Heritage & Culture Tourism Awards: Greater Sydney NSW

Greater Sydney Tourism Awards are an opportunity for tourism operators of attractions and businesses to gain an insight into their industry, their business, achieve recognition for their success and promote tourism within their region. The Greater Sydney Tourism Awards are awarded via a rigorous and fair assessment and judging process.

The winners of the Heritage & Cultural Category were:

  • Gold: Hawkesbury Regional Museum
    Hawkesbury Regional MuseumThe museum comprises a new, purpose-built construction at 8 Baker Street, Windsor, and the heritage building known as Howes House at 7 Thompson Square.Together they form a unique cultural facility offering a high-quality museum experience.As well as a permanent exhibition on the themes River, Land, People, the museum offers a program of changing temporary and travelling exhibitions on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Silver: Ebenezer Church
    Ebenezer Church NSWOverlooks the Hawkesbury River in a rural/bushland area that is 12km from the township of Windsor.Built in 1809, Ebenezer Church is the oldest existing church in Australia. It became the first Presbyterian Church in Australia in 1824.
  • Bronze: Elizabeth Farm
    Elizabeth Farm Parramatta NSWAustralia’s oldest surviving homestead – you can wander freely through the old house and garden as if you were its original occupants.There are no barriers, locked doors, fragile furniture or untouchable ornaments in this unique, ‘access all areas’ house museum and experience the history.

Old Great North Road: World Heritage

The Old Great North Road is a nationally significant example of major public infrastructure developed using convict labour. Situated in its unaltered natural bushland setting, the Old Great North Road is the best surviving example of an intact convict-built road with massive structural works, which remains undisturbed by later development.

Convict RelicIt demonstrates the isolated and harsh conditions in which the convict road building gangs lived and laboured for months at a time. The Old Great North Raod is listed as part of the Australian Convict Site on the World Heritage List.

The Great North Road, surveyed in 1825 and completed in 1836, was constructed using convict labour. Up to 720 convicts – some in chains – worked on the road, which spanned 264 km, connecting Sydney to the settlements of the Hunter Valley.

It features spectacular and beautifully preserved examples of stonework, including buttresses, culverts, bridges and twelve metre high retaining walls.

Unfortunately the road was not popular. It was isolated, had no permanent watercourses, and bypassed existing settlements. By 1836, as the few remaining convict gangs were completing the last northern sections of the road, it had been almost entirely abandoned as a route to the Hunter Valley. Coastal steamers became the preferred mode of travel and transportation.

The Great North RoadOnly 43 km of the road remains undeveloped and relatively intact. Running through and alongside Dharug National Park and Yengo National Park, this section has been named the Old Great North Road. It goes from Wisemans Ferry in the south to Mount Manning (near Bucketty) in the north, and includes the oldest surviving stone bridges in mainland Australia. The road is closed to motor vehicles, but makes a great walk over two or three days – or an exhilarating day’s cycle.

Relics such as stone retaining walls, wharves, culverts, bridges and buttresses can still be seen along the entire length of the Great North Road – in Sydney suburbs like Epping and Gladesville, at Wisemans Ferry or Wollombi, Bucketty or Broke, or when walking in Dharug and Yengo National Parks.

Although the road is closed to vehicles, it can be walked or cycled.

If you have a few hours up your sleeve, you can follow the original ascent of the Old Great North Road from Wisemans Ferry up Finchs Line. You can combine this with a walk up Devines Hill to complete a loop track of about 9 km, (including a 2 km walk along Wisemans Ferry Road). The track offers spectacular views over the Hawkesbury River, and allows you to compare the construction work on both ascents.

This walk really gives you a feel of the blood, sweat and tears that convict road gangs endured in constructing the road. Although some of these convicts were shackled in leg irons, escape was easy for many. The fact that the road was completed – and in only eight years – shows that these men were skilled, diligent and interested enough to stay on the job.

Full range of walking and cycling tracks

Heritage walks around Sydney

Having arrived in Australia it’s time to stretch your legs. There are plenty of city walking tours on offer, and lots of opportunities to explore magnificent walking tracks free of crowds.

The Rocks Sydney NSW

In Sydney, start off by exploring the historic Rocks area of the city with Rocks Walking Tours.

The Rocks is considered to be the birthplace of European Australia. It’s packed with heritage buildings, boutiques, restaurants, and traditional pubs and tales of old-time convicts, pickpockets, and press-ganged sailors.

Unusual tours of the area include searching for ghosts, and exploring some of the city’s most atmospheric pubs on The Rocks Pub Tour.

One can also pick up some of the 12 self-guided historical walking tour brochures produced by the City of Sydney. Each brochure introduces you to a different area of the city and different aspects of Sydney’s fascinating history.

These self-guided historical walking tour brochures have been developed by the City of Sydney History Program to introduce you to different aspects of Sydney’s fascinating history.

Each brochure features a clear map of the walk with numbered points of interest, detours and museum stops suggested along the way. Each tour takes approximately 1 to 2 hours. More Details

Visitors to Sydney are usually amazed at all the greenery surrounding the famous harbour. In other parts of the world this ‘prime real estate’ would have been developed long ago, but here most of it is protected by the Sydney Harbour National Park.

There are several self-guided walks through the park. One of these is the 1.4km (0.9 mile) South Head Heritage Trail, known for its sandstone cliffs, historic fortifications, and sweeping views. You’ll see different angles of the harbour from a variety of lookouts on this track, which starts from Camp Cove in Watsons Bay.

Another lesser-known track is the 5km (3 mile) Bradleys Head and Chowder Head Walk. This starts near the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and follows the shoreline through eucalypt forests. As well as spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House, you can see some of the historic cannons that once defended Sydney.

The 17km (10.5 mile) Manly Scenic Walkway offers more panoramic lookouts across Sydney Harbour. The trail takes in beaches, Aboriginal sites, community parks, forests, scrubland and even pockets of subtropical rainforest.

Among Sydney’s most challenging scenic tracks is the Coast Walk. The 26km (16 mile) walking trail spans the entire east coast of the Royal National Park from Bundeena to Otford. Experienced walkers can do it in one day, but it’s best completed in two. You will need camping equipment and plenty of water.

The walk leaves from Bundeena in Sydney’s south and takes in deserted beaches, coastal heathland, pockets of rainforest, and dramatic cliff tops. You can often spot whales during their annual migration. You can get to Bundeena from the surf-side suburb of Cronulla onboard the little M.V. Curranulla ferry. In 2009 this boat celebrated 70 years on the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry run. She remains the oldest commuter ferry in Australia working a regular timetable.

On Sydney’s western fringe you will find the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage-listed site containing plenty of marked walking trails ranging from easy strolls through dripping rainforest and around dramatic canyon rims, to adventurous hikes through the wilderness.

Historic lighthouse on Crookhaven Headland

Shoalhaven City Council has welcomed the announcement of $100,000 in funding from the NSW Minister for Lands Tony Kelly to help upgrade the historic lighthouse on Crookhaven Headland.

Acting Shoalhaven City Mayor Councillor Gareth Ward welcomed the funding for one of the city’s old lighthouses.

“I believe this funding will help to bring a new lease of life to a historic reminder that the Shoalhaven was a thriving city where ships would ply produce and timber up and down the coast,” Clr Ward said. “The city provided produce to Sydney and the Shoalhaven River was a significant access point for goods to be taken to Sydney.

“Council has been in discussions with the NSW government departments on the lighthouse and its future,” Clr Ward said. “This project has taken a lot of hard work by Council staff and also negotiations with the relevant NSW government departments.

“As far back as 2006 Council has offered the Department of Lands support for heritage funding to preserve the lighthouse and to consider interpretive and educational signage associated with the lighthouse and its proud history.”

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse
Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse

The original lighthouse at Crookhaven Heads was constructed of timber in 1882 and located as part of the Shoalhaven Pilot Station with a Mr. Thomas Bishop being the first operator. 

A new lighthouse to the south of the mouth of the Shoalhaven River was built in 1904 and the old wooden lighthouse was demolished. 

The walk around the headland adjacent to the historical lighthouse follows a well-developed track and provides good views of the whole of the Crookhaven Bight and Shoalhaven River.

Old photo of Ulladulla Lighthouse
Ulladulla Lighthouse

In October 2007 Minister Kelly provided $60,000 to fund the restoration of the lighthouse at Warden Head in Ulladulla. This lighthouse is also on the Council’s Local Heritage Register.

In January 2007 Council voted $11,870 to improve view lines and walking track to the Crookhaven Headland lighthouse.

In April 2008 Council wrote to the then Minister for Lands seeking support for funding for the restoration of the lighthouse. Council again wrote in July 2008 requesting funding.

Council also applied for funding from the Federal Government’s Department of Environment, Heritage and Arts Jobs Fund in October 2009, but was unsuccessful.

The lighthouse sits on land owned and managed by the NSW Land & Property Management Authority. Council is the Trustee Manager of the land which forms the headland, but not the lighthouse. Council has a plan of management for Crookhaven Headland, with Council maintaining the path, track and vegetation.

restoration of Crookhaven lighthouseThe lighthouse was commissioned in 1904 and replaced a wooden structure about 200 metres away on the beach. The lighthouse incorporates the lantern from the former lighthouse on Cape St George which dates back to 1863.

June 2010 photo: NSW Minister for Lands Tony Kelly is joined with Councillor John Ferguson, General Manager Russ Pigg and South Coast Register Editor John Hanscombe to inspect the Crookhaven lighthouse.

Illawarra Museum

Long before the Illawarra Historical Society had anywhere to house its collection of moveable objects relating to Illawarra region and its pioneers, the society members had worked hard since the formation in 1944 to collect artifacts.

The hard work of the members came to fruition on 2 December, 1966 when the society opened the doors of Illawarra Museum at 11 Market Street, Wollongong.

Illawarra Museum At first the society had only access to the ground floor. By 1969 the society had the use of the whole building. Over the years the main building has remained unchanged.

The Museum committee has fitted out and maintained the exhibits on display. On the upper level is a parlor, bedroom and a schoolroom.

The ground floor has a craft room, and two rooms known as the East Room and the West Room. These are used for changing displays and traveling exhibitions.

Illawarra Museum The courtyard has a colonial kitchen, laundry, blacksmith’s shop, air raid shelter, stockman’s hut and a farm implement shed.

At the official opening of the building the then President Mr. Edgar Beale said “. The unsmooth course of true love is notorious and the same applies when the love is of a display of history.

”To really appreciate the collection one must visit the Museum.”

Illawarra Historical Society Inc. Illawarra Museum
11 Market St, Wollongong 2500 
Phone: (02) 4228 7770 or (02) 4228 0158

Mt Kembla Mining Heritage Centre and Festival

Mt Kembla Heritage Centre welcomes you all year round. Visit our award-winning display of the 1902 Mt Kembla Mine Disaster “Thunder in a cloudless sky”. Open on the second Sunday of each month 11am to 4pm or anytime for guided group tours contact Phil Donaldson. 

1887 Mt Kembla Disaster31st July marks the anniversary of the Mt Kembla Disaster, where 96 men and boys lost their lives in the explosion. 

On 23 March 1887 some 15 years and 4 months earlier months earlier the first major mine disaster struck the Illawarra region with the Bulli Mine Disaster which claimed the lives of 81 men and boys.

A leader in that rescue campaign was one Henry Osborne MacCabe a young man of 30 years of age. Amongst the many rescuers was John Evans, Manager Mt Kembla Colliery, and W. B. Green former manager Mt Kembla Colliery.

Mt Kembla Mining Heritage CentreTo many, our festival may seem the only thing the Heritage Centre committee does every year … nothing could be further from the truth … in fact our list of significant achievements is very long since our formation in 2001, to commemorate the centenary of the Mt Kembla Mine Disaster of 1902.

Mt Kembla Village Cordeaux Road, Mt Kembla NSW 2526
Phone: (02) 4261 9196

Wollongong Harbour Heritage Listed

Wollongong Harbour has been given the NSW State’s highest level of heritage protection. Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, said the harbour and surrounding areas have been placed on the State Heritage Register. The heritage listing area includes many tourism attractions:

  • Wollongong LighthouseThe harbour and crane pedestal
  • Two lighthouses
  • Flagstaff Hill and fortifications
  • Brighton Lawn
  • Smith Hill fortifications
  • Osborne Park and remnants of the historic tramline
  • The old courthouse and customs house and several historic sea baths

The harbour has been listed because it:

  • Has historical value because of its role providing access as the colony’s southern outpost from the 1830s
  • Had associations with people or groups of people, namely the 300 strong convict labour force which constructed the basin harbour from 1837 to 1844
  • Old Wollongong harbourHad aesthetic values because it has been retained in its 19th century configuration and was an eye-pleasing element in the foreshore landscape
  • Had research potential by providing an insight into the operation of a colonial and early 20th century shipping port
  • Is rare – being the oldest and most intact blocked wall harbour in NSW built by convict labour

Member for Wollongong, Noreen Hay, welcomed the announcement. “The harbour is rich with local history, from being the southern most port in the colony, to a bustling coal port and finally as home to the Wollongong fishing fleet and current recreation uses,” Ms Hay said.

“This illustrates the uses of heritage areas do change over time.” In recommending to list the harbour and surrounds, the independent 11 member Heritage Council unanimously resolved that the listing “will not preclude the limited, sympathetic development and adaptive re-use of the harbour and precinct in line with the site’s identified heritage values”.

Wollongong Harbour

Wollongong HeadlandMr Kelly said the May 2010 heritage listing will help guide the proposed revitalisation of the precinct.

“The heritage listing means any major works for the sites would be subject to decisions or advice from the Heritage Council of NSW as well as Wollongong City Council,” the Minister said.

“The Heritage Council will now also play an important role approving a conservation management strategy for the area, to be developed by the Land and Property Management Authority.”

Pub: May 2010

Clifton School of Arts

Clifton School of ArtsThe original Clifton School of Arts was established in 1880 when Andrew Stuart (owner of the local coal mine and later premier of NSW) gave the use of a room and later £30. The weatherboard building later burned down.

The area steadily grew through the exploitation of the local coal deposits and by 1888 Clifton was an important commercial centre with both coach and railway terminals.

Times soon became difficult for the Illawarra with continuing industrial unrest including lengthy and bitterly contested strikes. There were also major mining disasters in 1887 and 1902 in which several hundred men and boys were killed.

Added to this was the problem of the location of the coal and associated mining and shipping difficulties which meant that the mines were always economically marginal.
In 1910, the Coalcliff Colliery miners went out on strike for six months and it was during this time, that the second and still standing School of Arts was built. The cost of £100 was raised by public subscription, the land was donated by the mining company and the striking miners provided the labour.

The first stage consisted of four rooms on two storeys and although the School was really meant to be a much larger building, given the changed economic circumstances of the area the planned hall at the back of the building was never added. 

Although the School was built at Clifton, Scarborough (formerly South Clifton) had become the centre for growth and so Clifton’s population steadily declined as the mine closed and miners sought work elsewhere. The partially-completed building operated as a School of Arts for a number of years and later became the local general store. Later still it provided a home and studio space for local artists.

Over the years the building deteriorated badly and it looked as though it would have to be demolished however finally in 1996, a new School of Arts Committee was formed and fundraising and lobbying for the restoration began.

Grants were received from Wollongong City Council, NSW Heritage Commission and private donors but of course nothing would have happened without the efforts and enthusiasms of the local community whose energies have brought the building back to life continue to support it as a community and tourism facility.

Clifton School of Arts
338 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Clifton NSW 2515‎
Phone: (02) 4268 0489‎

Walkabout in New South Wales

There is so much to do in New South Wales, but a week will surely persuade you to come back for more.

Day One

After breakfast head down to Circular Quay to see two Sydney icons at once the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the white-sailed Sydney Opera House.

Next, stroll across to The Rocks area to see where European Sydney started out. The compact waterside area is criss-crossed with alleyways and crammed with terraced houses, old pubs, and former maritime storehouses. Make the most of the experience by going on a guided walk with an operator such as The Rocks Walking Tours. 

Nearby are some steps that take you up to the walkway that spans the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can walk right across the bridge and take a local commuter train back to the city centre.

Or, you could actually climb the Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. It’s a truly memorable experience, and the views from the top of the arch are magnificent.

Afterwards, head back to Circular Quay and take a boat trip on Sydney’s glorious harbour. There are lots of tour boats to choose from. One that gives an Aboriginal perspective on things is the Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Culture Cruise. If you are the adventurous sort you could even take zip around the Harbour at break-neck speed on a jet boat.

From here you could walk past the Opera House and into the Royal Botanic Gardens. You might then want to pop into the Art Gallery of New South Wales, before heading towards the city again.

Ahead of you is Sydney Tower, the tallest building in Sydney. The tower offers stunning 360-degree views across the city, and beyond to The Blue Mountains. Daredevils can walk around the outside of the tower on a Skywalk.

Day 2
Spend the morning in Darling Harbour, Sydney’s main entertainment precinct. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around here with outdoor seating, and lots of major attractions.

A must is to clamber over real ships and a submarine at the Australian National Maritime Museum, and discover our love of maritime and the ocean.

Day 3
Today it’s time to head to the hills.

The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are less than two hours from Sydney. You can get there by train and join a tour, take a tour from Sydney, or wander around alone.

On the way, you could stop off to see the kangaroos and other creatures at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

In the Blue Mountains you can ride the world’s steepest incline railway and enjoy spectacular rainforest views from a cable car at Scenic World.

There are lots of incredible bushwalks, majestic waterfalls, and the sandstone escarpments and canyons are awesome. Stay the night if you wish to extend your trip, and immerse yourself in the amazing scenery again the next day.

Day 4
Travel back to Sydney and head north to the Hunter Valley wine country.

Most of the area’s 120 wineries offer tastings at the cellar door. There are plenty of great restaurants, romantic retreats, quality eateries, galleries, and producers selling handmade cheese and olive oil.

You can roam around the beautiful farming countryside on hired bicycles, in a horse and carriage, or even in a hot air balloon.

Day 5
From the Hunter Valley make your way to Port Stephens. The pristine waters of the harbour here are home to two large pods of bottlenose dolphins. You are almost guaranteed to see them on a dolphin-watch cruise. This is a perfect place to spot whales during their annual migration too.

If you want to see koalas in the wild then Port Stephen’s Tilligerry Habitat State Reserve offers a good opportunity.

Day 6
Drive south from Sydney via the Royal National Park on the new Grand Pacific Drive. A focal point of the trip is the dramatic 665-metre (2,181-foot) Sea Cliff Bridge. 

From here, the unspoilt natural beauty of the southern coastline of New South Wales unfolds in a series of bays, harbours, beaches and small townships.

You could stop off at Jervis Bay and the Aboriginal-managed Booderee National Park.
The park is known for its kangaroos and other wildlife, fascinating bushwalks, sparkling green water, and pristine beaches.

One of these is Hyams Beach, which has some of the world’s whitest and noisiest sands – it makes a loud squeaking sound when you walk on it.

You can go on a dolphin spotting cruise here, or take an adventurous dive among underwater arches, caves and rock stacks.

At Huskisson, camp among the kangaroos overnight, or stay at Woollomia Village Retreat, an Australian Historical replica village.

Day 7
Kangaroo Valley Views NSWYou might want to keep heading south along the coastal route all the way to Melbourne or beyond – or you can slowly head back to Sydney.

This time head inland via Kangaroo Valley, and call into the Southern Highlands, then return to Sydney.

This gorgeous rural area offers quaint towns, historic pubs and hotels, orchards and wineries, antiques, Devonshire teas, and a gentrified way of existence.