Growing up on Elizabeth Farm

The Macarthur children of Elizabeth Farm had fields, gardens and muddy riverbanks to explore. They had a large farm house to run around with cool verandahs, eerie cellars and curious nooks and crannies.’s tempting to imagine them exploring the creek, going right down to the waterfront, bringing back something they’d found to show their mother or father...

Unlike most kids growing up in Sydney in the early 1800s, the Macarthur kids wore good clothes, ate fresh food, had servants at their beck and call and, best of all, an education.

Elizabeth Farm is a classic single-story colonial farmhouse, huddled under a low shady roof, almost hidden inside a dense, rambling garden. Surrounded today by modern suburbia on the outskirts of busy Parramatta, the farm originally covered 600 acres of scrub, pastures, orchards and prime riverfront land. In this video Curator Scott Hill describes growing up at Elizabeth Farm and what made the Macarthurs different from their fellow colonial families. We also learn how special bonds forged during their early childhood years helped them through difficult times later on.

Many children today love visiting Elizabeth Farm because you can run in and out of the rooms, from the bedrooms to the main rooms, onto the verandahs and straight into the garden. Given the Macarthurs had seven kids, its hard to image where they all slept.

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Gary Crockett

Gary Crockett

Former curator

It was the dog-eared world of Rouse Hill House, back in 1991, that inspired Gary Crockett to become a curator. Gary produced exhibitions on convict, immigration and legal history at the Hyde Park Barracks, studied spatial history at the Museum of Sydney, collaborated with artists and tenants at Susannah Place, architects and engineers at Elizabeth Farm, designers at Rose Seidler House, curated Surf City, an ode to Sydney surf culture, along with a string of video, audioguide and interactive museum projects.

Convict Sydney

John Macarthur - Ambitious, volatile, self-confident

John Macarthur is well remembered as an ambitious and ruthless soldier who forged a powerful colonial farming dynasty

Men fighting on board ship.

The Maltese connection: the unexpected origins of Elizabeth Farm’s convict workers

The story of three men from Elizabeth Farm shows that theft was only one reason for transportation and that Britain was far from the only source of convicts sent to NSW


Bicornes, bonnets & boaters

There’s a variety of headwear across our collections ranging in date from early to late nineteenth century

Pink racemes of crepe myrtle against the Elizabeth Farm homestead

In the pink at Elizabeth Farm

Amid the late summer bounty in the garden at Elizabeth Farm, the crepe myrtle is the undoubted star of the show