Scheyville National Park
This park north-west of Sydney near Windsor is rich in the history of European occupation. Today, evidence of Scheyville's many phases of European occupation can still be seen in the farm relics and remnants of the past that were used for agriculture, military training and immigration.
The park was created in 1996 and helps conserve the endangered ecologicial communities and species of the Cumberland Plain and Hawkesbury River catchment. Although it once covered much of western Sydney, the woodland ecosystems of this area is now threatened, mainly by urban expansion.
This park is near...
Sydney (45 km)
Best access routes
This park is 45 km north-west of Sydney, 6 km east of Windsor on Windsor Road via Boundary Road and Old Pitt Town Road (from Windsor), or on Pitt Town and Saunders Road (from Parramatta). The main entrance is on Scheyville Road. From Dural, turn onto Cattai Ridge Road from Old Northern Road, then left off Cattai Ridge Road onto Scheyville Road.
Road quality: paved
Facilities & things to do:
The park provides opportunities for picnicking, birdwatching, walking, bike riding and horseriding in a quiet area with not too many visitors. A Heritage Trail shows the various uses of Scheyville over the last 100 years. Longneck Lagoon is popular for birdwatching and walks.
A walking trail with plenty of informative signs takes you around the old Scheyville training farm and the buildings constructed during the Dreadnought and Migrant Hostel eras. Start the loop trail from the NPWS office located on Scheyville Road. Bring along your lunch and enjoy the rural setting of the park. There are a number of less formal walking trails through the Cumberland Plain woodland that are popular with walkers, mountain-bike riders and birdwatchers.
>>Picnics and barbecues
The park has picnic facilities and numerous management trails.
Camping is not permitted in the park but you can camp in nearby Cattai National Park
The park consists of Cumberland plain woodland, a small area of Casltlereagh scribbly gum woodland and shale/gravel transition forest, as well as the Longneck Lagoon wetland. There are still substantial areas of grassland in the centre of the park.
The park contains the largest reserved remnant of the threatened Cumberland Plain woodland ecological community and supports populations of threatened species, such as the downy wattle. The park includes Longneck Lagoon, a permanent freshwater wetland with a large portion of its mostly forested catchment.
Over 140 bird species have been recorded in the park, of which at least 42 species use the wetland. These include the vulnerable swift parrot and turquoise parrot and the endangered regent honeyeater. Two vulnerable migratory wetland birds, the black bitten and the combed jacana, have been recorded in the past.
The park landscape: geology and landforms
The park is part of the Sydney Basin geological province and the Cumberland Plain. Scheyville consists of Tertiary and Triassic horizontally bedded sedimentary rock. Wianamatta shale forms most of the upper areas of Scheyville. Quaternary alluvials and Rickabys Creek gravels also present.
Pest plants and animals
A number of species remain from former grazing practices, including invasive woody weeds such as blackberry and lantana, vines such as ballon vine and bridle creeper, introduced grasses such as Indian love grass and pasture grasses. Cats near urban areas are a problem for native animals and small birds. Trapping occurs when possible. Foxes occur throughout and baiting programs are carried out.
Culture & history
The park is part of the traditional lands of the Darug Aboriginal people, one of five Aboriginal nations of the Sydney region. Occupation was probably focused around the lagoons but would have also included hunting in surrounding woodland.
The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture – including recreational, ceremonial, spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine. They are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that is still passed on today. We work with local Aboriginal communities to protect this rich heritage.
To find out more about Aboriginal heritage in the park, you can get in touch with the local Aboriginal community. Contact the park office for more details.
History in the park
Between 1802 and 1893 Scheyville was part of a grazing common set aside for local settlers. During the Depression of the 1890s, a village settlement, known as the Pitt Town Co-operative Labour Settlement, was established to ease the high levels of unemployment in the city. Similar settlements were formed in Bega and Wilberforce. Run in a socialist manner, the controversial settlement lasted only three years and by 1896 only a few people remained.
In 1910 the farm was taken over by the Dreadnought Trust of the British Empire. Young British men between the ages of 16 and 19 were sent to Australia and sponsored to learn agricultural skills. The Scheyville training farm was described as the best of its kind in the state, largely due to the wide variety of skills taught. The scheme concluded in about 1930 and was replaced by a similar project providing farm training for Australian city boys. During the Dreadnought period Scheyville was used for a number of other purposes. In 1914, 87 Germans taken from boats held in Sydney Harbour were detained at Scheyville and in 1915, a short-lived program was introduced to re-train women in agricultural skills while men were at war.
World War II saw Scheyville used for military training by the 73rd Australian Anti-aircraft Search Light Company and later by the RAAF 244 1st Parachute Battalion. The farm lay idle for several years following the war until, in 1949, the decision was made to convert it into a reception centre for migrants. It became the largest immigration hostel in Australia, and was the introduction to Australia for thousands of migrants, particularly from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The hostel closed in 1964.
In 1965 Scheyville once again became an army camp. At the time Scheyville was one of three Officer Training Units in Australia. However, it was the only unit dedicated to training National Service officers under a demanding 22-week regime, including training in weapons and artillery use, engineering, leadership and organisation.
The unit continued to function until the abolition of National Service in 1972. Hawkesbury Agricultural College opened a campus at Scheyville in 1978 but did not renew its five year lease.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service