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National Trust Heritage Festival Reveals Sydney’s Spectacular History


by Barry Johnson

With a growing interest in genealogy and community history, it’s no wonder this year’s National Trust Heritage Festival in Sydney is popular.

Running between now and 26 May there are more than 300 events throughout New South Wales. The National Trust has been working to preserve important landmarks and ares of national beauty since the end of World War II and recommends the following activities for locals and visitors alike.

  1. Guided Tour of a 19th Century Tall Ship
    Set sail aboard the James Craig, a tall ship launched in 1874 and beautifully restored by volunteers, regularly traversing Sydney Harbour. With it’s iron hull, this square rigger has rounded Cape Horn and functioned as a cargo and coal transporter before the steam age consigned her to a watery grave in Tasmania. Since her refloating from Recherche Bay and historically accurate restoration, the barque rigged vessel is sailed using traditional 19th century methods. Tours are available on Monday and Tuesday in April and May at Wharf 7 in Pyrmont (near The Star Casino).
  2. Bill Brown Exhibition
    One of our most talented painters, Bill Brown considered Australia through an abstract lens, challenging our ideas of Australia as society was challenged through major changes in the 1960s and 70s. He helped make sense of this change as we developed our own voice on a global stage, integrating the influences of the past with our optimism for the future on this diverse continent. The first time such a broad collection of his work will be on display begins on 19 April until 1 June at the S.H. Erwin Gallery on Watson Road in The Rocks.
  3. The Griffins’ Influence at Castlecrag
    Explore the heart of Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin’s architectural genius in the laneways of the north shore. They are well known for their efforts in designing the city of Canberra but Castlecrag captured the essence of their philosophy, using buildings to integrate with the natural landscape. The story of their construction, the costs and controversy is equally as fascinating as the final result which still remains for keen observers. Join this walking tour on Saturday, 3 May at 10.30am by booking at the Griffin Society.
  4. Automotive History
    Share the roads in Mosman with thousands of motoring enthusiasts driving restored Australian classic cars, showing the inventive spirit and engineering skill we hope will continue in Australia. Beautifully restored vehicles will be cruising on Sunday 18 May through the Sydney Harbour National Park at Georges Heights, Mosman. It’s probably the only time you’ll enjoy a traffic jam. Visit the Federation’s website for more info.
  5. parramatta_ghost_tourGhosts at Parramatta
    Old Government House in Parramatta Park still has lingering memories, myths and superstitions of our earliest colonial days as our first governors attempted to develop a new society amid ancient landscape. Walk in their footsteps and try to uncover the truth beneath the whispered rumours, premonitions, historic ‘accidents’ and tragedies on this night time tour. You’ll gain a new perspective of life as a pioneer and the efforts of household staff in maintaining sanity after the sun sets. Booking is required for this tour is on Friday, 16 May at 7.30pm.

In each region of Sydney, there are numerous displays, talks and tours to help young and old visitors discover new aspects of a city they often miss due to modern distractions. With a bit of digging, you may even uncover new insights into your family history with the resources highlighted by local libraries, councils and heritage associations during this National Trust Heritage Festival.

Explore the National Trust website for more details of the hundreds of events throughout Australia during April and May.

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