-time low in Australia," Australian National University politics lecturer Jill Sheppard says.
"So it can be disguised by the [preferential] voting system, but our actual support for the two major parties, the extent that we trust them, have confidence in them to look after our interests ... these are all at rock-bottom lows."
Independents and micro parties have long been part of the federal political landscape.
But with major parties and modern politics increasingly on the nose, voters are turning to other options, creating the electoral momentum driving the independents movement.
While independents will be running in almost every electorate at the upcoming election, most of the national media attention has been trained on five candidates contesting seats in Sydney and Melbourne.
In Sydney, businesswoman and daughter of late fashion designer Carla Zampatti, Allegra Spender, is challenging Dave Sharma in Wentworth, chief executive Kylea Tink is trying to oust Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney and ex-lawyer Georgia Steele is up against Liberal turncoat and now United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly in Hughes.
In Melbourne, former head of the neurology department at the Royal Children's Hospital, Monique Ryan, is running against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong and former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel wants to overthrow Tim Wilson in Goldstein.
Each of these contests share obvious similarities.
All feature a female independent challenging a male MP in a traditional Liberal seat, on a platform of stronger action on climate change, political integrity and gender equality.
The Morrison government points to the fact the high-profile independents are only targeting Liberal-held seats to argue that these candidates are trying simply to end the Coalition's eight years in office.
But Sheppard sees it differently.
"What we see with the prominent independents at the moment is that they're filling an obvious void in the Liberal Party," she says.
"These kinds of candidates have admitted that they'd probably be Liberal candidates or, at least [Liberal] voters, but for the state of the party.
"Women are very under-represented in the Liberal Party, white men are really over-represented and they are really dragging their feet on climate change."
Sheppard says the new crop of independents are a "different breed".
A number of the high-profile candidates have been able to devote themselves to full-time campaigning, a commitment independents at elections past haven't been able to afford.
Steggall was bank-rolled by $1.1 million in donations in 2019, and Ryan had raised $950,000 as of late February.
Their marketing material is as slick as anything produced by major political parties.
Take, for example, the social media video Georgia Steele used to announce her candidacy in Hughes.
The 60-second ad opens with a family in front of a television playing a clip of Scott Morrison's infamous "this is coal, don't be afraid" speech in the Federal Parliament. The parents then start receiving spam messages from Craig Kelly.
Up pops Steele, declaring "they don't represent us, so I will".
Of course, these political aspirants aren't doing it alone.
For many, their supporter base comes from a model of grassroots politics, which emerged in the Victorian border electorate of Indi about a decade ago.
Frustrated at being ignored by long-serving Liberal incumbent Sophie Mirabella, a group of volunteers banded together in 2012 to endorse Albury local, Cathy McGowan.
McGowan, backed by "Voices for Indi" as it came to be known, triumphed over Mirabella by 431 votes at the 2013 election, claiming a seat previously thought to be safe conservative ground.
The independent held the seat again in the 2016 contest before handing the baton to her successor, Helen Haines, whose victory in 2019 made her the first independent to succeed an independent in a federal seat.
Haines' advocacy for a federal anti-corruption commission has made her a hero among would-be independents MPs.
There are now "Voices of" or "Voices for" volunteer groups in more than 30 electorates - including in Hume, where the local movement has endorsed Ackery.
Climate 200 is another source of support - at least for some.
The fundraising vehicle, helmed by clean energy investor Simon Holmes à Court, supported campaigns at the 2019 election.
But it has been far more prominent - and controversial - in the lead up to this year's election.
The group has already raised more than $7 million in donations, which it is using to support 18 candidates in lower house and Senate races - including Kim Rubenstein and David Pocock's bid to topple Liberal senator Zed Seselja in the ACT.
Holmes à Court has repeatedly rebuffed claims that he's leading a de-facto political party, insisting Climate 200 has a no-strings attached relationship with the candidates it finances.
The group's aim, he insists, is simply to level the playing field for independents, in the hope that success for two or three will be enough to force action on climate change, political integrity and gender equality.
The Liberals staring down the teal wave aren't buying it.
Liberal backbencher Jason Falinski, who is facing a challenge from Climate 200-backed Sophie Scamps in his seat of MacKellar on Sydney's northern beaches, says Holmes à Court's group appears to be more about money than policy.
"Politics is about what you can do for people and how you can improve the lives of people that you are seeking to govern for," Falinksi says.
"When it comes to Climate 200, there are no policies, there are no plans, there's no vision. All you hear from them is how much money they have."
The independents believe their presence alone has forced the government, or at least certain moderate Liberals, to shift position on net zero emissions, oil and gas drilling off NSW, and even protections for transgender school students.
Falinski finds that claim offensive, particularly the suggestion that colleagues, such as Trent Zimmerman, crossed the floor in Parliament during the religious discrimination debate for reasons other than their long and deeply-held personal views.
There are clear signs, however, the Liberals feel threatened.
Senior figures, including Frydenberg, have in recent weeks stepped up their attacks on the "fake independents", in a concerted attempt to convince traditional Liberals that a vote for Monique Ryan, Zoe Daniel or Allegra Spender is a vote for an Albanese government.
There is no teal in sight at the Taralga Showground, where the 136th edition of the town's agricultural, pastoral and horticultural show has drawn visitors from across the Southern Tablelands.
But there is plenty of navy blue around the dressage arena, food stalls and carnival side-shows.
Angus Taylor might be a figure of ridicule on social media and the subject of political scandal, but he's popular among those who've descended on the tiny village, which sits between Goulburn and Bathurst on this Saturday afternoon.
Children and adults are wearing hats and holding tote bags bearing Taylor's name, which are being handed out at the stall promoting the member for Hume's re-election campaign.
"He's done a reasonable job, I've certainly not had any dramas with him," says Goulburn man Charlie Croker, whose children, Digby and Finn, are wearing Angus Taylor caps.
Taylor increased his margin at the 2019 federal election, despite being caught up in a water buybacks scandal.
Put simply, Taylor says regional voters reward the Coalition because it represents them, it understands them and it invests heavily in their communities.
"The difference between us and Labor, and the others, is that we hold most of the seats in these regional and peri-urban areas like this [Hume], so we understand them, our party room understands them and we make the case for them," he tells Australian Community Media.
"Our investments in the regions are completely unprecedented, whether it's the Western Sydney airport at the northern tip of my electorate, all the way down through the sports grounds.
"We are investing heavily in that, the other side of politics never has, and never will.
"So it you want strong regional and peri-urban areas ... you have to vote for our side of politics."
Taylor describes the new wave of independents as "just another left-wing party".
"Whether you're voting for Labor or the Greens or the independents pretending to be something else, you're still getting the left of politics."
Despite their well-resourced campaigns, Holmes à Court says independents are in a David and Goliath battle.
History is not on their side.
Since federation, fewer than 50 independent candidates have been elected to the lower house. Less than a dozen have sat in the Senate.
Three independents were elected to the 46th Federal Parliament, with four minor party members - including Rebekha Sharkie - making up the rest of the crossbench.
Sharkie entered the Federal Parliament under the banner of Nick Xenophon's team in 2016, after knocking off her former boss, Liberal Jamie Briggs, in the once blue ribbon South Australian electorate of Mayo.
Sharkie, who now represents Centre Alliance, knows all too well how steep the ascent can be for independents or micro parties.
Election upsets across 10 Liberal seats would be "extraordinary" - though unrealistic - but Sharkie is crossing her fingers that she'll be part of a growing crossbench if she retains Mayo.
"If there were an extra two independents that got up at the next election, that would be a huge win because politics is incredibly expensive," she says.
Sheppard also suggests those expecting a teal wave on election night might want to temper their expectations.
A perfect storm of factors are needed to get an independent over the line, including a well-resourced campaign and an unpopular incumbent member.
Such a storm descended on Abbott and his former seat of Warringah in 2019.
"It's very tough in our political system for independents to get elected. When they do, everything has to fall in their favor," Sheppard says.
On paper, Sharma is the most vulnerable. Wentworth turned teal - or purple - when Kerryn Phelps defeated Sharma at the by-election triggered by Malcolm Turnbull's downfall. The former diplomat narrowly reversed the result in 2019, but is in a desperate fight to retain the seat, which covers some of Sydney's poshest suburbs.
Zimmerman is sitting on what should be a comfortable 9.3 per cent margin, but a strong performance from a little-known independent in an overlapping state seat at a recent by-election has Liberals worried.
'Nothing in the constitution about a two-party system'
Some political observers are predicting a hung parliament after the May election, a result which would force Morrison or Albanese to negotiate with the crossbench in order to take the seat of power.
That last happened after the 2010 election, when Julia Gillard scraped back into office under a deal with the Greens and support from independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie.
Sharkie thinks minority governments with passionate crossbenchers need to be embraced.
She points to the amount of legislation the Gillard government passed with the help of a crossbench - and says it could be repeated again.
"There's nothing in the Constitution about a two-party system," she says.
"It wasn't that way in 1901 and it doesn't need to be that way now.
"I see enormous merit, from a decision-making point of view, in a broader crossbench."
Back in Bundanoon, Ackery is confronted with the elephant in the room.
One of her supporters reminds her that another climate-focused independent, Huw Kingston, ran in Hume at the 2019 election but barely managed to dent Taylor's "cage".
So, what makes Ackery believe she will fare any better, particularly after she turned down the possibility of funding from Climate 200?
Ackery insists she's got enough money to keep her campaign going.
But more important than money, she says, are the people behind her. Like the supporter who relocated from regional WA to Crookwell to back her campaign, or the man who's driven his horse float down from Mudgee.
"So yes, you need money, but more importantly, you need to get out and meet people," she tells the audience.
"And then you need to get them to pass the message around.
"You know what, I believe it's working.
"Can we get over the line? You know what, yes, we will get it over the line."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.