The Sydney Metro provides me with an easy ride all the way to its final stop, Tallawong, in Rouse Hill. It’s the reason I am exploring Rouse Hill today.
Taking the Sydney Metro
Being a Saturday for this, my first trip on the Sydney Metro, the station is quiet. Has anyone else noticed the little messages on the black strip on the glass partitions? “G’day Mate”, “Say hi to My neighbour”, “Hold My hand son”, “I’m More relaxed now”. The bold M a not so subtle ad for the Metro.
Sitting in the front carriage for an unobstructed view, I feel the speed of the train as it races through an uninteresting dark tunnel lights at regular intervals. From Bella Vista, the train emerges from the tunnel to travel high above ground. It’s a really easy and pleasurable way to get to Rouse Hill.
Walking to Rouse Hill Regional Park
After leaving the station, the first section of my walk is rather boring.
On my left, a simple brick house with yellow window bars stands empty, the front screen door jemmied open. The semi-rural scene on this side of the road contrasts strongly with the hive of activity over the road. Workers in fluoro vests and hard hats work busily on a massive building site, a new housing development.
Development in Rouse Hill
Life along this street is changing, with the nearby Metro and new developments popping up. Beyond the building site, cars come and go from a new townhouse development
Outside one property, a bag of horse poo sells for $2, requesting that the bag is returned. A sign on a pole advertises “House and Land Release”. Nearby another home stands empty, windows smashed and front door kicked in. Perhaps these empty homes stand on land scheduled for development.
Having missed the sign for my turn off amongst the temporary fencing and inadequate sidewalk, I retrace my steps. Back on track now, I walk past the townhouse development and in complete contrast, goats grazing on an empty block.
The yellow sign of a mother duck followed by three little chicks warns drivers to take care. I look down to see two adult Australian Wood Ducks waddling off along the footpath in front of me.
Rouse Hill Regional Park
Most people who visit Rouse Hill Regional Park would arrive by car. It’s quite a trek, and already I question my sanity as I enter the park via Iron Bark Ridge gate.
Two women decorate a pavilion with 40th Birthday Balloons. Another nearby pavilion will host an event later in the day. This park is a wonderful community resource.
Wide dirt paths form easy walking trails and I follow one enjoying the rural air. Looking through the back fence of Rouse Hill Farm I see rusted old cars, patched up outhouses and other farm buildings. What a pity I have to walk all the way around the block to reach Rouse Hill House and Farm.
Walking to Rouse Hill House and Farm
Four long narrow tin sheds lined with blue plastic sheeting neighbour the Park. I suspect it’s a chicken farm. Actually, it’s a “layer” farm (chickens laying eggs for commercial consumption).
Numerous little ponds and wetland support birdlife and bird calls accompany me as my feet crunch the gravel road. There is no footpath.
I am saddened to find rubbish dumped alongside the road. A bag of clothes, an old bench and even a television. When Councils offer rubbish collection services, why do people do this?
A dead fox lies on the roadside, its lush pelt shining in the sun. A pest, I know, but beautiful nevertheless.
Rouse Hill House and Farm
By luck rather than by design, Rouse Hill House is open and it’s a few minutes before the 11am tour. I join a couple of dads with their young sons, and another couple with their two children for the tour.
Standing on a dirt road between Rouse Hill House and a little school, Alex our guide, tells us that this is the historic old Windsor Road. She reminds us that the Darug people inhabited this land long before the Rouse and Terry families lived in the house behind us.
The school, until recently a public school with computers and whiteboards has been returned to the look and feel of a school house over 100 years ago.
Rouse Hill House, built in symmetrical Georgian Style (even incorporating a false door and window to maintain the symmetry), was home to seven generations of the Rouse and Terry family. The last resident, Gerald Terry, left in 1993.
We tour the downstairs of the house noting the mixture of decorative features from wallpaper of the early 1800s to curtaining from the 1950s, an early television set and a relatively modern cane chair.
The home remains as it was when Gerald Terry left. There’s a hole in the ceiling of a hallway, roughly patched with a board and another section where the plaster has fallen exposing bare wooden strips.
Suburban Rouse Hill
Leaving Rouse Hill House, I make my way along and then under busy Windsor Road en route to Aberdoon House. Dogs play on the oval at Connie Lowe Reserve while their owners chat and sip on their take away coffee.
The pleasant path passes through a grassed area with houses on either side. A boy practices basketball in his driveway, a man waters his garden and the tinkling sounds of piano practice reach me from over a fence.
An old flag advertises “Historic Aberdoon House Cafe and Gallery”. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. The simple old colonial Georgian cottage, today houses the Norwest Disability Group.
The Bushland Corridor Walk
From Aberdoon House, I follow the Bushland Corridor walk, passing a large lizard mosaic and a disconcerting snake warning sign. Sandstone installations feature local birds. The word “vulnerable” carved into a sandstone slab beneath the Square Tailed Eagle installation is particularly apt. Someone has removed the eagle.
The walk, alongside a lake and through trees and bushland is pleasant and quiet. There’s hardly anyone around. I pass a fenced off gravestone of an unknown person who possibly worked in the area as a farmhand and the remains of the “Lori” Pump Shed built in 1954.
The clouds thicken and darken. The air chills somewhat, as I pass large established homes on one side with the lake on the other. I hope it doesn’t rain.
Leaving the bush behind now, the walk takes me along Mile End Road on the edge of suburbia. A group of young people throw a boomerang in a vacant block alongside what appears to be a community centre. Actually, it’s the Mile End Church. The Seventh Day Adventist Service has ended and the congregation socialising.
Rouse Hill Heritage Cemetery
My walk has brought me full circle, back to Aberdoon House and I’m hoping to find a café for a bite to eat. Instead, I discover the Rouse Hill Heritage Cemetery.
Fresh white and yellow chrysanthemums grace the graves of Sophia and Thomas Sargeant who died in 1934 and 1944 aged 69 and 76 respectively. I find graves from 1887, 1970 and even 2016 when urgent calling from birds in the background turns into hysterical cries.
Two spur-winged plovers, not at all happy with my presence dive bomb me repeatedly. I hunch my shoulders, bow my head and waving my hat above my head, beat a hasty retreat back to the road.
Shopping in Rouse Hill
Rouse Hill Village Centre is just another shopping village and I continue along Windsor Road wondering why the signage outside “The Terrace” includes a South African Flag.
Only when I get home do I discover that I have missed out on visiting a shop whose South African products would have me reminiscing about my childhood in South Africa.
Heritage Pub on Windsor Road
I walk past fast food outlets on Windsor Road with their meal deals until The Fiddler comes into view. This historic heritage listed pub has changed considerably, but the section fronting onto Windsor Road remains more or less as it was.
The veranda with wooden columns and a scalloped valance, displays signage reflecting its earlier incarnations as The Royal Oak and The Mean Fiddler.
Further on, Rouse Hill Town Centre is just like any other big shopping centre. I have a quick coffee at the Blends and Brothers Barber Café where barbers shape hair in one corner while in another section customers enjoy their coffee.
Reflecting on my day in Rouse Hill
Rouse Hill Metro Station is only a short walk away, and in less than five minutes I take a seat on the driverless train, reflecting on my day in Rouse Hill. While I would return to Rouse Hill House and I enjoyed the bush walk, perhaps doing both in one day without a car was a bit too adventurous.