“Where’s the stupid turn?” I asked, sunblock sliding down my neck like gasoline floating off a freshly rained road. My collar bones weren’t going to match my face for long.
“Didn’t you draw a map?” Barret replied.
I hadn’t; I also hadn’t brought water. “I think it’s just a little bit further.”
After another grueling series of rolling hills we stopped under the only patch of shade along the rural road. The sun beat down and heated up the cow patties like aromatherapy discs. I pulled my notebook out of my backpack and we re-read my directions. “Hmm…” Barret’s eyebrow cocked up. “We were supposed to turn at that intersection back there.”
When Barret and I finally arrived we were drenched in sweat. It was worth it though- the historic home was a true country escape.
Since the early 1800s, the Rouse Hill House and Farm had been continuously lived in until the sixth generation owners moved out in 1993. The reason the house is so special is because, “chairs from the 1840s sit beside textiles from the 1950s, grand tour paintings sit above mantelpieces crowded with photographs and mementos, and a 1960s television sits in a room whose walls were papered half a century earlier.”
Considering my nasty habit of breaking antiques (with feather dusters of all things!), I was impressed at the way the Rouse’s had preserved their heirlooms.
Although the family was riding high during the 1800s, by the time the fifth generation had come into stewardship there had been an economic depression and fortunes had been squandered (twice). By the early 1930s there were only two major heirs to the estate: Nina and her sister Kathleen. However, Nina became the sole trustee after her sister was murdered under mysterious circumstances in Manchuria while rendezvousing with her Latvian lover. This sent the gossip circles into a tizzy.
Nina remained the trustee until her death in 1963. Because she was not wealthy (at least by previous standards), she never remodeled or updated her furniture. In fact, during her later years Nina began to recognize the historic value of the property and it was her son Gerald, the last occupant, who gave the property over to the NSW government.
Thankfully it was a lot easier to ride back to the train station. Barret and I coasted downhill past sleepy red brick homes with scorched yards, past small shops with bad fonts, past the ubiquitous Chinese restaurant in every rural town, and onto the train station platform.
The station was empty except for a mother her son sitting on a wood bench. Five minutes before the train arrived, three men crossed the tracks on horseback. Clip clop clip clop. The sound of the hooves faded down the main street. I didn’t think that a town connected to the Sydney metro could be so country, but I was wrong. Maybe time just runs slower in Rouse Hill.
How to get to Rouse Hill House and Farm: 356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill NSW 2155