App-reciating The Hills’ history

Published on 31 August 2018

Mayor Byrne with Jerry Retford from Convict Footprints.jpg

The Hills Shire Council is launching its very own app, called the Hills Cache App, which pays homage to four significant parks in the north-west region, including Bella Vista Farm, Heritage Park, Balcombe Heights Estate and Roughley House.

These important heritage locations will come to life through virtual characters who will recount historical events and stories in a fun and easy-to-understand manner. 

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne said the community could use new technology to keep The Hills’ significant past alive.

“We are so fortunate to belong to a part of Sydney that’s rich with history and has such a strong connection to Sydney’s early development,” Mayor Byrne said. 

“The Cache App will allow smart phone users to delve deep into The Hills’ past through interactive and fun videos that bring the heritage of the area alive - generating further interests in historical events that took place in the north-west region.

“The App also makes us mindful of what a great region we live in, and of the generous spirit amongst residents. And it also reminds us of the work we need to do to ensure the history of The Hills is preserved for future generations,” Mayor Byrne added.

The FREE Cache App will be available to download from the Apple Store or Google Play ahead of its launch at the Bella Vista Farm Open Day on Sunday, September 2, 2018.

How to use the app:

Step One: Download the Hills Cache from the Apple App Store or Google Android Store over Wi-Fi.

Step Two: Markers are located around the four parks, with each marker relating to an important piece of history. The markers are located either on posts or within the buildings themselves. Once at your chosen heritage location, locate one of the markers and click on the app to open.

Step Three: The app will load in augmented reality mode.

Step Four: Hover your phone over the marker, lining up the crosshair (faint cross on the screen) with the marker. A video will then pop-up on the screen. Press the play button to start the video.

Step Five: Keep the marker within the phone screen whilst the video is playing.


About the locations:

Heritage Park

Heritage Park in Castle Hill was originally a Government Farm.

It is said to be the site of one of the first convict rebellions held on Australian soil in 1804.

The Park allows visitors to learn about the first users of the land, the rebellion uprising and the stories of the early settlers within the region.

The Park is also home to one of the few remaining Blue Gum High Forests and threatened species of the Powerful Owl.

There are four locations to explore at Heritage Park.


Balcombe Heights Estate

Balcombe Heights Estate was formerly a farm - a product of a land grant that was given to convicts who had been pardoned for their crimes.

It was later used as an orphanage and school for the less fortunate run by the Masons, and during World War II, the site was used as a hospital for injured soldiers.

There are five locations to explore at Balcombe Heights Estate.


Bella Vista Farm Park

Bella Vista Farm Park was Elizabeth Macarthur’s first home in Australia.

The Farm is famous for being one of the first places in Australia to farm Merino sheep and its citrus orchards.

The original homestead and outbuildings, dating back to 1799, are still intact allowing for rare insight in New South Wales heritage.

There are eight locations to explore at Bella Vista Farm Park.


Roughley House

Roughley House, built in 1856, 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.

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.

There are six locations to explore at Roughley House.