Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Cowpastures, just like an English landscape.

The Cowpastures, just like an English landscape.

The Camden Historical Sociey is hosting a talk and slides by University of Wollongong historian Dr Ian Willis at its meeting on Wednesday 8 February 2017.
The colonial settlers in the Cowpastures made the countryside look like a Little England (I Willis)

The topic of the talk is 'The Cowpastures, just like an English landscape' where he will speak about how the early colonial settlers of the Cowpastures re-shaped the Australian countryside into an English-style landscape.

Camden Historical Society

Talk and Slides

Wednesday, 8 February 2017, 7.30pm

Camden Museum, 40 John Street, Camden.



The Cowpastures, just like an English landscape.

Summary of talk

The early colonial European settlers in the Cowpastures were the key players in the story of creating an English-style landscape along the Nepean River. 

The settlers took possession of the countryside  from the Dharawal Aboriginal people and re-made it in their own vision of the world. 

They constructed a cultural landscape made up of an idealised vision of what they had left behind in the ‘Old Country’. 

For the European settlers the new continent, and particularly the bush, had the elements of the Gothic with its grotesque and the demonic, and the English-style landscape aesthetic they created was one attempt to counter these forces.  

Settlers used the aesthetic to assist the creation of a new story on an apparently blank slate and in the process dispossessed and displaced the Indigenous occupants. 

The new landscape was characterised by English placenames, English farming methods and English settlement patterns, with only cursory acknowledgement of Indigenous occupation. 

The early settlers had such a profound impact on the countryside that their legacy is still clearly identifiable today even after 200 years. 

Read more about colonial Camden here

Read more about the history of the Camden District here

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Gledswood Curtilage under review

Gledswood Homestead

900 Camden Valley Way, 
Catherine Field, NSW 2171

Gledswood Homestead and gardens in the 1980s (Supplied)

Gledswood curtilage under review 

The owners of Gledswood Homestead, Caldla Pty Ltd,  have applied to the NSW Heritage Council to change the curtilage around the historic farm homestead. This means that they want to reduce the amount of land around the homestead that is considered essential to maintain its heritage significance.

 In 2006 the Gledswood Homestead and curtilage were listed on the State Heritage Register under the Heritage Act 1977. In 2006 it was felt necessary to protect the historic integrity of the property that a total curtilage of 45.5ha was necessary to protect the integrity of this state and nationally significant historic property.

The NSW Heritage Office defines curtilage as:
‘The area of land surrounding an item or area of heritage significance which is essential for retaining and interpreting its heritage significance’. (Warwick Mayne-Wilson, Heritage Curtilages, Sydney: Heritage Office, Department of Urban Affairs & Planning, NSW Government, 1996)

In 2011 Heritage consultants Goddin Mackay and Logan stated:
 Gledswood is of State Heritage Significance and demonstrates a rare, highly intact cultural landscape derived from the earliest land grant. (GML, Gledswood SMP Sept 2011, p.115)

The changes to the curtilage can be viewed here

The Gledswood homestead and the gardens are listed on:
  • ·         The Register of the National Estate (Place ID 3252 & 3253; Registered (21/03/1978)) by the Australian Government Click here and here
  • ·         The State Heritage Register (Listing No 01692; NSW Government Gazette 22 Dec 06) by the NSW Government
  • ·         The State Heritage Inventory (Database number: 5051540) by the NSW Government
  • ·         The Local Environment Plan 2010 (21 Feb 92) by Camden Council

 In 2016 the NSW Heritage Inventory states:
Gledswood is an early 19th century farm estate that has close associations with the Camden area which is the birthplace of the Australian wool industry. Built by James Chisholm in c.1830, Gledswood remained the Chisholm family residence for 90 years. A prominent feature at Gledswood is an outstanding colonial garden that was expanded in 1870. The garden featured in Horticultural Magazine (1870) and was romanticised by Hardy Wilson in 1920. The intense and continual interest in gardening at Gledswood has made Gledswood a prominent contributor to the art of gardening within NSW.
Gledswood has historical significance for its association with the early development of
Australia's wine industry. James Chisholm junior planted a vineyard in 1830, and in 1847 vinedressers from Germany were imported to work it. A convict built cellar under the homestead was capable of holding 20,000 bottles of wine (Everett, 2004)
Gledswood Homestead in 1997 (Camden Images)

 Historical significance

The state of significance for Gledswood states that it has a prominent role in the development of the wine industry and the foundation of the Australian wool industry. The property has an outstanding colonial garden that has been extensively written about by a number of notable authors.

Governor Macquarie granted Huon de Kerilleau  the 400 acres (162ha) which became 'Buckingham; as from 1 January 1810, and he called it Buckingham after the Marquis of Buckingham, who had some part in arranging his discharge Huon de Kerilleau employed convicts to quarry stone on the property and start his building programme. Their first project was the small cottage where they were chained each night. Then they went on to the coach house and the servants' quarters (Carroll, Brian,
The Hume Australia’s Highway of History a Heritage Field Guide, p. 31).

Maintenance of Gledswood Homestead

One visitor to Gledswood had this to say about the maintenance of Gledswood homestead by current owner Caldla Pty Ltd. Minzo007 on TripAdvisor stated:

From the car park this farm looks lovely and rustic but closer inspection shows that the heritage buildings have been seriously neglected. No wonder there are ghosts: the former owners would be turning in their grave! The interior and exterior of the old homestead needs renovation or maintenance. Surely as a building built in the early 1800s this place should qualify for heritage listing and therefore the requisite care? The current owners seem to be more interested in weddings and conferences to the detriment of preserving the unique history.  (

 Threats to heritage

The intention of the principals of Caldla Pty Ltd in 2013 was clearly flagged. The variation of the curtilage is intended so that the block 1203 can be sold off for housing allotments.

 While the Australian Government listing may have been made at the height of the heritage boom in Australia, the listing on the State Heritage Register in 2006 is far from this position. The NSW government seems to care little for heritage in this state. This application appears destined to repeat the same mistakes that were made with significant heritage properties in Campbelltown, where their curtilage was all but destroyed. One example is Blair Athol.   

This is a simple case of rent seeking developers compromising the heritage values associated with Gledswood homestead for profit and monetary gain. 


The current curtilage is necessary to maintain the heritage significance of the homestead and outbuildings.  Minzo07 (TripAdvisor) has drawn a damming conclusion based on the actions of the current owners towards the heritage values of the Gledswood homestead. This application needs to be rejected. The curtilage for Gledswood needs to stay at levels approved in 2006.

Do you agree with this?

If you have any views on this matter you can express then by writing to:
Heritage Council of NSW
Locked Bag 5020
Parramatta NSW 2124
by  5 January 2017

Or speak to 
David Hoffman, Heritage Officer at the Heritage Division, OEH, on (02) 9873 8582 or

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Menangle Rotolactor

Menangle Rotolactor

The rotolactor was a piece of industrial modernism introduced at Camden Park in 1952 by Edward Macarthur Onslow. 

The idea came from the USA in the 1920s and the first rotolactor was built in New Jersey shortly after then.

Construction started in 1950 and completed in 1952. It had a capacity of 1000 cows a day and could milk 50 cows a day on a rotating platform. 

The rotolactor was a huge tourist attraction for Menangle with up to 2000 visitors a week.

The rotolactor suffered from technical problems and closed in 1977. It opened shortly after this but finally closed down in 1983. 

Menangle Rotolactor on Camden Park closed in 1977 and was a huge tourist attraction to the village (Camden Images)

This postcard from the collection of the Camden Museum shows the view scene by a visitor the facility. (Camden Images)

Brian Walsh, Milk and the Macarthurs the dairy history of Camden Park, Camden: Belgenny Farm Trust, 2016

Friday, 9 December 2016

A view of Menangle

A view of Menangle

Menangle resident Laura Egan-Burt writes:

Tucked away in the back of The Menangle Store, in a dilapidated room that houses the beautiful, original baker's oven is a lovingly curated photographic display.

Past members of the Menangle Community Association, with the leadership of the late Maurice Blackwood, collected photographs and memorabilia from residents. They then spent countless hours creating a visual representation of our beautiful village.

The group held a travelling roadshow featuring the display. Some of the venues visited included libraries and museums. They also formally presented to politicians and councillors, highlighting Menangle's unique and important history.

The Menangle Community Association would like to thank The Menangle Store for  volunteering as the ongoing venue for the display.

Images by Laura Egan-Burt

See more

Laura says that you can see the display  at The Store, 2 Station Street, Menangle. 

As well as the display there is the Menangle Walking Tour available  @ 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

St John's Church Camden considering selling land

St John's Church Camden 

Considering selling land for development

St Johns Church at the end of John Street on the hill above the village in 1890s reflecting its Englishness across the countryside. C Kerry (Camden Images)

St John's Church is Camden's most important heritage icon. It is disappointing to hear that church authorities want to sell off some of their site.

The church site, including the Rectory, is part of the foundational story of the township of Camden and its District. The church has played a fundamental role in place making and building community identity over the past 150 years or more. St John’s Church is the moral and emotional heart of the Camden township.

The church is an integral part of the story of the Macarthur family. The church is still, as was in the past, part of the historic vista from Camden Park house to the Camden village. There are representations of the church in engravings dating from Andrew Garran’s Picturesque Atlas of Australasia (1886).

The church is part of the England landscape aesthetics that was so evident during the Interwar period in the Camden township. Writers like William Hardy Wilson, Ure Smith, Eldrid Dyer and others have written in lyrical fashion about the importance of the church to the Englishness of the Camden village.

The church is set within a fine group of other ecclesiastical buildings that includes the Rectory (1859) and church hall (1906), together with the cemetery in a rural landscaped environment resplendent in native and exotic mature trees, fence lines, paths and memorials.
Central to the town plan was the siting of the church of St John's as the Sydney Herald of 14 February 1840 noted that 'on the greatest elevation of the adjacent hills it is proposed to erect a church, the situation for which will be highly picturesque and commanding'. By the time ofthe sale of the town allotments, the church was under construction and was the main feature of the incipient township prominently sited on the highest point overlooking the principal street, John Street. 
At the same time as clearing land for the new township in 1835, James and William Macarthur appealed to their neighbours and employees for help in founding a church (Anglican). By September 1835, 644 pounds had been collected, with the majority (500 pounds) coming from the Macarthurs. 
The church and the rectory are a legacy from the 19th century Camden gentry and other members of the community who funded its original construction. It is very easy to destroy the integrity of the church precinct along Menangle Road, which has remained intact from the church’s foundation.

Read more 

about St Johns Church and its precinct on the Australian Heritage Database:

There are a number of stories appearing the local press and other material.

 Read more:

St Peter's Anglican Church, Campbelltown
It sobering to thing about what has happened adjacent to St Peter's Anglican Church at Campbelltown. Land next to the church was  sold off by the NSW State Government for development in September 2015. The land is zoned for up to 10 storey tower block  which would overshadow the St Peter's Anglican Primary School next door.  Read more on this development here and here

Monday, 5 December 2016

Review Camden LEP 2010 Phase 1 Minor Amendments

Review Camden LEP 2010 Phase 1 Minor Amendments

Argyle Street Camden 1940 (Camden Images)

Camden Council voted (12 July 2016) to put on public exhibition minor amendments to the Camden LEP 2010 following a Gateway Determination by the Department of Planning and Environment.

Camden Councils website states

The Planning Proposal seeks to improve the overall operation and accuracy of the Camden LEP (2010) by making changes which are administrative or low impact in nature with respect to the following:
  • Administrative review of Schedule 5 (Environmental Heritage); 
  • Comprehensive review of LEP Mapping;
  • Review of LEP clauses & exempt development provisions;
  • Review of Land Use Table; and
  • Review of Schedule 1 (Additional Permitted Uses)

Camden  Council has a number of relevant documents on exhibition:

Comments can be emailed to  

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Macaria threatened by demolition


37 John Street

Macaria was used by Camden Council as part of its office in 1980s (Camden Images)

In 1970 Macaria was threatened with demolition by Camden Council when it was considering the re-develop John Street. The council had purchased the Macaria site in 1965 and was considering the construction of a new council administration building.

One definition of heritage is what is valued by the community and can be handed down to the next generation. Heritage is a political concept that changes over time. What one generation considers important is not what the next generation wants to hand on to their children. Heritage is a very disposable concept. One decade something is considered important, the next it is considered worthless.

In 1970  Camden Council did not consider Macaria worthy of saving.

 Camden's historic buildings might be valued by most of the community now, but it was not always like that.

In 1970 the Camden Historical Society wrote to Camden Council to re-consider the demolition of Macaria. (Image below)

Letter from Camden Council to the Camden Historical Society dated 31 August 1970 about the possible demolition of Macaria

 The councils reply stated:

The Council of the Municipality of Camden
Box 10, PO,

August 31, 1970
Mrs N Blattman
Hon Secretary
Camden Historical Society
57 Menangle Road

I refer to your letter of August 17, 1970, concerning the Council's reported decision to demolish the above property in the near future, and wish to inform you that it was considered by Council at its meeting held on August 24, 1970.

Council acquired the property some 5 years ago for the purpose of providing a suitable site for a future civic administration building. The question was raised at that time as to whether the property had any architectural or historic value, which would warrant its retention. Council's Architects at the time, who were connected to the National Trust of Australia, reported to Council that 'Macaria' had no historic or particular architectural value and that its retention on these grounds could not be justified.

However, Council decided to inform the Society that it had in mind to recover and re-use bricks and sandstone from 'Macaria' as far as this is practical, with a view to preserving the present character of John Street. You might rest assured that the views of the Society and others regarding the preservation of the present character of John Street, will be fully considered by Council when the time comes for the re-development of the 'Macaria' site to take place.

Yours faithfully,
J Mack
Town Clerk

Note: The loss of Macaria was this close! John Wrigley

The National Trust of Australia (NSW) considered Macaria in the 1970s.
Macaria was considered an important historic property in the 1970s by the National Trust of Australia (NSW)

Macaria in 2016 after Camden Council moved to new office premises in Oran Park (I Willis)

Macaria's heritage importance today

Today Macaria's heritage importance is recognised as being nationally significant.

The New South Wales State Heritage Inventory states:
For a house of this scale, Macaria is among the best picturesque Gothic houses in Australia. This, when combined with its importance to Camden, makes it a building of great significance.  A fine early townhouse of distinctive and interesting architectural quality, associated with an important figure of the town's early years.
The Australian Heritage Place Inventory states:
Built 1842. For a house of this scale, Macaria is amongst the best picturesque Gothic houses in the Commonwealth of Australia. This, when combined with its importance to Camden, makes it a building of great significance.