Roll up, roll up to Meroogal and the Nowra Show


The annual Nowra Show is on next week, and we’re celebrating at Meroogal, which is just across the road!

Agricultural shows have always been centres for display as much as community get-togethers. For the inhabitants of Meroogal the annual Nowra Show was a much-anticipated event, and not just because it was held just over the road.

In the early 1800s a range of agricultural and other societies were formed to promote the various branches of industry and encourage experimentation and innovation. The inhabitants of many of our properties played an active role in these societies, both in their formation and their shows; notably the Macarthurs of Elizabeth Farm and Camden and the Wentworths of Vaucluse House.

Opening next week for 2016, the Nowra Show was established in 1874, and has been held at the Nowra showgrounds since 1885.

Tottie Thorburn (1865-1956) of Meroogal entered 'a collection of cakes' - probably a seed, a fruit, and a sponge cake - in 1888, for which she received the third prize. While she doesn’t say what they were, it’s featured in her diaries at this time. In 1890 and 1892 she entered preserved damson plums.

Kennina [Tottie] Fanny McKenzie Thorburn, 1886 / Grouzelle & Cie. Sydney Living Museums, June Wallace papers, Rec. no 43029

Tottie wasn’t the only family member to have success at the Nowra Show. In 1904 her uncle Kenneth McKenzie was awarded a Certificate of Merit for a piece of his finely crafted cabinet work. You can still see several examples of his work, including this work-box, at Meroogal today.

Work box or 'small chest of drawers', made by Kenneth McKenzie, c1900, various timbers including Australian cedar and walnut. Meroogal Collection [M2010/1]. Photo © Rob Little.

Special opening days for Meroogal during Nowra Show 2016

This year the Nowra show is on Friday 5 February and Saturday 6 February. Just across the road from the showground, Meroogal will be open on both days from 10am till 4pm with tastings of traditional lemonade and Tottie’s lemon biscuits - from the original recipe in the Meroogal manuscript collection. Both the biscuit and lemonade recipes are also in the new book by Jacqui Newling, ‘Eat Your History: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens’ – found on all the best bookshelves!

Tours of Meroogal on both days are on the hour, with the first tour at 10am and the last tour at 3pm.

See here for details including admission costs.


About the Author

Man in blue and white checked shirt holding pineapple.
Dr Scott Hill
Elizabeth Farm, Meroogal, Rouse Hill House & Farm
As a teenager, Scott Hill was captivated by pictures of ruins, trying to imagine how people had lived in these dramatic and crumbling spaces.

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