The two things that bring me to Campbelltown today are a heritage walk and that I can easily walk from the station to the Arts Centre while exploring the heritage of Campbelltown.
When I last walked through the underpass from the station, it was dark and full of graffiti. Now, brightly lit with colour photographs of scenes from the area, the tunnel is less confronting. But, I do tread on a broken bottle when stepping back to take a photo.
Exploring Queen Street Campbelltown
Leaving the tunnel, cold air hits me and I regret not bringing a scarf. On my right, the large Civic Centre Complex offers the usual Council services. I’m diverting from the Campbelltown Heritage and Cultural Walk to look for some old stables.
Queen Street runs through the centre of Campbelltown and my route will take me from one end to the other. In the car park of the large police station, I count ten parked police cars with their distinctive blue and white chequered stripe down the side.
St Vincent de Paul provides social services there’s an op shop too. Lifeline Shop also has a second hand store. Miscellaneous shops line the street – a cake shop, Asian Restaurant, Real Estate Agents and a number of Medical Services.
Down a side street, I spy a green dome. A local Mosque perhaps? Walking with the sun on my back now, I’m warming up but wonder where my first stop is. Warby’s Barn and Stables seem much further than expected.
A man transfers collected bottles from a shopping trolley into a bag. He places the bag on the back of his bicycle and rides off, the bottles rattling. The bottle and can recycling program can only be a good thing. Why did it take NSW so long to implement?
Warby’s Barn and Stables
Finally, down two long driveways I find Warby’s Barn and Stables. One houses a Natural Health Clinic and the other, the reception area of a Motel. You would never know that these simple sandstone structures are all that remain of one of the first farms in the area.
Campbelltown Council Buildings and Surrounds
Alkalyser in the City Council Building is perfect for a coffee and late breakfast. In the surrounding grounds I discover an old lamp standard which was cast in Campbelltown Scotland over 90 years ago.
There’s also a water trough and a plaque acknowledging “the massacre of Dharawal People near Appin” in 1816 and the “impact this had and continues to have on the Aboriginal people of this land”.
At the entrance to Mawson Park, a man riding a disability scooter stops and calls out “G’day”. He asks if I’m visiting the area and tells me about his favourite spots in the area. He departs with a “You have a nice day”.
The hedges and garden beds in the park are neatly trimmed and well cared for. A full-size propeller, canon and anchor represent the three arms of the Defence Force as part of the War Memorial.
Corellas gather in the tree above my head when I look at the sculpture of Elizabeth Macquarie watering her garden. Campbelltown is named after her – her maiden name was Campbell.
St Peter’s Anglican Church Campbelltown
St Peter’s Anglican Church, opened in 1823, is considered the oldest building in Campbelltown. A plaque at the entrance acknowledges the Dharawal People and pays respects to elders past and present.
Three Aboriginal men stand around a picnic table in the park. I nod in greeting. One seems interested in what I am doing, watching as I walk around the park taking photographs.
Leaving the park now, it is only a short walk to my next stop. Four volunteers sit on the veranda of Glenalvon House. After being given a brief overview, I step into the house. The rooms are beautifully set up displaying historical items in “an interesting and informative manner” as per the mission statement of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society which runs the museum.
The walls are lined with faux marble, created by painting with a feather. In a shed out the back, I find James Ruse’s original tombstone. He apparently carved the tombstone himself – all but the final digit of the year of his death.
While I wasn’t planning on walking to the reservoir, the volunteers persuade me that it isn’t far. On the way I pass more heritage including Richmond Villa, Macarthur Lady Funerals in Caversham Cottage C1830 and a Wesleyan Chapel C1845.
Heritage Cattle Tank
Sandstone brick walls line the reservoir on three sides. I walk down the ramp into the Heritage Cattle Tank itself. Tufts of dry grass protrude from between the brickwork of the sloping walls on either side of me.
The reservoir was the last convict-built structure in the area if not the state.
Heritage in Queen Street
Back in Queen Street, the original structure of the Post Office and CBC (Commercial Banking Company) buildings remain intact, their beauty marred by advertising and large coloured signs.
An old man wearing a red jumper rests on a concrete bench outside the Old CBC Building. Strained amplified Asian music blares out across the street, the work of a Chinese busker with his stringed instrument.
Two of the Queen Street Buildings Group, two storeybuildings in Victorian Georgian style, have recently sold. The nearby Coach House is for lease. Not for the first time I think about the ongoing maintenance costs of heritage buildings and the practicality of these buildings in today’s world.
The Town Hall Theatre and adjoining old Fire Station look in good repair. Dredges Cottage, the last remaining example of such cottages on Queen Street is now home to the Veteran’s Recreation Centre. Macarthur Legal Centre occupies the Fieldhouse’s Store C 1850s
A woman swears and gesticulates at a motorcyclist who apparently looked at her a second too long. She walks on then turns around and swears again, waving her arms.
Campbelltown Craft Society sell their wares from the old Farriers Arms. This building reminds me of the Arms of Australia Inn Museum in Emu Plains. I try on a couple of beanies but none suit.
Emily Cottage, a small sandstone cottage thought to have been a Tollhouse is last on my list before the Campbelltown Arts Centre. A man on a ride-on mower stops for me to take a photo, and we both wait for the swirling dust to settle.
Campbelltown Arts Centre
The current exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre is “OK Democracy, We Need to Talk”. I have a quick walk through and see a few of the permanent works too.
Koshigaya, Campbelltown’s sister city in Japan gifted the Japanese Teahouse and garden to the Art Centre. There, I enjoy a warm spice tea before walking through the garden.
Quandong Cottage (now the Visitors Information Centre) was named after a native Quandong tree growing in the garden. In fact, the tree was a Kurrajong Tree and not a Quandong at all.
To end my exploration of Campbelltown, I walk to Marsden Park (also known as Park Central) to see the duck pond. The Campbelltown Private Hospital overlooks this lovely large park where various water birds wade in the water.
Returning to Campbelltown station, a police paddy wagon speeds past, sirens blaring soon followed by another. A few minutes later, a third, passes more slowly without a siren. The policeman driving looks at me as he takes a swig from his soft drink.
Preparations for the Winter Garden are well underway in Koshigaya Park. Rides are being prepared, food stalls erected and there’s even an ice rink. Adjacent to the park, Fishers Ghost Creek has a story to tell. You can do a ghost tour to find out more.
Thoughts on Campbelltown
Campbelltown is an interesting suburb. There is plenty of heritage to discover as well as a regional gallery and Japanese Garden. The train trip South is well worth it.