Rouse Hill Estate offers an amazing glimpse into the history of Rouse Hill.
On the top of the hill within the Estate sits the heritage Rouse Hill House which has magnificent views over adjacent paddocks and was owned by 6 generations of the Rouse and Terry families.
The house was initially constructed by Richard Rouse, who was the Colonial Superintendent of Public Works and Convicts at Parramatta in 1813. This particular site was chosen given its proximity to the Windsor Road tollhouse which formed part of Governor Macquarie’s upgraded road to the Hawkesbury River and allowed Rouse to keep an eye not only on the tollhouse but also on his ever expanding property portfolio.
Following the construction of the house outbuildings were added over time including the laundry wing, cottage, barn, woolshed and servant’s arcade. A large formal garden was also constructed and today remains one of Australia’s oldest surviving colonial gardens. Given its continuous occupation by a single family, each generation simply improved and added another layer of additions and objects Today the house contains 20,000 artefacts spanning over 180 years and include the earliest colonial treasures such as baubles and brooches to a 1960s television. The Rouse and Terry families continued to occupy the house until the late 1990s when it opened to the public as a Museum.
Apart from Rouse Hill House, Rouse Hill Estate also includes the restored 1888 Rouse Hill school house, a section of the original Windsor Road turnpike proclaimed by Governor Macquarie in 1813, and the site of the doomed 1804 ‘Vinegar Hill’ convict rebellion.
The Rouse Hill Estate is now operated by Museums of History NSW and it is an opportunity to step back in time and to explore the estate whilst having fun and getting some exercise. You can walk along part of the original Windsor Road, look at the animals on site including cows, horses and chickens, take a tour of the Rouse Hill House as well as exploring the outbuildings, stables, barns and the expansive gardens. The highlight for us, however, was exploring the school house, writing on small chalk boards, looking at specimens in jars and ringing the school bell.
The visitors centre onsite is also an opportunity to learn more about the history of the site including the Aboriginal history of the area and includes some great displays. A room in the visitors centre is dedicated to a Lego model of the Rouse Hill Estate and an opportunity for children and adults to sit down and have fun building their own models as well.
Rouse Hill Estate is open to the public every Sunday for free and is a great activity for families and kids. For more information on the Estate go to https://mhnsw.au/visit-us/rousehill-estate