Top 10 National Trust Properties in Australia

Parks & playgrounds galore
January 29, 2017
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February 8, 2017

1. Hou Wang Temple, Atherton, QLD

Nestled amongst the tropical lushness of the Atherton Tablelands sits the last timber and iron Chinese Temple in Australia, the Hou Wang Temple. 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 and ensure locals and tourists alike can explore and appreciate the cultural heritage within.

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 within the temple as you are guided by passionate volunteers who are brimming with facts and information 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

In an era when gold mining had Charters Towers flourishing as the second biggest city in Queensland, two adjacent buildings were built to cater to the booming population. Skip forward to present day and the Zara Clark Museum houses some of Charters Towers’ most impressive memorabilia and artefacts. With displays on everything from the military presence during WWII, to medical history of the period, to agricultural equipment to what your grandmother’s kitchen would have looked like, this museum encompasses over a century of uniquely rich cultural heritage.

Originally two separate properties, the first of the buildings that makes up the museum was established in 1891 by Burns Philip & Co, and the second by Wright Heaton & Co. in 1901. Within the beautifully maintained museum there are objects, photographs, machinery and stories to intrigue everyone from history buffs to young children.

Engage with passionate volunteers and broaden the kids’ education by hearing of war stories and life in Charters Towers when 15,000 soldiers were based there during WWII. With equipment still intact and functional, prepare to lose yourself in the drama and excitement that was Charters Towers over a century ago.

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. With Blinky Bill now present for daily shows, the amazing viewing experiences available at the Wildlife Hospital and hundreds of native Australian animals on display in natural bushland and rainforest settings, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the ultimate holiday adventure for the entire family.

Established in 1947 by beekeeper and flower-grower, Alex Griffiths, the very 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.

Explore the exhibits with the kids, cuddle a koala, meet Blinky Bill, take a Segway Safari and get up close and personal for a #kangarooselfie in the Roo Paddock! Visitors can also have a bird’s-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.

Commissioned by Henri van de Velde in the 1930s, Danish horticulturalist and landscaper, Paul Sorenson, was selected to design and create the Everglades due to his enormous talent and sensitivity to the site’s natural atmosphere. 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

Experience endless intrigue within the haunted walls of Old Melbourne Gaol; execution site of the infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly. With guided tours running both day and night, this property is undoubtedly one of the National Trust of Australia’s most popular locations to explore!

Established in 1839, Old Melbourne Gaol housed criminals for nearly a century, until its closure in 1929. During this period, 133 people were hung at the gaol, which adds to the seriously-spooky atmosphere! Before acquisition by the National Trust of Australia in 1972, the gaol was also opened briefly during WWII as a military prison for soldiers who were AWOL (away without leave).

Explore Melbourne’s oldest gaol cells, 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, hangman stories and more!

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 is brimming with adventures and history fit to enthral everyone from kids to parents to seniors, and everyone in between!

Built in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1885, the Polly Woodside traversed the globe for over 80 years, covering 1.5 million kilometres and making 17 round-the-world trips. After being sold to National Trust of Australia in 1968 for just 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. Before this, the Polly Woodside had been the oldest square-rigged, deep-water commercial ship still afloat in the Australasia region!

Discover what it was like to live on a commercial ship over century ago by participating in a guided tour, exploring the interactive artefacts gallery, taking in the extraordinary short film and engaging with the enthusiastic crew! From theatrical performances to educational programs, the Polly Woodside is a must-see while in Melbourne.

8. Barwon Park, Wilchelsea, VIC

Be transported inside this majestic, forty-two bedroom, bluestone mansion resting in the Victorian countryside. With the house and stables both in original condition, Barwon Park remains one of the grandest properties in the area.

Despite being erected on a sheep and horse farm in the 1860s, Barwon Park was the epitome of Victorian elegance and was originally intended to be one of the leading entertaining seats of the colony. Built for Thomas and Elizabeth Austin, the stunning mansion hosted a legendary housewarming ball in 1821 upon completion. However, Thomas Austin’s death months later saw the decline of the mansion’s prominence, until it was bequeathed to the National Trust of Australia by the Batsons, who resided there after the Austins.

Book a guided tour to explore the vastness of the stunning property and connect with the elegance and history that resonates from its bluestone walls. Discover delicate ironwork, grand staircases, stained-glass windows, interior arches, nature walks and more when you visit this breathtaking location. With readily available kids activities, historical re-enactments and refreshments onsite, Barwon Park caters to the whole family’s needs!

9. Home Hill, Devonport, TAS

Explore the beautifully preserved, Tasmanian home of former Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons and his family. As the first Tasmanian Prime Minister of Australia, and the first Prime Minister to win three elections in a row, Lyons and his wife, Enid, were responsible for guiding the nation through the turbulent period of the Great Depression and World War II.

Witness an early twentieth-century home brilliantly preserved with its original furnishings, nestled in amongst beautiful gardens. Browse century-old memorabilia, explore the rooms that once housed 12 children, and discover the private lives behind two of Australia’s most outstanding politicians.

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 an iconic 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 and more when you pass the beautiful display windows to enter the store constructed of Tasmanian Blackwood. Now manned by enthusiastic volunteers, there is enormous history and cultural heritage to be discovered within this quaint store from the past.

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