Hedges were the dominant form of fence used in Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, and although a few were planted in Australia, they were uncommon except in northern Tasmania.
Osage orange was the favoured hedge plant in the prairie states of the United States before the invention of barbed wire in 1874. Some colonial Australian nurserymen and others praised the plant for fences, but by the 1860s the common standard fence in Australia was post-and-wire.
Hedges were rarely used in rural New South Wales during the colonial period and those that survive today are considered rare and significant. This example demonstrates one approach to marking boundaries. The hedge combines British fencing technology (hedges) of the 18th and 19th centuries with the most widely used hedge plant in the USA in the 19th century before the invention of barbed wire in 1874.
The hedge in Peats Crater is a highly significant historic heritage item satisfying multiple heritage criteria and is considered of state significance. It is probably in the best condition and longest of the surviving hedges. It is a rare example combining cultural (hedges, property boundaries) and natural (use of Osage orange) history.
As Peats Crater is in Muogamarra Nature Reserve, the Osage orange hedge is an exotic element in an area dedicated primarily to conservation of the natural environment. Under normal circumstances and approaches to management of nature reserves, such exotic plants would be removed. However, because the hedge is a significant item of historic heritage, its retention is more appropriate.
Muogamarra Nature Reserve is only open to visitors on weekends during spring.
Photo: Osage Orange hedge, Peats Crater, Muogamarra Nature Reserve / Copyright John Pickard