Restoring Varroville’s Colonial Past

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria is committed to recognising and celebrating the value of Macarthur Memorial Park’s heritage. Even before the site was fully acquired we acted to stabilise the heritage structures which had been left abandoned by previous parties.

The property of Varroville was established in 1809, and the outbuildings on the site include a barn, dairy, wool press, water tank and quarters for horse-drawn carriages, which was converted into a shed for machinery. The cottage and slab hut provided accommodation. The timber slab hut may have been occupied firstly by the eminent scholar and scientist, Robert Townson (1762-1827), while he established the property. The former coach house was built between 1830-1860.

This site played an important role in NSW’s pastoral history. Dr Robert Townsend established it as pasturage with orchards and one of the colonies first vineyards.

Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria was awarded a Heritage Grant from the NSW Government to assist in the first stage of building restoration, which were recently further damaged through vandalism. The first stage is remediation works and preventative measures to stop further deterioration. This will be witnessed and documented by a heritage architect and overseen by the Heritage Council.

Varroville and one of Australia’s Greatest Explorers; Charles Sturt.

Captain Charles Sturt, explorer, soldier and public servant owned the property from 1836-1839. He purchased the property following his marriage in 1834, having conducted expeditions of the Macquarie, Darling, Castlereagh, Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers and Norfolk Island.

One of the attractions of Varro Ville was the gardens and orchards, as he described himself an ‘enthusiastic horticulturist’. He was a passionate ornithologist and in 1838, the celebrated bird artist John Gould visited Sturt seeking to purchase his watercolours, which he refused.

Sturt led a party of cattle overland to Adelaide in 1838, and was subsequently appointed Surveyor General, South Australia, which led to the sale of the property. The sale notice for the property in 1839, mentions additional outbuildings and improvements to the water supply, as he was thought to have established dams for conservation.

Sturt’s legacy at Varroville will be commemorated on site through:

  • Educational displays
  • Timeline walk
  • Mapping his NSW expedition
  • Family life on the estate
  • Internal road name
  • Ornithology plantings (to attract plants)

The Future – Macarthur Memorial Park

With works due to commence at Macarthur Memorial Park in late 2022, the first cemetery to be built in Sydney in over 80 years is a step closer.The memorial park will be distinctly landscaped over 113 hectares and provide 136,000 burial plots, discreetly located in ‘burial rooms’ that are surrounded by hedges slightly higher than the headstones.

The memorial park  will include 36 hectares of open green space with seven kilometres of walking tracks with picnic areas, a vineyard, a sculpture park and café. There will also be an architecturally designed chapel, that can accommodate everything from intimate gatherings  through to larger services.

The traditional owners are providing insight into the cultural significance of the site. A ‘story day’ with indigenous locals was held to gather detailed information and specific places that are of significant cultural and historic value. Many of these stories such as The Six Seasons will become part of the story boards and walks that will populate the memorial park.

For more information visit

Write A Comment