Council Owned Heritage and Places to Visit
Council has in its ownership, a number of important heritage sites that are now available for community use.
Aberdoon House located in Clower Avenue, Rouse Hill, is an intact example of an old Colonial Georgian Cottage typical of the early settlement of the Rouse Hill district. The land surrounding was granted to Thomas Clower on 13 January 1818. Clower, a former convict, arrived in the colony in 1798.
The subsequent owner, Hugh Kelly, was a well known early settler and landowner. The township of Kellyville owes its origins to his name. Kelly purchased the property in 1826 and also owned the nearby 'Bird in the Hand' tavern located near Windsor Road. He named his farm 'Vinegar Hill Farm' to distinguish it from the many properties he owned around the district. The property passed to Alexander and William Gamack in 1841, who subdivided the part of the original Clower grant adjacent to Windsor Road into several smallholdings of approximately a quarter acre.
While the date 1887 appears above the lintel of the front door it is generally assumed that this is the date of a major renovation and not the original date of construction.
The building was renovated by The Hills Shire Council in 2003.
Fact Sheet Aberdoon - 749 KB
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Aberdoon House.
Balcombe Heights Estate (William Thompson Masonic School)
Long before the idea was conceived of establishing a school for orphans or other children in need, the Lodge members of the Freemasons had established a charity devoted to those children. In 1918, William Thompson thought that the wide open spaces and rolling landscape of Baulkham Hills would be a good location to establish homes for children who had been orphaned or left in poor circumstances following World War I. The project was funded by the Masons.
On 11 November, 1922, (Armistice Day) the William Thompson Masonic School was opened. Fifty 'motor buses' helped transport 12,000 Masons and friends to the opening of the school.
During World War II the children were moved into the countryside and the buildings became the 103rd Australian General Hospital. The school reopened on November, 8, 1947 as the Masonic School and functioned as such until the 1970s. In December 1973 Council signed a contract to pay for the property over 3 years with the final payment being made in 1977.
Several of the original school buildings still exist including the dormitory buildings, classrooms, gymnasium, staff cottages and the Georgian Revival style central administration block. The main hall building was lost to fire and has now been replaced with a modern community hall suitable for hire. (Click here for hire details).
Other historic elements such as the memorial tree avenue of Brush box (planted in memory of soldiers lost in the World War I), sundial, fishpond and memorial garden compliment the properties heritage. Many of the buildings are hired by community groups.
Fact Sheet Balcombe Heights - 292 KB
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Balcombe Heights Estate.
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Bella Vista Farm Park
Bella Vista Farm, located at Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, Bella Vista, is an intact historic farm complex of cultural significance to the nation. Established in the late 1700s, the complex features a two storey homestead, Bunya Pine lined driveway and various farm outbuildings set on a prominent hilltop. It provides a rare surviving link between the community today, the first European settlers and some of Australia's earliest rural development.
Bella Vista Farm was transferred into Council ownership in 1998. Council has adopted a Conservation Management Plan for the site. The plan aims to facilitate the restoration and long-term conservation of the property, and provide for a range of complementary uses of the property, supplying the local community and visitors with a unique venue.
With the assistance of a $1 million grant from the State Government conservation has commenced including site establishment, reinstatement of the verandahs and original slate roof to the homestead, and restoration of the kitchen block. Funding from the Federal Government also enabled the stabilisation and repair of timber outbuildings.
While the main homestead and farm buildings are fenced while the conservation works are being undertaken the rest of the property is open for public use.
Fact Sheet Bella Vista - 1,034 KB
Summary Draft Plan of Management - Bella Vista Farm Park - 1,035 KB
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Bella Vista Farm Park.
Visit the new Bella Vista Farm Park websitefor more information on events and programs being held at this historic location.
Castle Hill Heritage Park
Castle Hill Heritage Park, located off Banks Road in Castle Hill, is a nationally significant site being one of the earliest and potentially least known Government Farms dating back to 1801. The farm was the staging point for the first-ever convict rebellion on Australian soil in 1804.
The park has been refurbished at a cost of more than $3.4 million. The new-look park was officially opened by Her Excellency Prof Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, in March 2004 and features excellent interpretative signage on the colourful history of this park.
A stroll around the park will bring to life the story of the convicts and their fateful quest for freedom as well as the early settlers of the district.
Heritage Park - Heritage Fact Sheet - 1,027 KB
Heritage Park Archaeology - Heritage Fact Sheet - 428 KB
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Castle Hill Heritage Park.
Named after the first superintendent of the William Thompson Masonic School, Cropley House is a stately two storey Inter-war Georgian Revival mansion situated off Watkins Road, Baulkham Hills. By 1925 the school was in need of expansion and arrangements were made for the senior boys to be housed in a hostel away from the main buildings of the school. It was a building that could accommodate up to 100 boys and was located on land purchased in 1923. The building's construction was completed in 1927 for the price of 13,152 pounds.
The original building had a dining hall downstairs along with a large assembly hall. On this level were also the staff rooms, pantries, a 'boot' room, visitors wash rooms and the private quarters for the Deputy Superintendent and Matron. Upstairs were four dormitories, each accommodating 24 boys, bathrooms and lockers.
Now available as a reception centre the cottage style garden setting and downstairs rooms cater for weddings and formal community get togethers.
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Cropley House.
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Roughley House, "The Pines", 656 Old Northern Road, Dural
Built in 1856 this home was the residence of the Roughley family and is an icon of the Dural district. The Roughley family story in Australia began in 1817 when Joseph Roughley and his son James were convicted of theft and given a seven year sentence of transportation to Australia.
The final family resident, Gordon 'Clive' Roughley, passed away in February 2002 aged 87 years. Prior to his death Clive sold the property to The Hills Shire Council for $1 so that it would be maintained as a living history of colonial life in the Hills and remain accessible to the public. Clive's oral history is available from The Hills Shire Libraries and is a fascinating recollection of family life through the 20th century.
Take a tour of historic Roughley House
Tours of the home are run by volunteers during 'Jazz at the Pines' events. Hear the real colonial history of The Pines on one of these free tours throughout the afternoon. Group bookings at other times are welcomed by prior arrangement. For more information contact Council's Tourism Officer on 8814 6909.
How to get there
The Pines is located at 656 Old Northern Road, Dural just up from the Dural Country Club. If you are travelling from the south via Pennant Hills/New Line Road or Round Corner Dural/Old Northern Road, follow the signs towards Wisemans Ferry. You will pass Hargraves Nursery and the Old Northern Gallery situated in the small town of Dural. Continue driving north along Old Northern Road and approximately 200 meters past the turn off to Galston/Swanes Nursery you will see a large brown sign on your left saying 'Tourist Information'.
If you are coming from the north via Wisemans Ferry/Central Coast, you will find us just 3 properties past the well sign-posted Dural Country Club.
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Roughley House.
Mungerie House - 16 Bellcast Road, Rouse Hill 2155
From the beginning of the hallway to the front door, Mungerie House is structurally the top floor of ‘Hambledon House’ which was a two storey homestead that once stood somewhere on the Castlebrook Cemetry site off Windsor Road.
Hambledon House was demolished in the 1870s and the top floor was salvaged, put onto logs and pulled by bullock wagon across Windsor Road and placed down on a foundation made up of sandstone rocks. This is where Mungerie stands today.
Mungerie was a typical Australian homestead with a verandah on three sides and a lean to verandah at the back. It was a lathe and plaster built house with timber weatherboard walls and an iron roof. Originally just four rooms coming off a central hallway with a detached kitchen out the back.
Other Heritage Locations to Visit
The Great North Road
The Great North Road, which includes the current day Old Northern Road, extended from Sydney to the Hunter Valley and was constructed by convict gangs between 1826 and 1836.
The road is an item of national heritage significance providing a direct material record of convict labour and tangible evidence of the development of the colony of Sydney.
In recognition of its significance the 'Convict Trail Project' was established in the early 1990s and compromises a number of community and government organisations with an interest and role in the conservation, management and promotion of the roadway. For more information on the Convict Trail go to http://www.convicttrail.org./
An important product of the project has been the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan (Stage 1) for the Great North Road.
Wisemans Ferry Park - Heritage Fact Sheet - 564 KB
Hawkins Lookout - Heritage Fact Sheet - 584 KB
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