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.

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.

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; Indigenous and colonial to the present day.

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.


9 Ruse Street
Harris Park 2150 NSW


Open: Wed - Sun 10.30am – 3.30pm
Last tour 3:00pm
Mon and Tues – available for Group bookings only


Mondays, Tuesdays, Good Friday, Christmas Day

(02) 9635 5655
Entry Fees:

National Trust Members FREE
Adult $9.00
Family $22.00
Groups $7.00 per person
Child (5 years- 16 years) $4.00
Concession: (Seniors, Students over 16) $7.00

COMBINED TICKETS - Entry to both Experiment Farm Cottage and Old Government House
(valid for one month)
Adult $16.00
Family $38.00
Groups $12.00 per person
Child $6:00
Concession $12:00

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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