Menangle Strengths

1. National Heritage

(State and other agencies: 35 listings)

The Menangle area has one of the highest concentrations of historically significant sites in rural Australia dating back as far as the first fleet. Later it was an integral part of Australia’s groundbreaking first pastoral company, the Macarthur’s Camden Park Estate.  The Menangle village was initially the village for the estate workers and was also the centre for some of its businesses and surprisingly, is essentially unchanged today. Its English village layout of houses, churches, school, shop and community hall, all within walking distance of each other, is a unique experience to see. The Camden Park Estate at its peak in 1930, covered 28,000 acres and included Belgenny Farm, Camden Park House, Menangle, Gilbulla and later the Rotolactor, Creamery and railway siding. This area, named “Cowpastures” in the late 18th century as a result of the discovery here of the First Fleet’s escaped cattle, became a leader and innovator of Australian agriculture; achieving 14 Australian firsts in wool, cattle, dairying, wheat, fruit and wine. It was also the major supplier of milk, cream and butter to Sydney at one time and also supplied grape cuttings used in the establishment of vineyards in the Barossa valley which of course are now world famous. The Menangle village is a major part of this history and still provides us a rich insight into our agricultural past that is truly irreplaceable.

2. Continuing Agricultural  innovation

( 2010 World First: Rotary Robot Miking Machine)

Today, the area is still one of the most significant areas in Australian agricultural with its continuing agricultural research. The 1600 ha Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), currently being expanded, is located on the southern side of the original Camden Park Estate, close to Menangle village and is a major research facility of national and international importance.   Recently (2010), the world’s first robotic, rotary dairy was designed, built and operated on this site. This latest development is just as ground breaking as the Macarthur’s Rotolactor was in 1952, and it shows the area’s reputation for innovation continues today.  The EMAI facility was the nation’s main testing and coordination centre during the recent Equine influenza outbreak and is the state’s flagship regional veterinary centre, testing over half a million veterinary samples every year. Their cropping is also impressive, providing a true rural backdrop to the Menangle area. The EMAI also conducts ground-breaking veterinary and horticultural research involving more than 250 research and support staff.

3. Education/Tourism/Recreation.

(Over 30,000 visitors annually)

This year 6000 students will be educated in environmental education, agriculture and history; conducted by the NSW Department of Education and Training’s Camden Park Environmental Education Centre operating across a number of sites. Some 15000 people visit Belgenny Farm, and another 4000 visit Camden Park House, the original Macarthur family home which, is still occupied by the family.

Also some 2000 people visit Menangle’s historic shop and bakery, and churches.  There are over 70 weddings at Belgenny and 10-15 in Menangle Churches every year. Macarthur Collegians Cycling Club holds cycling events on Station Street and Moreton Park Roads with up to 100 riders on a regular basis. The Nepean River Reserve on the Nepean River is also well used by locals all year round because of its park, fishing, beach and swimming area.

This is a total of well over 30,000 people visiting the area annually and obviously has the potential to grow with the right leadership.

Belgenny Farm Trust held a Strategic Planning day recently to develop their strategies.  It was identified that much could be done to improve the areas prominence and that part of the problem is the area is bounded by three councils, Camden, Wollondilly and Campbelltown and linking them. The result was some excellent ideas on increasing tourism and education in the area.

The Food, wine and tourist trails are not well advertised and need to be developed. Both local wineries are developing cellar door facilities and the Menangle Community Association is considering possible options to increase tourism.

4. Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown Community’s recognition

We and other communities of Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown recognize that our continuous history from the early First Fleet Cowpastures to Camden Park Estate and now to the EMAI as well as Menangle’s other assets, are of vast importance to our nation. While “Macarthur Country” is bounded by Spaniard’s Hill, Douglas Park, Razorback, Camden and the Nepean River, all these communities recognise the importance of our area.

5. Valued features

(Historic English village, green space, heritage landscape, wildlife corridor, with productive agriculture and government research)

The Menangle and other communities believe that the four most important aspects of the Menangle and Cowpastures area are:

  • The Menangle areas cultural landscape: a unique mixture of green space, “Menangle Hills”, historical English village and buildings, wildlife corridors, lagoons, streams and river. This vista needs to be preserved for future generations and as the Macarthur South Paper 1991 (MSS1991) suggests, “Menangle and Gilbulla need to be conserved and protected” (p36), and curtilage around heritage sites are required for protection of their setting and visual relief. Adjacent land use “ …should complement the heritage item” (p78). In 1991 the Wollondilly Heritage Survey reported that Menangle Village has “heritage significance because it remains essentially within the original settlement boundaries and as such is an unusually intact example of a rural service centre.” Further the Camden Park Estate report for the Department of Environment and Planning by Howard Tanner and Assoc. in 1983 identified the view from Menangle Pond to Menangle as requiring preservation and the existing buildings of Menangle required upgrading and maintenance. (Page 7 Map)
  • The Menangle Hills mentioned in the Macarthur South paper, form the gateway to both Wollondilly and to Sydney, where the view of sensitive green space has been noted as culturally significant to both Sydney and Wollondilly and of course to all local communities.
  • The wildlife corridor, Cumberland plain woodland and river support and allow passage of threatened species, koalas, platypus, bass and Macquarie perch, as well as maintaining whole threatened ecologies. The MSS1991 again stresses the use of “protected by appropriate zonings and the development of appropriate guidelines” including the preservation of vegetation and the careful assessment of visual impacts” (p78)
  • Menangle being part of the Camden Park Estate now EMAI, has one of the highest concentrations of historically significant sites in rural Australia which put the area at the forefront of Australian agriculture then and today, and provides a rich heritage that is irreplaceable.


Our community’s vision pays due respect to the many strengths of Menangle above.

  • National Heritage
  • Continuing Agricultural innovation.
  • Education/Tourism potential.
  • Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown community’s recognition
  • Cultural Landscape
  • Menangle Hills
  • Wildlife corridor, Cumberland plain and river
  • Menangle being part of the Camden Park Estate now EMAI

It is our community’s belief that it is too early for any major development in Menangle’s vicinity. The Macarthur South Paper of 1991 did not give sufficient credit to the heritage links of the Menangle Area to the Camden Park Estate, which is of major historical significance to Australia.

The Community seeks a longer term plan to establish a major curtilage around historic Menangle and other parts of the former Camden Park Estate to protect them from development. The major features such as Belgenny Farm, the Dairy’s, Camden Park House, Rotolactor, Gilbulla and Menangle Village make a wonderful collection of early Australian life on Australia’s early leading pastoral company of the time.

There is excellent argument that the setting of Menangle Village and Gilbulla is part of the heritage of the eastern area of the original estate, and that a “Composite Heritage Curtilage” similar to Berrima’s, should be adopted by Wollondilly Council.

This unique opportunity to protect this areas heritage should not be wasted as the Camden Park Estate, still exists today and is mainly untouched. We hope this opportunity will be encouraged by Government, Councils and other bodies and the Menangle Community Association will continue to foster this concept.

Further out from Gilbulla, we think there is the opportunity for subdivision to allow primary industry to continue as well as market gardens/boutique farms, horse agistment (Menangle Park Paceway), and rural subdivisions to achieve areas of Carols Road style developments.  Already in the Sydney Basin farming currently employs 8000 people and equates to a $630 million turnover annually (District Reporter, 7/6/2010)

Consideration needs to be given to water licensing to support the farms but there is no doubt that local produce, tourism and agriculture should be fostered with a produce shop etc, to allow Sydney to keep in touch with fresh food production as well as visiting our nations agricultural heritage.

We do not want developers destroying the heritage as happened to the hundreds of the oldest trees in Australia in the Camden Park Estate Orchards by Talga Pty Ltd in the 1970,s. Nor do we want a Norwest Business Park where the transient employees caused social issues.

While large numbers of people work outside the shire, they value ALL the Menangle strengths and choose to make their home in this place that they love but deliberately work elsewhere.

Tourism is growing and we envisage a vibrant, rural landscape that Menangle residents identify as Rural Living. Perhaps an Agricultural Museum would showcase the history of farming in Australia including wool, wine, dairy, etc with recreational areas and BBQ’s that an accessible day out for Sydney and locals. The elements are here to support the history and with the existing wineries and historic buildings, a high quality boutique agricultural industry could lure Sydneysiders to the shire to experience the best food and culture in the country. Food production of wine, dairy, butter, cheese, wool, agricultural and environment are all here already, we just need to harness them.

The Wollondilly Heritage Survey 1991, by JRC Planning Associates, reported that Menangle Village has…” an important social entity with a strong sense of community and sense of place, to a degree not reached in the other towns and villages of Wollondilly”.

Quote from a local historian. “Today Menangle village’s St James and St Patrick’s churches, the old store, creamery and Rotolactor as well as Menangle station, railway bridge and viaduct are listed on the local, state and/or national heritage registers. Add Menangle House, Glen lee and the 19th century Macarthur mansions of Camden Park and Gilbulla to this list and Menangle must lay claim to one of the highest concentrations of historically significant sites in rural Australia”