|ROUSE HILL HOUSE & FARM
Sydney / Australia
THERE IS NOTHING QUITE like a Sunday drive. Piling the family into the Mini, we headed to Rouse Hill House & Farm. Robbie joined the kids tour through the farm and we ended the afternoon with a historical tour of Australia's oldest property owned by generations of a single family.
Built in the early 1800's the colonial house was occupied by six generations of the Rouse and Terry families up until the late 1990's. The property covers many acres and is now open to the public as a museum with tours run by volunteers.
EARN YOUR TUCKER
Sydney Living Museums hold various family events at their historical properties throughout the year. We joined the Earn Your Tucker tour at Rouse Hill House. The tour involved grinding corn and wheat to feed the chickens, collecting eggs and churning butter.
There was also an opportunity to feed the horses and for kids to ask questions from people who look after the livestock on the property and have spent much of their lives working on a farm. It was very hands-on with the kids enjoying taking turns carrying milk pails across the farm in the traditional way - chained to a carrying pole balanced across the back of the shoulders.
After we had completed our "chores" (the adults joined in too), we were all able to enjoy our tucker on the verandah, soaking in the beautiful view.
TOUR OF THE HOUSE & BARNS
Following lunch we booked a tour to visit the main house on the property and the barns. Our tour guide gave us a detailed explanation of the history of the family who owned the property and the changes to the property through the years.
I personally enjoyed seeing the layers of additions to the property with each generation adding their own mark without erasing what had been created by those that lived there before them. There are visible extensions to the house, a roof added over the kitchen and laundry areas and even a random placement of a 1960's television set in one of the formal rooms.
To preserve the house today, the rooms are kept in the dark so that the sunlight does not further deteriorate the wallpaper and fabrics. The rooms look dull and brown in colour having faded over time. Interestingly, there was a glass display of wallpaper remnants, curtain tiebacks, tassels and fabrics recovered from inside books, in cupboards and behind furniture which were hidden from the light and showcased the true vibrant colours - turquoise blues, lime greens, purple, orange and gold.
"The range and intensity of colours available to the decorator increased dramatically in the second half of the 19th century as chemical aniline dyes were developed."
- Text extract of sign inside Rouse Hill House
There are layers of fabric on chairs dating back to 1860 which have been reupholstered a number of times preserving the original fabrics underneath the new layers. There are also original 1850's curtain rods with curtains made of fabrics from the 1950's. It is fascinating to see such an eclectic mix of eras in the one house.
The barns also have a history to tell with the stables housing the family's prized racehorses. Over the generations, the family's wealth decreased and there was discussion about selling the property in the 1950's. Luckily for us, the property was never sold and now remains a public museum.
Rouse Hill House & Farm
356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill, NSW 2155
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Rouse Hill House & Farm
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