If you know anything about Australian history you will know that John and Elizabeth Macarthur are considered the pioneers of agriculture. Australia is the largest wool producing country in the world thanks to the foundation the Macarthur family created with their herd of Merino sheep. By 1803, through sheer hard work, Elizabeth and John grew their herd to over 4000 almost pure merinos. In 1807, the Macarthurs sent their first bale of wool to England. Today the Merino sheep numbers over 100 million here in Australia with descendants of the Macarthurs continuing to farm merinos.
Every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Belgenny Farm – www.belgennyfarm.com.au opens its gates to the public. This site is a major educational centre with direct links to Australia’s agricultural history. Granted to the Macarthur’s in 1805 by Lord Camden, the convict built Belgenny originally sat on 5000 acres which were used for Merino wool production, wheat growing, dairying, horticulture and grape growing. Today it is a fusion of historical and modern-day agricultural practices and an excellent opportunity to provide our children with an insight into Australian history.
Belgenny is fascinating. Many of the buildings are on the State Heritage Register as it comprises the oldest authentic group of operating farm buildings in the country. The buildings include stables, a blacksmith’s shop, creamery, smokehouse, slaughter house and the farm cottage where John Macarthur spent the last few years of his life. They are well worth a look. The site even overlooks Camden Park Estate where a token crop of 500 grapevines have been planted to commemorate the first commercial vineyard and winery in Australia, which was established at Belgenny Farm in the early 19th century.
We visited Belgenny Farm last Father’s Day. During this celebration the farm showcased a variety of activities including stock horse demonstrations, cart rides, dog trails, light horseman demonstrations, whip cracking, sheep steering and lots of handmade storefronts. The kids also enjoyed the baby animal nursery and exploring the buildings. The Cobb and Co. cart was a highlight.
Belgenny Farm is located only one hour south of Sydney. Entry is $5.00 per adult, FREE for children. This year the farm will be open on September 7 to celebrate Father’s Day. Full details can be found here.