There is a wonderful museum on the Great Western Highway at Emu Plains steeped in history. Artifacts from colonial to the present day are housed in one of the oldest buildings in the Penrith District. This former inn was built in two sections with the first around 1826. In 1840 John Mortimer purchased the building and conducted a wayside inn since it was on the main road to the goldfields near Bathurst and Orange. Cobb and Co coaches used the inn as night time rest before making the climb into the Blue Mountains.
A special feature of the museum is a number of displays where visitors can operate an exhibit. The most popular is the piano with an inbuilt mechanism that plays selected tunes as you pedal. You can also experience using a sewing machine, an adding machine and a pedal powered organ.
Agricultural equipment housed in a slab timber barn in the back yard gives a view into farm work in the 19th century with an impressive display of shovels and spades alongside stone-working tools, a grindstone and a blacksmith’s forge. Fancy a drive into town? A first class ‘Spring Cart’ stands in the centre of the barn complete with horse.
Trevor Patrick is a local historian of the north-west of Sydney, Australia. His latest book, In Search of the Pennant Hills, recounts some of these stories (and others) in more detail.