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

Group in kitchen with fresh produce on table.

Education

Thousands of students Butter their BreadWednesday 15 August 2018

In July, we held our first ever video conference to schools live from Vaucluse House. We received an enormous response to the program, with over 3000 students connecting to us from 93 schools across NSW.

Woman in kitchen setting with range of cooking equipment in front of her on wooden bench.

Education

Free virtual excursion live from Vaucluse HouseWednesday 27 June 2018

We invite Stage 1 classes to be a part of our free virtual excursion, live from Vaucluse House on Tuesday 31 July. Meet our colonial gastronomer to investigate how food preparations has changed between the 19th century and today and make your own butter.

Education

Helping with the washing at Elizabeth FarmMonday 25 June 2018

One of the many interesting roles of the Sydney Living Museums' learning team is having authentic replicas of objects specially made for use in our school education programs.

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

Education

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.

Education

Schools beamed into virtual 1880s classroomMonday 20 November 2017