Cnr Great Western Highway and  Gardenia Avenue, Emu Plains NSW

Our Muesum - Nepean District Historical Society

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.

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.

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
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.
Group Bookings and appointments

All groups are required to make a booking to ensure that we have sufficent volunteers to guide you through the exhibits.

Lantern Tours
The Society offers evening lantern tours to small groups when possible. Bookings are essential.
School Groups

Schools are welcome to the museum and here you will find all the info you need.

Bulletins and Newsletters

We need Volunteers!

About the Inn Site.

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.
Our Contact Details
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

(c) NDHS 2023