Tucked away in the tiny town of The Oaks is this little slice of Australian history. The Wollondilly Heritage Centre and Museum are run and staffed by volunteers from The Oaks Historical Society.
So we were staying at the Mowbray Park Farmstead when Blair informed us that we needed to head down to this place. So after a quick phone call to see if they were open we were off for the 10-15 minutes drive or so. We had already driven past a sign leading to this place twice but failed to notice on both occasions.
So let’s get started in telling you why you need to visit this place, even for those who are not entirely into their history.
So Wollondilly Heritage Centre has six exhibitions; they bring you unique stories from the people who lived in Wollondilly at the time, with the displays regularly changing as the research progresses. In the main building as you enter you have a large selection of information about the mining history of the area as well as displays on Aboriginal culture which local elders are consulted on the content.
- Exhibition Building
- Valley of Dispossession
- Of Mines & Men
- Only Fragments Remain
- Burragorang Cottage
- Fully furnished timber and slab cottage
- Drill Hall
- Burragorang Boys & Beyond in WW1
- Faces and Places Building
- With the Best of Intentions – Stories of Dr Barnardo’s at Mowbray Park
- Churches and Schools in the community
- One Teacher School
- From Farm to Table Pavilion – The Machinery Shed
- 100 years of apple growing in Oakdale
- from Estonia to Thirlmere – stories from the poultry industry
- Farm Equipment
- Outdoor farm machinery
Our main highlights were the stories you get told in the drill hall; you have what must be over 50 accounts from young men who went to serve in WW1. These alone are well worth a read and just shows just how things were back then.
In the same building, you have a painting by Will Longstaff called Menin Gate at Midnight. The picture was painted after he attended the unveiling of the Menin Gate memorial in Belgium on July 24th 1927. The monument is there to commemorate whose men of the British Empire (which includes Australia, who sadly lost their lives in WW1). It is said that while walking around the streets of Ypres, Longstaff was said to have had a “vision”, which was steel-helmeted spirits rising from the moonlit cornfields around him. It was then upon returning to London, Longstaff painted his vision in a single session while |still under psychic influences”.
This painting you see here, was infuse one of the 2,000 prints that produced.
Opening Hours: Every weekend and public holiday from 10 am to 4 pm
Entry to the museum is
- Adults for $3.00,
- School-age children for $1.00, and
- Families – $7.00
The’re closed Christmas until Australia Day and Good Friday
So if you are down in the Sydney area, take an hour to drive down The Oaks and see the friendly volunteers at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre. Its a affordable day out for young and old. The staff are incredibly friendly and extremely knowledgeable, we had what must have been an hour with Doreen talking us through the Farm to Table Pavillion and then some of the Aboriginal artwork in the main exhibition building.