Experiment Farm Cottage is on the lands of the Burramatta Dharug people, and is the site of the first land grant in Australia, made in 1790 by Governor Phillip to the former convict James Ruse.
After working on the Government Farm at Rose Hill, in 1789 James Ruse asked Governor Phillip for a Land Grant on which to start farming for himself. The Governor allowed him one and half acres as an experiment in self-sufficiency. By 1790 Ruse had successfully farmed wheat, maize and established a kitchen garden, proving that a new settler could feed and shelter his family with relatively little assistance to get started. As a result, Phillip honoured his promise and granted Ruse 30 acres of land.
The Indian-style bungalow on the site 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 and is one of Australia’s oldest standing properties, featuring in an 1837 sketch and subsequent watercolour by Conrad Martens.
In July 1963, the National Trust opened Experiment Farm Cottage as a house museum – the first of its kind dedicated to Australian colonial furniture and lifestyle. This became a blue print for the many house museums to come across Australia.
In 2000 the National Trust worked with Parramatta Council to undertake a major project to remove twentieth century encroachments which had changed the rural context and character of the property. The surrounding grounds were landscaped and planted using evidence from early paintings, plant catalogues and photographs to recreate an authentic setting for the cottage and in 2023 additional works restored the view to the creek. Today the bungalow at Experiment Farm Cottage is furnished to reflect the home of Surgeon Harris, with pieces from the National Trust’s significant collection of early colonial furniture.
How to get here
Experiment Farm Cottage is located at 9 Ruse Street, Harris Park NSW 2150.
By public transport: Experiment Farm Cottage is a 10-minute walk from Harris Park station or 15-minute walk from Parramatta train station. Ferries run from Sydney to Parramatta Wharf. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to the site.
By car: Experiment Farm Cottage is easily accessed from the M4 motorway just 30 minutes from Sydney CBD or Penrith. There is a small car park adjacent to the Cottage and ample on-street parking as well. Bus Parking is available at the rear of the Cottage on Alice Street.
Planning ahead is the best way to get the most out of your visit to Experiment Farm Cottage. Here, you’ll find answers to some of our most frequently-asked questions about visiting.
When should I visit?
Experiment Farm Cottage is a great way to immerse yourself in history and ideal for visiting all year round. In warm weather, bring along a picnic to enjoy in the pretty cottage gardens.
How much time do I need?
To fully appreciate Experiment Farm Cottage and its extensive history, we recommend that you allow at least an hour for your visit.
Will children enjoy visiting?
A trip to Experiment Farm Cottage is a great day out for children. They’ll enjoy learning about the life of Ruse’s family and the workings of an early colonial household, plus there’s a hands-on sensory cottage garden that’s perfect for exploring.
What else can I see and do nearby?
Lots! Elizabeth Farm and Hambledon Cottage are within 10 minutes walking distance. A 30-minute stroll along the accessible Parramatta River walk will take you to the nearby National Trust property, Old Government House.
Can I bring my pet?
Everyone is welcome at Experiment Farm Cottage, however we are unable to accommodate pets (excluding assistance animals). Thank you for understanding.
Are there guided tours?
Our team of passionate volunteers can offer guided tours of Experiment Farm Cottage. There is also a permanent display in the cellar that tells the story of the site in all phases of its occupation, from Indigenous and colonial to the present day.
Can tour groups visit?
Groups are more than welcome at Experiment Farm Cottage. To book a group visit, call (02) 9635 8149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it wheelchair accessible?
Wheelchair access is available via the rear gate, a ramp is available at the rear step to the cottage. There is no wheelchair access available to the cellar.
Can I hire Experiment Farm Cottage for an event?
The romantic veranda and gardens are a beautiful venue for wedding photography or small groups looking for an atmosphere of character and historic significance. For more information, please visit our Venue Hire page.