The Arms of Australia Inn was one of 23 road side inns in the Nepean District and the last stop before starting up the mountain road and the trail west.
It is believed that the building was built in two sections, the first around 1826 and was purchased on 1st May 1833 by Joseph Barrow Montefiore. He later split the land in two in 1840 and sold half to John Mortimer, who commenced trading as an inn on the main road to Bathurst, Orange and the gold diggings.
Passenger Coaches The coaches that plied the road day and night also used to stop at the inn as did many bullock team drivers taking stock and provisions over the mountains. As the inn only had two main rooms, most overnight travellers had to sleep in the barn, on the veranda or under their wagons.
A year later the laws were changed and Inns had to have separate rooms for ‘Ladies and Children’. Mortimer added four additional rooms for bedrooms.
The society took control of the building and began the slow work of restoration until it was officially opened on 27th March 1976 as a museum of local history for the Nepean district.
Bushrangers As bushrangers were a great problem in the area, the Arms and a second inn at the top of the hill had a system to warn travellers if bushrangers were about. This was accomplished by the inn at the top of the hill hanging a lantern on their building which was visible to the Arms. If the lantern was burning, the road was clear, but if it was not, the stagecoach drivers and other travellers would spend the night at the Arms and continue on in daylight.
The Inn continued to prosper till the 1860s, when the rail line came through. People began to use the train instead of going by road and trade died off.
The inn was sold in 1865 and became a private house for the next hundred years, when it was sold to Lucas & Tait for subdivision.
Restoration In 1972, rather than have the building demolished the Nepean District Historical Society asked the Penrith City Council to purchase the site, which they did.
When to visit
Our new hours are - Monday 10am to 1pm Wednesday 10am to 1pm All other times by appointment Closed for Christmas 13th Dec to 8th Jan 24
For more details and prices, please click on the "Our Hours" button.
During School Visits, we generally close the site to all visitors, we suggest your ring before visiting.
Penrith City Council are responsible for all the buildings and the site itself. A special committee known as S355 administers the site on behalf of the Council and liaises closely with the Nepean District Historical Society Inc (NDHS) in the running of the museum. The site is also home to the NSW Corps of Marines who are a re-enactment group that portray First Fleet Marine (soldiers) life in the late 1700’s.
The Inn was once a staging post for travellers making the trip from Sydney over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst and on to the goldfields. Built it two sections, the first in 1826, it is one of the oldest buildings in Penrith, if not the oldest.
Due to its colourful history, the Inn provides an interesting venue for tour groups, weddings photos, school tours and exhibitions.
The museum contains artefacts that were either part of evetyday life or were manufactured in the local area. The museum also has hundreds of photographs dating back to our earliest pioneers stored for future generations. .
Nepean District Historical Society (Inc)
In 1924 a meeting was held in Penrith by Arthur Judges who saw the benefits of keeping items of Australian history alive for future generations. At the meeting a resolution was passed to form the Nepean District Historical Society. Another meeting was reported to elect the office bearers, but after that there is no further knowledge of this group. The society was officially re-established the 12th of August 1947. It continued to operate from the private homes of members until 1971 when it was granted use of the old Arms of Australia Inn building that had been left in disrepair.
Five years later, after extensive restoration and hard work, the society relocated to the inn and it has been the headquarters of the society ever since. The society collects information, photos and artefacts that were used, or relate to, the local Penrith and Nepean district.
For more information please call the Inn on (02) 4735 4394 during opening hours.
Services offered by NDHS
The Arms of Australia Inn Museum is operated by NDHS with the help of many Volunteers. There are no paid employees of NDHS and all profits go back into running the museum.
Research on properties and families that form the history of the Penrith Area. The musuem has a vast number of donations which include photos and historical documents of Penrith's past.
School Group tours. Our volunteers will demonstrate how things were in the "old days" allowing children to have a "hands on" approach.
Historical meetings - Every 4th Saturday of the month at 1pm, the Society has it's regular meeting which usually includes a light afternoon tea and a prominant guest speaker. Everybody is welcome.
Evening Lantern tours.
Volunteer work. The museum is a perfect place to volunteer your services. Contact us if you have time to spare.
Our Bookshop stocks some unique local history books and guides.
Nepean District Historical Society Inc. Arms of Australia Inn Museum Great Western Highway Emu Plains. PO Box 441 Penrith NSW 2751 Tel: 02 4735 4394 Info@armsofaustraliainn.org.au
(c) NDHS 2023
Our normal hours and pricing.
Opening Hours (Closed 13th Dec to 8th Jan)
Monday 10am-1pm Tuesday by appointment Wednesday 10am to 1pm Thursday 10am to 1pm Friday by appointment Saturday by appointment Sunday by appointment Please use the booking form for appointments
Admission Adult $10.00 per head Concession $5.00 Children $5.00
Lantern Tours By appointment only and a minimum of five people. Cost $15.00 per head.
Visitor tours Please use the On-line booking form or contact the museum on (02) 4735 4394.
For all other after hours enquiries email: email@example.com.
We are a small museum, staffed by volunteers. If you have a group wishing to visit the museum, please pre-book by using the on-line booking request
The Nepean District Historical Society conducts evening tours of the museum using battery operated Lanterns. These tours take place after sunset and require a minimum number of 5 particpants Bookings are essential and age restrictions may apply.
The tours are designed to take you back in time to the early 1800s and give visitors a sense of what it was like to live without power or running water. You may get to meet some of the past travellers who never left the building.
To replicate the lighting of the era, most people will be given a battery operated latern to help them navigte through the buildins. People with low or impaired vision should not join this tour.
Wanted - More Volunteers
Nepean District Historical Society Inc is a non-profit organisation which means that any money we receive goes back into maintaining the collection and keeping the doors open. The are no paid employees, so the Society runs purely on people who can spare some time to volunteer to keep our local museum operating.
Volunteers are welcome to become members of the society if they wish, however due to the weekly presence of children on-site we asked that you apply for an authority to “work with children”, which is at no cost and we will help you with the application.
Some of the roles our volunteers undertake are
Office / Admin
Back office support
BBQ and food handling
At present we have a diminished pool of volunteers resulting in less hours that our doors are open. If you would like to make a difference please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.