History of Old Sydney Town, Somersby NSW

This information is taken straight from the site below...




Old Sydney Town was opened in 1975 as a theme park  by Gough Whitlam the 21st Prime minister of Australia.

Eleven thousand onlookers traveled to Old Sydney Town for the grand opening of the living tribute to the nation’s colonial past, It was a Federal Government project developed by architect Frank Foxand the Bank of New south Wales was also involved, the site on which Old Sydney town was built was thought to be a good location as it had a good source of fresh water.

The Wran state government took over the federal investment shortly after the Fraser government took power at the end of 1975. Back in it’s day Old Sydney Town was a popular attraction for Australians and international travelers alike. Old Sydney town was built to give the user the experience of what it would of been like to be living in a village in1788 with it’s 30 odd authentically reconstructed buildings.

To ensure its authenticity and feel of an early settlers lifestyle park employees wore period costumes further heightening Old Sydney towns realism and the whole set up was extremely well done, there were public floggings, hangings in the old gallows, and the firing of old black powder muskets and cannons, pistol duels, bullock Rides and mock convict trials.

Unfortunately Old Sydney Town theme park was closed in 2003 and since it’s closure it has been let out for various movie sets making an excellent backdrop with it’s surroundings and buildings, in its heyday Old Sydney Town employed  65 individuals, eleven of them actors.

Old Sydney Town was a faithful re-creation of the earliest days of life in the Colony of New South Wales during the years 1788 to 1810, after the first settlers settled in Sydney Cove in the 1788, the small colonies spread out and grew becoming what we know today as Sydney Aaustralia. Old Sydney Town was a recreation built around James Meehan’s map of Sydney in the year 1803.

It’s closure was rumored to be a decline in the tourist industry, or the fact that children at the time had no access to video games and their interest in what an early settlers lifestyle would of been like dident interest them. The 121.4 hectares of land atSomersby New south Wales near Gosford closed its doors on the last day of the Australia Day weekend Monday January 27, 2003 forever putting an end to a memorable recreation of life incolonial New South Wales, it is said more than six million visitors passed through Old Sydney Town in it’s twenty eight years of operation.

The collapse of Old Sydney town


Bad management undoubtedly was what led to the closure of Old Sydney town in 2003, mainly it was very poorly marketed and maintenance was virtually non existent and any repairs needed were merely patched up cheaply to avoid costs instead of receiving the proper attention it needed.

In the first five years the Old Sydney Town losses reached $600,000 a year so things were not running to well at all. Run by Richard Chiu who is a Paris based entrepreneur and operates theme parks in Indonesia, hotels in Europe and the United States and the South Pacific under the auspices of Warwick Amusements.

The town was leased by Warwick back in 1987 but they could not reverse and recover Old Sydney town lost fortunes and Old Sydney town was eventually sold off in 2000.

Old Sydney Town closed it's doors 27th Jan 2003.

Media Blitz! - Feb 2013

posted 19 Feb 2013, 15:01 by ROOST 1788

LATEST UPDATE:-From Jake Cassar ...
I will be interviewed on National ABC radio (702 AM) at 9.30am tomorrow morning and straight after our Federal Member for Robertson, Deb O'Neill, on Central Coast ABC radio (92.5) at 11am. I will be speaking about the campaign to bring back Old Sydney Town. One of the main points I intend on pushing forward, is that we need to do everything we can to hold on to our Australian culture and I hope if they re-open it, that our incredible and ancient Indigenous culture will be well represented. Tune in!  There have been numerous radio interviews as well, not only by Jake Cassar, But Deb O'Neill ( sitting Labor member for Gosford) and Lucy Wicks ( Liberal Candidate for Gosford) have been on air this week supporting the cause!

ABC Radio interview with Linda Motram - Jake Cassar & Sara Powter

posted 12 Feb 2013, 17:24 by ROOST 1788


Colonial Sandstock bricks at Old Sydney Town

posted 11 Feb 2013, 00:20 by ROOST 1788

  • THIS CONVERSATION RELATED TO SANDSTOCK BRICKS STORED AT OLD SYDNEY TOWN from Facebook site- the bold type is a post I wrote on BBOST, Tony Lowe is one of the persons who did the original 'dig' at Sydney Town Hall. He send me this information in an e-mail.

     Hi Sara, 

    Thank you for copying me into that.  I just wanted to comment on your Facebook post though, as I feel accuracy doesn’t hurt.


    Way back from 1788 to about 1810 there was nowhere to bury people and so they declared that position X was to be "IT"

    From 1788 to September 1792 people were buried in various places, including adjacent to the military barracks near York and Margaret streets and in the Rocks.  Governor Phillip and Rev Johnson obviously felt, with the colony thriving, a larger and more permanent burial place was required and set out what we now call the Old Sydney Burial Ground in Sept 1792.  It was expanded in 1812 and closed to burials in 1820. When it was first set out it was outside the town of Sydney and slowly became surrounded by the growing town.  There is history of the place on the City’s webpage - http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/HistoryAndArchives/SydneyHistory/SocialHistory/OldSydneyBurialGround.asp.  


    IT later happened to be under Sydney Town Hall and Sydney Square ( next to St Andrews Cathedral) 

    By the 1860s a decision was made to locate the new town hall on the site.  By then the cemetery was in a serious state of disrepair and many of the graves were no longer marked.


    over the many years since most of the graves were destroyed; like building the railways; putting in storm water pipes; installing telecommunications etc etc.

    The main damage was done by locating the Town Hall on the site, then by the construction of the Town Hall arcade in 1974.  The original Town Hall construction was supposedly preceded by exhumation of the graves but as shown by recent work they probably only tried to exhume those graves encountered during  digging footings etc.  As the cemetery originally extended into George Street, the excavation for the railway line and services did also disturb the eastern side of the cemetery and there is reference to graves being found along the southern side of Druitt Street.


    In 1974 a major excavation was undertaken

    1974 saw the excavation for the Town Hall arcade and the creation of Sydney Square.  This was a major civil works program and the extensive bulk excavation saw many graves destroyed.  Judy Birmingham from Sydney Uni (hello Judy!) launched a rescue dig with some of her students and they were able to record several graves.  This was in the days before the Heritage Act (1977) which would have required prior investigation of such an important site.


    others that followed, mid to late 80's and I think the last one actually found was 1991 although it was only late last decade ( about 2009) that some were exhumed

    After 1974 there was a gap until I was involved in 1991 when excavation for major stormwater works encountered bones (which turned out to be animal).  Subsequent monitoring recorded the corner of a brick vault which had been nearly totally removed by a structural pier, another fairly well preserved brick vault and five more graves.  The stormwater pipes were rerouted to avoid disturbing the main brick vault. Some of these graves had been found and at least partially exhumed at the time of the construction of the Town Hall.  I was involved again in 2003 off Druitt Street when more grave sites were located during works to create a new entrance into the northern side of the building – again design were modified to avoid further disturbing the graves.  In 2007-2008 works to create a new basement in the lower ground Peace Hall exposed more than 60 graves.  Nearly all had been at least partially exhumed when the hall had been constructed in the 1880s.  Remaining skeletal remains were removed.  These excavations are described in some detail on the City’s webpage - http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/HistoryAndArchives/OldSydneyBurialGround.asp.


    and it was these ones that were on public display

    There was a public open day in 2008 when people could come into the Peace Hall and see the graves.  The queue stretched down George Street.


    I heard that one of the tomb/vaults was special and important for us too!

    The old cemetery is of national significance and all the graves are important.


    One of of the graves was thought to have been buried in c 1804 and when the archaeologists exhumed this grave it included not only the grave but also a cedar coffin and a brick vault in which the coffin was laid

    None of the graves excavated by us could be dated.  I think the same for Judy’s?  Both the 1974 and 1991 excavations revealed brick vaults with cedar coffins.


    Some reports even say a marble "table" lid.

    I am unaware of any marble altar-style monuments being found.  Brick vaults may have had a horizontal sandstone slab laid over the top.


    The cedar Coffin I believe is on display ( or so I've been told) at the "Historic Houses Trust" although I do not know where that is.

    The coffin recovered from 1974 is stored at the Museum of Sydney in Bridge Street, which is run by the HHT.  It has been on display but I don’t think is currently.


    The McLeay Museum (at NSW Uni? ) previously had this on display until it was permanently moved for safe keeping

    I remember seeing a coffin in the Macleay Museum (at Sydney Uni) in 1979.  I assume this was the 1974 coffin.  I don’t know why or when it was moved to HHT.


    the bricks and possibly the marble slab too were individually numbered and diagrams drawn and .... moved up to OLD SYDNEY TOWN for later reassembly and display! But it never was!

    Judy’s 1974 publication shows diagrams of the brick vaults from which the bricks were removed. 


    This important find should still be up there & if so should be of great historical importance & worth Heritage listing on it's own right!

    The heritage significance of the bricks, removed from their original provenance and now stored completely out of context, can be determined by applying the heritage assessment guidelines – these can be found at the Heritage Branch’s website - http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/heritagebranch/heritage/listings/assessingheritagesignificance.pdf.  I would doubt though that they would be found worthy of heritage listing in their own right.  I would judge that the Old Sydney Town site has to stand on other criteria, such as its importance to the social history of NSW or the authenticity of the recreation of the buildings for instance.


    [Graham William] The bricks were from the grave of the architect who ,designed the fist gov house. He died 1804/5 this what I was told ,but I cant remember who ,told me. The story was that they came from the original st Phillips church gave yard close to town hall. The coffin in one of the vaults in 1974 had the shadow of a nameplate on it.  There was no evidence who was buried in it.  I am unsure where the idea that the grave was of James Bloodsworth (brickmaker and builder, died 1804) comes from – there is evidence that there were several brick vaults in the cemetery, and presumably he could have been buried in any of these, as it makes sense that he was given the honour of such a tomb.  None of the graves I have excavated at the site have been identified.  I know of no graves being recovered from the site of St Phillips Church in Lang Park in Sydney.


    It’s all very interesting.  I see Beverley is involved too - hello Bev!


    All the best,



     Tony Lowe

    Casey & Lowe Pty Ltd

Frank Fox History of OST

posted 15 Oct 2009, 13:21 by ROOST 1788   [ updated 9 Feb 2013, 18:09 ]





scroll down to "a version is available from...

and click" available online"


go to this link then you will have to scroll down the click 'AGREE' ...


you will be taken to "digital recordings" page

go to:- sessions 2 of 2 and listen.



26 minutes of OST history from the man himself!

Photo: Frank Fox & sons discussing Old Sydney Town.

Online Video Clips

posted 15 Oct 2009, 13:20 by ROOST 1788   [ updated 9 Feb 2013, 18:10 ]

Video Clips - online links

Old Sydney Town Advertisement & Theme song! ( this will stick in your brain!!!)



alternate site:-



 & this is what you're missing:-




NBN TV Clips - you may have to down load these two to watch them!

1/ http://www.nbnnews.com.au/index.php/2012/09/15/support-for-old-sydney-town/


2/ http://www.nbnnews.com.au/index.php/2012/03/11/push-for-old-sydney-town-to-return/


old home movies :-





these movies are apparently all partially filmed at Old Sydney Town and also don't forget

"Against The Wind"





youtube posts:-






OST Theme Song

posted 15 Oct 2009, 13:20 by ROOST 1788   [ updated 9 Feb 2013, 18:01 ]


( TV commercial 1980's) 


They sailed out here

In chains on ships,

instead of hanging

for stealing bread

and the reason that we’re here today

is those that went ahead.                                       

I wanna go back to early times

go back in history

I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town

it find out why i’m me.

I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town

I’m an Australian

I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town

to where it’s all began


The fighting, the Skiteing,

The damning, the lighting

I wanna go back to see

The women, the men,

the way back then

the start of my history.


How did they live

How did they die

I wanna go back to see

The Women, the men

the way back then 

The start of my history

Oh ... I wanna go back to early times

Old Sydney Town’s the way

I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town

it’s changin’ every day


I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town

to see where we began

I wanna go back to Old Sydney Town …..

‘cause I’m an Australian! 


* Typed from the OST add - and words are sometimes unclear! but I've done my best !

1-6 of 6