The Seed that Saved Sydney!

Through these programmes, students gain insight into different lives and key events in the history of the early colony, the hardships and achievements of James Ruse, a poor farmer, and the power and affluence of John Harris, a military surgeon. Comparisons will be made between colonial and indigenous ways of life, and how one impacted the other. Activities include seed-planting, early water-carrying techniques, plant identification (native and introduced) and colonial medicine-making and housekeeping.

Booking price includes downloadable pre- and post-visit lesson packs to help you get the best learning outcomes from your excursion to our iconic historic property.


Stage 1 – The Seed that Saved Sydney! 

History – Technology – Geography
Updated December 2019

Through hands-on activities and imaginative discussion, pupils will ‘travel back in time’. Plant corn on the very same land where James Ruse started growing his own food. Investigate the colonial house with period furnishings and artefacts, built on Experiment Farm by the wealthy surgeon John Harris and participate in housekeeping activities of his servants. Consider the differences in the lives of children and families then and now.

• Participate in growing crops: Turn the earth, plant seeds and learn what it was like to be James Ruse, the convict farmer who won his freedom by growing food which helped save the colony of New South Wales from starvation.ACHASSK044
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• Consider what is was like for the local Aboriginal inhabitants when they saw colonists like James Ruse make changes to their landscape.ACHASSK049HT 1-4
• Investigate what it was like to be Surgeon John Harris, a wealthy free settler. Explore the cottage he built and see how he and his family ate, slept, and communicated with the outside world.

Participate in tasks carried out by servants in the house. Consider the differences between lifestyle and technology in the early colony and today.
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• Discover how children worked and played in colonial Australia and contrast with how they live today.ACHASSK028
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Booking Information

Maximum number of students: 60

Teachers: minimum 1 to 10 pupils

Cost: $10 per student

Joint bookings with Old Government House programmes: $22 per pupil

Education Booking Enquiry - Parramatta

Booking Enquiry form for Old Government House & Experiment Farm Cottage

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Teacher's Resources

Resources for teachers planning an excursion to Experiment Farm Cottage.

Download Risk Assessment

Plan your visit

The Seed that Saved Sydney!


9 Ruse Street, Harris Park NSW 2150


First and third Friday and Saturday of the month
10.30am – 3.30pm, last entry 3pm


Friday, 4 April 2024

(02) 9635 8149
What we offer:

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