Experiment Farm Cottage

COVID-19 continues to be a public health risk for the community, particularly for those most vulnerable to infection. The National Trust (NSW) takes our duty of care for our staff, volunteers and the community very seriously. We have closed Experiment Farm Cottage until further notice and we are assessing how we can re-open our properties and maintain safe physical distancing and infection control on site.

History of Experiment Farm Cottage

The site of the first land grant, where James Ruse proved self-sufficiency was possible. He was followed by Surgeon John Harris, who built the cottage in 1835. Today it is furnished to provide an authentic insight into that time.

By 1791 Ruse had successfully farmed the 30 acre site as an experiment in self-sufficiency, proving that a new settler could feed and shelter his family with relatively little assistance to get started.

The Indian-style bungalow there today was built by Surgeon John Harris, who purchased the land from Ruse in 1793 for £40. It is thought to have been built by c1835. It is one of Australia’s oldest standing properties and features in an 1837 sketch and subsequent watercolour by Conrad Martens.

What will you see when you visit

The house is furnished to reflect the home of Surgeon Harris, with simple but elegant pieces from National Trust’s collection of early colonial furniture, the largest of its kind in Australia. In the year 2000, the National Trust landscaped and planted the immediate grounds, using evidence from early paintings, plant catalogues and photographs to recreate, as far as possible, an authentic setting for the cottage.

Experiment Farm Cottage is part of an historical precinct which includes Hambledon Cottage (1824), Elizabeth Farm (1793) and the Queen’s Wharf, all within easy walking distance of each other.

Children love exploring the life of Ruse’s family, learning about self sufficiency, Harris’ role as a colonial surgeon and the workings of an early colonial household. The cottage garden is a hands-on sensory garden. A friendly welcome awaits at Experiment Farm Cottage as you explore and embrace its past occupants’ stories.

There are also colonial-era games to play and costumes to try on. At Experiment Farm Cottage we have:

  • Quoits
  • Cup and ball
  • Wooden spinning tops
  • Aprons, mop-caps and convict shirts in children’s sizes.


Guided tours are available at Experiment Farm Cottage, and a permanent display in the cellar tells the story of the site in all phases of its occupation, from Indigenous and colonial to the present day.

Due to COVID-19, Experiment Farm Cottage remains closed until further notice. Please continue to visit our website for up to date information on the re-opening of property.

How to keep up to date with what’s on 

Please follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our eNews or monitor our online News posts for updates. We thank you in advance for your understanding that we are doing our bit to keep the community safe.


9 Ruse Street
Harris Park 2150 NSW


This property is closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


This property is closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(02) 9635 5655
Entry Fees:

National Trust Members FREE
Adult - $10
Family - $25
Concession/child - $8
Child under 5 years - FREE

COMBINED TICKETS - Entry to Experiment Farm Cottage AND Old Government House
(valid for one month)
Adult - $21
Family - $51
Concession/child - $15

What we offer:

Venue Hire

Venue Hire

The venue’s romantic veranda and gardens are a pleasant venue for wedding photography or small groups looking for an atmosphere of character and historic significance.


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