Paul and Bonny Hennessy will open the historic homestead and convict barracks at their property "Macquarie" to the public this weekend to raise money for drought relief. The former home of Blue Mountains explorer William Lawson remains largely in its original state, though it has been restored by the Hennessys over recent years. Here, the couple explain about the property's significance in the nation's story.
"Macquarie" was William Lawson's reward from Governor Lachlan Macquarie for the successful crossing of the Blue Mountains.
He was able to negotiate where his 1000 acres was to be. If you stand on the verandah looking north across the lucerne flats to the five kilometres of river frontage with the mountains beyond, you can understand why he chose this particular spot.
The farmhouse is described as early Colonial or Georgian. The finishes are mostly utilitarian.
All the construction timber for the buildings was cut from trees felled on site. All the bricks were made on site - it is estimated close to one million.
The property can be likened to the present day "Elizabeth Farm" at Harris Park near Parramatta, which was rebuilt around the same time as "Macquarie" was being constructed.
There were up to 30 convicts working on "Macquarie" at any one time, living and sleeping in the convict barracks; these rooms are very close to original condition. Much of the original paintwork has been preserved.
A question for future historians is how many other workers were required to provide the expertise and labour to build?
One can only imagine how difficult it must have been providing food for all the people living and working at the property at the time of the construction of buildings within the curtilage. The kitchen must have been operating full time.
There are large blocks of limestone down by the river - left over, it is suspected, from those early days when it was used in the construction of the brickwork.
This will be only the second time that "Macquarie" has been opened to the public in its 205-year history.
St Vincent de Paul will provide volunteers to manage the weekend and will distribute the much-needed proceeds to drought relief, particularly for areas further west.
The event has received the generous support of local businesses, in particular the main sponsor, Ray White Emms Mooney.
Visitors will be able to view the main rooms of the homestead and convict barracks.
There will be an exhibition of contemporary handmade jewellery and silverware by Mountains and Metal - a group of jewellers, silversmiths and artisans from the Blue Mountains.
The group is diverse both in age and style.
Jewellery making and metalsmithing is a dying craft. It is most unusual to have a group such as Mountains and Metal all doing handmade objects in the traditional manner. Several of the group are, or have been, teachers in silversmithing or jewellery making.
Apart from mostly expensive jewellery outlets, most of the work seen in the majority of retail outlets is mass-produced and/or constructed from pre-cast componentry, whereas the work of Mountains and Metal is made by hand.
For instance, depending on the design, the work starts off as a flat sheet of silver. It is annealed or softened many times and hammered to produce the final form. Undulated steel stakes are hammered against to gradually achieve the curved, twisted forms.
The annealing or softening part of the process is most necessary as the metal becomes work hardened and brittle. It resists the forming process and consequently needs to be annealed again ... and again.