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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Fernhill Estate is one of Greater Sydney Parklands’ iconic parks, which also include Centennial Park, Moore Park, Queens Park, Callan Park, Parramatta Park and Western Sydney Parklands.

 

Fernhill Estate was purchased by the NSW Government in 2018 to bring this significant Estate into public ownership for the first time. The purchase of the Estate for the people of Greater Sydney is a significant part of the NSW Government’s bold vision to grow, connect and care for our city’s parks put forward in the 50 Year Vision for Sydney’s Open Space and Parklands.

 

On Darug Country the Estate offers an idyllic rural parkland of great natural beauty, situated in the scenic Mulgoa Valley, on the edge of the Cumberland Plain at the base of the Blue Mountains.

 

Greater Sydney Parklands acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands, waters and sky of the Mulgoa Valley, Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains and pay our respects to all Elders past, present and emerging. 

 

We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains today. 

Location

Fernhill Estate is situated off Mulgoa Road, Mulgoa on Darug Country within the Penrith Local Government area in Western Sydney. 

 

fern hill location map

Celebrating and Caring for Nature and our Heritage

The Estate

Fernhill Estate is an exceptional landscape of natural and cultural heritage significance.

 

It was once part of a much larger Aboriginal estate across Mulgoa Valley and the broader Cumberland Plain. This Aboriginal estate was actively managed by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of the British.

 

The forest lands on the Nepean River at Mulgoa were situated at the western edge of the ancestral Country of people who spoke the Darug language. Their neighbours, who lived across the river and in the mountains, spoke Gundungurra. These people shared a river that followed an ancient watercourse millions of years old.

 

Most of what we know about the traditional owners of this vast Aboriginal estate from the early days of the British colony come from historical records from the final years of the Sydney Wars between 1814 and 1817. We are learning more today about the rich heritage of our First Peoples, today and in the past, and will continue listening to, and working with our Aboriginal communities in acknowledging our past and Caring for Country.

 

Darug Country at Fernhill Estate is rich and diverse with open woodlands, sandstone soil forests, rainforest gullies, grassy meadows, and riparian corridors. 

 

This diversity of habitat provides for a diversity of wildlife on the Estate, including koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, goannas, echidnas, and woodland birds such as the Regent honeyeater. 

 

Much of the Estate still looks as it once did in the early days of the British colony when it was established by the early pastoralist Cox family through a series of land grants to William Cox and his sons. 

 

Fernhill House

The house Edward Cox built on Fernhill Estate is one of the most significant Greek Revival houses built in the Early Colonial era. It is a grand sandstone building with broad sweeping views of the rural parklands of the Estate overlooking Mulgoa Valley and beyond. The house is also central to the carefully created Colonial era landscape of the Estate where the historic approach to the house was consciously set out to reveal key views and vistas of the Estate and the house as you journeyed through its landscape.

 

Most of the Estate is on the NSW State Heritage Register. To find out more on the history of the Estate and why it is heritage listed have a look at the draft Conservation Management Plan for the place. 

 

Opening the Estate

The Weekend walking trail at Fernhill Estate is currently closed due to the NSW COVID-19 restrictions. We will resume self-guided walks when possible.  

 

Weekend Walking Trail

Fernhill Estate offers a weekend walking trail, giving the community a look at one of Western Sydney’s most beautiful estates.

 

The walking trail is a 2.6 km self-guided walking loop of Fernhill Estate, open from 10am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 4pm on Saturday and Sundays.

 

Entry is free, and the walk takes in Fernhill Estate's natural green setting and the exterior of Fernhill House.

 

Essential information:

  • As the 2.6-km walking trail includes stairs and uphill sections, visitors should wear enclosed walking shoes and have a good level of fitness.
  • Wheelchair access is limited in some areas of the property and tours. Please contact us in advance Monday to Friday on (02) 9895 7500 if you wish to discuss your requirements.
  • Parking and toilets are available on-site.
  • Please bring your own food and drinking water as there is no on-site catering. No alcohol is permitted onsite.
  • Please take away all your rubbish. 
  • Sorry, no dogs.
  • This is a COVID-Safe event: NSW Government public health orders around outdoor gatherings and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic apply.
  • A guide to the walk is available for download (PDF, 1.2 MB).

 

Draft Plan of Management

The draft Plan of Management for Fernhill Estate establishes the custodianship and stewardship for opening up and taking care of the Estate. 

 

Following extensive community and stakeholder consultation in December 2020 to February 2021, the draft Plan of Management is currently being finalised. Once the Plan of Management is adopted, Greater Sydney Parklands will start implementing the actions set out in the plan to continue to take care of the Estate and open it up further for the community to visit and enjoy. 

 

We will then look to update the draft Conservation Management Plan to include an assessment and response to the significant cultural landscapes of the Estate along with the Aboriginal history of the Estate. The revised Conservation Management Plan will be a companion document to the Plan of Management and will directly inform the opening up and taking care of the Estate by Greater Sydney Parklands over the coming years.

 

Draft Landscape Master plan

Greater Sydney Parklands is currently preparing a draft Landscape Master plan to further open up the Estate sensitively and safely as a public park for the community. This Master plan is being co-designed by an award-winning heritage landscape architect in collaboration with an Aboriginal designer and First Nations people. 

 

In May 2021, Greater Sydney Parklands spoke with over 300 community members and stakeholders at a community open day at the Estate to find out what they would like to see happen at Fernhill Estate. This feedback is informing the preparation of the draft Landscape Master plan. This feedback included:

  • A low impact and sensitive future use and activation of the Estate including passive recreation facilities such as picnic facilities and children’s play.  
  • Access to and around the Estate for walking and cycling for the enjoyment by people of all ages and abilities.
  • The importance of celebrating First Nations, early Colonial and shared culture and stories.
  • The importance of protecting, respecting and enhancing the natural environment including bushlands, waterways, bird and animal life.
  • A desire for a range of appropriate adaptive reuse of existing buildings and small-scale commercial, social and community uses.
  • A need to consider the types of equestrian facilities and activities available for the community. 
  • Safe access to the Estate for cars off Mulgoa Road.

 

The final draft Landscape Master plan will be presented to the community towards the end of 2021.

 

Questions?

For questions about Fernhill Estate, please email info@westernsydneyparklands.nsw.gov.au 

 

Frequently asked questions about Fernhill Estate

Fernhill Estate is a beautiful estate located on Darug Country at the edge of the Cumberland Plain, in the scenic Mulgoa Valley at the foot of the Blue Mountains. 

It was once part of a much larger Aboriginal estate across Mulgoa Valley and the broader Cumberland Plain. Much of the Estate still looks as it once did in the early days of the British colony when it was established by the early pastoralist Cox family through a series of land grants to William Cox and his sons. 

Fernhill House built by Edward Cox on the Estate is one of the most significant Greek Revival houses from the Early Colonial era.

Fernhill Estate is currently closed to visitors due to the NSW COVID-19 restrictions. Self-guided weekend walking tours will resume when possible.

Fernhill Estate was acquired by the NSW Government in 2018 along with two adjacent properties. 

The NSW Government purchased the properties to bring this significant 423-hectare site into public ownership. It was vested to Western Sydney Parklands Trust as part of the new Greater Sydney Parklands agency in 2020 to secure its future for the recreation and amenity of the people of NSW.

The Estate will be managed as a public park and progressively opened to the public, under the custodianship of Greater Sydney Parklands.

Greater Sydney Parklands is preparing the Estate for future landscape management and public use.

So far, Greater Sydney Parklands has undertaken maintenance works on the Estate including repair works to the internal roads, electrical and plumbing services, repairs to fencing and rock walls and bush restoration.

Conservation management plans are developed to manage the heritage values of a significant place. They explain the significance of a place and provide policies that will guide how this significance can be retained in its future care, development, and activation.

A draft Conservation Management Plan was prepared in 2019. This documents the Estate’s early Colonial heritage values and conservation policies and recommends the preparation of a Master plan for the site to be preserved and opened up for appropriate community use.

We will be updating the Conservation Management Plan to include the Aboriginal history of the Estate. This revised Conservation Management Plan will be a companion document to the Estate’s Plan of Management and will directly inform the opening up and taking care of the Estate by Greater Sydney Parklands over the coming years.

No - the draft Conservation Management Plan outlines Fernhill Estate’s heritage and environmental values which must be preserved into the future. The draft Conservation Management Plan informs the Plan of Management, which sets out the future uses of the Estate.

No - Greater Sydney Parklands’ vision is to create a sustainable future for Fernhill Estate by protecting and celebrating the Estate’s natural and cultural values, while creating opportunities for more people to enjoy different activities such as picnicking with friends, visiting Fernhill House, exercising,  walking,  cycling  or attending arts or cultural activities.

So far, community and stakeholder consultation has included:

  • The Fernhill Estate Future Uses Options Paper was available for public comment in 2019.
  • The draft Plan of Management 2030 was on public exhibition from December 2020 to February 2021.
  • The early stages of the preparation of the draft Landscape Master plan included a community drop-in session at the Estate in May 2021.

The Plan of Management is anticipated to be adopted by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces before the end of 2021. The final plan will be available at: westernsydneyparklands.com.au/fernhill

Following the adoption of the Plan of Management, Greater Sydney Parklands will progress the implementation of the recommendations. These include:

  • Final Draft Landscape Master plan and community engagement by the end of 2021.
  • Detailed design for the first stage of landscape works by mid-2022.
  • Soft opening to the community of the first stage of landscape works at the end of 2022. 

Please check this website regularly for updates on Fernhill Estate. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email info@westernsydneyparklands.nsw.gov.au

We published a summary of the draft Conservation Management Plan’s recommendations along with potential public uses of the Estate for public comment in 2019 via the Fernhill Estate Future Uses Options Paper. We also heard directly from people who visited the Estate during open weekends from mid-2020. 

From this feedback, we released a draft Plan of Management for public comment from December 2020 to February 2021.

Community feedback informed the draft Plan of Management and continues to help us develop future planning studies for the Estate such as the Landscape Master plan.

Greater Sydney Parklands is working with local and state government agencies to manage the horses and deer at Fernhill Estate. 

Should you require more information or wish to provide additional information, please contact info@westernsydneyparklands.nsw.gov.au

**Please note the walking trail is currently closed due to NSW COVID-19 restrictions.**

The walking trail is complemented by on-site parking and an accessible toilet. However, visitors will need to be prepared for a 2.6km trail that includes uphill and unpaved sections as well as some steps.

Fernhill Estate downloads

Page last updated: 08/09/2021