Camden · Colonial Camden · Colonialism · Edwardian · Heritage · history · Interwar · Place making · sense of place · Uncategorized

Camden Needs A Residential Heritage Style Guide

Camden Needs A Residential Heritage Style Guide

There is a crying need for a local Camden Residential Heritage Style Guide. Why do other Local Government Areas in Australia have a Residential Style Guide for their heritage housing styles but Camden does not.

Federation Camden is a period of growth from the dairy industry across the district (I Willis)
Federation Camden is a period of growth from the dairy industry across the district represented by sturdy timber cottages (I Willis)

Camden is one of Australia’s most historic localities and yet newcomers and locals have to guess what is an historically accurate guide to residential housing styles.

The new Camden Region Economic Taskforce (CRET) is an opportunity to promote the historic and heritage nature of the local area. The Taskforce promotional material states that Camden LGA has a ‘unique history’ and that the aim of the CRET is to maintain ‘Camden’s unique historic heritage and natural environment’.

This is an opportunity to the see if Camden Council is prepared to back its words with action. One easy way to do this would be to draw up a Residential Heritage Style Guide for the Local Government Area.

Camden heritage is a tourism drawcard to the local area. It creates jobs and business opportunities.

Carinya Cottage c1890 (Camden Historical Society)
Carinya Cottage c1890 was an example of a Federation Edwardian Farm Cottage at Narellan now demolished (Camden Historical Society)

The aim of the CRET is

  1. creation of jobs
  2. attraction of investment and
  3. creating the right environment  to support the growth of business and industry (both existing and future).

Houses are an integral part of our daily lives. We live in them and take them for granted. But they are more than this. A house is an historical statement of its time. As history changes so does the type of housing.

The CRET publicity states that the Camden LGA is a ‘rapidly growing area’ and is subject to change in the form of ‘rapid commercial and industrial development’ and there needs to be an understanding, according to the CRET, of ‘our unique heritage’.

 

There a number of housing styles that have been identified by architects in Australia since colonial times. The major periods of the styles are:
1. Pre-colonial period 30,000 BCE – 1788
2. Old Colonial Period 1788 – c. 1840
3. Victorian Period c. 1840 – c. 1890
4. Federation Period c. 1890 – c. 1915
5. Inter – War Period c. 1915 – c 1940
6. Post – War Period c. 1940 – c. 1960.
7. Late Twentieth Century c. 1960 – c. 2000
8. Twenty –First Century c. 2000 – present.
The Camden Local Government Area has residential buildings from most of these time periods.

 

Camden has a number of very good examples in town buildings from the Victorian era (I Willis)
Camden has a number of very good examples in town buildings from the Victorian era (I Willis)

The housing style of a particular location in the Camden or Narellan area gives the place a definite character and a certain charm. It is what makes a place special and gives it a sense of its own identity (Inter-war period along Menangle Road). The housing style will give the place its special qualities. The houses are a reflection of the times in which they were built.

 

The style is an indicator of the historical activities that have gone on in that area. It is a statement on changing tastes, lifestyles, social attitudes, cultural mores, and a host of other factors (Inter-war cottages in Elizabeth Street and the use of colour glass in lead-light windows or the appearance of garages for the new motor cars of the day).

Example of modern design from the early 1960s at 64 Macarthur Road Elderslie NSW (I Willis 2010)
Example of modern Ranch style design from the early 1960s at 64 Macarthur Road Elderslie NSW now demolished (I Willis 2010)

The housing style may be complemented by a garden and landscaping that reflected the tastes and lifestyles of the occupants of the building. Even gardens go through fashion trends (English style gardens or native gardens).

 

The housing style says a lot about the occupants. Whether they were landed gentry who owned one of the large estates in the area (Camden Park House, Brownlow Hill, Denbigh) or ordinary farmers who were making a living from a patch of ground (simple Federation weatherboard cottages like Yamba cottage in Narellan or the Duesbury family in Elizabeth Street or Hillview in Lodges Road).

Ben Linden Narellan J Kooyman 1997 (Camden Images)
The cottage known as Ben Linden at Narellan is an excellent example of the Edwardian period in the Camden Local Government Area (J Kooyman, 1997, Camden Images)

Camden has been remote from the urban influences that drove the high forms of these architectural styles. But local people adapted the style to suit their particular purpose (simple Federation brick or timber farm cottages like in the Struggletown complex or Barsden Street). Sometimes they created their own vernacular style that used local materials.

 

Some of these styles have more examples in the Camden area than others. This reflects the economic prosperity in the history of the area. The Inter-war period is one of these times. Between 1915 and 1940 the town grew based on the wealth generated by dairying and later coal. There are quite a number of inter-war buildings in Camden (Californian bungalows in Menangle Road and Murray Street). The post-war period of housing construction in Camden in Macquarie Avenue and along the Old Hume Highway was driven by the economic activities surrounding the mining of coal in the Burragorang Valley.

 

Each housing style illustrates cultural influences from Great Britain in the Victorian style or from the United States in the Inter-war period in the Californian Bungalow and the Ranch style in the post-war period.

Camden shows the influence of the American west coast during the Inter-war period with Californian bungalows of the period (I Willis)
Camden shows the influence of the American west coast during the Inter-war period with Californian bungalows (I Willis)

The local housing stock shows the skills and expertise of local builders, such as Harry Willis or Walter Furner who constructed many of the Inter-war housing stock. Ephraim Cross who supplied brick for some of the Federation style cottages in the area or James English in the 1940s or Ron McMIllan in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Each period represents the modern and progressive ideas of its time. Each housing style is a representation of the hopes and aspirations of those who built the houses. Just as Oran Park housing developments are representative of the late 21th century so Harrington Park and Mt Annan are representative of the late 20th century. They have been driven by the urban expansion of the Sydney area.

 

Within each of the major time periods there are a number of sub-divisions. There are around five major styles within the Inter-war period, such as the Californian bungalow (West coast USA influence) or the Art Deco (European influences). The post-war period has around six style divisions ranging from the austerity (which reflected the lack of availability of building materials and labour following WW2) to ranch style (which illustrated the post-war influences from West coast American and Californian housing styles).

Yamba Cottage, KIrkham c. 1913 (Camden Images)
Yamba Cottage, KIrkham c. 1913 is an example of an Federation Edwardian farm cottage on Camden Valley Way at Narellan (Camden Images)

Camden needs a Residential Heritage Style Guide to consolidate all these factors and influences in the Local Government Area.

Why is it that other Local Government Areas around Australia can achieve this but Camden cannot?  What is the matter with out local government representatives? Examples from other parts of Australia include

  1. The New South Wales seaside community of Moruya has a wonderful document called the MORUYA RESIDENTIAL STYLE GUIDE.
  2. In South Australia the inner Adelaide City of Unley’ has a document called Appreciating Heritage and Character Dwellings Design Guide 1 .
  3. In Queensland the Toowoomba Region Council has a series of guides for heritage properties covering Victorian, Edwardian and Inter-war houses.

Camden Local Government Area has examples of housing stock that corresponds with each of these housing styles. What is wrong with Camden Council on this matter?

Read more on these matters on this blog:

  1. Edwardian Cottages in Camden
  2. Inter-war Camden
  3. Ben Linden at Narellan
  4. Urban planning in the Camden LGA

 

Advertisements
Camden · Carrington Hospital · Cobbitty · Colonial Camden · Colonialism · Farming · Floods · history · Local History · Place making · Railway

Camden: Sydney’s best preserved country town

Dunk House, Argyle Street, Camden c.1937 (I Willis 2013)
Dunk House, Argyle Street, Camden c.1937 (I Willis 2013)

The township of Camden on the banks of the Nepean River south-west of Sydney provides a glimpse of life from times gone past. The town was established in 1840 on the Macarthur family estate of Camden Park. The charm and character of the town comes from the many 19th century colonial buildings and early 20th century cottages.

Carrington Convalescent Hospital c1890s Camden Images
Carrington Convalescent Hospital c1890s Camden Images

The heritage of the local area makes Camden, according to some expert sources, the best preserved country town on the Cumberland Plain.
The visitor can experience Camden’s historic charm by walking around the town’s heritage precinct by following the Camden Heritage Walk.

A free booklet can be obtained from Oxley Cottage (c1890), the Camden Visitor Information Centre, which is located on Camden Valley Way on the northern approaches to Camden. Oxley Cottage is a farmer’s cottage built on land that was granted to John Oxley in 1816.

Camden’s heritage precinct is dominated by the church on the hill, St John’s Church (1840) and the adjacent rectory (1859). Across the road is Macarthur Park (1905), arguably one of the best Victorian-style urban parks in the country. In the neighbouring streets there are a number of charming Federation and Californian bungalows.

Stuckey Bros Building Bakers Argyle Street Camden c1941 (I Willis 2012)
Stuckey Bros Building Bakers Argyle Street Camden c1941 (I Willis 2012)

A walk along John Street will reveal the single storey police barracks (1878) and court house (1857), the Italianate style of Macaria (c1842) and the Commercial Bank (1878). Or the visitor can view Bransby’s Cottage (1842) in Mitchell Street, the oldest surviving Georgian cottage in Camden. A short stroll will take the visitor to the Camden Museum, which is managed by the Camden Historical Society. The museum is located in John Street in the recently redeveloped Camden Library and Museum Complex.

Camden Library Museum in John Street Camden 2016 (I Willis)
Camden Library Museum in John Street Camden 2016 (I Willis)

The visitor can take in Camden’s rural past when they enter the northern approaches of the town along Camden Valley Way. They will pass the old Dairy Farmer’s Milk Depot (1926) where the farmers delivered their milk cans by horse and cart and chatted about rural doings.

A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden
A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden (Camden Images)

The saleyards (1867) are still next door and the rural supplies stores are indicative that Camden is still ‘a working country town’. As the visitor proceeds along Argyle Street, Camden’s main street, apart from the busy hum of traffic, people and outdoor cafes, the casual observer would see little difference from 70 years ago.

Local people still do their shopping as they have done for years and stop for a chat with friends and neighbours. At the end of Argyle Street the visitor can stroll around Camden Showground (1886). A country style show is held here every year in March and the visitor can take in local handicrafts in the show hall (1894) or watch the grand parade in the main arena.

The picturesque rural landscapes that surround Camden were once part of the large estates of the landed gentry and their grand houses. A number of these privately owned houses are still dotted throughout the local area. Some examples are Camden Park (1835), Brownlow Hill (1828), Denbigh (1822), Oran Park (c1850), Camelot (1888), Studley Park (c1870s), Wivenhoe (c1837) and Kirkham Stables (1816). The rural vistas are enhanced by the Nepean River floodplain that surrounds the town and provides the visitor with a sense of the town’s farming heritage.

Pansy Nepean River Bridge 1900 Postcard Camden Images
Pansy Nepean River Bridge 1900 Postcard Camden Images

The floodplain also reveals to the railway enthusiast the remnants of railway embankments that once carried the little tank engine on the tramway (1882-1963) between Camden and Campbelltown. The locomotive, affectionately known as Pansy, carried a mixture of freight and passengers. It stopped at a number of stations, which included Camden, Elderslie, Kirkham, Graham’s Hill and Narellan. The stationmaster’s house can still be found in Elizabeth Street in Camden, and now operates as a restaurant.

For the aviation buffs a visit to the Camden Airfield (1924) is a must. It still retains its wartime character and layout. As you enter the airfield view the privately owned Hassall Cottage (1815) and Macquarie Grove House (1812) and think of the RAAF sentry on guard duty checking the passes of returning airmen on a cold July night.

Camden Airfield 1930s Camden Images
Camden Airfield 1930s Camden Images

The visitor can then relive the days when RAAF airmen (32 Squadron, 1943) flew out of the base chasing Japanese submarines on the South Coast, or when the RAF (1944) occupied the still existing hangers and runways flying transport missions to the South Pacific.

There are also a number of historic villages in the Camden area. Amongst them is the quaint rural village of Cobbitty where the visitor can find Reverand Thomas Hassall’s Heber Chapel (1815), St Paul’s Church (1840) and rectory (1870). Narellan (1827), which is now a vibrant commercial and industrial centre, has the heritage precinct surrounding the St Thomas Church (1884) and school house (1839). The buildings are now used for weddings and receptions.

View along Cobbitty Road in 1928
View along Cobbitty Road in 1928 (Camden Images)

There is also the Burton’s Arms Hotel (c1840) now operating as a real estate agency and the Queen’s Arms Hotel (c1840), which is now the Narellan Hotel. A visit to Cawdor will reveal a real country church that has been functioning continuously for over for over 100 years, the Cawdor Uniting Church (c1880). Cawdor is the oldest village in the Camden area.

Written by Ian Willis member of Professional Historians Association NSW.

Previously published on Heritage Tourism at Camden: The best preserved country town on the Cumberland Plain NSW

Front Cover of Ian Willis's Pictorial History of Camden and District (Kingsclear, 2015)
Front Cover of Ian Willis’s Pictorial History of Camden and District (Kingsclear, 2015)
The last day of the Camden Campbelltown train running in 1963. Keen fans watching the train climb Kenny Hill at Campbelltown. (ARHS)
Rear Cover Ian Willis’s Pictorial History of Camden & District. The last day of the Camden Campbelltown train running in 1963. Keen fans watching the train climb Kenny Hill at Campbelltown. (ARHS)
Appin · Campbelltown · Colonial Camden · Governor Macquarie · Heritage · Local History · Settler colonialism · Sydney's rural-urban fringe

On the edge, settler colonialism on the Cumberland Plain

Baragil Lagoon Menangle (I Willis)
Baragil Lagoon Menangle (I Willis)

Walking the Cowpastures and beyond

A personal reflection of a visit to Baragil Lagoon at Menangle and the  ground that Governor Macquarie walked on in 1810.

The historian is advised to walk the ground of their studies and subject matter. When it happens it can be a real eye-opener. It challenged my view of these colonial stories and myths when I visited Baragil Lagoon in 2015 (see Blog post).

The visit to the locality was organised by John and Edwina Stanham to EMAI and Baragil Lagoon for the Camden Park Nursery Group.

I was touched in 2015 by visiting the spot where Governor Macquarie camped above Baragil Lagoon. The camp site is very similar to 1810 on Macquarie’s visit and how he would have found the site.

Governor Macquarie (SLNSW)
Governor Macquarie (SLNSW)

The site is quite scenic. It is open Cumberland Woodland with broken dappled light coming through the tree canopy and bird calls in the background. The site is largely undisturbed and is as described in Macquarie’s journal (see blog). If you shut your eyes you could imagine the scene in 1810 with similar sounds, smells and sensations.

As a I visitor was ‘walking on hallowed ground’ where the mighty and famous had gone before. There was ‘a spiritual experience and awakening’ to what others have written about before on these matters. The experience could be best described with words like ‘challenging’, ‘interesting’, and ‘enlightening’.

So what is the point of this pontificating?

It set me off of on a journey involving my curiosity. It prompted me to ask questions about the colonial period on the Cowpastures and its meaning.

But how to enter the colonial world of the settlers and re-examine the stories and narratives that I had been brought up with.

One attempt at this has been Stokes work. She has attempted to examine the historical and archaeological evidence and looked at the pre-colonial movements of the Dharawal people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. She maintains that:

Spatial mapping of these historical observations is informative in its own right. Spatially formatted incorporation of tangible and intangible evidence of associations and connections within Aboriginal communities has been demonstrated to be a particularly valuable and meaningful approach (p4)[1]

Stokes looks further at the concept of cultural landscape, a fundamental concept in the use of heritage in Australia. She states:

Country, for Aboriginal people, is organised and understood by people’s various and particular relationships with, and connections to it. Knowledge of the interrelationship of everything binds environmental, spiritual, aesthetic and economic categories of information and life (Wesson 2005:6). In contrast, European culture, at the time of colonisation at least, divided people, land and activities into discretely bordered classes and categories, organised hierarchically. European knowledge structures also involved separation of information into smaller and smaller parts (Wesson 2005:6) (p12)

She then states that a cultural exchange has shifted this binary view of the world. The

Understanding of plurality of meaning of things underpins both theory and practice in archaeology today (e.g. Hodder above and multivariate methods used later in this thesis). This shift in western thinking, as with all cultural change, is an outcome of exchange. (p12)

Nepean River Cowpastures[1]

Questions and their validity?

This post is interested in the questions around settler colonialism and the opportunity it provides to reflect on the colonialism of the southern Cumberland Plain.

This post is just asking:

Is this an opportunity to pose a number of questions?

Examples might be:

  • Is settler colonialism an appropriate lens to the view the events, myths and perceptions of the colonialism of the Cumberland Plain?
  • Are there new types of colonialism at work on the Cumberland Plain?
  • What has the Appin Massacre got to do with any of this?
View of the farm of J. Hassel [Hassall] Esqr. Cow Pastures, New South Wales by Augustus Earle, c. 1825. State Library of NSW PXD 265, f. 2
View of the farm of J. Hassel [Hassall] Esqr. Cow Pastures, New South Wales by Augustus Earle, c. 1825. State Library of NSW PXD 265, f. 2

Colonialism and the popular imagination

So what are we talking about?

There are numerous myths and stories surrounding the colonial period on the southern Cumberland Plain. Some of these are part of the foundational story of the nation.

  1. The cows of the Cowpastures
  2. The Appin Massacre and Governor Macquarie – the Father of Australia
  3. The legend of John Macarthur – the pioneering hero – the great founder of the Australian wool industry
  4. Governor Macquarie and the Cowpastures
  5. John Oxley and Kirkham (later Camelot)
  6. Denbigh and the Galloping Parson Thomas Hassall
  7. John Hawdon of Elderslie
  8. Glenlee
  9. Wivenhoe and Charles Cowper
  10. Studley Park and Payne’s Folly
  11. The legend of Hume and Hovell
  12. The stories of Thomas Mitchell
  13. And many others

Each of these in their own way are worthy of re-examination in the light of the debate around settler colonialism and its methodology.

An even more recent set of events might fit the mould created by settler colonialism with a new form of colonialism with its own stories and myths

1934 Australian Commemorative Postage Stamp
1934 Australian Commemorative Postage Stamp

Global nature of frontiers and settler colonialism

The Cumberland Plain has been subjected to many new frontiers that are global in nature. These frontiers have been based on ideas, culture, social, technology, political, and a host of other areas.

A new idea is born and it creates a new concept. This then spreads out across the globe in a wave like formation.

The wave process challenges the status quo. The new idea might become the dominant narrative or story.

There is the process of making and re-making places, societies, cultures, lifestyles and other activities.

One of these new frontiers has been the movement of people across the globe. Waves of people at various times in the past. They came to colonies of New South Wales to make a new life in a new land.

They came the colonies with the intention of staying  in their new locality. They invaded and took possession of territory. One way of interpreting this is settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism is an area of study looking at the occupation of space and the occupation of land, particularly indigenous territory.

The concept of settler colonialism has been particularly applied to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada, while more recently Israel, Algeria and other localities.

Patrick Wolf expressed settler colonialism in terms of race with the binary notion of blackness and whiteness. This certainly applied to the southern Cumberland Plain.

 

View of the Government Hut at Cowpastures, 1804. State Library of NSW SSV1B / Cowp D / 1
View of the Government Hut at Cowpastures, 1804. State Library of NSW SSV1B / Cowp D / 1

Sydney’s Cumberland Plain has been the site of place making from late 18th century.

The landform has shaped the human response to the land, and humans have shaped the landform to suit their purposes.

From the later 18th century there have been a number of successive waves of invasion, succession, dispossession and displacement.

Each time a culture has attempted to create the dominant narrative, that is, form their own stories around the landscape.

There has been peace and conflict, hope and loss – all expressed in a binary context – good and evil, moral and immoral, black and white, outsider and insider.

When the colonial frontier arrived it was a movable locality where violence was part of the existence.

From the practice of naming landforms to taking ownership to outright conflict. The aim of the invaders was the possession of territory. They all intended to stay.

On the Cumberland Plain 18th century settlement of New South Wales can be expressed in these terms.

The new European arrivals were here to stay and took possession of the territory displacing and eventually dispossessing the indigenous people.

The New South Wales colonial authorities started making land grants and pushing Aborigines off their country. The Europeans named landform features and took ownership. They were re-making the existing landscape in their own vision of the world.

Granting land to Europeans by Europeans was structured dispossession of indigenous territory. This created conflict and violence, which has been well told by Grace Karskins’ The Colony.

Grace Karskins The Colony Cover
Grace Karskins The Colony Cover

The British came with a form of capitalism that created a market structure or market economy, where there was none and forced the indigenous inhabitants to take part in it.

The act of dispossession removed the agency of the indigenous people and removed and diminished their sovereignty.

The new arrivals came with new hopes and aspirations for themselves, while the act of dispossession created a loss of hope for indigenous people.

These acts were all played out on the Cumberland Plain ending up in the violent conflict that took place in the Appin region in 1816 and the loss of life. It was not the first conflict on the Cumberland Plain. There  were clashes between new white arrivals in the Hawkesbury and Aborigines before 1816.

The wave of new settlers onto the Cumberland Plain had parallels in other parts of the world. The new frontiers of settlement across North America – the Western Frontier of 19th century America.

On the Cowpasture Road / Chrisr: Bunbury’s. from Views of Sydney and Surrounding District by Edward Mason, ca. 1821-1823; 1892. State Library of NSW PXC 459
On the Cowpasture Road / Chrisr: Bunbury’s. from Views of Sydney and Surrounding District by Edward Mason, ca. 1821-1823; 1892. State Library of NSW PXC 459

 

New Colonialism on the Cumberland Plain

Expansion of the urban frontier

There is a 20th  and 21st century parallel to the dispossession suffered by the Dharak,  Dharawal and Gundungurrra. That process is the movement of the  urban frontier of Sydney’s rural-urban fringe across the Cumberland Plain from the 18th century.

The 18th century expansion of the British Empire and  the settlement of New South Wales was an expansion of the urban frontier of metropolitan London and part of the British colonial enterprise.

The act of creating the urban settlement of Sydney was an in effect an act of expanding the urban frontier from the home country.  One way to view the Great Britain in the late 18th century was as an urban market based economy.

As the British metropolitan project arrived from England in Sydney Cove it moved inland to Parramatta  – Parramatta indigenous name, vs Sydney England name – and by 1810 into the Hawkesbury and the Nepean River.

This continued with new waves of arrivals.

The urban expansion of the 20th century was about taking possession of territory from settler farmers by new urban dwellers.

The new urban dwellers and the structured expansion of urban Sydney forcibly took possession of land. There was the resumption of land for roads and other infrastructure.

Sydney’s rural-urban fringe is the site of dispossession and displacement, hope and loss and parallels the early narrative of 19th century settler colonialism.

CHS2436
The rural urban fringe in the Camden area (Camden Images)

Sovereignty and the rural-urban fringe

The rural-urban frontier is a moving frontier that removes the sovereignty of existing land users and displaces them.

These processes have been studied by geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, urban historians, urban planners, architects and others interested in the construction of place.

The rural-urban frontier is a zone of conflict where there are winners and losers that creates conflict. There is the dispossession of territory of existing landholders.

The loss of European dreaming about a lost Arcadian view of a bucolic picturesque rural landscape and sites that have spiritual importance to those Europeans that inhabit those sites.

These sites have immense importance to those who have occupied these rural landscapes. Nostalgia is the primary process involved in the lost memories and stories of their lives.

Lost traditions. Lost memories. Lost landscape. Lost sacred sites. These people go through a grieving process that creates strong emotions of anger and frustration.

The new arrivals come with aspirations and hopes of a new beginning by taking possession of new territory. They have their own dreaming about the new urban landscape that they are about to create.

These processes and human reactions were experienced by the Indigenous people that were displaced in the late 18th and 19th century on the Cumberland Plain.

Settler colonialism creates a re-imaging of the landscape and the themes of hope and loss are embedded in the narrative and stories that are created in the re-imagined landscape.

There are winners and losers and they each have their own stories of hope and loss. The Cumberland Plain has been the stage that these actors played out their roles in this story.

Mount Annan around 2002 CHS2005
Mount Annan around 2002 CHS2005  (Camden Images)

Appin and the urban frontier

Appin is currently undergoing a type of new colonialism. A new process of invasion and succession by a new set of invaders.

These new arrivals are dispossessing the existing landholders and removing their sovereignty. The new arrivals are taking possession of the territory. Sydney’s urban expansion is taking place in the new suburbs and estates that are appearing in and around Appin.

There are parallels between the conflict on the urban frontier and the colonial frontier of the 19th century and the bicentenary of the 1816 Appin Massacre and the creation of a new landscape by the new urban settlers.

It is an interesting question to ask: Has this process heightened the sense of interest in the commemoration of the massacre in the popular imagination? There has been extensive coverage of the bicentenary of the massacre in the media – Channel 7, Daily Telegraph, SMH, ABC Radio and others.

Amongst current generations there is a strong a view and feeling about the site of the massacre at Broughton Pass.

Some claim that there is a bad spirit as you drive through the area. Local Aboriginal people will not go to the area. While others have commemorated the massacre at the  Campbelltown Arts Centre, and in song writing.

The massacre has been an act of forgetting for nearly 200 years. Broughton Pass is a beautiful location with a dark past.

The question is: What has caught the popular imagination on the bicentenary of the massacre?

Broughton Pass is largely undisturbed woodland. As you approach from Appin you pass through farmland much as you would have in the 1810s and abruptly come upon the gorge. Just as the military would have confronted the local Aboriginal people 200 years ago. This is brought out the art exhibition at Campbelltown Art Centre ‘With Secrecy and Despatch’.

What is the basis of the current interest?

Is it the possible acknowledgement of the past events and the violence of the colonial frontier on the Cumberland Plain?

There is a paradox in the act of remembering the massacre at Broughton Pass and the act of the forgetting and loss experienced in the resumption of rural farmland for housing.

On the edge, the making and re-making of place

To sum up.

The Cowpasture and Cumberland Plain are sites where there has been the making and re-making of place.

Place is constructed on stories, memories, ceremonies, traditions, celebrations around the dominant narrative.

The Cowpastures is part of the southern Cumberland Plain where there have been waves of new ideas.

One of these new ideas could be a re-interpretation of the dominant narrative using the methodology of settler colonialism.

It could ask more questions?

Notes

[1] Karen Stokes, Stone, Sources and Social Networks Tracing Movement and Exchange Across Dharawal Country, Southeastern Australia. BA (Hons) Thesis, UoSyd, 2015.

Read more

Grace Karskins, Appin Massacre, Dictionary of Sydney Click here

Grace Karskins, The Colony, Click here

Ian Willis writes about localities on Sydney’s rural-urban fringe @ Dictionary of Sydney Click here

Camden · Colonial Camden · Cowpastures · Uncategorized

175th Anniversary of Camden’s foundation, 1840-2015

A Photographic Essay 

View of the Government Hut at Cowpastures, 1804. State Library of NSW SSV1B / Cowp D / 1
The township was established near the Government Hut that was as the accommodation used by the constables who were employed to guard the entrance of Cowpastures Reserve for the wild cattle in 1804 near the ford across the Nepean River. State Library of NSW SSV1B / Cowp D / 1

 

Carinya Cottage c.1890 (Camden Historical Society)
Carinya Cottage c.1890 is typical of brick Edwardian cottages across the district that was closely associated with the Paxton and Cross family. The cottage was unfortunately demolished in 2010 to make way for a new housing estate. (Camden Historical Society)

 

Little Sandy with footbridge across the Nepean River at Camden c.1950. Diving board in foreground. (Camden Images)
Little Sandy footbridge across the Nepean River at Camden c.1950 with a diving board in foreground. The location was a popular spot for swimming and other water activities. In the 1920s and 1930s this part of the river was the location of the Camden Swimming Club. The footbridge was constructed during the Second World War as a training exercise for troops from the Narellan Military Camp. (Camden Images)

 

The Nepean River has shaped the Camden’s sense of place and the image shows Nepean River below the Cowpasture Bridge in 1900 in the vicinity of the ford mentioned by Governor Macquarie. The low state of the river indicates the effect of the Federation drought (mid 1890s-1902) on the local area. (Camden Images/CA Poole)

 

 

Camden's Argyle St (Hume Highway) in 1938 with Rural Bank on left looking east (Camden Images)
Camden’s Argyle Street (the Hume Highway) in 1938 with the Rural Bank and Bank of New South Wales on the left. The setback and height of the buildings in Argyle has not changed in 70 years. The key buildings are still identifiable from the same location at the John Street round-about. (Camden Images)

 

The Georgian Revival style Bank of New South Wales building was constructed in 1936 at 121-123 Argyle St, Camden. The bank manager and his family lived on the upper level in a self-contained flat. (I Willis)

 

Central Camden c1930s (Camden Images)
Central Camden in the early 1930s with the Woolpack Inn on the corner of John and Argyle Streets and the Commercial Banking Co building is on the opposite side of John Street. (Camden Images)

 

An Edwardian weatherboard cottage at 64 John Street Camden is typical of domestic architecture of the town and surrounding district in the early 20th century. At this time John Street was still unpaved, while guttering was constructed on block stone. ( J Riley)

 

 

Located on the Hume Highway the Tudor style Camden Valley Inn was built in 1938 as a milk bar to sell the Gold Top Camden Vale milk brand from Camden Park. Designed by architect Cyral Ruwald and constructed by builder Herb English. (Camden Images)

 

Cafes were a popular stop on the Hume Highway in central Camden serving milk shakes, hamburgers and mixed grills. Howlett’s Cafe was located at 159 Argyle Street show in this 1954 image. (Camden Images)

 

During the Second World War a number of airmen were killed in flying accidents in squadrons that statioed at RAAF Base at Camden Airfield. They are buried at Camden War Cemetery on a rise on Cawdor Road. (I Willis)
Camden Airfield was the location of the RAAF Central Flying School at the beginning of the Second World War training pilots and air crew for the Empire Training Scheme.

 

Coal mining added wealth in the post-war years and quite a few fibro cottages were constructed at Elderslie to provide accommodation for mine workers. They are an identifiable part of Camden modernism. (I Willis)
Local identity Llewella Davies was a member of the Camden Voluntary Aid Detachment, the paramilitary auxiliary of the Red Cross, that was part of the Second World War homefront war effort. (CHS0614)
camden_003
St John’s Church has been the moral heart of Camden’s sense of place since the church was constructed during the 1840s. It is located at the top of John Street which was unsealed in this image from the 1890s. (Camden Images)

 

The Hume Highway brought all aspects of modernism to the town from Sydney including motoring and consumerism at the Spanish Mission style Cooks Garage at the corner of Elizabeth and Argyle Street Camden in 1936 (Camden Images)

Source: Camden Images

Uncategorized

The Camden decked carpark that will not die

Camden Advertiser 12 July 2006 p.1
Camden Advertiser 12 July 2006 p.1

Camden decked carpark proposal

Camden Council recently resolved to investigate and design a decked carpark in Oxley Street as part of the Camden Town Centre Enhancement Strategy (2014).

This is not the first time that the council has considered a decked carpark. The first investigation of a decked carpark dates from 1996.  A later proposal in 2006 was eventually defeated. Over the decade a number of proposals were considered, meanwhile during this process the council developed over 360 additional car parking spaces in the town centre.

The following is an extract from an article that summarised the 2007 proposal:

Camden decked carpark proposal (2007)

The background to the 2006 carpark proposal can be found in the demographic shifts within the Local Government Area (LGA) caused by urbanisation. The importance of central Camden as the commercial hub of the LGA had gradually been eroded by population shifts to the north.

Camden traders faced increased competition from developments in the Narellan area, particularly the opening in 1995 of the Narellan Town Centre with 36 retail outlets and 1200 car parking spaces. Some Camden businesses felt that their viability was being threatened by these changes and approached Camden Council to provide a decked carpark in central Camden to attract shoppers.

In 1996 Camden’s deputy mayor, Eva Campbell, requested that council investigate a decked carpark at the site of an existing ground level parking area, between John and Murray Streets. This was one of three proposed sites in central Camden that were considered for a decked carpark over the next 10 years.

In the late 1990s at least one retail complex undertook a major re-development on the basis that the council would approve the construction of a decked carpark on the John/Murray Street site.

Apart from the John and Murray Streets site, the other two sites were also located at existing ground level carparks in central Camden, one in Larkin Place and the other between John and Hill Streets. The sites adjacent to John Street were on the elevated southern side of Argyle Street, while Larkin Place was located on the floodplain, on the northern side Argyle Street.

The major stakeholder was Camden Council. It was to be the owner, operator, financier, planner, and consent authority for the proposal. The council initially commissioned independent consultants to conduct a feasibility study (2002) and then approved the John/Murray Street site (2003), which was the site favoured by the Chamber of Commerce. The council needed loan funds beyond its budget and had to seek ministerial approval. The Department of Local Government demanded further community consultation in 2003 and a public exhibition period.

The results of the community survey indicated that local citizens felt the construction of a decked carpark was only a low to medium priority for council. Council elections were held in 2004, and the new council wanted further information and deliberation on the proposal. The sticking point was a comparison of the costings for Larkin Place and the John/Murray Street sites. The Larkin Place site yielded more carparking spaces at a lower cost per space, but the total cost for the John/Murray Street site was cheaper and it was still the favoured location of the Chamber of Commerce.

The council engaged a firm of architects to design the carpark in 2005 on the John/Murray Street site and held a stakeholders workshop shortly afterwards.

By mid-2005 public debate had intensified.and a number of parties expressed reservations about the proposal, supported by council’s heritage architects. In July council rejected the proposal. The Federal Member of Parliament entered the debate at this point and suggested an underground carpark.

Council wanted further consideration of the matter in late 2005 and approved the carpark in early 2006 on the John/Murray Street site.

The development of a decked carpark on the elevated southern sites compromised the vista of the St John’s Church from the Nepean River floodplain. The church was located on the hill behind the proposed John Street sites. This vista was part of the iconic imagery of Camden that has been an important part of the town’s cultural landscape and identity from colonial times.

The iconic nature of Camden’s sense of place was not contested by stakeholders. Although some stakeholders did feel that the final design of the decked carpark did compromise these values, including the council’s commissioned heritage architect. The architects felt that the proposal compromised the integrity of the ‘most intact country town on the Cumberland Plain’.

These opinions and others were carried by the Camden press including a diversity of letters from local residents. Public debate on the issue intensified in 2005 and the press reported the progress of the proposal with headlines, like: ‘Don’t dare do it?’, ‘Parking war not over yet’, ‘Fury over backflip’ and ‘Expensive “white elephant”’. The letter pages were scattered with colourful comment under headings like: ‘How to wreck the cultural landscape of Camden’, ‘Deceitful and devious on car park issue’ and ‘Car park cops a serve…or two’.

One issue that complicated the political process surrounding the progress of the proposal through council was the matter of councillor’s pecuniary interests. A number of councillors on the pre-2004 council and the 2006 council had business interests that were adjacent to one of the proposed sites. This raised the matter of a conflict of interest.

Councillors regularly excluded themselves from debate on the proposed carpark because of their declared interests, and one councillor felt she needed to justify her actions in the press. Despite this a complaint was made to the Department of Local Government about four counsellors and their perceived conflict of interest in mid-2006. All were cleared of any wrong doing, although one councillor appeared on the front page of the Camden Advertiser to explain his position.

The council made efforts to develop additional parking spaces and between 1999 and 2003 provided 367 extra parking spaces.

In addition 46 extra car parking spaces for shoppers were provided by ejecting council staff from a carpark adjacent to the council chambers. Where once council office staff had enjoyed free all day parking there was now a three hour time limit. One councillor suggested that it would not hurt council staff to walk an additional 100 metres to work.

More reading

Read the full article Ian Willis, Democracy in action in local government: Camden NSW (2007)

Read more here

Read about the Camden Town Centre Enhancement Strategy here on the Camden Council website

Further research

A summary of the 2014 Camden Town Centre Enhancement Strategy process over recent months is being compiled by the author of Camden History Notes.  The summary will be posted on this blog at the end of January 2015 for comment by interested parties. These will then be used to draft a submission for a conference presentation on the issues in early 2015. It is hoped to publish a journal article at a later date.

Camden · Colonial Camden · Uncategorized

Camden dreamtime

Camden's John Street with St John's Church 1890s (Camden Images)
Camden’s John Street with St John’s Church 1890s (Camden Images)

Sydney’s urban expansion into the local area has challenged the community’s identity and threatened to suffocate Camden’s sense of place. In the face of this onslaught many in Camden yearn for a lost past when Sydney was further away, times were simpler, and life was slower. A type of rural arcadia, which I have called ‘a country town idyll’.

The ‘country town idyll’ is defined as an idealised version of a country town from an imagined past which uses history to construct imagery based on Camden’s heritage buildings and other material fabric.  At the heart of the idyll is the view that Camden should retain its iconic imagery of a picturesque country town with the church on the hill, surrounded by a rustic rural landscape made up of the landed estates of the colonial gentry.  The idyll has been created by its supporters in an attempt to isolate Camden, like an island, in the sea of urbanisation and development that has enveloped the town.

These are the values that the supporters of Camden’s ‘country town idyll’ have encouraged and then expressed in the language they used to describe it. They  talk about the  retention of Camden’s ‘country town atmosphere’, or retaining ‘Camden’s country charm’, or ‘country town character’. They describe the town as being ‘picturesque’, or having ‘charming cottages’. To them Camden is  ‘a working country town’, or is simply ‘my country town’.   These  elements are evocative of an emotional attachment to a place that existed in the past, when  Camden was a small quiet country town that relied on  farming for its existence.

The origins of the ‘country town idyll’ are to be found in the rural ethos that is  drawn from within the nineteenth century rural traditions brought from Great Britain, where there was a romantic view of the country, that had an ordered, stable, comfortable organic small community in harmony with the natural surroundings. Elements of this rural culture have been variously described as ‘countrymindedness’,  ‘rural ideology’,  ‘rural ethos’, ‘ruralism’, and a ‘rural idyll’. They have been a pre-occupation of many scholars, including contemporary writers, like the Australian poet Les Murray.

Within this tradition there  is an Arcadian notion of  a romantic view of rural life where there is  a distinction drawn between the metropolis and the village, commonly known as the  town/country divide. This was the essence of pre-war Camden (a town of around 2000) where rural culture  provided the stability  of a closed community which was suspicious of outsiders, especially those from the city, with life ordered by social rank, personal contacts and familial links. It was confined by conservatism, patriarchy and an Anglo-centric view of the world.

Read more