Love a museum? Make Penrith your next destination
You may know that Penrith is home to many historic buildings and sites, but the city is also home to four museums, each offering a fascinating glimpse into the past.
If you like to really get a feel for the places you visit, head to the Arms of Australia Inn Museum and immerse yourself in local history. Set in what is thought to be Penrith’s oldest surviving building, the museum is run by the Nepean District Historical Society. It contains artefacts that were either part of everyday life or were manufactured in the local area as well as hundreds of photographs dating back to our earliest pioneers.
The history of the building itself is unclear, but it may have been built as early as 1813. The original building was part of Governor Macquarie’s Experimental Prison Farm, possibly the tanner’s hut. It was licensed as the Arms of Australia Inn in 1841 and was an important staging post for travellers from Sydney over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst and onto the goldfields.
Penrith is a fair way from the coast, but none-the-less it is home to the fascinating Nepean Naval and Maritime Museum. The museum was established in 2015 in a building built by the Naval Association and Royal Australian Navy apprentices from the nearby training facility, HMAS Narimba. It is home to a collection that spans 50 years of Naval history (1950-2000) and includes model ship displays, naval weapon armaments, a crest room and a photo hall.
This gem of an institution is staffed and operated by ex-service personnel, all of whom have a passion for sharing and preserving Naval history.
The history of fire fighting
Head to the Museum of Fire to explore the drama and danger of firefighting and its history. One of the most popular family attractions in Penrith, the Museum of Fire is home to an impressive collection of firefighting vehicles and memorabilia.
Inside the heritage listed former power station you will find displays of firefighting equipment ranging from a 200-year-old hand-pulled cart to modern fire engines, documents, photographs and more. The museum delves into all aspects of fire, its place in industry, mythology, religion and the arts.
Visitors can also enjoy a children’s play and activities area complete with a ride-on fire-engine and interactive computer games as well as an outdoor playground and picnic area.
Printing the past
If you’re fascinated by fonts, into tinkering with type setting or want to learn more about printing presses, visit the Penrith Museum of Printing! The museum is much more than a collection of historical relics of the printing trade – it’s a working print shop. Run by a group of tireless volunteers, it invites you to step back into a 1950s-style print shop and get a glimpse of the past through working demonstrations.
Much of the machinery and equipment at the museum came from the former Nepean Times Newspaper print room, while other key items have been donated from printing companies from around the state. The pieces date from the 1840s to the 1970s – including the 1880s Wharfedale printing press, 1860s Albion Press and, the prize of the collection, a 1941 Colombian, donated by Fairfax Media.
Admission fees apply for each of these Penrith attractions and opening hours are varied. Click on the links above to find out more about these fascinating museums.