Who remembers visiting Old Sydney Town growing up? While it may no longer exist (though there are talks of re-opening it), the Australiana Pioneer Village is a great way for primary school kids to step back in time and experience life of days gone by. Located near Windsor, with an affordable entry fee and nice picnic spots, it also makes for a lovely family day out for kids of all ages. And my preschoolers found a lot of it fascinating and enjoyed the adventure.
The important and exceptional thing to keep in mind about the Australian Pioneer Village is that it is totally run by volunteers. Each week they keep our history alive by dressing up and giving their time to re-create a living, working Australian 19th century village. And this is part of the charm of the Australiana Pioneer Village for me. It has a lovely relaxed feel and slower pace, plus presented with love and not driven by profits. But it does also mean that sometimes things don’t run to time or may not be available. And to get the most out of your visit, make sure you engage with the volunteers and what is there.
The Australiana Pioneer Village is as the name suggests a village, with a main street full of original buildings moved from historic sites around the Hawkesbury region. You can wander into the various buildings and see firsthand what life was like over a century ago.
Most of the shops that are open have products available for sale from honey and lollies to jewellery and souvenirs. There is also a vegetable garden and chickens. If you are lucky, you will be offered some free produce that were harvested that day. On our recent visit, they were giving away lovely zucchinis and homemade lemonade.
Along the street you will also find wooden stocks that you can put the kids in – or yourself.
And there is also a coin game outside the information centre that kept my boys busy while we waited for the animal feed walk to start.
Beyond the main street, there are a number of other buildings to see as well as lots of open space, farm animals and the Bushells Lagoon.
Activities and Facilities
Depending on when you go, there are a different set of activities that you can join in or watch, which are included in the entry fee. The standard Sunday program has a village tour, animal feed walk and re-enactments as well as Blacksmith demonstrations. Unfortunately at the moment, they are without a shearer so there are no shearing demonstrations.
They also have special days to mark various occasions, like St Patrick’s Day and Easter. And put on related activities, like an Easter egg hunt.
We really enjoyed the Blacksmith demonstrations as well as animal feed walk on our last trip. And for an extra $1, you can get a bag of animal feed for the goats and sheep, plus a carrot for the ponies.
You have three choices for lunch and snacks when visiting Australiana Pioneer Village.
- Damper Camp, at the bottom end of the main street, has Devonshire teas, Ploughmans platters as well as other hot and cold food and drinks. I enjoyed a Devonshire tea but hubby didn’t enjoy his coffee unfortunately.
- Oxboro Inn, near the entrance, serves burgers, wraps, fish and chips as well as hot and cold drinks.
- BYO picnic or BBQ lunch and there are lots of picnic tables.
There are two other activities on offer at Australiana Pioneer Village that cost a small additional fee. You can go on a horse and carriage ride down the main street and around to the lagoon for $4 per person.
And a crowd favourite is the mini train, near the carpark and main picnic area. A ride costs $3 per person and kids under 3yrs must be accompanied by an adult, who rides for free.
The Australiana Pioneer Village is open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Plus they are usually open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during school holidays (except ANZAC Day). Check their Facebook page for updates on opening days. Keep in mind that there can be a long queue to get in during special events and the school holidays.
On driving into the Australiana Pioneer Village, you will be greeted by a volunteer. The entry fee is $5 per adult, $3 for school aged kids and children under 5s are free. Or you can get a family pass (2 adults and 2 school aged children) for $15.
We understand that Australiana Pioneer Village has to pay rent/ rates to Council and gets no, or very little, government support. By visiting and purchasing items, you are helping to preserve this wonderful community initiative and showing your valued support. Please take a visit and we hope you enjoy it like we did!
Finding Australiana Pioneer Village
The Australiana Pioneer Village is located about 10mins north of Windsor at Wilderforce, near the Hawkesbury River, on Rose Street. It takes about 45mins to get there from Parramatta. There is a large on-site car park, near the main picnic area and mini trains.