WORLD War II veteran Dick Payten was just 20 when he first walked through the gates of the Ingleburn Army Camp.
A boy from Dubbo, he completed his first week of training at the site in 1941 before he served in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo.
It was a path followed by many young Diggers.
At a ceremony at the historic site, which celebrated the state heritage listing of the Ingleburn Military Precinct and Mont St Quentin Oval, Mr Payten recalled its tin huts, wooden floors and straw beds.
"We had minimal electricity, no hot water for showers and the food was OK. And the training was tough with drills and training marches."
NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Robyn Parker visited the precinct for Thursday's ceremony and described it as a "special day".
She said the site had a rich history as it was where the first Australian troops to see active service were trained.
"I don't know what they thought when they came through these gates. It must have been a bit of excitement and a bit of trepidation and a whole lot of unknowns."
"This is a special place and it's beautifully looked after and managed. This site has seen a lot of history and it has now evolved into a new role — telling that history."
Campbelltown MP Bryan Doyle said the site's heritage would be protected for future generations, like the Ingleburn North Public School pupils who also attended.
"It's for the likes of these that they trained here and fought. We honour them by looking after and protecting our heritage."
Ms Parker said the listing meant any future developments would need to take the site into account.
Richard Wood, general manager development for Urban Growth NSW, said the site had "an enduring and rightful place in the new town at Edmondson Park".
The Edmonson Park development surrounds the historic site and will eventually include a train station, town centre and 3600 new dwellings.
Mr Wood said the area's military past would be honoured in suburb, street and park names and Mont St Quentin Oval would be transformed into a thriving sports facility.
Ms Parker said a heritage listing for the site was one of the first matters raised at a community cabinet meeting in the area shortly after Barry O'Farrell was elected in 2011.
Do you have a connection to the Ingleburn Military Precinct?