Retford Park: The Art of Giving

This extraordinary exhibition in the main house at Retford Park is the centrepiece of a month of celebration of the arts, culture and Fairfax’s remarkable philanthropy.

See below for the different ways to experience this ticketed event.

The Art of Giving brings nineteen life-size reproductions of iconic Australian art back to Retford Park to hang amongst his collection of furniture and decorative arts which are still housed at Retford Park. Fairfax donated the originals, the likes of John Olsen, Charles Blackman, Tony Tuckson, Fred Williams and Russell Drysdale, to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. This is a unique opportunity to experience museum-quality prints in the 19th-century mansion. This event is supported by the National Gallery of Australia, in acknowledgement of the ongoing legacy of James Fairfax.

Outside the main house visitors can discover a satellite exhibition of the Artists of the Round Yard Inc. This is a creative group of painters, sculptors, printmakers, jewellery and ceramic artists, based at Retford Park. Their art unfolds around the main house, in the gallery, a garden courtyard, and the exquisitely-built round yard, hence the group’s name.

Retford Park celebrates James Fairfax’s gifts to Australia, and many, many other instances of ‘giving back’.

(Image Credit: Tony Tuckson – Large shapes, red black – © Tony Tuckson/Copyright Agency, 2018 – National Gallery of Australia, Canberra)


Tickets will be available from 1 September

  • Official Opening – 10 November – Bookings Essential

Be the first to celebrate the remarkable gift of the late Mr James Fairfax AC. Join us for the official opening of The Art of Giving. Enjoy champagne and canapés as you wander through the main house. See the legacy left by the man himself, and get a glimpse into life at his country home. A curator of Australian Art from the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, will officially open the exhibition.


  • Daytime Tours – Selected dates between 11 and 30 November – Bookings Essential

In the splendour of Spring at Retford Park, enjoy a tour of a rare exhibition: The Art of Giving. See 19 life-size reproductions of paintings donated to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra – gifts from Mr James Fairfax. This is the first time these will be seen, not only together, but in the home of the man who gave them.


  • Sunset Tours – Selected dates between 14 and 29 November – Bookings Essential

As the sun begins to fall during November, Scott Pollock, Manager of Retford Park and a huge fan of Australian art and Mr James Fairfax, will guide you through the estate. This is an exclusive opportunity to see the Fairfax legacy, his art and country home. Finish the evening with canapés and champagne as the sun sets over Retford Park.


  • Dinner for 40 guests – 16 November – Bookings Essential

Retford Park opens its doors to host an evening event, planned to the finest detail. You will be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine, followed by a sumptuous meal, fine wine and local chocolates. Take in the ambience of Retford Park with flowers picked fresh from the garden. A special guest, a curator of Australian Art from the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, will join the dinner party for an open-ended discussion about the main house exhibition, The Art of Giving, and the enduring gifts of Mr James Fairfax AC.


  • Intimate Dinner for 10 – 23 and 24 November – Bookings Essential

Not often does Retford Park offer the opportunity to dine in one of the most famous Dining Rooms of the Southern Highlands. This will only happen twice throughout this unique exhibition. On the 23rd and 24th of November, you will park outside of the 19th Century mansion, your car will be parked as you enter the main welcoming room to commence an evening that will give you an intimate glimpse of – His art – His home – His legacy. It will be a night to remember. Your host of the night will be the manager of Retford Park, Scott Pollock and his partner Dion Hall.


  • Syrian Children – edited by Ben Quilty – 25 November – Bookings Essential

On the last weekend of The Art of Giving, Archibald prize winner and war artist, Ben Quilty joins us at Retford Park. He will talk about the book he edited, Drawings by Syrian Children. This is a recent project, a collection of heartbreaking and awe-inspiring drawings created by young survivors of war. It is a testament to the resilience of this generation, and childhoods shaped by trauma and conflict.Ben Quilty’s project joins the event as an act of giving back. Proceeds from the sale of this book support World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces, early childhood and basic education projects in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

  • Tickets – Adults $15; National Trust members free
    Book Here


  • Artists of the Round Yard Exhibition, 10 November – 2 December 2018

The Art of Giving includes the inaugural exhibition of 25 artists: Artists of the Round Yard Inc., a group based at Retford Park.  A complement to the main event, the Artists of the Round Yard create their own interpretations of The Art of Giving. Their art unfolds around the estate and main house: inside the Fairfax gallery, through a garden courtyard, and into the exquisitely-built round yard – hence the group’s name. See more at – National Trust entry fees will apply.  No booking required.

  • The magnificent gardens that surround the main house will be open throughout the event from Wednesday to Sunday – 10am to 4pm.  National Trust entry fees will apply. No booking required.

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Image Credits

Charles Blackman - The Anteroom - © Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency, 2018 - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Frederick McCubbin – Sunset Glow - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Fred Williams – Water pond in a landscape 1 - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Tony Tuckson - Large shapes, red black - © Tony Tuckson/Copyright Agency, 2018 - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra


1325 Old South Road, Bowral
Directions: Head up Merrigang Street from Bong Bong Street, the main street in Bowral.
Follow to the end of Merrigang and turn right at the ‘T’ intersection.
Watch for the Retford Park white gate, the second driveway on the left.


Open Gardens:
The gardens will open on the first weekend of each month from 10am to 4pm.

Please note: if the first of the month falls on a Sunday, it is that weekend that the garden and/or house is open to the public.

House Tours:
Tours of the house are available on the Open Garden weekends in February, May, August and September.
Bookings are essential.
The gardens are part of this ticket price - open from 10am to 4pm.

* Retford Park will also host a number of special events throughout the year – all will be listed on this page.*


Christmas and New Year
Australia Day
Anzac Day
Queen's Birthday

(02) 48611933
Entry Fees:

Open Garden entry fees:
Adults - $15
Concession (including children) - $10
National Trust members - Free
Family - $35

Open Garden and House entry fees: (Bookings are essential)
Please see link below in the ‘What’s On’ section.
Adult - $25
Concession (including children) - $18
National Trust members -$15

(Sorry, there are no 'House Only' tickets.)

What we offer: