National Trust properties offer famillies a great chance to delve into Australian history and culture. These are the best ones that we have found.
1. Hou Wang Temple, Atherton, QLD
Hou Wang Temple in the Atherton Tablelands is the last timber and iron Chinese Temple in Australia. It was donated to National Trust of Australia (Queensland) [NTAQ] in 1979.
The temple has undergone meticulous repair in order to restore the structure to its unique, historical integrity.
Established in 1903 by the large population of Chinese residents living and working at Cedar Camp, the Hou Wang Temple was constructed with the typical Queensland materials of timber and corrugated iron.
Discover the beautifully preserved artefacts as you are guided by passionate volunteers, brimming with facts about this exceptional property.
It is rumoured to be the only existing temple dedicated to Hou Wang outside of China itself, making it a must-see for every visitor to Northern Queensland.
2. Zara Clark Museum, Charters Towers, QLD
The Zara Clark Museum houses some of Charters Towers’ most impressive memorabilia and artefacts. Gold mining once made Charters Towers the second biggest city in Queensland. During World War II ,the town was home to 15,000 soldiers.
This museum is home to displays on Charters Tower’s military presence during WWII, it’s medical history, agricultural equipment and even a section on what your grandmother’s kitchen would have looked like,.
Originally two separate properties, the first building was established in 1891 by Burns Philip & Co, and the second by Wright Heaton & Co. in 1901.
Engage with passionate volunteers and broaden the kids’ education with stories of wartime and home-life.
3. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Currumbin, QLD
Voted one of the Gold Coast’s most popular tourist destinations, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the crown jewel of the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) [NTAQ] properties.
Check out the work being done in the Wildlife Hospital and see hundreds of native Australian animals on display in natural bushland and rainforest settings.
Established in 1947 by beekeeper and flower-grower, Alex Griffiths, the origins of the park are rooted in conservation efforts. Instead of hunting or displacing the flocks of wild lorikeets residing in the region, Griffiths sought to redirect their attention from ravaging his prized blooms by providing regular feedings each day. Thus, a wildlife sanctuary was born.
Visitors can also have a birds-eye-view of our vets working and performing surgeries at the onsite Wildlife Hospital. With an annual intake of approximately 8,000 animals, the hospital is one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world.
4. Everglades House & Gardens, Leura, NSW
Discover acres of lushness and tranquillity in the form of the meticulously landscaped gardens of the Everglades House and Gardens. Situated on one of the highest points of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains of New South Wales, this property is breathtaking to behold in colour and detail.
Henri van de Velde commissioned Danish horticulturalist and landscaper, Paul Sorenson to design and create the Everglades in the 1930s. Sorenson had a reputation for enormous talent and sensitivity to the natural environment. The cooler climate of the Blue Mountains supported the European-style design and allowed imported flora to be integrated with native Australian flora. This combination of plants and the landscaping design were reminiscent of European gardens, but with a slice of Australia fitted seamlessly into place, the result was astoundingly beautiful and appealing to the wealthy patrons of the area.
Spend hours roaming the gardens, absorb the astonishingly beautiful views and soak up the tranquillity and peacefulness offered by perfectly maintained yet strikingly natural landscaping. Explore the grounds with the family and experience the serenity of art painting and photography, or relax in one of the tea rooms set in a bygone era.
5. Old Government House, Parramatta, NSW
Housing seven decades of former-Governors, Old Government House is one of 11 historic places that form the World Heritage Australian Convict Sites. A stunning, two- storey building on the Parramatta River, Old Government House vividly embodies the fashions and styles of 1821.
Although the foundational central block was built in 1799 by Governor John Hunter, most of the house that stands today was created by Governor and Mrs Macquarie during extensive renovations and extensions from 1810-1821. Once the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales) became trustee of the property in 1966, the decor was restored from the National Trust’s own collection of furniture from that time period.
Cross the threshold into the fashions of 1821, with fixtures and artefacts true to the era. Anglo and Indian influences are reflected through strong emphasis on colour throughout the house, which is a recreation of Mrs Macquarie’s personal tastes and styles.
6. Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne, VIC
Inside the haunted walls of Old Melbourne Gaol you will find the execution site of the infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly.
Established in 1839, Old Melbourne Gaol housed criminals for nearly a century, until its closure in 1929. During this time, 133 people were executed by hanging at the gaol.
Before acquisition by the National Trust of Australia in 1972, the gaol was briefly used as a WWII military prison for soldiers who were AWOL (away without leave).
Families can explore Melbourne’s oldest gaol cells, the execution area, the Old Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House. If you’re catering to older children or you have a taste for spooky adventure, there are night tours available to provide deeper insight to life inside the prison over a hundred years ago, complete with ghost tours and hangman stories.
7. Polly Woodside, Melbourne, VIC
All aboard the Polly Woodside for a voyage back in time to the 1800s!
This stunning and meticulously maintained sailing ship was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1885. The Polly Woodside traversed the globe for more than 80 years, covering 1.5 million kilometres and making 17 round-the-world trips.
It was sold to National Trust of Australia in 1968 for one cent. This beautiful ship was decommissioned from its commercial work and moored in Melbourne’s South Wharf precinct to be converted into a floating museum.
Families can discover what it was like to live on a commercial ship over a century ago by participating in guided tours and exploring the interactive artefacts gallery.
8. Barwon Park, Winchelsea, VIC
Barwon Park is one of the grandest properties in Victoria.
The forty-two bedroom, bluestone mansion was erected on a sheep and horse farm in the 1860s.
Built for Thomas and Elizabeth Austin, the stunning mansion hosted a legendary housewarming ball in 1821 upon completion. Thomas Austin’s death months later saw the decline of the mansion’s prominence.
Book a guided tour to explore the vastness of the stunning property. Families can admire delicate ironwork, grand staircases and stained-glass windows inside the property. Barwon Park holds regular kids activities and historical re-enactments.
9. Home Hill, Devonport, TAS
Home Hill is the beautifully preserved, Tasmanian home of former Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons and his family.
Lyons was the first Tasmanian to become Prime Minister of Australia. He was also the first Prime Minister to win three elections in a row. He guided the nation through the turbulent period of the Great Depression and World War II.
At Home Hill families can explore Lyon’s early twentieth-century home with its original furnishings. Browse century-old memorabilia. Explore the rooms that once housed 12 children, and discover the private lives of the family.
Built in 1916, the house is now staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, brimming with extra insight to connect you with Tasmanian life from many decades ago.
10. Old Umbrella Shop, Launceston, TAS
Now run as a boutique museum, the Old Umbrella Shop is a wonderful piece of Launceston’s colourful history. Pour over the amazing items that were once regularly sold over a century prior, many of which were manufactured right there in the store,
Built in the 1860s, the Old Umbrella Shop is the last store from the Victorian era left in Tasmania – and it’s still open for business.
Browse the dated merchandise or purchase some more modern versions of umbrellas, walking sticks, tea towels.