Explore one of Sydney’s heritage gems

Female Orphan School 

The upcoming Open Day at the Female Orphan School this Saturday is a wonderful opportunity to explore one of Australia's oldest – but perhaps lesser known – heritage treasures.

On Saturday 16 April the Female Orphan School on the banks of the Parramatta River is throwing open its doors to the community, with tours, art displays and more, as part of the annual National Trust Festival.

The Female Orphan School is the oldest three-storey brick building still standing in Australia, constructed under the direction of Governor and Mrs Macquarie as a home for orphaned and destitute girls of the Colony of New South Wales.

The building predates Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney and the Female Factory in Parramatta, and is one of the most important surviving buildings from the earlier period of European settlement.

Following a full restoration, the building has been given a new life by Western Sydney University as the home to the Whitlam Institute and the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection.

Director of the Whitlam Institute, Eric Sidoti, says the Female Orphan School Open Days are one of the most popular events on the Whitlam Institute's calendar.

"We take great pleasure in opening up the doors to this majestic building and inviting the community to learn more about the historic Female Orphan School and its complex history that stretches from its colonial beginnings to the present day," says Mr Sidoti.

"Once derelict and left to ruin, the building has been meticulously restored and transformed into a vibrant public place for community, cultural and intellectual pursuits.

"We hope to see Sydneysiders make the journey to beautiful old Parramatta, and spend some time meandering through one of the city's most stunning heritage precincts."

As part of the Open Day activities, a specialist team from the Whitlam Institute will take visitors on a behind the scenes look at the treasures and unexpected delights held in the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection – showcasing the fascinating personal and political stories behind some of the extraordinary historical objects from the Whitlam era.

Discover a Prime Minister's Treasure Trove tours are $12 ($10 for concession holders and seniors) and will run at 12pm and 2pm. Places are limited and almost full, so bookings are essential.

Visitors can also enjoy the A Changing Australia: The time of Gough Whitlam exhibition, as well as the best of the 2015 HSC artwork in ArtExpress, which is also currently on display in the Margaret Whitlam Galleries.

There will be free guided introductions to the building at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm.

To make a booking or for more information about the Open Day, call 02 9685 9210 or email fos@westernsydney.edu.au.

WHAT:  Female Orphan School Open Day

WHEN: Saturday 16 April, 11am – 4pm

WHERE: Western Sydney University Parramatta campus, corner of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere.

COST: Free, except for the Discover a Prime Minister's Treasure Trove tours, which are $12/$10 for concessional holders and seniors.

TRANSPORT AND PARKING: On campus parking will be free on the day, in the available blue parking bays. The Parramatta campus is also accessible by public transport. 


13 April 2016

Amanda Whibley, Media and PR Manager