Heritage Management - Buildings

The collection of heritage buildings on our site play a significant role in keeping our convict history alive. Therefore conserving and maintaining our buildings for future generations is of paramount importance and works on our site are always carried out by professional tradesmen and artisans that respect our history.

The Homestead precinct is subject to heritage controls that require a Conservation Management Plan (CMP). The first one for the site was prepared in 1987 and since then has been revised in 1999 and then again in 2012/2013. The CMP was endorsed by the Heritage Office in 2014 and has continued to guide the conservation and development of the Tocal Homestead precinct. A guiding principle of the CMP is the Burra Charter. This is Australia’s major conservation convention and is complementary to the Venice Charter, the International Convention of Monuments and Sites. Burra Charter principles were incorporated into day to day decisions of the site. Where specific work is needed that is not covered by the plan, separate approval is gained from the Heritage Office of NSW. Local council approval is also sought where required. Click here to read the Conservation and Management Plan.

The adaptive reuse of the hay shed which was converted into the Tocal Homestead Function Centre was selected by the NSW Heritage Council as an exemplar of best practice in heritage management. The opportunity to run non heritage business activities such as wedding receptions allows the Homestead precinct to promote the site’s history through this community access as well as provide an income stream for its ongoing maintenance. Other examples of conservation and preservation of buildings made possible through individual donors, bequests and grants have included the 2012 conversion of the former dairy building to a visitor reception centre and the 2017 opening of the restored Barracks building into a boutique accommodation destination.

Specific actions in the CMP that have not been executed as yet due to funding constraints include; conservation of Thunderbolt’s cottage, further research and consideration of archaeologically sensitive areas as well as landscape works. While there has been extensive work done to expand areas so that they are open to the public, including inside the Homestead house, there are still actions left with opening the whole of the house and its objects as well as other areas of the heritage precinct. The environment plays an important part in the decision making of conservation and restoration. The rainfall and poor drainage on the Homestead site, the sandstone base, the frequency of violent electrical storms, the strong winds and past incident of disastrous fires all translate into running costs which are mandatory in preserving the site. The strategies include having a full time caretaker on site, minimising amount of hay stored in buildings, keeping gutters cleared, regular fire audits and inspections, extra tie downs onto the rafters in buildings, repair work to loose iron and decaying material and removal of grass and vegetation around the bases of timber fences and structures using biodegradable herbicide.


The Homestead is fully furnished and hosts collections from the 3 families that resided at Tocal. Access to these collections are available during our open days.

Grounds & Gardens

Our grounds are looked after by our live in caretakers while our gardens are tendered by our volunteer gardeners.


The beauty of Tocal’s natural environment is a feature that is highly valued. The characteristics of Tocal’s natural environment are diverse and require a multifaceted approach to planning in order to embrace and preserve this complexity. This is why different planning considerations and constraints operate in the natural environment of the Homestead precinct compared to the Tocal College area and the farms. The Tocal Homestead precinct incorporates remnant riparian rainforest vegetation within a highly modified European landscape. In 1989, Tocal began to fence off riparian zones, the first farm in the Paterson valley to do so. The rehabilitated rainforest contrasts with the planted Lombardy poplars and weeping willows, gardens, orchards and Ficus species planted by earlier occupiers of the Homestead. All these features of the site, which is surrounded by lagoons, wetlands, creek and river are admired by many visitors and specialist environmental groups. Regeneration and rehabilitation of the wetlands has continued since a landscape plan was drawn up in 1998. This plan ensures a consistent approach of planting and maintenance that is sensitive to the heritage values and characteristics of the area. It is important that this work continues to ensure that generations to come can witness exemplar land and property management.

Building Fund

Our tours, programs and events at the Homestead do not generate enough income to be reinvested back into preservation and maintenance of our buildings. A Building Fund was set up to assist with our conservation with all donations eligible for a tax deductible receipt. All donations are welcome.