Tours

Belgenny Farm is the ideal location for groups wanting to learn more about the history of Australia, agriculture, and the role of John and Elizabeth Macarthur in this area - all situated within an hour of Sydney.

Come along and visit Australia’s oldest set of intact farm buildings: the ‘Home Farm’ of the Macarthur dynasty. Originally granted to John Macarthur in 1805 and managed by John and wife Elizabeth, it has been home to a succession of agricultural innovators for over 200 years.

Walking tours of Belgenny Farm offer your group a glimpse into life and work in early Australia - history that you can see and experience.

Belgenny Farm currently offers four options:

Friends historic tour

This personalised guided tour is conducted by the Friends of Belgenny Farm volunteers and visits multiple sites at the historic Belgenny farm.

In search of the Small Miserable Hut

“We called at Belkennie on Mrs. Macarthur, with whom we sat for a little while in a small miserable hut”. Governor Macquarie, Journal, 19 November 1810.

Archaeology is now revealing how the Camden Park Estate was established and how it developed in the years from 1805 to 1821. This is the period about which history is almost silent, apart from a few references, a map and a painting.

In 2006, the Belgenny Farm Trust commissioned Dr. Edward Higginbotham to find the site of the “small miserable hut” where Governor Macquarie visited Mrs. Macarthur on Monday, 19 November 1810.

Family tradition has it that the “small miserable hut” stood at the northern end of the ridge at Belgenny Farm. In the first season of archaeological excavation (September 2008), two out of the three buildings shown on the 1840s estate plan were located. The site of a building with a collapsed fireplace was also investigated, as the most likely site of the "small miserable hut". In the second season (May 2009) the whole of this building was excavated.

The building measured 4.3 by 6.3 metres and was divided into two rooms with a veranda on its south side. It is also the only building with a large sample of early ceramics, dated from the 1780s to the 1810s. Two items may be associated with the Macarthur’s: a religious medallion obtained in France and a fragment of a stoneware jar, originally containing berry jam, obtained from Gunter’s, Berkeley Square, London, and the first tea-house to serve women unaccompanied. Both these items may have been brought back to Mrs. Macarthur by her husband, when he returned from ‘exile’ in 1817.

The 2009 excavations also revealed four more buildings on the site, bringing the total to eight. The area was clearly an important focus of farming activity from 1805 onwards.  Edward Higginbotham Report, January 2010.

In a small group you will visit the archaeological site near the Nepean River, view findings from our archaeological digs and explore possibilities surrounding the earliest period of the Macarthur’s life at Belgenny Farm.

A moderate fitness level and sturdy enclosed footwear is required.

Depending on the time available to your group, the tour may include:

  • Viewing of DVDs and briefings
  • Walking tour to the archaeological dig.
  • Viewing of the Macarthur cairn.
  • Viewing of significant archaeological remnants uncovered in previous digs.

Duration: 3 hours

Group size: a minimum of 10 people

Availability: Monday to Thursday - 9.00am to 2.00pm and Friday 9.00am to 12.00pm. Weekend tours can be arranged by appointment

Cost: prices on application.

Creamery Interpretive Centre tour

Visit Belgenny Farm’s newest attraction – the Creamery Interpretative Centre – to take a walk through the history of dairying in Australia and at Camden Park, milk a cow, and immerse yourself in the experiences of dairying through the decades.

A year after John Macarthur's death in 1834 the large new house at Camden was completed and sons James and William were able to move in. In 1839 James' new wife Emily arrived in Australia and so the grand house on the hill became home to the three of them.

James and William had returned to Australia in 1817 and engaged themselves in the workings of their father's estate at Camden, taking on increasing responsibilities as his health waned. Fortunately new arrival Emily also proved to be a capable manager – she oversaw the processing of Camden Park's milk into butter and cheese and the marketing of their dairy products in Sydney.

Expansion of the dairy enterprise continued through the 1850s and 1860s and continued adapting and innovating, until, by the 1920s to 1940s it reflected best practice in Australia at the time—a ‘model’ dairy. The revolutionary Rotolactor opened in 1952 and only ceased operations in 1983. All these developments and changes are on display as part of the Creamery tour.

Depending on the time available to your group, the tour may include:

  • Viewing of DVD’s about Belgenny Farm
  • Morning tea in the Belgenny Farm Tea Rooms
  • Viewing of the Interactive Creamery Interpretive Centre

Duration: 2 hours

Group size: a minimum of 10 people

Availability: Monday to Thursday - 9.00am to 2.00pm and Friday 9.00am to 12.00pm. Weekend tours can be arranged by appointment

Cost: prices on application.

Self-guided tours

Or, you can just wander around at your own pace with the help of one of our apps – available from app stores by searching Belgenny Farm.

1. Belgenny Farm Tour - Birthplace of Australian Agriculture

This gives a thorough tour over Belgenny Farm and tells its story and that of the sites and buildings. It is similar to the tours which visitors undertake and can also be used to view before or after a tour.

2. The Mural in the Granary

This takes the viewer through the images of the mural in the Granary and tells the story of agriculture and land use at Belgenny Farm and Camden Park. It will be of interest to anyone visiting the Granary.