Brush Farm House is a rare, State significant example of an early Colonial mansion in the Ryde area. Built by prominent colonial figure Gregory Blaxland, it is indicative of his position and status within the colony. With his brother John, he was involved in a wide variety of agricultural pursuits and early agricultural experimentation in the colony. Among innovations at Brush Farm was the establishment of the first vineyard in Australia, which has produced an award winning vintage by the 1820s.
The house reflects the changing fortunes of the family and fashions of the 19th century, with significant additions following Blaxland's successes in the 1830s and the 'Victorianisation'' of the building by Blaxland's grandson William Forster in the late 19th century. Forster was a prominent figure in NSW politics, briefly serving as Premier of NSW for five months in 1859-1860 and serving in various capacities in Parliament until his death in 1882.
The conversion of the building to the Carpentarian Boys Academy in 1894 reflects the changing social attitudes towards orphaned children. The academy was established to train boys in useful agricultural skills and trades, to prepare them for their adult life. When the academy relocated to Mount Penang c1912, the site was given over to a variety of Government run institutions, including a home for single mothers and later for delinquent girls. The majority of these institutional phases were reflected in outbuildings which were demolished for the construction of the Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy in the 1960s.
Fabric remains from all periods of use, from the c1816 original core of the house through to the timber hall added in the institutional phases. While presently in poor condition, the building can be conserved to its c1901 state, retaining elements of all phases of use. (DPWS et al, 2001)
A highly significant cultural and natural landscape resource exists beyond the building of Brush Farm House which includes rare remnant vineyard terracing of exceptional national heritage significance (particularly in coincidence with a largely intact early homestead); remnant Wianamatta Shale-based rainforest which is rare in the Northern Sydney district; areas of wet sclerophyll forest which are identified as an endangered ecological community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act; a potentially significant archaeological resource extenting to the Department of Corrective Services Site (to the north and northeast), Lawson Street (south), and Brush Farm Park (south) which has the capacity to demonstrate important aspects of the development of the former estate from the 1810s to the present; and remnant view connections between Brush Farm House and the Parramatta River and its environs as well as the Parramatta district and the Blue Mountains. (Britton et al, 2004)
Brush Farm has historic significance for its associations with Gregory Blaxland, explorer and viticulturist, and its place in the development of an Australian wine industry. Blaxland imported grape vines in 1805 and, after many setbacks, produced tolerable wine in 1816 from Brush Farm. The Royal Society of Arts in London awarded its silver medal to Blaxland in 1823 for his colonial wine and in 1828 he received its gold medal. Blaxland's vines, from cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope, covered 3.5acres of his farm Brush Farm. (Liston, 1981) Gregory Blaxland's vineyard was once described as the finest in the colony (Everett, 2004, rephrased).
Source:NSW Heritage Branch
Marsden Road, Eastwood, NSW