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)
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Camden · community identity · Cowpastures · Elderslie · Farming · Heritage · Local History · sense of place · Settler colonialism · Sydney's rural-urban fringe

Elderslie, a suburb on Sydney’s fringe

Elderslie Autumn Scene Camden Valley Way 2014 (IWillis)
Elderslie Autumn Scene Camden Valley Way 2014 (IWillis)

Elderslie is a suburb of Camden, the traditional land of the Dharawal people.  It lies on the southern end of the Camden Municipality, 62 km southwest of Sydney, on the rural-urban fringe. It is bordered by the Nepean River to the west, Narellan Creek to the north, Camden By-Pass to the south, and Studley Park Golf Course to the east. The population at the 2001 census was 2,638.

Under Governor Macquarie’s stewardship, the area now known as Elderslie was the site of a number of smallholder land grants along the Nepean River, made between 1812 and 1815. There was also one large grant given to John Oxley, a member of the colonial gentry, in 1816. He called it ‘Elerslie’, although by 1828 he had changed it to ‘Elderslie’. Oxley’s grant was one of the five large estates in the Camden area that used convict labour.

Elderslie can lay claim to the first building in the Camden area. This was a small hut erected at the Nepean River crossing, after the 1803 visit of Governor King, for the government man who looked after the cattle in the Cowpastures.  It is reported that the hut was still in existence in 1822.

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

he village of Elderslie was planned along the Great Northern Road (now Camden Valley Way) with a subdivision and sites for a church, parsonage and market place. A post office was opened in 1839 – and closed in 1841, when it was moved to Camden. A number of village blocks were sold by auction in 1841, but three months after the Elderslie land sales the village was effectively overwhelmed by land sales across the river in Camden.

The first church in Elderslie was St Mark’s Anglican Church, built in 1902 of plain timber construction. The church is framed by a huge 150 year old camphor laurel tree, and has only ceased functioning in recent years.

Hilsyde is one of the more significant homes in the Elderslie area, and was built in 1888 by Walter Furner, a local builder. A number of important cottages were owned by the Bruchhauser family, who were viticulturalists and orchardists in the Elderslie area, as were the Fuchs, Thurns, and most recently the Carmagnolas.

Viticulture has been re-established at Camden Estate Vineyards on the deep alluvial soils of the Nepean floodplain. There were plantings of mixed varieties in 1975 by Norman Hanckel, and in the 1990s these had been converted completely to Chardonnay, which best suits the soil and climate of the area. Grapes for wine had previously been grown in this location by Martin Thurn, one of the six German vinedressers brought out by the Macarthurs of Camden Park in 1852. Table grapes were grown throughout the Elderslie area and sold in the Sydney markets. Vegetables were grown on the floodplain adjacent to Narellan Creek by Sun Chong Key, who was one of a number of Chinese market gardeners in the Camden area in the first half of the 20th century. Apart from farming, the floodplain and surrounding areas have been subject to extensive sand-mining for the Sydney building industry.

Elderslie was the first stop after Camden on the tramway that ran between Camden and Campbelltown, which began operations in 1882. The locomotive (affectionately known as Pansy) had 24 services each week-day, which were a mixture of passenger and goods services. Observant travellers to the area can still make out the earth works of the tramway on the northern side of Camden Valley Way along the floodplain. The tramway operated until 1963, when a number of branch lines in the Sydney area were shut. The tramway, which ran beside the Hume Highway between Elderslie and Camden, was often closed due to flooding.

Little Sandy with footbridge across the Nepean River at Camden c.1950. This area on the Nepean River was always a popular swimming spot. Diving board in foreground. (Camden Images)
Little Sandy with footbridge across the Nepean River at Camden c.1950. This area on the Nepean River was always a popular swimming spot. Diving board in foreground. (Camden Images)

Swimming became one of Elderslie earliest organized 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 organized in 1909 and attracted over 1000 spectators, and this was the location of the Camden Swimming Club in the 1920s. There were two popular swimming holes at Kings Bush Reserve and Little Sandy, where the Australian Army built a footbridge during World War II (and there is still one in that location today). By the 1950s, increasing pollution of the river put pressure on authorities for a town swimming pool, which was eventually opened in Camden in 1964.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the growth of coal mining contributed to local population growth and demand for residential land releases on farmland adjacent to the floodplain.  This created a need for education facilities and led to establishment of Mawarra Primary School (1972) and Elderslie High School (1976). Elderslie was also identified as part of the growth area for Greater Sydney, initially as part of the Macarthur Growth Centre Plan (1973), then the Metropolitan Strategy (1988) and most recently in the Cities for the 21st Century plan (1995). Some of these land releases caused concerns over air quality issues and deteriorating water quality in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River, and consequently they were deferred until 2005. In the most recent Elderslie land releases, developers have commodified the rural mythology and imagery of ‘the country town’ and associated rural vistas, with names like ‘Camden Acres’, ‘The Ridges’ and ‘Vantage Point’. These values have attracted ‘outsiders’ to the area in the hope of finding places where ‘the country still looks like the country’. Part of this imagery is found in Elderslie’s older residential streets, which are a picture in November when the Jacarandas provide a colourful show of purple and mauve.

One of Elderslie’s most notable resident was possibly the Australian poet and actor, Hugh McCrae (1876-1958). He lived in River Road in the 1930s and occasionally after that. He was a member of the Sydney Bohemian set, and a friend of Norman Lindsay and members of the Camden elite: for example, local surgeon Dr RM Crookston and his wife, Zoe. McCrae wrote about the local area in works like ‘October in Camden’, and ‘Camden Magpie’. He was awarded an OBE (1953) for services to Australian Literature. {link to ADB}

References

A useful summary of secondary sources on Elderslie can be found at http://www.camdenhistory.org.au and follow the links to Camden Bibliography

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

Mylrea, PJ, Camden District, A History to the 1840s, Camden: Camden Historical Society, 2002.

Camden History, Journal of the Camden Historical Society.

Colonial Camden · Cowpastures · Governor Macquarie · Uncategorized

Macquarie returns to the Cowpastures

Governor Macquarie (SLNSW)
Governor Macquarie (SLNSW)

Governor Macquarie returned for his third visit to the Cowpastures in 1820. Macquarie and his party set out from Parramatta Monday 16 October 1820 and journeyed through the Cowpasture in southern New South Wales. They returned to the Cowpasture on 3 November 1820.

Read for yourself Governor Macquarie’s journal of the trip.

Extracts from the Journal of Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1820

Monday 16. October. 1820.
Having resolved on making a Tour of Inspection to the new Country some time since discovered by Charles Throsby Esqr. to the South West of the Cow Pastures, I set out this morning at Half past Six o’clock from Parramatta on my intended Tour in my Carriage, with my old faithful Valet George Jarvis, having previously taken an early leave of all that is dear to me in life.
I sent off my Heavy Baggage on Friday last the 13th. Instant, together with my Servants under charge of Thomas Evans the Orderly Dragoon,
appointed for this duty with orders to halt at Stone Quarry Creek in the Cow Pastures till my arrival there. The Party to accompany me on this Tour  consists of Major Antill, Lt. Macquarie, Mr. Meehan, Dr. Reid R. Navy, the Revd. Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Throsby; the two latter, and
Mr. Meehan having appointed to meet me at Liverpool or on the road beyond it. Halted at Liverpool to Breakfast and bait our Horses. At
9 o’clock set out from Liverpool; the Revd. Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Meehan having joined me there. Travelled  in my Carriage by the
Bringelly and Cow Pasture Roads, to the Ford of the River Nepean at the Governor’s Hut where I was met by Mr. David Johnston the Supdt. of Govt.Stock and Mr. Charker the Prinl. Overseer of Govt. Stock, to guide the Carriage across the River and afterwards to the Prinl. Govt. StockYard.

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

I crossed the Ford on Horseback and found it very firm and good. The Carriage also passed it without any difficulty. After passing the Ford, I
went again into the Carriage to the Govt. Stock Yard, travelling all the way through a beautiful rich  Parklike Tract of Country; the Stock Yard being 3 miles from the Ford. From the Govt. Cottage built some time since for the residence of the Overseer of Stock, there is a very fine Picturesque view of the Surrounding Country and of Mount Hunter in the foreground there being most excellent Pasturage for the Government cattle at this station. I inspected the Govt. Herds, consisting of 550 Head of young Cows & Steers, in two separate Herds. After inspecting the Cattle, we were entertained by Mr. Johnston with a very neat cold collation, wine & spirits which  we all  partook of very cheerfully.
Having finished our repast I mounted my Horse  Sultan and rode along with the other Gentlemen  over the Hills by a short cut to Stone Quarry Creek; Joseph proceeding the longer way, by Mr. McArthur’s Camden Farm to the same station, having by that route 14 miles to go which we go in 10 on Horseback. We passed through some very rich verdant Vallies between Mounts Taurus and  Hunter before we ascended the Ridge which
connects them. We stopped for Half an Hour at  the large Govt. new Paddock within Half a Mile  of Stone Quarry Creek to examine the Govt. Invalid Herd at that station and found them greatly  improved. This is the station where the Wild Cattle are first brought when caught to be
reclaimed. The Stockmen had the good fortune of driving in 19 Head this morning which  I found in a separate Paddock and  in very tolerable good condition.
From the New StockYard,  we pursued our Journey to Stone Quarry Creek where we arrived at 1/2 past 4 o’clock and found all our Servants and
Baggage all snug and safe encamped on the South Side of the Creek. Joseph arrived with the Carriage in half an Hour after us. The Servants stupidly enough, had not Pitched our Tents; neither had they prepared any Dinner for us, which was still worse; but, as we had all made a hearty meal at Mr. Johnston’s, it was of the less consequence. Our Tents were immediately Pitched and the Cook soon roasted a couple of Fowls for us, and we sat down to a very good Dinner at 6 o’clock. Before I left the Govt. Stock Yard, where we first Halted and took our Lunch today, I was so much pleased with the Beauty of the Situation of that spot, that I was induced to name it “Cawdor” in honor of my dearest Elizabeth’s Family; this Place having no particular name or designation before. I ordered also that two addl. Rooms should be added to the Cottage at Cawdor for my own and Succeeding Governors’ accommodation whenever  I may happen to visit this part of the Country.We
sat a very short time at Dinner had Tea and went early to Bed.

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

 

Tuesday 17th. October 1820.
We all got up by 5 o’clock this morning had  the Baggage loaded and  Breakfasted at 1/2 past 5 o’clock. The whole of the Baggage did not get
off, however till 7 o’clock. Wishing to see some parts of the Country where the carriage could not travel through I desired Joseph  to follow the Baggage with it, whilst I mounted Sultan and rode with the gentlemen of my suite and Mr. David Johnston and Charker who accompanied me yesterday from Cawdor to the StockYard at Stone Quarry Creek. We rode  over some very fine rich Pasture Grounds and crossed several gentle Hills admirably well adapted for sheep. I  also examined a most eligible situation on the North Bank of this Creek for a Township whenever this desirable part of the Country is Settled.Mr. Johnston & Charker accompanied us for about 7 miles on the way to Bargo and on our getting
on the regular made Road by which the Carriage and Baggage went, they took their leave of us to return to Cawdor.

 

I entrusted Mr. Johnston with a Letter I had written last night to Mrs. M. with  directions to forward it to her to Parramatta.We overtook the Carriage and Baggage soon after we had crossed the Bargo River, and were soon afterwards joined by Mr. Throsby as we Passed through Bargo. This is rather a barren Country, very few Parts of it being fit for Cultivation. After passing through Bargo, we entered a very  long Barren Scrubby Brush of 9 miles in extent now named Kennedy’s Brush in honor of the Person of that name who first passed through it with the Natives. We then entered the Tract of Country called Mittagong, and at Half past 2 o’clock arrived at Kannabygle’s Plains, where we encamped and Halted for this day; this Place being 24 miles in a South westerly direction from Stone Quarry Creek which is rather too long a Journey for Heavy Loaded carts, some of which did not arrive on the Ground for Two Hours and a quarter after the two light carts had come to their Ground; some parts of the Road being very rough and stoney. The Ground we have encamped on today is a very pretty spot, on the edge of a rich extensive Meadow, with a chain of fine Fresh Water Ponds in front of our Tents, and  excellent Forage for our cattle. We dined at six, Drank Tea at 8, and retired to Bed a little after 9 o’clock.

Governor Macquarie proceeded into southern New South Wales and returned to the Cowpasture weeks later.

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

Saturday 4. November 1820.
It rained a good deal in the course of the Night but  was fair when we got up at 5 this morning. We Breakfasted a little before 6 o’clock, and the
last of the Bagage, [sic] and ourselves set out a qr. before 7. It came on pretty smart rain at that hour. Travelling  through Stone Quarry Creek &
southern parts of the Cow Pastures, and Mr. McArthur’s Farms of upper & lower Camden, where we stopt to take some Refreshment and
having also examined the Govt. Flocks of Sheep, we arrived at Cawdor at a qr. after 4. p.m. where we found all our Baggage had arrived a few
minutes only before us; the Road they came being only 24 miles, while our Route hither being circuitous was at least 35 miles.
We viewed all the Govt. Cattle here & found them in very fine order; Dressed & dined at Six drank Tea at 8 and went to Bed at 9 o’clock.
We found Mr. David Johnston Supdt. of Govt. Stock, waiting for us at Cawdor.

Sunday 5. November 1820

This  being a Resting & Halting Day, we slept a little longer and did not get up till 6 o’clock this morning and Breakfasted between 7 & 8 o’clock.
At  9, we set out on a long Ride to see the Govt. Herds stationed at Lowe’s Hill to the Northward of  this Station distant about 7 miles. After
we had seen and examined the Cattle, we travelled for 2 or  3 miles more along the Left Bank of the River  Nepean, opposite to Coppetty then
returned to the Hill hitherto called (unauthorizedly) Lowe’s  Hill which  commands a most noble extensive  prospect and  which I have now named (at the  particular request of Commissr. Bigge)  “BrownlowHill”  after his friend Lord Brownlow;  and from thence proceeded by the Range of Hills
leading to Mount Hunter for the purpose of seeing some of the Wild Cattle in their natural state. In  the course of our Ride we fell in with 3 or 4 small Herds, some of which we hunted, and the  Commissioner enjoyed the sport amazingly.

After  a very pleasant Excursion, and riding about  25 miles, we returned to Camp at 1/2 past 2 o’clock. On my arrival I had the felicity of  receiving a Packet of Letters dated yesterday from my beloved Elizabeth and Lachlan, conveying to me the joyful intelligence of their being both in  good Health; but this gratifying news was greatly clouded by the accounts of an event of a most  awful nature that might have at once deprived me  of all that makes Life to me valuable namely the  Govt. House at Parramatta having been struck by  Lightning yesterday morning at Ten o’clock; but  through the interposition of Divine Providence, no  injury was done to any living Creature. How  thankful I ought to be to God for this escape and  I am devoutly so! The Commissr. having resolved on going to sleep  at Mr. Oxley’s tonight, we dined today at 4 o’clock,  to enable him to cross the River before dark. He accordingly left us with  his own immediate Suite at 6 o’clock. Messrs. Jas. & Wm. McArthur dined with us they  being at present residing at their Father’s Farm of Lower Camden. We had  no sooner returned Home from our Ride this afternoon than it came on very heavy Rain. We drank Tea at 7 and retired to Rest at 9 then  raining very heavy.

Monday 6. November
Got up at 5 this morning. It rained all Night but  is now fair. Sent  off the Baggage at 6 across the Nepean, and set out from Cawdor in half
an Hour afterwards. Called at Mr. Oxley’s where  I Breakfasted with the Commissioner. Left  that  at 10. a.m. and arrived at Parramatta at 3 p.m.
L.M

Source: http://www.mq.edu.au/macquariearchive/lema/1820/1820oct.html .

Camden · Colonial Camden · Cowpastures · Governor Macquarie · Uncategorized

The Bicentenary of the 1815 visit by Governor Macquarie

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Govenor Macquarie (SLNSW)

Governor Macquarie made a second visit to the Cowpastures in 1815.

It is 200 years since Governor Macquarie journeyed through the Cowpasture and 2015 is the bicentenary year visit to the local area.

On Macquarie’s 1815 journey to the Cowpasture he travelled with a group of colonial notables or gentlemen as he called them.

Amongst those accompanying Macquarie were William Cox, the road builder over the Blue Mountains, explorer and builder of some of Windsor’s notable buildings. There was also John Oxley of Kirkham, surveyor general, explorer and naval officer, as well as Captain Henry Antill of Jarvisfield, soldier, explorer and farmer.

Another, who was an emancipist James Meehan who was originally transported for his part in the 1798 Irish rebellion, and was  deputy surveyor general and settler. There was also Thomas Campbell vice-regal secretary to the governor and Rowland Hassall of Macquarie Grove, the superintendent of the government stock.

On this journey Macquarie called in at Camden Park, Appin, Stonequarry Creek, and climbed down into Burragorang Valley. The party inspected the wild cattle south of the Nepean River, stopped at Macquarie Grove, climbed Mount Taurus and proceeded through the Mount Hunter area.

Read for yourself Governor Macquarie’s diary of the trip.

Extracts from the Diary of Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1815

Wednesday. 4 October 1815
Breakfast at 8. a.m. and Set out from Camp in Half an Hour afterwards to inspect the several  Farms in the District of Appin, and some of the intermediate ones in the Districts of Upper Minto and Airds. — Passed through Mr. Mc.Arthur’s Farm of Lower Cambden, [sic] where I
stopt [sic] for about a quarter of an Hour to examine a Piece of Ground in rear thereof, which Mrs. Mc.Arthur had Solicited might be added to that Farm, in consequence of her having by mistake built a small Cottage on it. — After having looked at the Land, and seeing no
reasonable objection thereto, I acquiesced in her request, and accordingly directed the Surveyor General to locate and mark out the Piece of Ground in question for her – which may be about Sixty acres.

From Lower Cambden [sic] Farm we proceeded to Mr. Davidson’s Farm called Manangle, where we crossed the River Nepean into the District of Airds, first passing through Horrax’s and afterwards thro’ several other smaller Farms, some few of which were tolerably well
improved, and the Crops in the Ground Iooking well and Healthy. — At 11 a.m. Entered the District of Appin at Mr. Uther’s Farm, which is a very good and a very pretty well improved one on the slop[e] of a High Hill, on the Summit of which he has erected his House. — Mr.
Uther’s Crops look well and promise to be very good and plentiful. — From Mr. Uther’s we passed on to Mr. Hume’s Farm, which is also much improved – but his Crops do not look so well or so promising as the last Farm we passed through. —

From Mr. Hume’s Farm, we proceeded by a short but very rough Road to the Farm of Wm. Broughton Esqr. which he has been pleased to name “Lachlan Vale”. — Here he is now building a large one story weather Boarded House with two Wings, on a very lofty Eminence Commanding a very extensive prospect. — Mr. Broughton has cleared a considerable proportion of his Farm, and has some fine looking Fields of Wheat growing, looking healthy & promising.

From Mr. Broughton’s we proceeded to the next Farm belonging to his Brother in Law Mr. John Kennedy, within a few Hundred yards of one another. —

Mr. Kennedy has done a great deal in improving his Farm; having cut down much Timber, and having now several extensive Fields of very fine looking Wheat, with a good Farm House and Garden. — In consideration of Mr. Kennedy’s industry, and great exertions to improve his present Farm (200 acres), I have promised him an additional grant of 100 acres immediately adjoining his present one. —
We halted and rested for about Half an Hour at Mr. Kennedy’s, where we partook of a slight Refreshment of Bread & Wine.

On our arrival at Mr. Kennedy’s Farm I was much concerned to find my poor Horse Cato very lame. — I discovered early after setting out this morning that he was a little Stiff in his movements, but was in hopes it would go off on his getting a little warm. I was however disappointed, for he continued a little Stiff all Day, and became very lame at Mr. Kennedy’s on getting Cool. — I had no other Horse to ride however, and therefore was forced to use him still. — From Mr. Kennedy’s, we proceeded to see the Farm of Mr. Sykes about Half a mile further to the Southward – and at present the most Southern one in Appin. — This man has, with small means, made wonderful exertions, having cleared and cultivated a large proportion of his Farm, and there is every appearance of his having an abundant Crop of Wheat this Season. —

In consideration of Sykes’s industry, I have promised him an addition of Seventy acres adjoining immediately his present one – which will make his whole Farm 150 acres. — Sykes’s farm is supposed to be about 20 miles distant from the Ground we set out from this morning, and we have at least Ten Miles to ride to our next Ground or Station at the StoneQuarry Creek in the Cow Pastures, whither all our Servants and Baggage proceeded this morning at the same time we set out for Appin. —

At 2 P.M. Set out from Sykes’s farm on our return to the Cow Pastures; and crossing the River Nepean at Mr. Riley’s Farm, and at a very rough steep Pass (which I have named “Campbell’s Pass” in honor of Mr. Paymaster Campbell), we arrived at the Stone Quarry Creek at 4 P.M. after riding 8 miles over a beautiful Country thither in the Cow Pastures. Here we found all our servants, Cattle, and Baggage had arrived safe about an Hour before us. — We saw only 3 or 4 Wild Bulls in our Journey this afternoon between Campbell’s Pass and StoneQuarryCreek.

Our Ride this day could not have been less than 28 miles. — We sat down at 6 P.M. to a very good Dinner, Drank Tea, and went to Bed between 9 and 10,O’Clock. —

Thursday 5 October.
Breakfasted at 6,O’Clock this morning, and set out for the Natai Mountains at 7 –, arrive on the farthest Verge of the Table Land of the Natai Mountains at Half past 9,O’Clock – disce. bymeasurement of the Perambulator 8¼ miles. – From this Table Land we had a fine view of a
very deep Ravine or Glen below us – which leads to the Natai River; – the mountains on either Side being an immense Height from the Bottom – not less than 8 or 900 Feet High. —

We proceeded on Horseback by a circuitous route to this Glen for 2½ miles through very intricate thick Forest and Brush, at the termination of which we arrived at the Top of a very deep rocky Gulley – which in many places appeared to be almost perpendicular – and down which it was impossible to go on Horseback. — There being, however, no other way of going to the Natai River, we determined to leave our Horses at the top of this deep Gulley (– called by our guide “Brimstone Gulley” –) and to descend on foot, guided by Warbey and the Native “Boodbury.” —

Mr. Hassall not liking the appearance of the rugged Descent, preferred remaining at the Top of the Gulley with the Servants and Horses. — The rest of the Party and myself Commenced to descend at ½ past 10, and after a most tiresome scrambling walk reached the Right Bank of the River Natai at 50 minutes past 11,O’Clock, being one Hour and 20 minutes in getting thither – the distance by Computation from the Top of the Gulley to the River being 3¼ miles. — We were all very much fatigued by the time we got to the River and therefore rested there for an Hour, where we had each a Glass of Cherry Brandy and a Biscuit to refresh us; Major Antill having carried with him a Pint Bottle of this good stuff. —

The Natai River [sic] is here about the Size of George’s River – about ten yards in breadth – and is a very pretty stream; having fine open Forest Land on the Left or opposite Bank of it, and which sort of Land continues for Nine Miles along its Banks until this River unites with the Warragombie, by the account given of it to us by our guide John Warbey. — At Ten minutes before 1 P.M. Set out from the Natai River on our Return, and after a most fatiguing tiresome scrambling walk of 1 Hour and 25 minutes, arrived at the Top of this tremendous Gulley, where we found Mr. Hassall, our Servants, and Horses impatiently waiting our return. — From the near resemblance between them, I have named this Stupendous Valley or Ravine “Glencoe”.

View of Burragorang Valley c.1950s (sydneywater)

 

After getting back to the TableLand of the Natai Mountains, we proceeded on our return to Camp by a different Route to that we came by from thence; travelling back by a more Northern Track, and passing through some very fine Grazing Country tollerably [sic] well watered, but were much Surprised to meet so few of the Wild Cattle during our Excursion outwards and Homewards; seldom meeting with a larger Herd than 10 or 12 Head, and those principally Bulls. — We reached our Camp at ½ past 5,O’Clock; having travelled this day only
30 miles. —

I learned this Evening on my return to Camp for the first time that my Greyhound Dog Oscar had been hurt severely Hunting a Kangaroo two days since at Mattalling, when taken out from thence on Tuesday morning by the Cook and Jack Moore along with Dennison the Guide
to hunt in that Forest. I was very angry at their taking so daring a liberty. — I ordered the poor Animal to be taken particular care of, and to be carried in one of the Carts till he recovers. —

Friday 6 October.
Breakfasted at 6 a.m. and at 7,O’Clock Set out from Camp to see and examine the Tract of Country to the Southward of the Stone Quarry Creek called “Great Bargo”. — At ½ past 9,O’Clock, after riding about 8 miles, we arrived at and crossed the Bargo River, which is a small Branch of the Nepean, and divides Bargo from the proper CowPastures.—

On entering Bargo we found the Country Barren and very bare of Feed for Cattle, but on advancing a fewmiles into the Country we found both the Land and Grazing improve a little but far from

being very good. Here Mr. Oxley and Mr. Moore (with my permission) have large Herds of Horned Cattle grazing; but so many of them have died that these Gentlemen intend removing them immediately from this Country.
After halting a few minutes at Mr. Oxley’s StockYard, we proceeded to that part of Bargo where a great number of Trees have been blown down by some violent Tempest, and appears as if they had been felled on purpose to clear the Land. —

From this Place we proceed to view that part of the Great Branch of the River Nepean where the Bargo Branch forms a junction with it, and where the Banks of the former are very high and Rocky. The River runs here nearly N. East, and South West. — On the opposite side is Little Bargo, or Wallamalla, adjoining the District of Appin, from which it is separated by a very deep Creek or Gulley. — Mr. Broughton’s Farm (which he has called “LachlanVale”) in Appin lies in a North East Direction from the Point where we thus took our Station to view the wild and grand scenery of the Banks of the River Nepean. —

At 11 a.m. Set out from the Banks of the Nepean on our way back to Camp. — Halted again at Mr. Oxley’s StockYard to rest our Horses for Half an Hour. — Saw here three very young Emus belonging to Mr. Oxley’s Overseer, not more than 10 or 12 Days old. — I desired the Stockmen to inform the Overseer (who was out in the Bush) when he came Home that I wished to Purchase his 3 young Emus if he was disposed to sell them, and if so to bring them to me to Sydney soon.

We crossed the Bargo River at the same Place as before into the proper Cow Pastures, and returned Home to Camp by a different and more Southerly Track than the one we went out by; arriving in Camp at 4,O’Clock, after a ride of 38 miles. — We saw several small Herds of
the Wild Cattle during this day’s Excursion, and observed many of their Tracks even in Bargo.—

Nepean River near Cobbitty 1900 (Camden Images)
Nepean River near Cobbitty 1900 (Camden Images)

Saturday 7 October.
Breakfasted at 6,O’Clock, and sent off our Baggage from StoneQuarry Creek at 8, for Mr.Hassall’s Farm called “MacquarieGrove” on the East side of the River Nepean, where we next intend to Encamp; setting out ourselves immediately after sending off the Baggage, in order
to explore the Country lying between the Stone QuarryCreek more westerly than the route we came by, and extending to Mount Hunter Creek.
On the Baggage going away I was concerned to observe that my poor Dog Oscar looked very ill and much reduced in Strength. — I ordered him to be conveyed carefully in the Caravan.

After travelling over several beautiful Valleys and high Ridges alternately, we ascended at the Southern Extremity of Mount Taurus at ½ past 9,O’Clock, and soon after reaching the Top of that mountain, we came up with and apprehended two men named Michael Mc.Grath a Freeman,
and Dennis Bryan a Convict, both residing on a Farm in the District of Appin through which we had passed a few days before. —

Each of these men had a Bag containing fresh Beef on his Back, and which they acknowledged was part of one of the Heifers belonging to the Wild Herds the Property of the Crown, and which Heifer they had killed early this morning, having come hither from their Farm for this purpose. — I ordered them to be sent in the first instance to Mr. Hassall’s Farm, in order to be sent from thence to the Gaol at Sydney and committed by Mr. Cox to take their Trial. —

After taking a view of the Surrounding Country from the Top of Mount Taurus, we proceeded along the High Ridge that connects it with Mount Hunter, from the Top of which we had a very extensive view of the Country lying to the Northward and westward of us, including the
Blue Mountains. — Having rested ourselves and Horses for about Half an Hour on the Highest part of Mount Hunter, we commenced to descend the mountain at 2,O’Clock on the North side of it, and reached the Plains below on that side in about a quarter of an Hour.

From the foot of Mount Hunter we proceeded in a north westerly direction towards Mount Hunter Creek for about Seven Miles of beautiful open Forest rich Ground, containing the richest Herbage and finest Grazing I have yet seen in any part of the Colony, the whole being extremely well
watered either by Ponds or the Creek, and the Country beautifully diversivied [sic] by gentle undulating Hill and Dale alternately. —;

Having reached Mount HunterCreek, we proceeded in a Northern direction towards the River Nepean, travelling over some [some] very pretty
Hills and Vallies for about Five Miles before we reached the River; this last Tract of Land being admirably wellsuited for Sheep Farms. —

The Land lying between Mount Hunter, the Creek, and the River, which I have this day travelled over being well calculated for that purpose, it is
my intention to form an Establishment here for at least Three Separate Herds of the Government Horned Cattle, at three distinct Stations. —

We crossed the River Nepean at a Ford immediately below Mr. Hassall’s Farm, and encamped there at 4,O’Clock, having been 8 Hours on Horseback and rode about 30 miles. We found our Baggage had arrived about Half an Hour before us at “MacquarieGrove”, which is the name Mr. Hassall has been so good to give to this very finely situated and beautiful Farm. As soon as we had rested a little, I wrote a short Letter to Mrs. Macquarie before Dinner, giving her an account of our safe arrival here. — We dined at 6,O’Clock in a Room in Mr. Hassall’s FarmHouse. —

Nepean River Cowpastures[1]
Sunday 8 October. —
We Breakfasted at 8 OClock this morning and had Divine Service performed in the Veranda ofMr. Hassall’s House at 10,O’Clock, the whole of our Party, including Mr. Hassall’s Family, and all our own attendants being present. —

Between 9 and 10,O’Clock this morning my poor favorite beautiful Greyhound Oscar died in great agony, to my great concern and mortification, having had him now upwards of Four Years. I ordered him to be buried in a part of the Farm of Macquarie Grove! —

At Noon I rode out to view some of the Farms in Upper Minto lying along the River Nepean as far as the Boundary Line between them and District of Appin; then passing into the District of Airds, we rode through several Farms in that District and returned Home through Mr. Allan’s
and Mr. Throsbey’s [sic] Farms by a different Track to that we took going out; – returning to our Camp at Macquarie Grove at 4,O’Clock, after a ride of 22 miles. — We sat down to a very good Dinner at 6,O’Clock, and at 7, I had the happiness of receiving a Letter from Mrs.
Macquarie, dated Friday last, giving me the delightful intelligence that her own Health was much better than it was when I left her, and that our darling Boy was in perfect good Health.—

I wrote to Mrs. M. in reply to this Letter before I went to Bed – to be forwarded to her by way of Liverpool tomorrow morning. — Not requiring the Services of John Warbey any longer as a guide for the Cow Pastures, I have this day discharged him; intending to pay him at the rate of 20/. Str. per Day for the time he has attended me, including 10/. per day for the Hire of his Horse. — He has now been Seven Days in my Service including this Day. —

Monday 9 October. 1815.
Breakfasted at ¼ past 6,O’Clock this morning, and sent off our Servants and Baggage at ¼ past 8, for our next Encamping Ground on Mr. Bent’s Farm in the Bringelly District; — [name omitted] Cosgrove going with the Baggage as a Guide to conduct it by the safest and best Road. — I discharged the two other Guides Neale and Dennison this morning, and also two of the Carts which had been hired by Mr. Moore at Liverpool for carrying Corn for my Horses; agreeing to pay for the said Carts at the rate of 10/. Pr. Day for the time they have been employed, including this present Day. —

I set out with my Suite from Macquarie Grove at ½ past 8,O’Clock this morning for the Cook and Bringelly Districts, halting at each of the Farms in our course along the River the whole of the way. — Some few of these Farms were well enclosed and Cultivated, but generally very
little has been done by any of the Settlers in these two Districts, the Lands being still nearly in a state of nature. —

The Farms belonging to Mr. Hannibal Mc.Arthur, Mr. William Wentworth, Mr. Secretary Campbell and Mr. Bent (now Doctr. Wentworth’s) are all very fine ones; especially Mr. Secry. Campbell’s, which is one of the richest and best Farms in the Colony. Mr. Campbell has done a great deal already towards improving his Farm, having Fenced in considerable parts of it, and cleared about 200 acres of ground, part of which is
sown with Wheat – and which looks very promising. —

On arriving at what are called the KobbattyHills, we overtook our Servants and Baggage, one of my Carts having been upset going up a steep Hill through the carelessness and obstinacy of the Driver – but no damage or injury was occasioned by this accident – and the whole
went on again as soon as the Cart was uprighted and loaded. — We halted until this accident was rectified, which gave us an opportunity of ascending the highest of the Kobbatty Hills and from thence having a very fine extensive view of the surrounding Country.

Source: http://www.mq.edu.au/macquariearchive/lema/1815/1815oct.html 5/6

Aesthetics · Attachment to place · British colonialism · Camden · Cobbitty · Colonial Camden · community identity · Cowpastures · Cultural Heritage · Cultural icon · Entertainment · Floods · Heritage · Historical consciousness · history · Landscape aesthetics · Leisure · Local History · Macarthur · Memory · Menangle · myths · Nepean River · Place making · Ruralism · Second World War · sense of place · Settler colonialism · Sydney's rural-urban fringe · Town planning · Urban growth · Urban Planning · urban sprawl · war · War at home · Water

Nepean River, more than a water view

The Nepean River is one of the most important waterways in the Sydney basin and has particular significance for Sydney’s southwestern rural-urban fringe.

Nepean River near Cobbitty 1900 (Camden Images)
Nepean River near Cobbitty 1900 (Camden Images)

 

The Nepean River catchment extends south and east of the Sydney Basin to take in areas near Robertson and Goulburn.

West of Wollongong the tributaries includng Cataract Creek, Avon River, Cordeaux River that flow north-west and then into the deep gorges of Pheasants Nest and Douglas Park.

The river opens up into a floodplain and flows past  Menangle and crosses the Cowpastures and southern Cumberland Plain past Camden and Cobbitty.

The river then flows north through the gorge adjacent to Wallacia  and enters Bents Basin before it is joined by the Warragamba River and changes its name to the Hawkesbury River.

The Nepean River is economically important to the Sydney Basin and is used for mining, irrigation, recreation and other activities. It is ecologically significant to the area and has a number of rare and endangered species of plants.

Cultural importance

The river  has an important meaning in terms of its intangible cultural heritage to the local landscape. The river and its surroundings had special meaning to the Indigenous Dharawal people of the Cowpastures area.

The river defines the landscape and the construction of place in the localities along the river including Menangle, Camden, and Cobbitty.

One locality of special significance is Little Sandy at Camden.

Little Sandy

Little Sandy on the Nepean River at Camden has been a popular spot with local Europeans 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.

Little Sandy has been an important part of Camden cultural heritage for generations. It is a locality with a strong sense of place and identity with people’s memories.

The site has layers of meaning that can be peeled back and reveal a landscape of diverse dimensions. Its story has meaning across the generations.

The site and the pondage was created on the Nepean River with the construction of the Camden Weir in 1907. It is a culturally created landscape.

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.

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

 

Swimming carnivals

Nepean River swimming carnival 1917 Little Sandy (Camden Images)
Nepean River swimming carnival 1917 Little Sandy (Camden Images)

 

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 1907 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 where held for a short time and Boy Scouts would go swimming there, according to Milton Ray.

Len English says

“In the 1950s the area was used for swimming by pupils from Camden Public School’,  ‘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)

Learn more @ Ian Willis, ‘Elderslie’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008

 

Footbridge built 1943

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

Nepean River 1900

Nepean River near Cowpasture Bridge 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. There is evidence of  sedimentation and streambank erosion caused by hard-hoofed animals trampling river banks.

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 quotes from James Atkinson’s 1826  An Account of the State of Agriculture and Grazing in New South Wales  in her book on the environmental history of the Nepean River

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 settlers had in Atkinson’s terms failed 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. David Collins wrote about his impression after a wet spring in his An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798). These impressions have been quoted in Alan Atkinson’s Camden where it states there were

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’.

Learn 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.

 Camden Weir 1907

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

 

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

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 constructed 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 at 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 systerm.

Learn more @ John Wrigley,’ Nepean River Weirs’, The District Reporter 3 August 2001

 

Water has a calming effect on the mind and takes the mind to a quiet, tranquil and peaceful place.

Some say it has the ability to 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 tranquility of the environment provided by the tranquility and serenity of the pool provided by the weir.

For others, a visually pleasant 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 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 Little 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 a pleasant water feature that circles the township. The beauty of the scene with the trees along the water’s edge framing the quiet of the 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 steam rise of the water’s surface as the walkers 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 serine quiet surroundings of the pond.

A new footbridge

Little Sandy Footbridge after completion of work 2014 (I Willis)
Little Sandy Footbridge after completion of work 2014 (I Willis)

 

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

The weather gods were kind, and while there was 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.

 Pre-cast concrete

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 the a flood in 2012. The new footbridge was jointly funded by 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.

Learn more @ The District Reporter 17 August 2012.

 

Kings Bush

King’s Bush is the reserve adjacent the river’s edge at Little Sandy 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 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)

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

 

Chellaston Street

Chellaston Street ends at the Nepean River in Chellaston Reserve in the vicinity of Little Sandy. 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 a number of land releases in the area during the Inter-war period including Victory Ave and Gilbulla Ave that run off Menangle Road.

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

 

Learn more

Many people have fond memories of Little Sandy at Camden
The Nepean River at Little Sandy is part of the Cumberland Woodland 
Not far from Little Sandy there are stands of the rare Elderslie Banksia Scrub
Read about the Camden White Gum which can be found on the banks of the Nepean River at Little Sandy