Woodford Reserve’s story to be told thanks to heritage grant

The little known public reserve behind the historic Woodford Academy has an intriguing history that will soon be shared with the community after Blue Mountains City Council was successfully awarded a $75,000 NSW government heritage grant.

“Woodford has a rich and varied history that is not widely appreciated. The grant funding will contribute to an interpretive trail through the reserve that will explore and present this multi-layered history,” said Ward 2 Councillor Romola Hollywood.

Heritage Near Me: From left, Cr Romola Hollywood; Ian Robinson (long time reserve caretaker); Ken Goodlet (local community historian); Noel Burgess (National Trust Board); Felicity Anderson (Chair of Woodford Academy Management Committee); Elizabeth Burgess (Deputy Chair); and young Charlie and Rose Burgess, under the old pear tree in Woodford Reserve.

Heritage Near Me: From left, Cr Romola Hollywood; Ian Robinson (long time reserve caretaker); Ken Goodlet (local community historian); Noel Burgess (National Trust Board); Felicity Anderson (Chair of Woodford Academy Management Committee); Elizabeth Burgess (Deputy Chair); and young Charlie and Rose Burgess, under the old pear tree in Woodford Reserve.

Woodford Reserve has significant European, Aboriginal and landscape values. Intertwined with the colonial elements of the site, including remnants an orchard and a graveyard which are still evident today, is the cultural significance of Country held by Darug and Gundungurra traditional owners. The project will include a landscape and Aboriginal cultural heritage study to identify highly significant heritage elements for conservation.

Believed to be home to the oldest exotic tree in the Blue Mountains, a heritage variety of a China Pear Tree that still bears fruit, the reserve has a colourful history that reflects that of the Woodford Academy, a National Trust property and the oldest complex of colonial buildings in the Blue Mountains.

“The reserve is part of a precinct which should be recognised for its national heritage significance and one of Australia’s most important historical sites,” said Cr Hollywood.

“I am excited that our community will have better access to this site thanks to the grant funding and thanks to the dedicated work of local residents and members of the Woodford Academy Management Committee over many years. I am also pleased the grant will also support consultation with local Aboriginal people on how to respectfully and appropriately acknowledge the deep history of this land.”

Elizabeth Burgess, spokesperson for the Woodford Academy Management Committee, said: “We are very happy to be collaborating with council on the installation of interpretive signage  and improving access to the reserve, so that the history of the site can be shared with the community.

“This project will reveal the relationship between the Woodford Academy and the public reserve behind it, to tell the full, rich story of this important site.”

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said the NSW Government Heritage Near Me Activation Grant funding will support four local heritage projects in the Blue Mountains.

“I welcome the NSW government funding of local heritage in the Blue Mountains. All of the project will raise the public’s awareness and enjoyment of local history.”

In addition to the grant funding of Woodford Reserve, council secured $100,000 grant funding for the Pulpit Hill Precinct (including Explorers Tree) Interpretation Project.

To find out more information about the Woodford Academy visit www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/woodford-academy/.