A landscape of memorials and memories of the Cowpastures.
Many memorials, monuments, historic sites, and other public facilities commemorate, celebrate and just generally remind us about the landscape of the Cowpastures.
In recent decades there has been a nostalgia turn around recovering the memory of the Cowpastures landscape. This is cast in terms of the pioneers and the legacy of the European settlement.
Memorials and monuments can be controversial in some quarters, especially in the eyes of those interested in Australia’s dark history.
Apart from monuments and memorials to the Cowpastures landscape, the most ubiquitous form of memorialisation across the Macarthur region are war memorials. Most Macarthur regional communities possess a monument of some kind, dating to the early 20th century commemorating the memory of those killed in action in the First and Second World Wars and the Vietnam War.
The heyday of building monuments in Australia was in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when the new and emerging nation searched for national heroes. These heroes were overwhelmingly blokes – pale males.
Some of the most significant memorials to the Cowpastures landscape are historical sites, the built environment, and cultural heritage. Many of these are scattered across the Cowpastures region dating from the time of European settlement.
Most of the monuments and memorials to the Cowpastures in the local area date from the mid-20th century. Several have been commissioned by developers trying to cast their housing developments in nostalgia for the colonial past. Only one of these memorials was commissioned by women.
The monuments and memorials can be considered part of the public art of the local area and have contributed to the construction of place and community identity.
The memories evoked by the monuments, memorials, murals, historical sites, celebrations, and other items mean different things to different people.
The Cowpastures Landscape
So what exactly has been referred to by the Cowpastures landscape? In this discussion, there are these interpretations:
- The Cowpastures colonial frontier 1795-1820
- The Cowpastures government reserve 1803-1820s
- The Cowpastures region 1795 – 1840
- The landscape of the Cowpastures gentry 1805 -1840
- The English-style landscape of the Cowpastures 1795-1840
- Viewing the landscape of the Cowpastures 1795-1840
A set of principles for viewing The Cowpastures landscape
The Cowpastures landscape and seven principles of interpretation:
- Utilitarian – the economic benefit – the protection of the cows and the herd
- Picturesque – the presentation of the Cowpastures as a result of the burning of the environment by the Aborigines –fire stick farming – the reports of the area being a little England from the 1820s – Hawdon.
- Regulatory – banning of movement into the Cowpastures to protect the cows
- The political and philosophical – evils were the true corruptors of the countryside.
- Natural history – collecting specimens and describing fauna and flora – Darwin’s visit to Sydney – the curiosity of the early officers.
- ‘New natures’ – the environmental impact of flooding along the Nepean River and clear felling of trees across the countryside.
- Emotional response – how the European viscerally experienced the countryside – sights, smells, hearing – and its expression in words and pictures. (after Karskins 2009, The Colony)
Examples of memory evocation for The Cowpastures
Monuments and memorials
- The Cowpastures Heritage Quilt was commissioned by the Camden Quilters Guild commemorating the Cowpastures Bicentenary in 1995.
2. A public artwork called Cowpastures Story in the forecourt of Narellan Library was commissioned by Narellan Rotary Club.
3. A statue of Governor Hunter was commissioned by a land developer at Mount Annan.
4. A collection of bronze cows in the Cowpastures Wild Cattle of the 1790s was commissioned by a land developer at Oran Park.
5. At Harrington Park Lakeside, public artworks memorialise the Cowpastures commissioned by a land developer.
6. At Picton, the Cowpastures mural is completed by a local sculptor and local school children.
7. Camden Rotary Pioneer Mural was commissioned by Camden Rotary Club in the mid-20th century and is located adjacent to Camden District Hospital.
8. A different type of memorial is the Cowpasture Bridge at the entry to Camden, spanning the Nepean River.
9. Memorial to the Appin Massacre at Cataract Dam.
10. The Hume and Hovell Monument on the Appin Road celebrates the departure of the Hume and Hovell expedition to Port Phillip Bay in 1824.
11. Parks and reserves, e.g., Rotary Cowpasture Reserve, opened in 1995 By Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair, Governor of NSW, celebrating 100 years of Rotary.
12. In Campbelltown’s Mawson Park is a statue of Elizabeth Macquarie. The bronze statue honours the wife of Governor Macquarie, whose maiden name was Campbell, and Campbelltown was named in her honour. The sculpture was created by sculptor Tom Bass in installed in 2006.
13. The Narellan Community Mosaic Project in Elyard Reserve in Elyard Street Narellan was installed in 2005. The mosaic artwork is a series of concentric rings starting with the Indigenous Story, then the settler society of the Cowpastures, progressively moving outwards to the present urban environment. The Project coordination was through Marla Guppy from Guppy & Associates. It involved Project artist – Cynthia Turner, Ceramic artist – Christine Yardley, Heritage artist – George Sayers and Henryk Topolnicki from Art is an Option.
14. A goanna woodcarving is found in Elyard Reserve on Elyard Street, Narellan. There is no artist attribution.
15. The artwork Life Blood on the forecourt of the Herbarium at the Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan, NSW.
1. Cowpastures Bicentennial celebrations occurred in 1995 and were a loose arrangement of community events.
2. An art exhibition at the Campbelltown Art Centre in 2016 called With Secrecy and Dispatch commemorates the Appin Massacre’s bicentenary.
3. The Appin Massacre Cultural Landscape, which is the site of the 1816 Appin Massacre, is being considered for listing on the State Heritage Register.
4. Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations Annual Fair and Conference in 2016, called Cowpastures and Beyond, was held in Camden with exciting speakers and attended by various delegates.
5. An art exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre called ‘They Came by Boat‘ in 2017 highlighted many aspects of the landscape of the Cowpastures and its story.
6. Paintings by various artists, e.g., ‘View in the Cowpasture district 1840-46’ by Robert Marsh Westmacott.
7. Campbelltown-born architect William Hardy Wilson wrote The Cow Pasture Road in 1920, a whimsical fictional account of the sights and sounds along the road from Prospect to the Cow Pastures.
8. Macarthur ‘Bulls’ FC is a football team founded in 2021 named after the Wild Cattle of the Cowpastures and has a training facility established at Cawdor in the centre of the former 1803 Cowpasture government reserve.
1. The Cowpasture Road was the original access route to the colonial Cowpastures Reserve in the early 19th century, starting at Prospect and ending at the Nepean River crossing.
2. The historic site at Belgenny Farm is one of Australia’s earliest European farming complexes in the Cowpastures. The farm was part of the Macarthur family’s Camden Park Estate and is an example of living history.
3. Camden Park House and Garden is the site of John Macarthur’s historic Regency mansion and was part of the Macarthur family’s Camden Park Estate.
4. Other colonial properties across the Cowpastures region (in private hands), eg, Denbigh.
5. Indigenous paintings of polled cattle by the Dharawal people in the Bull Cave at Kentlyn
Updated 1 January 2023. Originally posted 22 August 2022.
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