Unexpected local history connection at Rouse Hill


Recently, students from Cudgegong Valley Public School had the opportunity to visit Rouse Hill House & Farm as part of the Unlocking Heritage project.

They were there to take part in Expanding the Colony, a Stage 3 education program that explores the expansion of the colony of NSW in the 19th century and the resulting impact on the environment, Aboriginal people and the colonisers.

The Cudgegong Valley students were also introduced to part of their own local history, as the Rouse family expanded their farming interests across the Blue Mountains in 1825, establishing the headquarters of the Rouse grazing interest at Guntawang on the banks of the Cudgegong River, near the township of Gulgong.

By the 1860s the Rouse family’s original grant of 4,000 acres increased to 10,000 acres, encompassing the two stations, Guntawang and Biraganbil; and with access to good water and pasture land the prosperity of the Rouses grew through the production of fine wool and beef cattle.  Guntawang was a self-contained community with its own school, post office, church and an inn to service the workers and miners on the gold fields around Mudgee. The Rouses also had the good fortune to find gold on their property, not only providing another important source of income but also leading to the establishment of the Guntawang Freehold Gold Mining Company.

However, their reputation as breeders of some of the finest racing and carriage horses in the colony is perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Rouse family, who firmly entrenched the ‘Crooked R’ brand among the Australian horse fraternity. It also inspired Banjo Patterson when he wrote ‘A Bushman’s Song’, declaring that there were no better horses than those that wore the ‘Crooked R’. This passion for horses and racing is echoed in the magnificent 1876 horse stables built at Rouse Hill House & Farm back on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains.

Even today it is possible to appreciate the majesty of the stables building and the attention to detail, from the foaling stall to the finish of the tack room, that maintained the comfort and care of their prized horses.

Stables at Rouse Hill House & Farm. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

In 1908, Guntawang was finally sold out of the Rouse family. The property has continued its strong connection to horse breeding and racing, with the current owners maintaining the tradition of rearing elite thoroughbreds for the ‘sport of kings’ at the Guntawang Thoroughbred Stud.

Unlocking Heritage is a two year trial project funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to provide NSW primary school students with greater access to some of the state’s most significant heritage sites. For more information and eligibility criteria, visit www.unlockingheritage.com.au

More Education news

Two images combined into one - left showing subject as student dressed in convict clothing and right showing subject as teacher.


Experiencing Elizabeth Farm: as a student, then as a teacherTuesday 5 June 2018

Did you visit one of our museums when you were at school? We’d love to see your photos.

Interior of nineteenth century classroom.


Schools beamed into virtual 1880s classroomMonday 20 November 2017

Kids enjoying a visit to a old-fashioned shop.


Discovering their own historyThursday 19 October 2017

In May this year Appin Public School, with the financial assistance of the Unlocking Heritage Travel Subsidy, had the opportunity to bring their students to Sydney to visit

Painting showing a small boat rowing into the shore from the point of view of the shore. The painting is predominately blue and white with touches of red. It is signed "SYRON" in the lower right corner and dated "1999." in the lower left corner.


The art of teachingWednesday 13 September 2017

The Education team use many strategies to engage students with the sites and collection we have at Sydney Living Museums. One of them is using artworks.

Interior of school house with students seated at desks and presenter at front.


The educator and the curator: a vital partnership Wednesday 6 September 2017

With the invaluable assistance of Sydney Living Museums’ knowledgeable and inspirational curators, the Learning Team develops a wide range of engaging education programs for school students.SLM’s...