John Oxley Cottage was officially opened as Camden's Visitor Information Centre on 24 June 1989 - 173 years and 4 days after the land was granted by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to the Australian explorer and surveyor, John Oxley.
There were 2 Separate Land grants: the first comprised 1000 acres, north east of the Nepean River which Oxley called Krikham after his English home, the second was 820 acres called Elderslie.
Subdivisions down the years created smaller farm holding and the cottage itself was build in the 1890s. It is a typical "workman's cottage" of those years and is understood to have been part of a row of similar dwellings along the road into Camden.
No record has been found of it's original builder, but the bricks, some of which are visible on the front verandah, would undoubtedly have been made at one of the local brick works which were located in the town. Legend has it that the cost of providing electricity was paid for by Miss Clarence Faithfull-Anderson of "Camelot" in Kirkham Lane. Miss Faithfull-Anderson was known for her generosity, most of which was given quietly without publicity.
The roof was originally wooden shingles, which are visible under the eaves on the back verandah. With the advent of steel roofing, these were covered by the familiar corrugated iron sheeting, which have roofed Australian houses for a large slice of the twentieth century. The flow of cool air through the cottage in summer was assured by having front and back doors opposite each other.
The front door leads to the living area with the main bedroom on the right. The rear room would have housed the kitchen - probably the fireplace in the back room held a large fuel stove. The other rear room was probably a children's bedroom.
The outhouses, comprising a bathroom, with separate toilet building were located alongside a brick well. This site is now marked by a pit comprising pumping equipment for the springs, which are still seeping beneath the surface of the park. The original house would not have had piped water.
The house is believed to have been owned at one time by the Curry Family after whom Curry Reserve is named, although it was not the main Curry farmhouse which had been located in the vicinity. Older Camden residents believe it was for some time called "Curry's Cottage".
It was occupied as a residence until the late 1970s when it became derelict and its three quarters of an acre of land became overgrown. Camden Council purchased the land and cottage in 1988 and added the land to Curry Reserve as open space. The potential for a Visitor Information Centre motivated the Council to restore the old cottage. It is staffed by Council employees and volunteers seven days a week to provide information on the attractions of Camden, the surrounding region and statewide destinations.
Curry Reserve in named after Patrick Curry, an early settler who arrived from Ireland in 1825. In about 1840 Curry was waterman for Camden Township. He had a large wooden cask on his horse drawn cart, which he filled with water from the river and delivered for two shillings per load. Patrick's son Daniel, was a trooper.
Alongside our Cottage is the Sensory Garden, donated by the Quota Club of Camden, as a bicentennial project. This garden is designed to provide a variety of sensory experiences using fragrant plants and tactile shapes for physically disabled visitors. Among the sensory plants you will find Lemon Scented Verbena, Gardenia, Boronia, Jasmine and French and English Lavender. The sprinkler system was provided by the Plumbers Union of NSW as a bicentennial prize won by Quota Camden for a service project.
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