Cultural heritage

When in the mid-1980s it appeared that Australia’s oldest three-storey building, Parramatta’s Female Orphan School (1813), might fall prey to decay and over-development, the University was approached as a possible provider of a sustaining but sympathetic alternate use.  This ‘grand old’ representation of the Macquarie colonial vision can now look forward to its bicentenary as a fully restored gallery and library, open to the public.  From only slightly later, the University’s Nirimba campus sits alongside the original Colebee land grant, the first listed for an Indigenous person, and the heart of the original ‘Black Town’ settlement. The University has, from its forebears forward, retained a special sense of vocation with regard to Indigenous education.  Further to the Northwest along Richmond Road, the University also carries on the tradition of NSW’s first Agricultural College. Founded in 1891, the Hawkesbury Agricultural College lands include many buildings of historic importance, including the Walter Vernon designed Stable Square (built 1895, later restored by Phillip Cox Architects) and the Quadrangle buildings (1895+).  Its graduates have enlivened and strengthened Australia’s rural industries for over 120 years, both in practice and in research. On the other side of the Prospect Common, after the Dawkins reforms of 1989, the tradition and innovation combined with the absorption of a much younger institution (Nepean College of Advanced Education (CAE), founded 1969, and then refounded by merger in 1973), and the Macquarie Bligh/ O’Connell grants of Frogmore/ Werrington Park and Coallee. Further south yet, in October 1989, the University also became heir to the legacy of Macarthur Institute of Higher Education, a direct outcome of Whitlam’s agitation for educational extension to the Southwest, first at Milperra (1974) and then Campbelltown (1984-5).