Sydney and The Rocks NSW

Sydney’s magnificent historical buildings are well known. Buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, The Mint, Hyde Park Barracks, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Government House have not only shaped the city, but also the nation.

See our range of tours of “The Rocks”

The Rocks Discovery Museum housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse, tells the story of The Rocks from pre-European days to the present.

Museum of Sydney
Sydney’s heritage and history is presented in an exciting, contemporary context with fascinating exhibitions, films and state of the art technology which tells stories of colonial life and Aboriginal culture.

Dine in Sydney’s Heritage-Listed buildings.
Be immersed in the charming history of Sydney by dining in heritage listed buildings. From prisoner hideouts to beach changing sheds these establishments make for great dinner conversation.

Discover the Magic of Sydney Harbour at sundown.
Combine warm Summer evenings, Spring twilights, Autumn sunsets and winter city lights with Harbour Cruising and you have the winning combination with the Harbour Dining Cruises

Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in April 1932, is Sydney’s original icon. Climb the Bridge with day and night climbs, access to the inner heart of our bridge.

Explore Australia’s oldest public building: Old Government House stands in 260 acres of parkland and was built in 1799 as home to the early governors of NSW. The décor and colonial furniture reflects the style of Governor and Mrs Macquarie, who lived there from 1810 to 1821.

See our range of tours of “The Rocks”

The Mudgee Region’s historic buildings are providing a beautiful backdrop to tourism

Gulgong Historic streetscapeThe Mudgee Region’s historic buildings are providing a beautiful backdrop to a range of new tourism businesses. De Russie Suites in the historic Mechanics Institute sets a new benchmark for contemporary luxury regional accommodation, while Down the Track Café in the heritage listed Kandos Railway Station breathes new life into a building left behind by progress.

A hand built mud-brick hut overlooking the vineyard is the perfect place for artists to draw inspiration at Rosby Artists Retreat workshops, while a range of new sellers are setting up stall at the fabulous Mudgee Farmers Markets in the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church, parts of which date back to 1857.

The Gulgong Pioneers Museum celebrates its 50th Birthday this year and is based in the Old Times Bakery.  The Museum is one of the best known folk museums in New South Wales and is spread over an acre in historic Gulgong. While the historic vehicles on display at the Museum are a reminder of less hurried times, visitors now enjoy even more options to get to Mudgee in just 40 minutes with Aeropelican announcing four additional flights each week from Sydney.

New Luxury Accommodation at de Russie Suites Mudgee
Newly opened and located one block from Mudgee CBD, de Russie Suites Mudgee offers 13 self contained accommodation choices including studio, spa studio, 1 bedroom, 2 & 3 bedroom interconnecting family suites and The Blue Room penthouse suite. Built within the historic 1862 Mechanics Institute, the property is a self-contained, totally non-smoking apartment suite hotel decorated in a modern style with a European influence. The suites all have luxurious king beds, flat screen TV, Austar, minibar, kitchen and some suites have a balcony, bath or spa. Complimentary light breakfast is included to start the day. Go to:

Down the Track Café
While the trains stopped running through Kandos in 2011, heritage listed Kandos Railway Station has recently been rebirthed as ‘Down the Track’, a café, wine bar, and now cinema. With a focus on Mudgee historic Buildingquality produce, including award-wining local wines, jams and chutneys, Down the Track offers friendly service, fantastic food and exquisite ice-creams from Norgen-Vaaz. Now visitors have the chance to enjoy these great delights, sat on the platform next to an open fire while enjoying movie greats on a big screen mounted ‘Across the Tracks’. The movies kick off in April and what better place to enjoy classics like Casablanca and Dr Zhivago with their unforgettable train station scenes. And if that slice of the past isn’t enough for you, take home gifts and memorabilia to remind you of your trip down the track. Go to:

Artist Retreat Workshops and Sculptures In The Garden at Rosby Wines
On the same property as Rosby Wines, with their beautiful rustic cellar-door hut, Rosby Guesthouse has opened its doors to offer Artist Retreats throughout the year. Held over two days they feature guest artists who share their secret skills in print-making, mixed media portrait drawing and more. Coming up is Printmaking with Miriam Cullen (26-27 May) and Mixed Media Portraiture with David Newman-White (3 -4 July) Visit on 13-14 October 2012 and witness the gardens of the property transformed into an outdoor gallery with the annual Sculptures In The Garden event. The Artist Retreats cost $220 for a two day course. Artists can access discount accommodation rates at the beautiful Rosby Guesthouse. Go to:

Gulgong Pioneers Museum 50th birthday
One of Australia’s best regional museums notches up its 50th birthday this year and there’s no better time to check out their impressive collections. There is a huge and intriguing range of historic vehicles, steam engines, gold mining artifacts, machines, clothing, needlework and display rooms showing the living and working conditions of Gulgong’s pioneers. The Museum is based in the historic Times Bakery and through gradual expansion now occupies almost two blocks of the town. It’s a truly impressive collection, which includes an entire building dedicated to vintage phonographs and recording machines. Further information is available from Gulgong Historical Society on (02) 6374-1513.

New Products at Mudgee Farmers Markets & Kids Cooking Classes
Mudgee Fine Foods monthly Farmers’ Market continues to surprise and delight visitors to the region providing fresh regional produce at its best, grower expertise and a fun, lively atmosphere. Recent additions to the markets include Edrom Olives, award winning free-range Farmer Brown Pastured Eggs and Kurrajong Country Meats.  Local chef’s host Kids Cooking Classes at each monthly market, with gourmet pizza king Adam Hockley from Roth’s Wine Bar sparking up the wood fired oven on 19th May. Kids will put all that Play-Doh practice into action as Chef Adam shows them how to make pizza and bread. The Markets are held on the third Saturday of every month (8.30am to 12.30pm) operating under strict Farmers Market guidelines with all produce created within an 100 mile radius of the Mudgee Region by the stallholders themselves. Cooking Classes start at 9.30am for kids aged 8-12. The Markets are held in the grounds of historic St Mary’s Catholic Church. Go to

Extra Aeropelican Flights
Aeropelican has added four extra flights per week from Sydney to Mudgee. The fastest way to get to the Region is a 40-minute flight which takes in spectacular vistas over the Blue Mountains. Wednesday and Friday will see the introduction of a mid-morning flight departing at 10.30am and Wednesday and Sundays will see complemented with a mid afternoon flight.

The Mudgee Region is a 3.5hour drive from Sydney in Central NSW or a 40-minute flight with Aeropelican. A food and wine lover’s paradise, there is also a range of arts, culture, history, and nature and wilderness experiences to be enjoyed.

Cuts to Australian War Memorial: will it effect Heritage Tourism

The decision by the Gillard Labor Government to cut one in five jobs at the Australian War Memorial is just a saddening and offensive affront to the memory of our fallen.

“In a speech last year, the Memorial’s current Director, Major General Steve Gower AO (Mil) (Ret’d) said: “We will need extra staff to cope… I predict the (Australian War Memorial) will be very busy over the next eight years.

“It is unfortunate that the Gillard Labor Government has chosen to think that the Memorial has too many staff to deal with what is an ever increasing workload.

In 2008 Marylou Pooley was the winner of Outstanding Contribution by an Individual. During her ten years at the Memorial she has been instrumental in positioning the War Memorial as one of the world’s great museums and an Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame inductee.

There should be no question that our most significant and internationally recognised memorial to our fallen be funded fully and properly. The Australian War Memorial is also a major heritage tourism attraction not just for Australian but also overseas tourists.

Federal Member for Gilmore, Joanna Gash has urged all, to flag their direct support of the War Memorial by writing a letter of protest to the Prime Minister

 “How this government can commit to cutting one in five jobs at the Australian War Memorial, especially as we approach the Centenary of the ANZAC, is beyond me”. she said.

Do you think this decision by the Gillard Labor Government will effect Tourism.

The glory of steam, Pansy, the Camden tram

One of the most popular memories of the Camden area by locals and visitors alike is the Camden tram, affectionately known as ‘Pansy’.

It has always had an enthusiastic bunch of supporters. They positively drool about it and overlook its foibles. Old timers tell and retell Pansy stories to anyone who wants to listen.

Fans gloss over its short comings.  All the stories are laced with a pinch of nostalgia and a touch of the romantic. It was a vital part of local life. So why does this old locomotive conjure up such a strident bunch of supporters?

Pansy Train 1917 Camden NSWSteam engines and locomotives bring back memories  of the glory days of industrialization and the great days of Australian nationalism in the late Victorian and early 20th century. Great monstrous  engines that hissed, spat and groaned.

They were mighty machines that were living beings. They had a life and soul of their own. They were responsible for creating the wealth of the British Empire. And Pansy is part of that story.

Pansy 1915 crossing the Nepean River on its entry to Camden NSWThe Camden branch line was operated by the New South Wales Railways from 1882 to its closure in 1963.

The Camden tram was one of a number of standard gauge light rail lines in the Sydney area.  The tank locomotive worked a mixed service that took freight and passengers.

The branch line was thirteen kilometres and had eight stations after leaving Campbelltown station, where it joined the Main Southern Railway. The stations were Maryfields, Kenny Hill, Curran’s Hill, Narellan, Graham’s Hill, Kirkham, Elderslie and finally arriving at Camden.

Most of the stations were no more than a short rudimentary wooden platform with a shelter shed that were unmanned.  Others like Camden had a longer platform and an associated goods handling facility.

Pansy 1963 on its last run
Pansy 1963 on its last run

Pansy was a regular part of daily life for those who lived near the line. Locals in the Camden township would listen for the loco’s whistle and know that the morning papers had arrived from Sydney.

Legend has it that the engine driver would hold the train for regulars who were running  late for work on their way to the city, especially local lasses.

Some of Camden’s better off families sent their children to high school at Parramatta and Homebush each morning on the train. Pansy  would chug past the milk factory at  the entry to Camden township as local dairy farmers were unloading their cans of milk from their horse and dray.

Tourists from Sydney would be dropped off on Friday afternoon at Camden station to be bused to their holiday boarding houses in Burragorang Valley.
The first passenger service left Camden station left at 5.47am to connect with the Sydney service on the Main Southern Line.

On the return journey the last passenger service from Campbelltown left at 9.44pm.  During the Second World War the tram provided transport for many servicemen (Army, RAAF) who were based at local military establishments.

Airmen from Camden airfield would catch the train to Sydney for weekend leave, and would be joined by soldiers from Narellan military base and Studley Park Eastern Command Training School.

Camden station and good yards were located adjacent to Edward Street, with a siding to the Camden Vale milk factory. Coal from the Burragorang Valley mines was loaded at Camden yard from 1937, although this was transferred to Narellan in 1941 and eventually the Main Southern Line at Glenlee into the late 1950s. But even by the 1940s the limitations of the line for caring freight were showing cracks.

From its enthusiastic opening the tram never really lived up to its predictions. The mixed goods and passenger service was of limited value. Its light gauge restricted the loads and the grade of the line, particularly over Kenny Hill, severely limited its capabilities.  Even in 1939 there were already signs of the eventual demise of the branch line with more coal leaving the district by road than rail.

Its days were numbered and the writing was on the wall. Its death blow was delivered by the Heffron ALP Government in 1963 as a cost cutting exercise and a drive from modernization of the railway system across the state. Diesel was the new god.

For current enthusiasts with a keen eye there are remnants of the embankments and cuttings for the narrow gauge line still visible in the area. As visitors leave the Camden township travelling north along Camden Valley Way (old Hume Highway) embankments, culverts and earthworks are still visible in the farm paddocks on the Nepean River floodplain.

You can make out the right of way  as it crosses Kirkham Lane and heads  towards Narellan before disappearing into a housing estate. For those with a sharp eye a cutting is still  evident on the northern side of Narellan Road at Kenny Hill just as you take then entry ramp onto the freeway going to Sydney.

It appears as a bench  above the roadway and is evident for a short distance. (for details  see Peter Mylrea, ‘Camden-Campbelltown Railway’, Camden History March 2009, p. 254-263).

A number of streets in Curran’s Hill are connected to the history of Pansy. Tramway Drive is close to the route of the train and a number of other streets are named after past railway employees, for example, Paddy Miller. The Camden Community Band celebrates the legend of Pansy in their repertoire. They play a tune called The Camden Tram written by Buddy Williams a Camden resident of the 1960s.

Are you interested in seeing the real deal? Do you want to see what all the fuss is about for yourself? Go and inspect the real Pansy:  ‘the steam locomotive 2029 and a small composite multi-class carriage’. They are on display at the New South Wales Transport Museum
Barbour Rd Thirlmere NSW 2572 (02) 4681 8001

Images courtesy of the Camden Historical Society
Written by Ian Willis member of Professional Historians Association NSW.

The Camden Community Band has recently added the tune ‘The Camden Train’ to its repertoire. The lyrics tell an interesting story about Pansy, the locomotive. It was written by Camden local Buddy Williams about the time of the last run on of the train in 1963. More Details

NSW Schoolhouse Museum Tour and Talk

A Museums Australia NSW event
Wednesday 5 May 2010 4pm

Kathryn Watkins will provide a glimpse of schooling from the past and conduct a tour of the NSW Schoolhouse Museum of Public Education.

The museum is housed in restored early schoolrooms and collects and preserves objects relating to the history of public education in NSW.

NSW Schoolhouse Museum of Public EducationNSW Schoolhouse Museum
Cox’s Road, North Ryde

The NSW Schoolhouse Museum is located on Cox’s Road, North Ryde in the north-eastern corner of the grounds of North Ryde Public School (almost opposite Cox’s Road Mall).A car park is located behind the Schoolhouse Museum

The following Sydney Buses stop at the front of the museum: 288 & 506.


NSW Schoolhouse Museum
RSVP:  The event is free, but bookings essential by Monday 3 May to
Paul Bentley, Executive Officer
Museums Australia NSW Branch
Phone: 02 9387 7307
Mobile: 0416 121 347

The Old Melbourne Crime and Justice Experience wins the heritage and cultural tourism at Australian Awards

Step back in time and walk the road to the gallows in a 19th century prison, be arrested in a modern-day Police Station or put yourself on trial in court.

Home to our oldest prison, historic Magistrates’ Court and former Police City Watch House, Russell Street has been at the heart of crime, law and order in Melbourne since the 1840s.

Most of Australia’s infamous characters, including iconic bushranger, Ned Kelly and notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor have spent time within the walls of this amazing precinct.

The National Trust of Victoria’s Old Melbourne Gaol Crime & Justice Experience won the Heritage and Cultural Tourism Award at the Australian Tourism awards announced in Feb 2010.

This iconic landmark is the site where 135 people, including infamous bushranger Ned Kelly, were hanged. The prison was also a focus during some of Australia’s most significant historical moments, including the Gold Rush and World War II.

The bushrangers, murderers, baby farmers and gangsters kept here lived alongside petty offenders, including lunatics, vagrants and bankrupts. Experience what life behind bars was like for some of our most notorious villains – learn about their life and crimes, their trials and treatment. Step into the shoes of a hangman…

377, Russell Street (between La Trobe and Victoria Sts) Melbourne 3000

General Enquiries: (03) 8663 7228

Group Bookings: (03) 8663 7223

Old Melbourne Gaol Crime & Justice Experience Website

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool

Flagstaff Hill overlooks Lady Bay at Warrnambool Victoria. The grounds has two small lighthouses which still guide ships into the bay. The upper lighthouse is open for inspection and contains a small but beautiful Chance Bros. lens.

Flagstaff Hill is an interactive Maritime Village and Museum that takes visitors on a rich journey of discovery through an early Australian coastal fishing port.

Built around the State Heritage listed Lady Bay Lighthouse precinct, overlooking Lady Bay Warrnambool, Flagstaff Hill holds the richest collection of Shipwreck artefacts in Australia.

Scattered throughout the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village are a range of trades that supported the rich maritime heritage of the late 1800’s.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village provides visitors and researchers with a variety of different ways to source information relating to the history of Warrnambool, the Great Ocean Road, and of course relating to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Villlage and the maritime history of the rugged Shipwreck Coast.

Comfort Inn Central Court Warrnambool offers a variety of accommodation options whether for a single individual or a large family. In the heart of the city, only 50 metres from the main cafe and shopping strip. Licensed restaurant onsite with quality service in a friendly country atmosphere. Heated swimming pool and garden area on first floor. The property is only a short drive to the historic Shipwreck Coast.

Australian National Aviation Museum

Located at Moorabbin Airport near Melbourne Victoria. The Australian National Aviation Museum contains the finest collection of Australian made and designed aircraft, as well as the broadest collection, with representative types covering the development of airtravel and military aviation in Australia, along with display engines from the flying machines of 1910 to the modern jet fighters.

Representative aircraft from the RAAF and RAN, WW2 through to the jet age, pre-war, post war and jet-turbine airliners from Ansett-ANA, TAA and others, Australian made by CAC, DAP, HDH, and Victa, vintage and classic civilian aircraft from the 1920’s “Moth” through to a London to Sydney air-racer, and cropduster.

The Museum provides for disabled visitors via ramp access, with disabled toilets available onsite.

Museum open times:
Wed – Friday 12-4pm
Sat – Sun (& public holidays 10am-5pm)
Ph:  (61 3)  9580 7752

Nowra Historic Walk

Explore the historic landmarks of Nowra on the South Coast NSW. The historic walk guide includes:  Marriott Park,  Werninck Craft Cottage,  Nowra Museum,  Nowra Court House, Marriott Oliver, All Saints’ Anglican Church,  Meroogal, Nowra Showground, Hanging Rock Lookout, the Grandstand and much more

Download the Nowra Historic Walk

Meroogal is a must whilst visiting Nowra. Built in 1885, this fascinating timber house was home to four generations of women from the Thorburn family. Meroogal’s rich collection of personal objects provides an insight into the private lives and daily world of this family for nearly a century.

Cnr Worrigee & West Streets, Nowra 2541
Ph: 02 4421 8150
Guided tour take place on the hour
Open Sat. 1-5pm and Sunday 10-5pm.
Booked groups by arrangement