RESTORING the historic homestead Macquarie was a five year labour of love for its owners Bonny and Paul Hennessy, but their efforts have been well worth it.
On Saturday the property, off the O’Connell Road, was open to the public, with former governor Dame Marie Bashir, performing official duties on the day.
The open day gave the people of Bathurst the chance to inspect what is an invaluable piece of local colonial history.
The homestead, the former home of William Lawson, was built on land granted to him by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, to recognise his role in crossing the Blue Mountains with Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth back in 1813.
The homestead and surrounding buildings- including the historic two-story convict barracks – was built with convict labour from materials sourced on-site.
More than 150 convicts were sent to live in the barracks over two decades and many remained in the region following their emancipation.
Descendants of the convicts were among the special guests attending the open day.
Mr Hennessy, said the open day was amazing.
“By all accounts it was a blur to me,” he laughed.
“The number of people who came we think somewhere between 1200 and 1400, it was enormous.
“We had no idea how many people we would get. We thought anywhere between 200 to 2000, depending on the weather, and we were blessed with beautiful conditions,” he said.
Mr Hennessy said he and his wife began restoring the property in December 2012, and it has literally taken every day since to get it to where it is now.
“We lived in the shearing quarters for two years while the homestead was being renovated,” he said.
But for the couple it has been worth the effort.
Mrs Hennessy said the encouragement and appreciation they had received made the hard work well worth it.
“It’s taken a long time to get the property to this stage, but it has been a unique experience,” she said adding they took the building back to its bare bones.
“It’s been remarkable to work on, and most rewarding,” she added.
The couple also thanked the Western Advocate and 2BS for supporting the day with publicity.
“The support we received was tremendous.”