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Revitalising the Dairy Precinct at Parramatta Park

The Dairy Precinct (The Precinct) at Parramatta Park has undergone a remarkable revitalisation, brought to life through an evocative and interactive installation.

The Precinct is one of Australia’s oldest colonial sites, reputedly dating from 1789. It provides rare and significant evidence of an early settler’s cottage that was acquired by Governor Macquarie and converted to a dairy with associated processing and production facilities, some of which remain in situ today.

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The Dairy Cottage (left) and the Rangers Cottage (right) at Parramatta Park. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

 

After many years of being closed to the public, the Precinct was re-opened in late 2016, following extensive conservation works by the Government Architect’s Office. GML Heritage provided heritage advice and interpretation planning services to the Parramatta Park Trust, as part of the multidisciplinary team for the new interpretive installations.

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A Day at the Dairy—The launch of the Precinct in October 2016. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

 

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Guided tours of the Precinct are held regularly. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

 

The historic and culturally significant Precinct includes the Dairy Cottage—George Salter’s convict built cottage from 1796–1805—and the Rangers Cottage from the 1860s. The cottages now house permanent displays that richly convey a series of human stories and experiences that have occurred through time at the place.

Regular tours of the Precinct are now operating and visitors can immerse themselves in an atmospheric world unto itself.

Catch a glimpse of the installation in the photographs below.

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Objects provenanced from the site are arranged thematically. Built-in digital touchscreens enable visitors to delve deeper into the stories.

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Illumination rails on the skirtings feature cut-out text quoting the voices and memories of people with connections to the site. A sensitive lighting strategy highlights the richly layered texture of cottage walls.

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Projections of maids at work in the Sunken Dairy evoke the building’s previous uses.

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Projections in the Rangers Cottage conveys aspects of the Park’s Aboriginal history. Archival imagery depicting various recreational uses are also showcased, including car racing, tram rides and swimming at Little Coogee ‘beach’. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

 

The layering and patina of the interior spaces are highlighted through the interpretive design that was implemented with no intrusion into the original fabric of the buildings. The design has a lightness of touch—with elements appearing to float within the historic space.

Further landscaping and interpretation works in the surrounding grounds enable visitors to discover more of the history of the place.

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Garden beds feature subtle quotes to be discovered by visitors. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

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Landscaping at the Precinct showcases garden beds, soaring jacaranda trees and manicured lawns. (Photo by Parramatta Park Trust)

This interpretive project encourages wide public engagement, enjoyment, and understanding of one of Australia’s most significant heritage places. It was developed by a multidisciplinary team, including interpretation design by Trigger, landscape design by Environmental Partnership and multimedia by Lightwell.