The Emu Plains Agricultural Farm was established to provide work for an influx of convicts after the end of the Napoleonic wars. It initially accommodated 270 convicts and 11 overseers. Wheat, maize and tobacco were the main crops cultivated. The first superintendent was an ex-convict, Richard Fitzgerald.
Between 1814 and 1820, the number of convicts sent to New South Wales more than doubled. Many of the new arrivals were former soldiers who had found no employment and turned to crime after they were demobilised. Their arrival placed new demands on food supplies.
In response, Governor Lachlan Macquarie established the Emu Plains Agricultural Farm. This government farm provided employment for convicts and produced additional food for the colony. It also played an important role in overseeing the movement of settlers, convicts and stock over the Blue Mountains.
Richard Fitzgerald successfully established the farm. Under subsequent superintendents it continued to be productive. In July 1826 there were 392 bushels of wheat in the granary, 4000 bushels of wheat in stacks, and 6256 bushels of maize in the stores at the farm. During a severe drought from 1827 to 1829 produce from the Emu Plains Agricultural Farm supported many other agricultural and penal settlements in New South Wales.
The farm was closed in 1832. At this time there was increasing pressure to end transportation of convicts to New South Wales. On 22 May 1840 an Order-in-Council was issued, removing New South Wales from the list of places to which convicts could be sent.