September 2017 marked the 250th birthday of John Macarthur (in case you don't remember from history class in school - he's the guy that trail blazed the Aussie wool industry, was a politician and pioneered the settlement in Australia) so what better way to celebrate some good old Aussie history then of course, inviting yourself around to his place for a cuppa and a poke around.
His place is called "Elizabeth Farm" and it just so happens that it is one of the oldest surviving European buildings in Australia. John and his wife Elizabeth came out to Australia is 1790 and the house/land commenced three years later. Sitting on the top of the hill, the house was originally an 100 acres that included the creek that lead to the Parramatta River that of course lead in the harbour that lead to the mother country. It was a smart move and the house and garden show a clear connection to their European heritage.
I took my tweenager niece, my mum and of course, my two boys. I expected Mum and I to really enjoy the house but to my great surprise, so did the kids! Thanks to amazing timing, we arrived just in time for the group tour lead by a "convict worker" at the house. It was a hands on tour so the kids learnt how to wash clothes, vacuum the rugs, pick veggies from the garden for dinner, sweep the court yard and prepare the meals in the kitchen. We all had so much fun and learnt a great deal too. My 3 year old was instructing me that evening on how to clean the rug! I couldn't believe how much information he had absorbed.
I love visiting places like this. Like so many of Sydney's Secret Places, I had no idea of it existence yet it is so significant in my history.
The garden of Elizabeth Farm is two centuries old and contains some of the oldest European plants in Australia, in fact the Olive tree shown in the photos below is noted as being THE oldest having been planted in 1805. It produced Olives last season for the first time in 20 years. It was even once struck by lightening! A stunning Chinese Elm was planted in the 1850's. Once the popular picnic spot for employees it's now fenced off with supports brought in to prop up its ageing limbs. A prickly pear remains by the side entrance. Having now been declared a pest, the museum has received special dispensation to keep it. The cactus bugs that live underneath the plant when squashed, produce a red dye that would have been used by house occupants to stain textiles etc.
Click on the images to enlarge and read more.
The garden is what truly makes Elizabeth farm so magical for me. The present layout has been recreated using archival and archaeological sources and family records. Did you know that John Macarthur introduced the pink china rose to Australia? AND assisted in the introduction of the Camellia?! When the afternoon breeze started to blow, I could easily image siting on the Eastern verandah soaking in the amazing garden smells and the views of (then) lush rolling hills in the distance.
Now to those scones. I'm sorry to say I did not get a photo of them because they were absolutely inhaled! Without a doubt, they are some of the BEST scones I have ever tasted in my life. You must have these scones at the Elizabeth Farm cafe at least once in your life, you simply must. The recipe is a mixture of flour, cream and milk (not lemonade as suspected). They were so light and fluffy *drooooooollllllll*
We left several hours later, extremely happy with full bellies.
Although they may never read this - thank you staff at Elizabeth Farm for an absolutely wonderful, unforgettable day.
How to get there:
Address: 70 Alice Street, Rosehill
Opening Hours: Everyday 10am-5pm (Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).