Saturday 26 December 2015

Maryland, Bringelly, NSW


773 The Northern Road, Bringelly, NSW. 2556
Lot 1, DP 218779; Lot 29, DP 872135

Maryland House c.1990s (

History and Description

“Maryland” including the homestead, grounds, outbuildings, stone cottage, former winery, stone store and gate keepers cottage. Also known as Nonorrah.

Part of 1815 grant to John Dickson. He named the 1215 hectare (3000 acres) property "Nonorrah". By 1828 it was just one of a number of large pastoral holdings which he began selling in 1833. "Nonorrah" was purchased by his former apprentice, Thomas Barker, then resident at Darlinghurst. He remarried in 1857 and moved to the property after his first wife, Dickson's niece, died. He renamed the property "Maryland". Most of the buildings of interest were built during his occupancy. His son Thomas Charles took over the property after his death in 1875, and extended the planting. After he died in 1940 it was purchased by N A Thompson whose daughters, Annette and Elizabeth. . (State Heritage Inventory)

The main house building was built by Thomas Barker when he moved to the property. Completed in 1859 and connected to a pre-existing house (1840's) still standing. It is believed that an earlier 1820's dwelling was demolished to make way for this building. Apart from minor alterations and rear additions the building has been maintained in original condition. (State Heritage Inventory)

The main building is a large early colonial style house laid out on a rectangular plan. Despite gothic chimneys and classical verandah posts, overall styling is more traditional (Australian Georgian). Stone rubble construction with stuccoed, ashlar finish and stone quoining (now painted). Hipped, galvanised iron roof with sandstone chimneys. Skillion verandah on eastern and northern frontages with return to southern side. (State Heritage Inventory)

Condition and Use

The buildings are still in use and intact.

It is understood that some of the outbuildings are in a state of disrepair. However, this does not alter the significance of the item. (State Heritage Inventory)

Heritage Significance

Maryland is an outstanding complex of early homestead and farm buildings, especially significant for its completeness as a group, its excellent state of preservation, and the intergration of the buildings, garden and magnificant setting. Includes many early buildings in good repair as well as buildings of special architectural interest. The winery and store may be the oldest winery buildings in Australia. Property has been in continuous occupation by only two families for over 130 years. Long associations with the surrounding district.

The Main Building is an important historic grouping, set in magnificant garden and landscape and retaining most original fabric. The outbuildings form a substantial group which are of state significance because they are an important historic grouping and some of the earliest on the buildings on site. They illustrate the diversity of functions associated with early agricultural activity in this area. All are virtually intact. (State Heritage Inventory)

Heritage Listing

Camden LEP I1
State Heritage Inventory - NSW Heritage
National Estate Database - Australian Heritage Commission

Read more 

about Maryland and its farming complex on the State Heritage Inventory Click here

Camden Heritage List Click here

Friday 25 December 2015

Macaria, a Camden heritage icon.


37 John Street, Camden, NSW 2570  Lot 1 DP 216189

Macaria. 37 John Street, Camden. c.1990 (Camden Images/John Kooyman)ca

History and Description

Macaria was built by Henry Thompson, a notable Camden identity, who took up residence in the mid 1840's. He founded the first water-driven mill at the corner of Argyle and Edward Streets and later built brick steam mills which eventually became the Camden Tweed Mills. It was for many years the home of Dr F.W. West and later of other medical doctors. Now it is owned by Camden Council and retained as part of their Civic Centre complex. The stable and barn, a small building of similar style on the southern side of the house, were demolished to allow an entranceway to the new Council building behind.  (NSW Heritage)

Macaria is an excellent example of a Picturesque Tudor-Gothic residence of brick with stone dressings, wooden fretwork on the verandahs, and high brick chimneys and gable windows. Its high pitched gable roof, which was probably once shingled, is now covered with corrugated iron. It has two single panelled timber entrance doors with a highlight window, double hung windows, ornate timber barge-boards, quoining stones and finials and pendants on the gables. (NSW Heritage)

Condition and Use

The building is in good condition.  Macaria retains good integrity and intactness.
Its current use is for the Camden Council Chambers

Heritage Significance

For a house of this scale, Macaria is among the best picturesque Gothic houses in Australia. This, when combined with its importance to Camden, makes it a building of great significance. (National Estate Database) 
The building is part of the John Street group. 
Macaria is a  fine early townhouse of distinctive and interesting architectural quality, associated with an important figure of the town's early years. (NSW Heritage)

Heritage Listing  

Camden LEP No 145

Read more about Macaria on the 

Register of the National Estate Click here
NSW State Heritage Inventory  Click here
Camden Heritage List Click here

Camden Volunteers and the War Workers’ Gazette from the First World War

The cover of the War Workers' Gazette published in Sydney in 1918 as a wartime fundraiser for the War Chest Fund

1918 War Workers' Gazette

Camden volunteers in a variety of organisations were listed in  1918 when a Sydney publisher compiled the War Workers’ Gazette as a fundraiser for the Citizens’ War Chest Patriotic Fund. It was an important publication for the time and its importance has not declined over the years. Publications of this type are rare and despite some shortcomings it is a valuable addition to the historiography of contemporary wartime publications.

The full title of the gazette was The War Workers’ Gazette, A Record of the Organised Civilian War Effort in New South Wales and published by Winn & Co. It records thousands of names of volunteers across New South Wales for a host of wartime voluntary organisations.
It is a great resources for anyone researching war time history, family history or local studies. The lists of names provide a  rare and /invaluable asset to search names and voluntary organisations. There is no other equivalent elsewhere in Australia.

Example of information in War Workers’ Gazette 1918 p.67. There are individual names and organisational descriptions.
For more information on the story of the Gazette, who put it together and its success or not click here

View the War Workers’ Gazette on the National Library Website  Click here

Monday 23 November 2015

A Camden Heritage Icon and the Campbelltown Heritage List

Local heritage icons


Commercial Bank of Sydney

125 Argyle Street, Camden. Lot 1 DP 986203

Commercial Bank c.1982 (Camden Images) 

History and Description
It was built in 1877-78 to the design of G.A. Mansfield, who did much of the CBC's architectural work at that time. The contractor was C. Furner of Camden. A one storey extension added 1972-73 by Architects Laurie and Heath, sympathetically following the style and detail of the original building. (State Heritage Inventory)

A fine example of the late Victorian Bank buildings to be found in country towns of New South Wales. It is in an Italianate style with a fine stone entrance porch to the main elevation and a cast iron balustraded verandah and balcony to its two storeys. The wisteria vine which climbs over the verandah is considered part of the Bank's aesthetic contribution. (SHI)

The building has a hipped shingle roof with a tiled ridgecap and painted chimneys. The entrance door is a timber framed glass sliding door with a highlight window. The building has arched two pane double hung windows. There are french doors to the first floor verandah. (State Heritage Inventory)

The entrance doors have been converted to automatic sliding doors. Airconditioners have been installed. Single storey extension. National Estate Database)

Condition and Use

The building is in good condition. The building is currently occupied by the NAB, and other small businesses. (SHI)

Heritage Significance

An important and noticeable building in a key position on the corner of Camden's two main streets. It continues to be used for its original purpose and well kept over the years. The building is representative of a Victorian Italianate building. It is part of the John Street Group. (SHI) The bank retains good integrity and intactness. (SHI)

Heritage Listing

LEP 2010 item no 112.
State Heritage Inventory (NSW). Built Heritage.
National Estate Database Australian Heritage Commission

Campbelltown LGA

In the Campbelltown LGA the council has created a central page with a listing of all the important heritage items for the area. The central page below has links to individual pages for items on its heritage list.

Each heritage item has a title, images, history and description, condition and use, heritage significance, and heritage listing (see below for an example).

The advantage of this Campbelltown Council webpage is that it is easy to find, easy to navigate, concise and all in the one place. While it is true that most of the information is available on the State Heritage Inventory. The SHI website is not as easy to use and navigate and it takes a little persistence to find the information that you are after.

Camden LGA

Camden Council has no such equivalent at the Campbelltown LGA heritage list. Its spokesperson stated that it would duplicate  the State Heritage Inventory. This is probably true. Yet the Camden Council website is legalistic and not easy to navigate. While it does provide a link to the SHI it takes quite a deal of time to find it.

If Camden Council were to ever construct a page like the Campbelltown LGA heritage list  then a local heritage item and its listing might look like this:

Read more:
For the Campbelltown LGA Heritage List and Individual Items go to:

Thursday 12 November 2015

A decked car park for Camden

A decked car park for Camden

Camden Council stand for Oxley Street Car Park at Camden Library

Have you say.

Do you have a view on the proposed decked car park in Oxley Street?
Do you support it?
Do you care?
Camden Council wants to know your view.
There are stands about the proposal at local libraries and other venues.

Camden Council stand at Camden Library

Have your say.
Tell Camden Council what you think.
Write a letter to the local paper.

Tell local councillors what you think. Click here

See more on the Camden Council website Click here

1990s proposals for a decked car park were rejected by council

Are you interested in proposals for a decked car park in Camden in the 1990s?
Did you know that earlier proposals were rejected to Camden Council.
 Read more to see why  click here

Sunday 8 November 2015

Narellan Public School a local heritage icon

Narellan Public School

290 Camden Valley Way Narellan Lot 1 DP 808100

Narellan Public School buildings (Camden Images/John Kooyman 1997)

History and Description

The school site historically important buildings comprising a small sized late 19th century former original residence and schoolroom, constructed of brick and setback from Camden Valley Way by a generous tree lined and open space. The school is located directly adjacent to former St Thomas’ Church and School at Narellan, together forming an important long term institutional precinct in Narellan town centre.

The most prominent tree is a landmark Bunya Pine adjacent to the earlier buildings.

The administration bulding was originally constructed as a school residence, erected in 1877. Repairs and additions were made in 1891 and in 1912 the shingle roof was replaced with corrugated iron. Further repairs were made in 1938, along with adaptation and cyclic maintenance undertaken in subsequent years. The building is of brick construction.

The school building was originally constructed in 1877 and has a simple Victorian aesthetic, with a pitched roof, timber windows and decorative barge board. The building is a brick construction with corrugated roofing. In 1949 a fire destroyed the front section of the building. In 1951 the building was rebuilt as a single classroom using the original bricks and in 1957 it was renovated to provide an office, staffroom and storeroom. In 1987 it was coverted into a staffroom for the school. (SHI)

School Grounds

The existence of some of the trees can be attributed to plantings made in 1890 and subsequent years to mark the celebration of Arbor Day at Narellan Public School. Tree types on the site include a Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghammii), Pepper Trees (Schinus molle) and several Eucalypt varieties. 

Narellan Church of England School was in operation in January 1854, and may have existed prior to this date. In August 1875 it was recommended that a schoolroom with the accommodation for 40 children and a residence be built.

A permanent schoolroom and residence were completed in 1877. Enrolments in 1888 numbered 73. In 1889 a new classroom was constructed and additions to the residence undertaken in 1891. In 1912 the shingle roof on the school and residence was replaced with corrugated iron. Further renovations and repairs were completed in 1938, and the buildings were affected by fire in 1949.

Land was progressively acquired over time. In 1920, two more lots were acquired which completed the area between Coghill Street, Camden Valley Way and Richardson Road. (SHI)

Designer of school buildings: G.A. Mansfield (1877)

Condition and Use

Appears to be generally good (SHI)

Recommendation to conserve historically significant fabric and setting (pre 20th century and earlier) and maintain school use.

Heritage Significance

Narellan Public School is a historically important institution within Narellan. For some 130 years it has been the place of learning for many local children, and maintains a number of physical elements through its extant buildings and setting, which are testimony to that historical growth and association. (SHI)

Heritage Listing

2010 Camden LEP Item No I130

Read more about the Camden LGA Heritage Inventory Click here

Thursday 5 November 2015

Ben Linden another heritage icon

Ben Linden

311 Camden Valley Way, Narellan. Part Lot A   DP 419829.

Ben Linden  (Camden Images/John Kooyman 1997)

 History and Description

Sister Jean Stuckey conducted a private maternity hospital in the handsome bungalow "Ben Linden". 

Historical sources consider that the building was the residence of G S Blackmoor in the late 1920-30's. The building was used as a private school before Miss Stuckey. This is a residence of note include Colonel and Mrs Shaw, the Colonel ran the private school at Studley Park. (SHI)

Built by Blackmoor who ran Jack Cross's former shop. Mr & Mrs Halkett who ran it as a private hospital after the Stuckeys sold it.  
Ben Linden also known as Miss Stuckey’s House is a bungalow and is part of a residential group of buildings.

The house is located within an commercial/industrial area on the Camden Valley Way. The single storey house has a tiled hip and valley roof. The eaves extend to form a verandah over the entry way. The walls appear to be roughcast brick work. The verandah is supported by plain timber posts.(SHI)

Condition and Use

The bungalow and grounds appear generally in good condition.
The building is currently used a residence.

Heritage Significance

An excellent example of Federation dwelling with a prominent position and landscaped surrounds, and extraordinary history of use within the Narellan Town Centre and Camden LGA. It is a now rare, tangible remnant of Narellan Town's development during the Federation period, and along with the former Burton Arms Inn, Public School, St Thomas' Church and grounds, Narellan Hotel, former butcher's shop and cottage, and milk depot, are the historically most important remaining built elements of Narellan Township's history. Its former role as a maternity hospital is likely to embrace social significance within the local community. (SHI)

The recommended management of the building is to conserve and maintain 6 fabric, landscape, setting and property boundary curtilage.  (SHI)

Heritage Listing

Camden LEP  2010  Item No I131

Consult the Camden Heritage List at the Camden LEP 2010 Click here

Wednesday 21 October 2015

First traffic lights in central Camden

First traffic lights in central Camden

Installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Argyle Street and Oxley on 21 October 2015 along with the new pavers

The latest part of the Camden Town Centre Enhancement Strategy by Camden Council has been constructed - the installation of traffic lights in central Camden along with the new paving for the footpath.

New paving in Argyle Street Camden with new traffic lights in the background on 21 October 2015.

Read more about the Town Centre Strategy in a Camden Council press release July 2015 click here

Read more about the Town Centre Vision Statement prepared by Camden Council click here

Friday 16 October 2015

Men and Machines 2015

Men & Machines 2015

Monster Trucks

Men, muscle cars and mayhem as the Christian cowboys did circle work in the back paddock.
Lots of noise, dirt and dust - good work eh!  Nice circles too. With smooth edges. Not bad either if I do say so myself.

Circle Work

The event attracted a large crowd at site held at Macarthur Anglican School at Cobbitty.
There were a set of wheels to suit every interest and age. From monster trucks to shiny cars to unshiny cars. Monster boats and flying machines - without wheels.

From two wheels to 12 wheel, from flying objects the size of shoe box to the real deal - you could take a ride in a helicopter if you wanted.
Glorious weather let the chrome shine and dazzle the fans.
So much shine on  display that it  blinded you as you inspected the muscle under the bonnet.
Of particular interest was the jet propelled van - yep you got it - a van (actually two) with a jet engine on board - crazy eh!  Fasten you seat belts and get ready for take-off.

Jet Van ready for take-off

For the slower types there were a number of horse drawn wagons that had been lovingly restored - no horses - that was restricted to the metal machines which had hundreds of horses - pretty too!

Lots of horses

To fill you up there was a sizzling sausage sizzle and to cool you down there was the wet water stand.
There was sponsors alley where local businesses displayed their wares - and chatted up potential customers.
Men and women were dazzled by the sizzling entertainment provided at the centrally located stage area - great sound system.
The Crowd

Read more about the event and the sponsors.  click here

Thursday 8 October 2015

Kangaroo March Re-enactment

War horses lead Kangaroo March Re-enactment at Camden Park

Kangaroo March Re-enactment approaching Camden Park House led by wagon with a 2-in-hand Percheron heavy horses.

The war horse

Percheron is a breed of heavy horse or draft horse that were used extensively during the First World War in France and were originally bred as a war horse. They were used on Camden Park in late 19th and early 20th century as a valuable farm work horse.

Percherons originated in Huisne river valley in France in the 17th century as part of the province of Perche.

Percherons are well-muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. They are an agile draft horse mostly grey or black and described as clean limbed, strong and have a good disposition. 

Originally bred as a war horse they were used to pull carriages and coaches, and then started to be used in farming as a work horse. In the 19th century they reportedly could travel up to 60 km at a trot in a day.

At the outbreak of the First World War the French embargoed their export to the United States after many years of successful sales.

During the fighting of the First World War their docile temperament made them useful for pulling guns carriages in forward positions. They were reportedly more useful than motorised transports on paved roads at a quick trot and they coped well in the mud.

Read more about the war horse, the Percheron click here
Read about the Percheron breed of horses click here
Read about the role of Percheron horses in the TV show Gallipoli click here
Reada about the role of the heavy horses in the First World War click here

Kangaroo Recruitment March Re-enactment 2015

Kangaroo Recruitment March Re-enactment - Menangle to Camden Section - 9 October 2015

Read more @ Kangaroo Re-enactment

Sunday 4 October 2015

Historic Denbigh at Cobbitty

Open Day

The Denbigh Open Day is a rare opportunity to view one of the area's premier historic colonial properties. Denbigh was part of a land grant to Sydney merchant Charles Hook in 1812. The property was then sold in 1827 to 'The Galloping Parson" Rev Thomas Hassall.

Historic Denbigh at Cobbitty Open Day 10 October 2015.

The earliest part of Denbigh house was constructed by Hook in 1817 and added to by Thomas Hassall in 1838.

The State Heritage Inventory states:
The homestead is sited in contrast with the surrounding open agricultural land and is complimented by the half circle of hills which define Denbigh's landscape character. In terms of elevation and character, the buildings and trees have been sited in a manner influenced by John Claudius Loudon, the Scottish writer on landscape taste.

Read more

Read more on the State Heritage Inventory. Click here
View more images from the State Heritage Inventory. Click here

Friday 14 August 2015

Jacarandas Removed in Central Camden

Protesters from the Camden Community Alliance express their objection to the removal of jacarandas in Argyle Street Camden on 12 August 2015. Members of the Alliance have ramped up their protests in recent weeks. The protesters are standing on the corner of Oxley and Argyle Streets. This is one of several street protests that the Alliance members have conducted in recent weeks.

Camden Council contractors removing the jacarandas at the intersection of Oxley and Argyle Streets in Camden. These works are part of the Town Centre Improvements that the council approved in 2014. The Camden Community Alliance has requested meetings with council and they have been declined. One of the principle objections mounted by the Alliance is the lack of engagement by council over these matters.

The Camden Community Alliance members protested this week over the removal of Jacaranda trees in Argyle Street to make way for traffic lights at the intersection with Oxley Street. 
Earlier the week Alliance members made their presence felt at the meeting of Camden Council. They were expressing their increasing frustration when council staff took questions on notice at the meeting. Mayor Symkowiak adjourned the meeting for 5 minutes, hoping the meeting could be continued, according to the Macarthur Chronicle report.
Later in the meeting local residents called out from the public gallery and the council meeting was adjourned on two more occasions.
A post of the Camden Community Alliance Facebook page maintained that it was 'impossible' for members 'to contain their voices any longer'. The post said that it was sad that it had all come to this and Alliance members looked quite radical over these matters.
The council meeting ended with cries of 'shame' from the gallery.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Kings Bush Nepean River

Kings Bush

King's Bush is the reserve adjacent the river's edge and  is named after Cecil J King, the rector of St John's Church between 1893 and 1927. According to John Wrigley, King kept his horse in the paddock next to the river and swam at the same spot in the river.  Reverand King was a keen sports fan and played for the Camden Cricket Club and was the teams wicket keeper for a number of years. In 1927 he was the patron of the Camden Golf Club  and president of the Union and St John's tennis club. King was ordained at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney in 1887 by the Bishop Barry of the Sydney Archdiocese. (Camden Advertiser 2 June 1949)

Read more  @ John Wrigley, Place Names on the Camden Area, Camden, CHS, 2005.

Information Panels at Kings Bush Reserve

Thursday 23 July 2015

Gilbulla, a Menangle Arts and Crafts mansion

Open Day 2014

Open Day 2014

Gilbulla, Menangle

Gilbulla is an Arts and Crafts style mansion built in 1899 by James W Macarthur Onslow after his marriage to Enid. The house was designed by John Sulman from Sydney architects Sulman and Power.

In 1919 the house was the venue for the marriage of James and Enid's daughter Helen to Captain RC Stanham with over 300 guests including the wife of the Governor-General Lady Helen Munro Ferguson.

In 1927 the Duchess of York, later the Queen Mother, visited Gilbulla on a visit to Australia with her husband for the opening of Parliament House in Canberra.

James's sister Sibella moved into Gilbulla in 1932. Sibella held a number garden parties for the Red Cross.

After Sibella's death in 1943 the Australian Red Cross rented the property for use as a rehabilitation hospital for returning soldiers who were suffering from nerve conditions.

The Anglican church purchased the property in 1949 to be used as a CENEF conference centre.

Gilbulla was purchased by Ellel Ministries in 2002 and are the current owners.

Gilbulla was opened to the public for the first time in 2012 for many years.

Saturday 11 July 2015

A Seaside Holiday

North Beach Wollongong

Local folk from the Camden district have been going to Wollongong and the South Coast for beach holidays for generations. It is a time to relax, chill out, slow down, drop out, and generally escape the hum drum of  daily existence of home and work.

The seaside holiday has been more than that. The development of the beach holiday owes much to the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s and the shorter working week and increased wages of ordinary workers. Australian’s copied the English Victorians and their interest in health and well-being and particularly cold-water bathing. The scurge of diseases like tuberculosis (or consumption as it was known) were constant threats to health and well-being of people. The inter-war period (1919-1939) saw the added influence of modernism, consumerism, movies and tourism on the mobility and spending patterns of people. All these contributed to the attraction of the beach.

Camden aquatic sports and swimming

Camden folk were influenced by all these social and cultural trends. Swimming had become popular before the First World War as Peter Mylrea found in his history of swimming (Camden History, March 2006). The Camden Aquatic Sports were held in the Nepean River in 1909 and the foundation of the Camden Swimming Club in the 1920s. But for young people the beach provided the lure of the exotic when compared to swimming in the Nepean River.

The beach attracted the attention of Camden families particularly during the Inter-war period. Local marriages were consummated with a honeymoon to Manly Beach for the weekend. Manly was accessible by steam train and ferry, and was far enough away to seem like another world for a newly wed farm labourer and his sweet-heart. The railway also provided easy access to Wollongong beaches, particularly localities like Kiama. The motor car provided mobility and the South Coast provided an escape to stay in a boarding house or camp.


After the Second World War the boom in the motor car travel meant that Camden families could drive further for a beach holiday. One ever popular location was Kiama. Other beach localities started to draw the attention of Camden families, particularly Jervis Bay and St George’s Basin.

Geoff's seaside holiday at Stuart Park


Geoff McAleer reported that in his youth in the 1940s and 1950s on the annual Christmas holiday at the beach in Wollongong. The beach was Wollongong’s North Beach and the McAleers holidayed at Stuart Park Caravan Park.  The McAleers were joined on the Christmas beach holidays by the Holyoakes, Dunks, Williams and the Cliftons. It was a popular location with Camden families because, according to Geoff, ‘it was close to Camden, only a 40 minute drive and it was good body surfing spot.’ There were no surf boards then according to Geoff. That would come in the 1960s. On occasions Geoff and his Dad, Hubert, would have a boys weekend away at Stuart Park. Geoff took his sweetheart, later to be his wife, Olive there for Christmas holidays with the family in 1949. The popularity of Stuart Park owed much to the presence  a safe beach on the estuary of Fairy Creek, away from the surf, called Fairy Beach. The beach was sheltered and popular for swimming and boating from the 1920s. Unfortunately for patrons the  caravan park was closed in 1964 but under public pressure was re-opened in an adjacent location in 1966. It was eventually closed permanently in 1970. The park had a kiosk as well as a camping area and was popular with day-trippers for picnics.

Lighthouse, Wollongong Harbour

Cheryl's seaside holiday at Bulli Beach

Wollongong beach-side caravan parks have come under pressure to be closed and caravans evicted in recent decades. One spot where Camden families still have a beach caravan holiday is Bulli Beach camping reserve. Cheryl, who has a caravan at Bulli Beach, along with a number of other Camden families enjoy the escape it provides from ‘the rat race’. She says that a number families have had permanent vans at the park, which have been passed down between the generations. They all escape Camden on Christmas holidays and long weekends. It is a great spot for all sorts of recreation.

Where do you go to the beach?

Beach holidays have always been important for Camden district families. Do you have memories of holidays at Wollongong and South Coast beach holidays. Historian Ian Willis is collecting stories about beach holidays from Camden families who might have stayed at beaches in the Wollongong area, Kiama, Gerroa, Shoalhaven and the South Coast. Has your family had a beach holiday in the same spot for generations? When you go to the beach? What did you do? Where did you go? How did you fill in your time? What was your favourite spot?  

Sunday 21 June 2015

Narellan Gayline Drive-in Movie Theatre

Signage from the Narellan Gayline Drive-in which operated between 1960s and 1980s (I Willis)
One of the notable attractions in the local area in the 1960s-1990s was the Narellan Gayline Drive-in Movie Theatre, which was located on Morshead Road, Narellan (now Narellan Vale).

A little bit of Camden Modernism that has disappeared.

Along with rock ‘n roll, transistor radios, the bikini, the mini-skirt, it defined the lifestyle of the baby boomers. It was as popular with teenagers as it was with young families. It was a defining moment for a 20th century culture that was based around the icons of the period: cars and movies.

The drive in at Narellan was owned and operated from 1967-1992  by EJ Frazer and operated as the Narellan Gayline Drive in Movie Theatre.

Friday 29 May 2015

Little Sandy, more than a footbridge and a water view

Public art at Little Sandy

The Little Sandy Bridge has an Aboriginal inspired artwork lining the steps adjacent to the bridge.
Press reports stated that it pays tribute to the Camden Council logo of a platypus and celebrates flora and fauna of the area.

Artist Danielle Mate, who grew up in Camden and has Aboriginal heritage, is pleased with the work.
She consulted, according to reports, the Mygunyah Camden Aboriginal Residents Group before starting the project.

Mayor Symkowiak was reportedly said it was a 'great addition' to the area.

Read more @ Macarthur Chronicle Camden Edition 19 May 2015

New Little Sandy footbridge across Nepean River May 2014 (I Willis)

2014 Opening of Little Sandy Bridge 

The Little Sandy footbridge was officially opened on 4 May 2014 with another community event.

The weather gods were kind, and while there were a cool breeze and an overcast start, the sun came out, and the crowd turned up with families of mums and dads and the kids.

Camden Council organised a family fun day in Chellaston Reserve where there were stalls, a free train ride along the bike track and information stands.

The day opened at 11.00am and wound up in the afternoon at 3.00pm. Camden Rotary provided a sausage sizzle which sold out early in the day. An information stand was provided by Camden Historical Society which was staffed by volunteers John and Julie Wrigley, Bob Lester and Rene Rem, while others turned up later.

This was another community event that has been typical of the popularity of the site for the Camden community.

Little Sandy Footbridge across the Nepean River at Camden c.1950. Diving board in the foreground. (Camden Images)

Little Sandy Footbridge

The new pre-cast concrete 43-metre footbridge at Little Sandy on the Nepean River was completed in April 2014.

Camden Council let contracts for the completion of a new footbridge in September 2013.

The new structure replaced a wooden footbridge that was damaged in flood in 2012. The new footbridge was jointly funded by the council and the state government.

The finished footbridge is part of the Nepean River cycleway that joins Camden with Elderslie, South Camden and Narellan. Local resident Kevin Browne stated in  2012 (Camden Narellan Advertiser 31 July) that:
the bridge was part of the unique attraction of living in a rural area [and] the availability of serene, natural beauty.
After the 2012 damage to the footbridge and its closure, local residents started to campaign for its replacement. This culminated in a community meeting in the mayor's office in August 2013 when 19 local residents attended an information session with the mayor, the Member for Camden,  and the council's general manager and engineering staff.

The original footbridge was constructed in 1943 as a military training exercise by the AMF Engineering Corps stationed at Narellan Military Camp. Camden Council agreed to fund the cost of the materials while the engineers provided the labour (40 men), supervision and vehicles. The original footbridge was 120 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Read more in The District Reporter 17 August 2012.

Little Sandy footbridge over Nepean River at Camden in 1943 (Camden Images)

Little Sandy on the Nepean River at Camden

Little Sandy on the Nepean River at Camden has been concerned local residents in recent times over the re-construction of the footbridge by Camden Council. Little Sandy has been a popular spot with locals for many decades for swimming, picnicking, boating and fishing. It is rich in the memories of local folk played out their childhoods, experienced the pangs of youth and enjoyed time with their families. Today thousands of local residents enjoy the same rituals at Little Sandy on their jaunts along the Nepean River bike path with the friends and family.

Nepean River swimming carnival 1917 Little Sandy (Camden Images)

Little Sandy swimming carnivals

In the early 20th century Little Sandy was a favourite swimming spot. In the 1920s the Camden Swimming Club built galvanised iron dressing sheds painted green in an area now known at Kings Bush Reserve.

Swimming became one of Elderslie's earliest organised sporting activities after the Nepean River was dammed in 1908 with the construction of the Camden Weir. Water backed up behind the weir for four kilometres through the Elderslie area and provided relatively deep water suitable for swimming. The Camden Aquatic Sports carnival was organised in 1909 and attracted over 1000 spectators and was the location of the Camden Swimming Club in the 1920s.

The area was divided into Big Sandy, which was a deep hole, near Kings Bush Reserve. About 100 metres upstream was Little Sandy, where the water was shallower. Learn to swim classes were held for a short time and Boy Scouts would go swimming there, according to Milton Ray.

"In the 1950s the area was used for swimming by pupils from Camden Public School', said Len English. 'The girls went with the female teachers to Little Sandy, while the male teachers and boys went downstream to Camden Weir.'
Olive McAleer says 'Little Sandy was a popular spot for family picnics between the 1920s and 1940s'.

The river stopped being a swimming spot when it was condemned because of pollution by medical authorities in the early 1960s. It was replaced by Camden Memorial Swimming Pool in 1964. (P Mylrea, 'Swimming in the Nepean River at Camden', Camden History, March 2006)

Little Sandy footbridge 1943

Little Sandy footbridge over Nepean River Camden in 1943 (Camden Images)

In  1943 military authorities from the Narellan Military Camp were anxious to undertake a practical training exercise for engineers. In September they sought the view of Camden Municipal Council on erecting a footbridge and the council immediately agreed with the proposal.

The council covered the cost of some of the timber so that the bridge remained the property of the council.

The  Australian Military Forces Engineers supplied the labour, supervision, transport vehicles and operators for the transport of stores and construction material.  

The site at the bottom Chellaston Street connected two reserves on either side of the Nepean River. One on the Chellaston Street side and the other at River Road Elderslie.

In late September 1943, 40 troops started building a wooden footbridge 120 feet long and 4 feet wide. Construction took around four weeks and was finished by 28 October.

Observers commented on a 'fine piece of workmanship...that would be much appreciated' by the local community.  (Camden News, 16 September 1943, 23 September 1943, 28 October 1943).

Camden Weir and the aesthetic of a water view

The Camden Weir pondage created an aesthetic water feature that runs through the Camden township. The aesthetic has moral, experiential, spiritual and well-being aspects to it.

The picturesque scene at the Camden Weir on the Nepean River c.1917 (Camden Images)

The Camden Weir was constructed by New South Wales Public Works Department after the completion of the Cataract Dam from 1907. The compensation weir was one of number been built along the Nepean River to safeguard the 'riparian rights' of landowners affected by the interruption of flow to the river, according to John Wrigley.

A riparian right is the ability to take water from the river. The water supply dams of the Upper Nepean  Scheme reduced the flow of the tributaries of the Nepean River, and the weirs were to 'compensate' for the loss of water flow.

The other weirs near Camden were Menangle, Bergins, Thurns, Camden Sharpes and Cobbitty. The weirs were eventually transferred to the management to the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board as part of the Sydney Water Supply system.  

Read more @ John Wrigley,' Nepean River Weirs', The District Reporter 3 August 2001

 Water has a calming effect on the mind and takes the account to a quiet, tranquil and peaceful place. Some say it can dim our internal chatter and calm some people. Water provides a degree of serenity and the purifying effect it can have on the soul.

Water can have a soothing meditative effect on some people. People need to re-charge and re-vitalise in the tranquillity of the environment provided by the calm and serenity of the pool provided by the weir. For others, a visually attractive water feature can also be a source of healing and relaxing in a man-mad environment.

Those that went swimming at Little Sandy had an experiential relationship with the water. Water is used to nourish and replenish man after exertion. Swimming carnivals were a time of community celebration and strengthening community resilience.

The pondage at Littles Sandy also has a scientific value for the marine ecosystem it supports. It supports a range of life from eels, to perch, birds, reptiles and other life. The Little Sandy pondage creates an attractive water feature that circles the township.

The beauty of the scene attracts visitors. The trees along the water's edge provide a frame for the quiet pond. People doing simple tasks like fishing, picnicking, walking and re-engaging with nature on the water's edge.    

The surface of the water is a mirror that reflects the images of the trees and bushes on the water's edge. At dawn on a cold frosty morning, the vapours of the steam rise of the water's surface as the walker's feet crackle under the frozen grass on the water's edge.  

There is a splash as a kingfisher dives into the water after a fish, that breaks the silence of the space. The world disappears momentarily as you sit on the water's edge taking in the serene quiet surroundings of the pond.

Nepean River before the Camden Weir 1900 

Nepean River below Cowpasture Bridge 1900  (Camden Images/CA Poole)

This image of the Nepean River is taken in the vicinity of the Camden Weir. It gives an indication of the degraded state of the river around 1900. Sedimentation, streambank erosion caused by hard hooved animals trampling river banks were evident. These issues were typical of Australia's inland waterways in the late 19th century after extensive clearing of the catchments for forestry, farming and other activities.

Sue Rosen, in her book on the environmental history of the Nepean River, quotes from James Atkinson's 1826  An Account of the State of Agriculture and Grazing in New South Wales. Atkinson states that even by the mid-1820s, the river banks were undermined and collapsing into the stream.

There were deposits of sand in the river channel, and clearing practices had caused increased run-off,  accelerated the degradation of the river channel and increased obstruction in the river bed. All evident in the 1900  photograph of the river channel at Camden.

Atkinson felt that the original European settlers had failed to 'improve' the land for farming and that its farming potential had been compromised. The colonists had in Atkinson's terms was unable to fulfil the original objectives of opening up the land and favoured, according to Rosen, 'the cultivation of a landscape reminiscent of British romantic pastoral scenes'.

The earliest reports of the Nepean River date from 1795 and Alan Atkinson's Camden reports that after a wet spring-early Europeans,

David Collins's impression in his An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798) was a picture of

'large ponds, covered with ducks and the black swan, the margins of which were fringed with shrubs of the most delightful tints'. 

After a dry spell, the river at Menangle was reported by George Caley in his 'Report of a Journey to the Cowpastures' (1804, ML) to be 'reduced to a small compass' and the water having 'the foul appearance of a pond in a farmyard'. 

Read more @ Sue Rosen Losing Ground An Environmental History of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment, Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1995.

Alan Atkinson, Camden, Farm and Village Life in Early New South Wales, Melbourne, OUP, 1988.

Kings Bush

King's Bush is the reserve adjacent the river's edge and is named after Cecil J King, the rector of St John's Church between 1893 and 1927. According to John Wrigley, King kept his horse in the paddock next to the river and swam at the same spot in the river.

Reverend King was a keen sports fan and played for the Camden Cricket Club and was the team's wicketkeeper for several years. In 1927 he was the patron of the Camden Golf Club and president of the Union and St John's tennis club. King was ordained at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney in 1887 by the Bishop Barry of the Sydney Archdiocese. (Camden Advertiser 2 June 1949)

Read more  @ John Wrigley, Place Names on the Camden Area, Camden, CHS, 2005.

Chellaston Street and Reserve

Chellaston was a single storey brick residence at 38 Menangle Road built by Camden builder John Peat and used as his family home. Chellaston Street was part of land releases on the south side of the township in the 1920s.

There were several land releases in the area during the Inter-war period including Victory Ave and Gilbulla Ave that run off Menangle Road.

Read more  @ John Wrigley, Place Names on the Camden Area, Camden, CHS, 2005.

Originally posted 29 May 2015. Updated 29 July 2020