WESTERN Sydney is home to many historical sites for residents and tourists to enjoy its heritage, arts and culture in buildings and open spaces.
A great place to start is the Blacktown Arts Centre and the Visitor Information and Heritage Centre in Flushcombe Road.
People are directed to the Alroy Tavern at Rooty Hill Road, Plumpton; the Battle of Vinegar Hill Monument at Windsor Road, Rouse Hill, the Blacksmith Shed at Nurragingy Reserve in Doonside; Minchinbury Place at Great Western Highway in Minchinbury; Prospect Reservoir, Rouse Hill House and Farm in Rouse Hill; St Bartholomew's Church at Prospect, The Manse at Mt Druitt; and The Royal Cricketers Arms Inn at Prospect.
One of the historical highlights is a hair-raising ghost tour on New Year's Eve at Blacktown's historic Saint Bartholomew's Church from 6pm. A guide will take people through St Bartholomew's Church graveyard which is home to the graves of many early settlers, most famously William Lawson, one of the first group of Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, and Thomas Willmot, the first shire president of Blacktown.
The night starts at 6pm and costs $35 a person. Dinner at the church is at 6.30pm, followed by the ghost tour and to finish just before the fireworks at midnight to welcome in the new year.
You can spend a beautiful night out at St Bartholomew's, and if it's a clear night, you may see the spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.
Ghost tours are conducted by The Guides of St Bartholomew's. Bookings are essential. For more information or bookings contact 9839 6000.
The best introduction to Parramatta's heritage sites and stories is at the Heritage Centre at 346A Church Street Parramatta.
You will find information about area's history explained through photos, stories and artefacts. There is a local studies library, a gallery space, activities, workshops, and a visitor information centre providing maps, guide books and advice.
■Experiment Farm Cottage stands on the site of the first land grant in Australia, made in 1789 by Governor Phillip to James Ruse.
■Elizabeth Farm is a rare example of an early Australian colonial bungalow built in 1793 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, pioneers of the Australian wool industry.
■Hambledon Cottage was built by John Macarthur in 1824 as a second house on his Elizabeth Farm Estate.
Its many early occupants include Sir Edward Macarthur, Archdeacon Thomas Hobbes Scott and Dr Matthew Anderson.
■Step back 190 years in time, to when Governor Lachlan Macquarie was governor and visit historic Lancer Barracks . Lancer Barracks has been home to the 1/15th Royal NSW Lancers for well over 100 years, giving rise to their nickname, he Parramatta Lancers
The Lancers is Australia's oldest surviving and most decorated regiment.
For more information, call 9635 8149, during business hours or 0416 026 816 after hours .