Brush Farm is a property that dates from 1803 and is located at Eastwood, or what is sometimes called Dundas Heights or Dundas. Brush Farm House, built on the farm in 1820, was bought by the New South Wales Government in 1894 and became the location for the Carpentarian Reformatory for Boys (1894-1908), Brush Farm Reformatory (1908-1912). Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies (1915-1922); Brush Farm Home (1922-1988); and Brush Farm Infants' Home (1968-1988) were also established in the house and grounds. Brush Farm was transferred to the Department of Corrective Services in 1988.
Brush Farm was formed by wealthy colonist William Cox in 1801-1803 then, in 1807, was bought by Gregory Blaxland. Blaxland was a wealthy colonist who was part of the first expedition across the Blue Mountains in 1813. Blaxland built his homestead, Brush Farm House, from 1819-1820, and grew fine wine grapes. In 1832 Blaxland sold Brush Farm to his brother-in-law Dr Foster and left the area. Brush Farm was situated at 19 Lawson Street, Eastwood (Dundas).
Brush Farm passed through several buyers and most of the land was subdivided and sold by the 1880s. The remainder of the farm and the homestead was leased, then bought, by the New South Wales Government in 1894.
In 1894 the Carpentarian Reformatory for Boys was established at Brush Farm, under the Department of Charitable Institutions. The Reformatory used Brush Farm House and the outbuildings. The name was changed to Brush Farm Reformatory in 1908-1909 and was transferred to the control of the Department of Public Instruction. The boys were moved to Gosford Farm Home for Boys at Mount Penang in 1912.
Brush Farm was then taken over by the State Children's Relief Department. Brush Farm House was used as the Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies from 1915 to 1922. In 1922 it became Brush Farm Home, an institution for girls who were considered to be 'feeble minded' (intellectually disabled). It used Montessori and Kindergarten principles to provide some degree of schooling and vocational training. It housed up to 60 girls. Boys were admitted in 1978.
In the 1960s cottages were added to Brush Farm Home but the older dormitory-style accommodation in Brush Farm House was retained, despite its age and unsuitability, due to the increasing rate of intellectually handicapped girls in care.
On 8 November 1968 Brush Farm Infants' Home opened in another building in the grounds of Brush Farm. The Infants' Home accommodated 40 infants of both sexes and sometimes older children as well. From August 1980 it served as temporary residential care of disabled children, mainly for respite care when parents or foster parents needed a break or a holiday, as a temporary placement centre pending long term care or during family crises, and also for behaviour training. In this period the buildings appear to have also been known as Brush Farm Reformatory for Girls, or Brush Farm Reform School for Girls, or Thorbery Lodge.
Brush Farm Home closed in 1988. The estate was purchased by the Department of Corrective Services, who re-opened it as the Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy on 1 May 1989. The historic homestead, Brush Farm House, has been sold to Ryde Council, but in 2012 Corrective Services retained use of the estate and the other buildings. Brush Farm House serves as a Council community centre.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Brush Farm', in State Heritage Register, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2003, https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/App/Item/ViewItem?itemId=5045464; 'Brush Farm Home, Eastwood', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/6427; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 29 July 2015