Retford Park is located on Gundungurra Country and has a European history extending back to land grants made to Edward Riley Snr by Governor Macquarie in 1821. The grand house was built in 1887 by merchant and stockbreeder, Samuel Hordern and his wife Jane nee Booth, and designed by Sydney architect, Albert Bond.
In 1964, James Fairfax AC, former chairman of John Fairfax Ltd (later known as Fairfax Media), bought Retford Park and transformed the agricultural property into a gentleman’s estate. Mr Fairfax was a well-known champion of the arts and generous philanthropist. He always believed that Retford Park should be preserved for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations and in 2016 he gifted his historic home and its magnificent gardens to the National Trust (NSW). To learn about the history of Retford Park, visit the James Fairfax Foundation website.
How to get here
Retford Park is located at 1325 Old South Road, Bowral NSW.
By car: Head up Merrigang Street from Bong Bong Street, the main street in Bowral, then follow to the end of Merrigang and turn right at the ‘T’ intersection.
Watch for the Retford Park white gates – the second driveway on the left. Car parking is available on site.
If you have booked a house tour, please allow at least 15 minutes to get from the entrance gates to the main house to avoid the disappointment of missing the tour.
Planning ahead is the best way to get the most out of your visit to Retford Park. Here, you’ll find answers to some of our most frequently-asked questions about visiting.
When should I visit?
Retford Park is a standout Southern Highlands NSW attraction every season of the year. The gardens are a wonder to walk through for autumn colour, while in winter the ‘winter walk’ comes to life with daphne, snowdrops, witch hazel, bergenia and honeysuckle. Spring brings prolific displays of peonies, azaleas and rhododendrons. Summer is equally special for picnics under the shady canopy of Retford Park’s huge oak trees.
Can I access the house during my visit?
House access is by guided tour only at set times. There are limited tickets available to view Retford Park house, so we recommend you pre-book your house tour ahead of your visit. Our experienced guides will introduce you to the former residence of James Fairfax AC and share the stories behind the incredible collection of 16th, 17th & 18th Century furniture, fine art and textiles that lie within. House tour tickets also include garden access. Book your house tour.
How much time do I need?
To fully appreciate the thirty hectares of beautiful grounds, we recommend that you allow at least 45 minutes for the garden, and at least two hours for exploring the house and garden at Retford Park. If you’d also like to take in the art attractions at Ngununggula, the Southern Highlands Regional Gallery, please allow extra time for this as well.
What should I wear?
To stay comfortable during your visit, we recommend that you bring warm clothing and a waterproof jacket in case it gets chilly. You’ll also need to wear sturdy shoes that are suitable for walking outdoors. If you’re planning to drop in during the winter months, we also recommend bringing a beanie, scarf and gloves so you can enjoy the garden.
Will children enjoy visiting?
Retford Park is a very family-friendly outing and ideal for children of all ages. On arrival, children can collect a self-led art trail map that will guide them around the garden to interesting sculptures, plants and even a historic dog cemetery! Bring a picnic and enjoy a day out in nature.
Can I bring my pet?
Well-behaved dogs on leash are very welcome in our dog-friendly gardens. Please make sure to clean up after your dog with bins provided.
Can i organise a group visit?
Groups are more than welcome at Retford Park. To book a group visit click here.
Can I hire a venue for my special event?
Retford Park has picturesque gardens for weddings and special events. To enquire about venue hire, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (02) 4861 1933.