A great idea for a day trip from Sydney is the educational farm of Tocal in the Upper Hunter. The attraction of this place is two-fold: the stately homestead is offering glimpses of the life of the Wilson, Reynolds and Alexander families back in the day which will delight anyone who has an interest in historic properties, and the farm itself is great for kids as it offers a variety of outbuildings, sheds and live animals.
Founded in 1830 this farm is one of the oldest in Australia. It is located in a picturesque setting with magnificent fig trees dotting the landscape on the outskirts of Paterson, overlooking the Tocal lagoon and the Paterson River.
When Tocal’s last owner died without heirs in the 1940’s the estate was reopened in the 1960’s as an agricultural school for underprivileged children following the owners will. It is now open to the public every weekend from March to November, so now is the perfect time for families to visit.
Our kids had a great time at Tocal. Equipped with audio tour handhelds and a map with number markers we let them roam freely and watched them from a distance as they explored the pastures and grounds in their own time.
The family home including the gardens are in excellent condition, and the fully furnished front rooms can be visited. From the numerous agricultural buildings the tobacco store, the workers cottage and the giant shed are probably most noteworthy. The farm is home to pigs, sheep, horses and more, so visitors need to be careful to close gates behind them.
We had a great family day out at Tocal. If you are in the area, why not plan a visit and discover the history of rural Australia? Tocal is also available for weddings, functions and school tours. The Tocal Agricultural College next door offers courses to students on and off campus.