Woodford Academy Blue Mountains, NSW: The oldest building in the Blue Mountains will celebrate the region’s long history of self-sustainability, artisan wares and produce when it holds its annual harvest festival on Saturday, March 20.
The highlight event for the central Mountains landmark, the Woodford Academy Harvest Festival will include live music, seasonal food, children’s games and a variety of stalls selling local produce, homemade jams and preserves, plants and more.
Woodford Academy Harvest Festival organiser Felicity Anderson encouraged locals and visitors to attend: ``Despite the false start last year because of COVID, this festival has grown year on year and is a fabulous showcase of the sustainable produce and wares available throughout the region.
``It’s also a chance to explore the Woodford Academy site, which sits so prominently on the highway, and learn about the many fascinating characters which have lived here, visited and made their mark on our community.’’
Originally a British pagan tradition, harvest festivals were held at the Woodford Academy between 1908 and 1965 when the building was also used as the venue for local Presbyterian church services.
Today owned by the National Trust, Tomas Pembroke was given the original land grant to establish an inn at the Woodford Academy site in 1831.
Since then, the Woodford Academy property has operated as one of the first guesthouses in the Mountains and a Victorian-era country retreat for wealthy Sydney merchant Alfred Fairfax, who expanded the property to a 90-acre estate.
Distinguished scholar John McManamey leased the property in 1907 and operated an exclusive school – Woodford Academy for Boys – until 1925, then a co-educational day school from 1929 to 1936.
After his death in 1946, McManamey’s daughters Jessie and Gertrude lived on in the building.
Jessie died in 1972, and Gertrude, who bequeathed the property to the National Trust in 1979 and lived there until 1986.
Today, the property offers a unique glimpse into colonial life in the Blue Mountains as well as an insight into the modern Blue Mountains community through interpretive displays, artist residencies and site-specific arts events organised by the volunteer management committee which cares for the site.
All proceeds from Woodford Academy events, including the harvest festival, directly contribute to the conservation of the property.
Woodford Academy holds regular open days, usually every third Saturday of the month or by appointment for groups of 10 or more anytime. Entry: $10 adults, $8 seniors/students, $25 families (two adults and accompanying children), children under-5 free.
The free harvest festival, which will form part of the National Trust’s 75th anniversary celebrations, will be held at Woodford Academy, 90-92 Great Western Hwy, Woodford (parking available in Vale Rd) from 10am to 4pm Saturday, March 20.