Hidden right in the middle of Campbelltown is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets, a historic colonial Georgian house called Glenalvon House.
I love visiting old colonial houses of Australia and Sydney has so many hiding in different areas from as far as Penrith to the right in the heart of the city. All have a story to be told and so many of them hide many a secret or two from the past.
It’s an honour to be able to walk through these historical places, exploring what life was like when Australia was being colonised. So many people, from self-fined organisations, governments and even private owners have done so ell to preserve and maintain these beautiful buildings.
No matter the past of Australia and the manner in which the country was colonised, we must always respect the past for what it was and the buildings left behind to speak that past. For without the past, we can not look to the future and learn from our past mistakes in doing so.
Glenalvon House was originally built in 1840 by a Mr Michael Byrne; who was a farmer, an inventor, a barber and a dentist. He welcomes many people through his doors, with a private bedroom at the back of the house for renters who needed a room to stay for as long as they needed, with their own separate entry so not to disturb those who loved in the main house.
The property has seen many a historic moment, and has housed many a historic person. James Ruse was one of them.
If you have never heard of James Ruse, he was a Cornish farmer, who at the age of 23, was convicted of breaking and entering in the UK, and was sentenced to seven years jail and was eventually transported on the First Fleet to Australia, when he had only 18 months left on his sentence. After completing his sentence here in Australia, he began to carve his name in the history books, by started the first successful Wheat Farm in Australia.
Well known road James Ruse Drive in the Parramatta and Rosehill region of western Sydney was named after him and his successions in Australia.
The property of Glenalvon House is simply stunning, and as you wander through each bedroom of the house; which has been perfectly restored and preserved by the Historial Society, you are transported back in time to a period where life would have been hard, full of challenging moments and struggles, just to establish yourself in the new colonies of Australia.
And yet for many, it would have also been a very exciting time, as Australia was an escape for those who were suffering from poverty in England and unable to establish themselves, or for that matter even have a house of their own to raise a family and find the opportunity they wished for.
The entire complex sits on a peaceful heritage garden, which houses 100 year old trees, and is filled with many a tale to tell from Australia’s incredible colonial age.
From supernatural tales where people have seen a ghostly figure standing in the window, to funny tales of the doctor who used to rent out one of the rooms on the ground floor, this house is a whirlwind of tales and history and well worth the visit.
The Historial Society have done an amazing job preserving this property and allowing members of the public to enjoy all it has to offer. Who would have thought, such a jewel had been hiding in Campbelltown all these years, and unbeknown to many I’m sure.
The house is located at 8 Lithgow Street in Campbelltown, and is open to the public for exploring on the second Saturday of every month from 10am to 1pm, and First and Third Monday of every month from 10am to 1pm. However, these hours will be affected by the whole COVID-19 crisis.