History of Mulgoa
In 1789 the Nepean River was “discovered” by Europeans – Aboriginal people had been using the abundant resources of the river for 36ka.
Land grants were made in the Mulgoa Valley from 1810 among which was a grant to the infant Edward Cox of land that became known as 'Fernhills' or 'Fernhill' and later as The (Cox) Cottage. Mulgoa Valley was an important centre for agriculture in the early colony – with attempts at wheat, barley, corn and hops. It was important for grazing sheep and cattle. In 1809-10, William Cox obtained a Spanish merino flock and built the Cottage while Surveyor James Meehan surveyed the Mulgoa Valley.
In 1813 drought resulted in a lack of feed in the Valley and there was a push to expand the Colony west. William Cox was appointed by Gov. Macquarie in 1814-15 to build a road over the mountains and to supervise the 1815 Parramatta to Penrith road. The rewards were large Mulgoa land grants in 1816/17 to William, George and Henry Cox and James King.
In 1821 grants were made on Fairlight Road to the Norton Family. In Henry Cox’s Glenmore was commenced and the foundation stone was laid for Sir John Jamison’s Regentville. In 1824 Henry Cox’s Winbourne was begun. Sir John Jamison, the Blaxland Brothers and the Cox family maintained some of the most significant pastoral estates in the colony, mainly focussed along Mulgoa Road.
Regentville was completed in 1825 and a village of service buildings and worker’s cottages erected. In December of the same year “The tribe of Mulgoa reaped upwards of thirty acres of wheat for Cox;…. the work was as well executed as if performed by my best English labourers”.
In 1836-38 the Foundation stone of St. Thomas’ Anglican Church was laid and the church built. In 1837 William Cox Snr died. 1840 transportation ceased and a major economic downturn started. Edward Cox moved into recently built Fernhill in 1845 but the depression prevented the planned second storey. In the 1860’s the railway reached Penrith; Regentville was run as an asylum and then as a guest house before it burnt down in 1869.
In 1867 a Cox horse Yattendon won the Inaugural Sydney Cup – he went on to sire 2 Melbourne Cup winners.
Fairlight was built in 1876 by William Jarrett. In the 1880’s Glenleigh was built by shipping magnate James Ewan as a country retreat, Mulgoa Public School and teacher’s residence completed (1883) and in 1885 the Fernhill horse stud was sold.
The 1890’s saw a prolonged drought and economic decline; Mulgoa post office was built (1893); the Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme was promoted by George Chaffey and Henry Gorman.
In the early 1900’s “country resorts” or boarding houses were common in the Mulgoa Valley. Winbourne was one of those but was destroyed by fire in 1920. 1968: Fairlight Estate was subdivided 1977: Site of Regentville ruins bought by the State and incorporated into Mulgoa Nature Reserve 1972: Cox Cottage property sold and subdivided into 4 x 10 ha lots
In 1985 what is now known as Cox Cottage Conservancy was bought by the Department of Planning to prevent inappropriate development; in 2007 the Department agreed to keep the land in public ownership and support the listing (2010) of it on the SHR as curtilage to Cox’s Cottage.
Fernhill Estate was acquired by the NSW Government in 2018 along with two adjacent properties, to bring the 412-hectare site into public ownership for the use and enjoyment of the community.
Chronology of Mulgoa
The valley of Mulgoa was unoccupied by Europeans
Grant to the infant Edward Cox and confirmed by Governor Macquarie the following year of land that became known as 'Fernhills' or 'Fernhill' and later as The (Cox) Cottage.
'The Cottage'/'Mulgoa Cottage' or 'Fernhill' was built for Lt. William Cox. Surveyor James Meehan surveys the Mulgoa Valley
Waterhouse sold his Spanish merino flock as a whole to William Cox and Cox let William Macarthur have a few ewes and one ram
10 Oct 1815
Governor Macquarie arrives at The Cottage and an excellent Cold Collation
Norton family receives grants on Fairlight Road. A slab cottage erected
Commencement of development Henry Cox’s Glenmore. Foundation stone of Sir John Jamison’s Regentville laid
Commencement of development of George Cox’s Winbourne.
Regentville completed and a village of service buildings and worker’s cottages erected
29 Dec 1826
The tribe of Mulgoa reaped upwards of thirty acres of wheat for me within the last fourteen days; the work was as well executed as if performed by my best English labourers
Foundation stone of St. Thomas’ Anglican Church was laid and church built.
Edward Cox finished and moved into the newly built “Fernhill” c. 1845.
Regentville run as an asylum and then as a guesthouse
Post office opened.
A Cox horse Yattendon wins the Inaugural Sydney Cup
Regentville destroyed by fire
Fairlight built on Norton land by new owner William Jarrett. Jarrett modernised the farm with a vineyard, abattoir, piggery and fruit packing.
Edward King Cox’s merino wool wins grand prize at the Paris Exposition Universelle
Glenleigh built by shipping magnate James Ewan as a country retreat
Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme promoted
Fernhill horse stud was sold.
Mulgoa Public School and teacher’s residence completed
A dairy established on 14 acres at Littlefields by AW Stephens
Prolonged drought and economic decline.
Mulgoa Irrigation Act passed by the NSW Parliament. The Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme was promoted by George Chaffey and Henry Gorman
Post office built
Mulgoa Shire Council was inaugurated.
Sheep grazing on Fairlight by James Norvill
A dairy on Fairlight run by Maclean
Dairying and fruit growing on Fairlight
Winbourne was destroyed by fire
Site of Regentville ruins bought by the State and incorporated into Mulgoa Nature Reserve
Fernhill bought by State Government