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Lost Campbelltown heritage

Lost Campbelltown heritage

Campbelltown and surrounding areas have lost much in the way of their local heritage. Does anyone care and more to the point does anyone notice?

Heritage is what the community considers of value at present and is worthy of handing on to the next generation. It is a moveable feast and changes over time. What is important to one section of the community is of no value to another. And so it is with different generations of the one community.  Many regret the loss of building from the past yet there were others who did not miss any of these buildings. This story clearly illustrates this trend.

The loss of Campbelltown’s  heritage is part of the story of the urban growth of the town and surrounding area. Starting with the 1948 Cumberland Plan then the 1968 Sydney Region Outline Plan of which 1973 New Cities Structure Plan was a part. These plans set a path for a growing community and generated hope for some and loss for others. Campbelltown like other communities has gone through loss and renewal, and some are only interested in the new. Yet the need and yearning for a clear view of the past is part of the human condition where people need to honor and respect their ancestors and what did and did not achieve.

Andrew Allen has started to detail the loss of Campbelltown heritage buildings that coincided with a period of incredible urban growth the Campbelltown LGA in his history blog The History Buff. This blog post details just some of the buildings that have been lost. There have been many others as well.

Lost Buildings of Campbelltown

Marlows Drapery Store, Campbelltown

Retailing in Campbelltown has changed over the decades. There has been a transition from the family store to the mega-malls of today. One family store was Marlow’s Drapery Store.

Andrew Allen writes:

The demolition one quiet Sunday morning in 1981 of an old curiosity shop divided Campbelltown. The shop was built in 1840 and was once owned by former mayor C.J. Marlow who used it as a drapery. It stood between Dredge’s Cottage and the old fire station and Town Hall Theatre.The last owner of the building was Gladys Taylor.

Marlows Drapery Store Campbelltown (History Buff)
Marlows Drapery Store Campbelltown (History Buff)

 

Bradbury Park House, Campbelltown

Andrew Allen writes:

In 1816 Governor Macquarie gave a grant of 140 acres to Joseph Phelps who sold it to William Bradbury the following year. Bradbury Park House was built on this land in 1822.The house was located about 140 metres opposite where the town hall is located in Queen Street.  Unfortunately Bradbury Park House was demolished in 1954.

Bradbury Park House c1918 (History Buff)
Bradbury Park House c1918 (History Buff)

 

 

Leameah House, Leameah

Leumeah House at 2 Queen St, Campbelltown (cnr Queen Street and Campbelltown Road) was constructed in 1826. The house was owned by the Fowler family for many years and Eliza Fowler lived there in the 1880s after marrying Joseph Rudd. John Warby was given a 260 acre land grant in 1816 which he called Leumeah. His house was demolished in 1963, but his old stable and barn still exist.  Part of the site is now known as Leumeah Stables also known as Warby’s Barn and Stable which were constructed around 1816.

Leumeah House originally built by John Warby on his grant of Leumeah in 1820s. (Campbelltown Library)
Leumeah House originally built by John Warby on his grant of Leumeah in 1820s. (Campbelltown Library)

 

Keighran’s Mill.

Andrew Allen writes:

Just south of the original Woodbine homestead, and adjacent to the old Sydney Road (since renamed Hollylea Road) there once stood an imposing landmark, Keighran’s Mill. John Keighran purchased the site in 1844 and in 1855 built the mill on the banks of Bow Bowing Creek. Percy Payten was the last member of the Payten family to own the mill. In 1954 he offered the mill to the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society. The historical society also didn’t have enough funds at the time for its restoration. In 1962 the mill was dismantled and the stone was used in the building of the RAE Memorial Chapel at the School of Military Engineering at Moorebank, which opened in 1968.

Keighran's Mill, Campbelltown. 1959 S Roach (History Buff)
Keighran’s Mill, Campbelltown. 1959 S Roach (History Buff)

 

Woodbine Homestead, Woodbine

While James Payten was living at Leppington Hall in 1873, he bought Woodbine – the remains of John Scarr’s early farmhouse – as a new family home.The homestead stood on Campbelltown Road (Sydney Road), just north of the bridge, which crosses the railway line.

James Payten and his wife, Sarah (nee) Rose, shared their home with her brother, Alfred Rose and his family. Rose died in 1951 and her aging Woodbine cottage was demolished in the 1960’s.

Woodbine Homestead with Rose Payten standing at gate c1920s (Campbelltown Library)
Woodbine Homestead with Rose Payten standing at gate c1920s (Campbelltown Library)

 

Ivy Cottage, 31 Allman St, Campbelltown

Some of the buildings that have been lost in Campbelltown have religious connections. One those is Ivy Cottage.

Andrew Allen writes:

Local storekeeper William Gilchrist purchased land in Allman Street and built Ivy Cottage on it for his brother, Rev. Hugh Gilchrist, a Presbyterian minister appointed in 1838 to take charge of Campbelltown and many other surrounding towns. The cottage became the Presbyterian Manse and served as such until about 1882. The cottage was demolished in the 1960s.

Ivy Cottage Campbelltown in 1920s (The History Buff)
Ivy Cottage Campbelltown in 1920s (The History Buff)

 

The Engadine, cnr Broughton & Lindsay Streets, Campbelltown

The Engadine was built in 1924 by Minto grazier Kelvin Cuthell and designed by local architect A.W.M. Mowle.

Mowle lived at the family farm of Mount Drummond at Minto. He enlisted in the Australian Flying Corps in 1915  with the rank of Lieutenant and returned in 1918. In the 1920s he lived in 44 Wentworth Road, Burwood. In 1926 he supervised renovations, additions and painting of a weatherboard cottage in Campbelltown and in 1929 supervised the construction of shop and residence (SMH).

Kelvin Cuthell married Daphne Woodhouse in 1924 and moved into The Engadine. Kelvin Cuthel died in 1930 and after Daphne died in 1945, her sister Iris moved into the house, remaining there until her death in the 1970s. The house was demolished in 2012.

Verandah of The Engadine Mrs D Cuthell (The History Buff)
Verandah of The Engadine Mrs D Cuthell 1920s (The History Buff)

 

Milton Park, Ingleburn

Built in 1882 by hotelier David Warby.  By 1909 it was owned by Thomas Hilder, manager of the silver mines at Yerranderie in the Burragorang Valley. Later this century it fell into disrepair and the owner, Campbelltown Council, demolished it in 1992 after being unable to secure a financial offer for the building.

Milton Park in disrepair in 1981. (The History Buff)
Milton Park in disrepair in 1981. (The History Buff)

 

Rosslyn House, Badgally Road, Claymore

Marie Holmes writes that she believed the house to be built in the 1860s. Samuel Humphreys purchased two lots of land from William Fowler in 1882 which included the land and house. The house was in the hands of the Bursill family for much of the 20th century.

Andrew Allen writes:

In 1970 the property was sold to the State Planning Authority who in turn transferred it to the Housing Commission for the development of Claymore suburb. The house was left vacant, fell into disrepair and was damaged by fire in the mid 1970s. It was demolished in the late 1970s.

Rosslyn was left vacant, became derelict and damage by fire in mid-1970s. c1977. (The History Buff)
Rosslyn was left vacant, became derelict and damaged by fire in mid-1970s. c1977. (The History Buff)

 

Silver Star Garage, Queen Street, Campbelltown

Charles Tripp operatted the Silver Star Garage on the corner of Queen and Dumaresq Streets, Campbelltown. The Tripp family operated a variety of businesses on the site. In the 1880s there was a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, hired horses and sulkies and operated a mail coach. After the First World War the business changed to sell and service motorbikes, and later serviced motor cars and sold petrol.  In the 1920s he sold radios and broadcast radio programmes from the store. The garage was still operating commercially in the 1940s. The premises were demolished in 1966.

Silver Star Garage operated by Charles Tripp in Queens Street Campbelltown c.1940s (The History Buff)
Silver Star Garage operated by Charles Tripp in Queens Street Campbelltown c.1940s (The History Buff)

 

Campbelltown Hotels

Hotels are an ancient institution offering hospitality for the traveller. They provided comfort and shelter, a place to do business, a place to create wealth, a meeting place and a place to rest. In the past they have provided warmth, safety and a good meal from the elements. Hotels in Campbelltown did all of this and their loss has been a tragedy to many from the local community. Some of the hotels that are no longer with us include these listed here.

Royal Hotel, Cnr Railway and Hurley Streets, Campbelltown

The Royal Hotel was originally known as the Cumberland Hotel in the 1880s and became the Royal Hotel in the 1890s. Between 1899 and 1905 the licencee was Thomas F Hogan. Between the 1920s and the 1970s the premises were owned by Tooth & Co. The Royal Hotel was demolished in 1986 and suffered the fate of many heritage icons in Campbelltown and elsewhere.

Andrew Allen writes

The hotel was demolished in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning July 6, 1986. Newspaper reports described how at 5.30am council workmen first set up safety barriers around the hotel. By 6am a massive Hitachi caterpillar-tracked back hoe commenced clawing the building down and by evening most of the remains had been removed from the site. Council needed to widen Hurley Street and unfortunately the Royal Hotel was in the way of this.

Royal Hotel, Campbelltown before demolition. 1986. (The History Buff)
Royal Hotel, Campbelltown before demolition. 1986. (The History Buff)

 

Lacks Hotel, Cnr Queen and Railway Streets, Campbelltown

Lacks Hotel was located on the corner of Queen and Railway Streets and over the years was part of the complete re-development of Railway Street.

Andrew Allen writes:

Built by Daniel Cooper in 1830 as the Forbes Hotel, in 1901 it was refurbished and renamed the Federal Hotel. The license was transferred to Herb Lack in 1929 and it became Lack’s Hotel. After Herb’s death in 1956, his son-in-law and daughter Guy and Tib Marsden took over. Lack’s Hotel was demolished in 1984. A modern commercial building including a modern tavern now take its place.

Lacks Hotel Campbelltown about to be demolished in 1984. (The History Buff)
Lacks Hotel Campbelltown about to be demolished in 1984. (The History Buff)

 

Jolly Miller Hotel, Queen Street, Campbelltown

Hotels continued to disappear from the Campbelltown town centre. The buildings might still exist but they changed to other uses for other purposes. One of those was the Jolly Miller Hotel.

Andrew Allen writes:

The Jolly Miller Hotel was built in the late 1840s at the southern end of Queen Street opposite Kendall’s Mill. The hotel was opened by George Fieldhouse who had followed his convict father to New South Wales in 1828. George’s two sons William and Edwin Hallett opened a general store next to the hotel in 1853. This building, which later became the offices for the Campbelltown and Ingleburn News, is still standing opposite McDonald’s restaurant in Queen Street.

Jollly Miller Hotel at the southern end of Queen Street (The History Buff)
Jolly Miller Hotel at the southern end of Queen Street (The History Buff)

 

Campbelltown continues to grow and renew. Some of that renewal is high quality and other parts of it will disappear with time and be completely forgotten. A clear view of the past is necessary to understand the present. It provides a perspective to life and the human condition. People have a yearning for their story to be told by those who come after them. They want to be remembered and want to leave a legacy. This blog post is part of the Campbelltown story and is attempting to tell Campbelltown’s past.

 

New Book on Lost Campbelltown

The Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society has published a book of Lost Campbelltown (2018). The author of this great read is The History Buff blogger Andrew Allen who gives an excellent account of the built heritage that has been lost in the Campbelltown area. The book is 99 pages in full colour in an A4 format. The author outlines the stories of 61 buildings that have been demolished in the local area over the past 100 years. The buildings were a mixture of grand Victorians to humble slab and timber workman’s cottages. They range across the Europeans presence in Campbelltown and cover the Victorian, Edwardian, Interwar and Mid 20th Century periods. Modernism has much to answer for around their destruction along with the  planning decisions linked the 1948 Cumberland Plan and the 1968 Sydney Region Outline Plan and the Three Cities Structure Plan that went with it.

Campbelltown Lost Buildings Book Cover Andrew Allen 2018
A book by Andrew Allen called More Than Bricks and Mortar Remembering Campbelltown’s Lost Buildings. Published by Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society in 2018. 99 pages. Full colour in A4 format. ISBN 978-0-9578277-7-6

The book is available from Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society and Campbelltown Library.

 

Read more @ The History Buff,  Campbelltown Library’s History of our suburbs and Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.

Attachment to place · Heritage · Historical consciousness · history · Leisure · Local History · Macarthur · Narellan · Place making · Railway · Retailing · sense of place · Sydney's rural-urban fringe · Tourism

Place making at Narellan NSW

Screenshot Narellan Town Centre Plaza and Extension 2016 (http://www.narellantowncentre.com.au/)
Screenshot Narellan Town Centre Plaza and Extension 2016
(http://www.narellantowncentre.com.au/)

Place making at Narellan NSW

There has been an attempt at place making in Narellan in the new extension of the local shopping mall, Narellan Town Centre.

The centre owner states on its website that:

New civic plazas and entertainment precincts including a fantastic indoor / outdoor restaurant and casual dining precinct where you will be able to sit down and relax with friends day and night.

Kylie Legge has defined a place as

A location, a personal relationship to an environment, or act as a re-presentation of the spirit of the land and our unspoken community with it. In its simplest terms place is a space that has a distinct character. At is most complex it embodies the essence of a location, its community, spiritual beliefs, stories, history and aspirations. The essence of place is its genius loci, its ‘place-ness’. [i]

Place according to Legge should deliver ‘character, identity or meaning’. Place should also have community participation and create economic revitalisation.[ii]

The centre owners and designers have attempted to create a space where local folk can have social encounters and exchange and meet other people. This type of space attempts to strengthen the local economy, inspire community by having the look and feel of a village market square. The space aims to be walkable and draw people into it.

Place making is community driven and for it to be meaningful individuals should be allowed the make their own interpretation of the space.

The plaza is an attempt at place making where a space allows people to make their own story. They can create meaning for themselves by interacting with family and friends. The plaza has attempted to create its own cultural and social identity. This has been achieved by including a water feature, street furniture and public art.

Stylised Elderslie Banksia and extracts from Narellan story 2016(http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/narellan)
Stylised Elderslie Banksia, extracts from Narellan story and Pansy the Camden train 2016 (http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/narellan)

One of the  pieces of public art if a stylized Elderslie banksia, an endangered species, of the local area. There are also quotes from the history of the Narellan story by local historian Dr Ian Willis on two separate panels. There are also dioramas of Pansy the Camden train that ran through the site of the shopping centre extension, as well as cows and open pastures motifs. All these are part of the character of the development of the Narellan story, with its rural past, icon train and Narellan Railway Station.

So far the planners seem to have achieved their aims with early usage by local families. There mothers and children interacting, with some taking souvenir photos for family memoirs. The surrounding food outlets were busy creating a buzzy feel to the site. Workmen fitting out surrounding commercial outlets sat in the sun having their lunch. The area also has a number of financial outlets that will draw more people to the space. The plaza so far seems to quite popular and achieved the aims of the designers.

Ian Willis next to text from Narellan story 2016 (http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/narellan)
Ian Willis next to text from Narellan story 2016 (http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/narellan)

[i] Kylie Legge, ‘The evolution of placemaking – what’s next?’, Newplanner, September 2015, pp4-5.

[ii] Kylie Legge, ‘The evolution of placemaking – what’s next?’, Newplanner, September 2015, pp4-5.

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.

Attachment to place · Camden · Campbelltown · community identity · Cultural Heritage · Cultural icon · Heritage · Historical consciousness · Local History · Local newspapers · Macarthur · myths · Newspapers · Picton · Place making · sense of place · Stereotypes · Sydney's rural-urban fringe · Tourism

Westies, Bogans and Yobbos. What’s in a name?

Macarthur Signage
Macarthur Signage

Westies, Bogans and Yobbos. What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? Quite a lot if you live in the fringe urban communities of Campbelltown, Camden or Picton in the Macarthur district on Sydney’s rural-urban fringe. In the past these communities have been fiercely parochial country towns with clearly identifiable differences based on history, heritage, traditions, mythology, rituals, demographics, local government and a host of other factors. With the encroachment of Sydney’s urban sprawl they have been wrapped up by the tentacles of the metropolitan octopus and faced challenges on a variety of fronts. The questions that this article raises concern Macarthur regionalism. Is it authentic? How representative is it of the former country towns that are now incorporated within it?

Careful what you call south west Sydney

The issue boiled over in May 2013 when it raised the hackles of locals and outsiders alike in an opinion piece published by Fairfax Media.  Campbelltown journalist and editor of the Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser, Jeff McGill, wrote an article for the Fairfax Media called ‘Careful what you call south west Sydney’. In the article he maintained that Campbelltown, Camden and Picton residents did not want to be identified as part of Sydney’s south-west or west by Sydney media. McGill stated:

Residents of Campbelltown, Camden and the Picton-based Wollondilly Shire are fed up with being thrown into the same geographic area as Lakemba, Punchbowl and Campsie in a distant, unconnected part of Sydney.[1]

McGill’s article hit a raw nerve and highlighted the contested nature of community identity and a sense of place in three of Sydney’s fringe communities.

The contentious nature of regional identity

The contentious nature of regional identity was reflected in over 200 comments on the blog accompanying McGill’s article. Many bloggers expressed their anger and for CSKN, ‘If you don’t live on the North Shore or the Northern Beaches, then you’re all westies’, or Peter who staunchly maintained that ‘Campbelltown in not Sydney’.  Jenny was struck by the snobbery of city-types because she was from Campbelltown.

‘If you mention to someone that you live at Campbelltown you see them slightly recoil, the expression of contempt passing fleetingly from their face. Then they want to know how on earth you managed to get the job, but get through uni. Because, after all, isn’t everyone from Campbelltown slow-witted, lazy, anti-social and committing crimes? Don’t we all have babies at 16, then abuse them while we are drinking and taking drugs?[2]

McGill was surprised by the strength of the anger expressed in the numerous responses to his article. He said that ‘it got an unexpectedly large reaction. I’ve rarely ever been stopped, or contacted, by so many enthusiastic backers. A raw nerve was touched.’[3]  He maintained that local residents got ‘annoyed’ when they are lumped together with ‘Campsie or Punchbowl’, which are over 40 kilometres away. The Sydney media are happy to identify other smaller regional parts of Sydney including the ‘upper north shore’, the ‘lower north shore’, the ‘northern beaches’, yet they lump everyone from Pyrmont to Picton into one amorphous mass.[4]

Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser_June2013
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser June 2013

A local storyteller

As a local storyteller McGill  has worked hard to build a narrative of place that underpin people’s identity and attachment to Campbelltown. He is a local identity who grew up in the area, went to Campbelltown High then worked as a journalist at The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mirror, and returned to the area as the  senior journalist with The Macarthur Advertiser. He later became editor of The Penrith Star, then The Liverpool City Champion and finally progressed to be the editor of the Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser. He has published a number of local histories and stated that ‘local history gives people pride and a place in our town’[5] and accords with SM Low’s typology of people’s cultural and symbolic linkages with place that are based on stories, family, loss, land ownership, mythology and spirituality.[6]

 

A crisis of identity

McGill’s article has highlighted a crisis of identity amongst locals around the ownership and usage of     place-names and has created a level of sensitivity in the community. It offends their sensibilities when they are lumped together with other parts of Sydney’s west and south-west, which have their own challenges and stereotypes. Campbelltown resident’s have created an emotional investment in place through the  ownership of their stories, traditions and celebrations including   family births, marriages, deaths, christening, birthdays, first day at school, sporting events, first  day child went to school and a host of other events that give meaning to their lives. These events contribute to a landscape of memories with multiple layers of meaning that build across the generations of  human activity. McGill and others want to take possession of their identity and rest it away from the Sydney media and others who proclaim their ownership of the same identity.

Jeff McGill Campbelltown Identity and Storyteller 2000s JM
Jeff McGill Campbelltown Identity and Storyteller 2000s JM

Sensitivities

One factor that underpins these sensitivities is a perception by many Sydneysiders that the fringe communities of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton, which is located in the Wollondilly LGA, have a   distinctive uniformity that extends across parts of Sydney’s west and south-west. This is simply not true. While regionalism in Sydney’s west and south-west are a product of the post-war period when Sydney’s urban growth spread across the Cumberland Plain, regional labels are administrative conveniences used by politicians, planners, economists, technocrats and bureaucrats who fail to understand the diversity of these areas.  Take two examples, the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Western Sydney in the New South Wales state government. It takes in the 10 Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC)  and has added Camden, Campbelltown, Wollondilly and The Hills. On the other hand the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) definition based  on labour force regions includes the 12 LGAs: Auburn; Blacktown; Blue Mountains; Camden; Campbelltown; Fairfield; Hawkesbury; Holroyd; Liverpool; Parramatta; Penrith and Wollondilly, while excluding Bankstown and The Hills, which are included in the state governments definition. The one unifying demographic factor identified by the state government is the area’s diversity.  The Fairfield LGA has over 70 different languages spoken while Auburn LGA is home to over people from 100 nations. Blacktown, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith LGAs have largest urban communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while 37.3 per cent of the regional population is under 24 years of age, while the area has  a projected population of 2.96 million by 2036.[7] Diversity in itself is not a solid basis for the development of any coherent sense of place or a cohesive narrative that has any real meaning to the community. The lack of any identifiable uniformity  across these LGAs for ethnicity, culture, history, tradition or other social or cultural factors means that there is no real basis for any true sense of unity. Bruce Baskerville notes that even the term Western Sydney is only quite recent and was first used by Prospect County Council in 1961 and it did not include the Macarthur LGAs of Campbelltown, Camden or Wollondilly.[8] While the state government and ABS are happy to use these administrative regions they have made no serious attempt to develop a cohesive narrative that contributes to the development of any authentic regional identity.

 Local resistance

Local resistance to the imposition of these administrative regions by government only complicates the picture.  BM Taylor has discussed oppositional identities in regionalism where local interests come together around a regional identity for a particular purpose. The local resistance can be based on local opposition to an arbitrarily imposed regional identity by an administrative body, in this case the New South Wales state government or the ABS. He maintains that regionalism is strongest where other elements of place construction are acting to draw locals together based on a range of other factors including landform, economic factors, socio-cultural factors including common traditions, cultural background, histories, and other spatial considerations.[9]

Campbelltown Signage

Smaller regional identities

In reality Sydney’s west and south-west has a host of different smaller regional identities including the communities of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton, a form of local tribalism. Bernard Salt maintains that Sydney is ‘a city of tribes and precincts’, a product of the city’s geography and the values of its residents. Kirsten Craze identified seven tribes of Sydney including ‘the Might West’ while Sacha Molitorisz has identified eight youth tribes and sociologist Gabrielle Gwyther says Sydney’s west contains ‘mulitudes’ of groupings.[10] In 1996 a delegate at a local tourism forum stated that Sydney’s west ‘is too large an area to function with unity. What does Wollondilly have in common with Hawkesbury’.[11] These sub-regional identities are reflected in the local editions of the two principle suburban newspaper publishers across Sydney’s west and south-west. Fairfax Community Newspapers publishes five weekly mastheads in Sydney’s south-west and a further 12 local editions across the remainder of western Sydney, while News Corp stable, publishes 12 mastheads in Sydney’s west and south-west as well as 3 local editions in the Macarthur region under NewsLocal, a division of Nationwide News. These weekly newspapers regularly carry a host of local stories, advertisements and notices that reflect local identity and branding. They are the voice of the local community and act as a noticeboard, which is not a characteristic of the national daily newspapers. Community stores, which are personal and small-scale, are the lifeblood of these newspapers. In many ways these newspapers are purveyors of the gossip that circulates through family and inter-personal networks, the essence of the local.

Sterotypes and bogans

Sydney’s west and south-west have also been stereotyped as regions that are dangerous foreign places, a form of Otherness.  According to Diane Powell Sydney’s west is seen by some,, ‘as some kind of ‘third world’ space in relation to the rest of Sydney’.  Western Sydney ‘inhabitants are stigmatized, made ‘other’ – victims perhaps of disadvantage, but passive and often hopeless’.[12] Powell quotes a number examples of the Sydney media that portray the western suburbs as ignorant, illiterate yobs. She goes further saying that ‘the many hundreds of newspaper clippings about the western suburbs I have collected illustrate a peculiar pre-occupation with people ‘living on the edge’.[13] One outburst by media commentator Eddie McGuire typified the attitude of many when he dismissed the western suburbs of Sydney as the ‘land of the felafel’.[14]  Sydney’s western suburbs, according to philosopher Michael Symonds,  are seen by many as ‘an ugly, barren wasteland’, to lack ‘beauty and a history of enchantment’ and the ‘tranquil prettiness of the leafy suburban home’ that can be found in the eastern suburbs, north shore or Sutherland Shire. The west is  ‘a cultural wasteland’ which was ‘ugly and dangerous’, the home of ‘the yobbo’, and the ‘westie’, who are part of the ‘otherness’ created by city folk.[15] Bruce Moore has stated that the term westie originated in the 1970s as a pejorative for someone living Sydney’s western suburbs and perceived to be socially disadvantaged and that the term bogan became common in the 1980s.  These perceptions are not helped by media headlines that portray the area as a type of war zone. Some examples include: ‘Man stabbed in Sydney’s west’ (Location: Parramatta); ‘Man short in Sydney’s west’ (location: Granville); ‘Man shot dead in Sydney’s west’ (location: Chester Hill); ‘Four men wounded in western Sydney shooting’ (location Smithfield); ‘A house and cars have been damaged in another shooting in Sydney’s southwest’ (location Lakemba); and ‘South-west Sydney ‘a recruitment for Islamic fundamentalists’ (location Auburn).[16]

Campbelltown Railway Station Crossing 1960s (Supplied)
Campbelltown Railway Station Crossing 1960s (Supplied)

Some sort of ‘cultural wasteland’

Macarthur residents state that they are not part of Sydney’s west or south-west, which they perceive as some sort of ‘cultural wasteland’. Yet the remainder of Sydney, in the eyes of McGill’s bloggers at least, do see Macarthur residents as part of that so-called wasteland. McGill maintains that the Campbelltown, Camden and Picton area ‘is so much deeper that the bogan stereotype portrayed on TV’. The Campbelltown Chamber of Commerce president Anne Parnham has stated that she is ‘sick of people saying ‘You had another shooting over your way’, when they were in Bankstown’. Campbelltown’s state MP, Brian Doyle, said  that ‘he was often… frustrated by broad references to the south-west’.[17]  The Deputy Mayor of the Wollondilly Shire, Councillor Benn Banasik said that he ‘didn’t find a real commanlity between people from Fairfield and people for Wollondilly’.[18] One newcomer to the suburb of Harrington Park, who moved from Sutherland, told Gabrielle Gwyther  that Harrington Park was not the western suburbs. ‘Its more rural. I wouldn’t live in the western suburbs’. When asked ‘why not?’, the newcomer replied ‘well, they’re a different type of person’.[19]

 Macarthur  branding

McGill  wants Campbelltown, Camden and Picton to be known as the Macarthur region so as to differentiate them  from the rest of western and south-western Sydney.  While at the same time admitting that the regional name Macarthur, which he staunchly defends, has ‘nothing to do with Campbelltown’ and yet has become the generic regional identity of the area.[20]  So what is the justification for using the place-name Macarthur for the Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly LGAs?  Is it authentic?

First official use of the term Macarthur

The first official use of the term Macarthur as a regional place-name was  the proclamation of the new  Federal seat of Macarthur in 1949 after the 1948 re-distribution and the Federal House of Representatives was increased from 75 to 122 members. The new seat of Macarthur was named after the colonial wool pioneers John and Elizabeth Macarthur of Camden Park, which according to a recent heritage report from TKD Architects ‘is the most important surviving early colonial estate in Australia and ranks amongst the most historic houses in Australia’.[21] The original land grant to John Macarthur in 1805 took place on the Nepean River floodplain and eventually the familiy’s colonial estate of Camden Park covered parts of what is now the Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly LGAs. The current Camden Park Heritage Precinct listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register is primarily  located in Wollondilly Shire, with a small northwestern section in the Camden LGA, while the northeastern boundary borders the Campbelltown LGA.  The historical importance of the Macarthur legacy is closely aligned with the story of the Cowpastures which is located in today’s Wollondilly and Camden LGAs. On  a broader level the Macarthur story is just one part of the history of the network of gentry estates that extended across the western Cumberland Plain, when the Macarthur family established Camden as an estate village on the family’s pastoral property. The Campbelltown story is linked to the smallholders who took up the early land grants and the market town that served them, while Picton’s history is a mix of influences linked to the Antill’s estate village and the development of the government town.  Daily life in these country towns  was ruled by intimacy, class, inter-personal and familial networks, rugged independence, patriarchy, sectarianism, rural poverty and a host of other factors. Each community had an authentic and natural distinctiveness that has contributed to their identity and sense of place. Locals residents had an emotional attachment and a patriotic loyalty to  their locality, expressed as parochialism and localism. Today the close geographic proximity of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton  means that they are a natural fit for the type of regionalism of Sydney’s rural-urban fringe that is represented by the place-name of Macarthur.

Syd Richardson Campbelltown Media owner 1969 Camden News
Syd Richardson Campbelltown Media owner 1969 Camden News

Syd Richardson

 The use of the Macarthur place-name got a leg up in 1958 when local media baron Sydney Richardson felt that local regionalism provided a great business opportunity. There were enough unifying characteristics across the three country towns, he thought, that justified launching  a new regional newspaper using the Macarthur masthead. He re-named  the Camden Advertiser, a free Camden weekly newspaper he took over  from Ken Gibson in 1955, as the Macarthur Advertiser. Richardson had two competing newspapers – the Camden News and the Camden Advertiser – in the same Camden market place. He had previously purchased both the Camden News and Campbelltown News from the Sidman brothers in 1952.   Richardson promoted the Macarthur Advertiser as a free regional newspaper and expanded its circulation to included Campbelltown and Picton. The newspaper had  a broad regional compilation of news and advertisements from the three towns  and he ‘forged and popularized a new regional name for Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly’.   Richardson, like McGill, was a local patriot and understood the significance of parochialism to the success of his local newspaper empire. Richardson was also president of the Country Press Association of NSW 1960-1962, the Picton RSL, the Camden RSL, the Camden Chamber of Commerce, an alderman on Camden Council and a member Camden Rotary Club. In 1982 Richardson merged the Macarthur Advertiser with other local newspapers – Campbelltown-Ingleburn News, Camden News and Picton Post – which he had previously sold to Suburban Publications, a joint venture between John Fairfax and Sons and Australian Consolidated Press, in 1969. [22] Richardson’s  new regional newspaper prospered and was a  builder of community and  identity by being a regional voice and notice board for the first time, and in the process strengthened people’s attachment to the concept of a regional identity.

Macarthur Advertiser 1958
Macarthur Advertiser 1958

Macarthur Development Board

Town planners and administrators strengthened the official support for the use of the Macarthur place-name in 1975 with the establishment of the Macarthur Development Board, with its head office in Campbelltown’s heritage precinct. Peter Kacirek, the chairman of the  Sydney SW Sector Planning and Development Board, renamed it as the Macarthur Development Board, against much local opposition which local residents felt affronted the legacy of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who proclaimed the town in 1820. Campbelltown parochialism was piqued as many felt that the place-name of Macarthur was more the province of Camden and the Cowpastures, an argument that was more pointed given the decades of rivalry between Campbelltown and Camden.  The purpose of the board was to implement the 1973 New Cities Plan for Campbelltown, Camden and Appin as part of the 1968 Sydney Regional Outline Plan. The New Cities Plan called for the development of the Macarthur growth centre, located away from the Campbelltown central business district in Queen Street. The aim of the Macarthur Development Board was to  ‘plan, co-ordinated implement’ the New Cities Plan with power to compulsory acquisition of land.  Town planner James Deane, from the Urban Development Institute of Australia, felt that the name Campbelltown should be completely abolished and replaced with the City of Macarthur.[23] The New Cities Plan incorporated the colonial story of the Macarthur family and Camden Park and felt that the Macarthur legacy was essential to the identity of the new growth centre. The board stated in 1976 that ‘the area of Macarthur is steeped in rich tradition and much of the early history of New South Wales was recorded here. The aim of the Board it to link the historic past with an exciting and vigorous future and to plan for the enjoyment and benefit of all members of the community’.[24] Unfortunately the Macarthur family felt otherwise and sold most of the pastoral property to housing developers in 1973 against a national outcry.[25]

Peter Kacirek ealry 1970s Macarthur Development Board
Peter Kacirek ealry 1970s Macarthur Development Board

 Town planner Peter Kacirek

Town planner Peter Kacirek, an amiable well meaning person, was chairman of the Macarthur Development Board between 1975 and 1984.  He  had  worked for the  UK Ministry of town and country planning and was a major figure in British new town movement. He established the  School of Town Planning at the University of Queensland and was at the  New South Wales State Planning Authority from 1967 where he was deputy chief planner then chief planner. He was integral to the formulation of Sydney Region Outline Plan and  growth centres at Bathurst-Orange and  Albury-Wodonga.  In 1976 Kacirek was awarded Sidney Luker Memorial Medal awarded by Planning Institute of Australia for the person who has made a notable contribution to urban and regional planning.  His part in the development of the Sydney Regional Outline Plan and new Macarthur growth centre were seen as international best practice at the time for urban planning development.[26]

Campbelltown TAFE College 2010s (Supplied)
Campbelltown TAFE College 2010s (Supplied)

Town planner’s pipe-dream

To the disappointment of many the Macarthur growth centre was a short lived town planner’s pipe-dream. The new   regional centre was planned to have high-rise office blocks, conference facilities, sports stadiums, transport interchange and become a city within a city and to be located on Campbelltown Golf Course (1971), which was acquired  against significant local opposition. There was some progress within the growth centre precinct with the construction of Macarthur Square  (1979), Macarthur Railway Station (1985), the Macarthur Institute of Higher Education (1983) and the launch of a new Macarthur community radio station 2CT (1978) yet the new TAFE college (1981) and hospital (1977) both carried the place-name Campbelltown, not Macarthur. The Federal Whitlam government promised funding of $25 million in 1975, which was slashed in 1976 to $2 million dollars by the incoming Fraser Government but by 1978 all funding had dried up. Open hostilities broke out between  Campbelltown City Council and Macarthur Development Board over the ‘regional centre’ in 1979 when the Wran state government approved the construction of Macarthur Square funded by State Super. The Macarthur Development Board continued to foster the regional centre over Campbelltown’s Queen Street precinct as the retail and community hub in 1980, and by 1984 the Board was $200 million in debt. Peter Kacirek was sacked and Ian Henry, former Campbelltown council planner, was  appointed by the state government. In  1985 the regional centre was slashed by Wran Labor state government   and the  Board was stripped of planning power and restructured to Macarthur Development Corporation, which was  a small promotion unit.  Ian Henry stated that the Macarthur Development Board was ‘an over-expanded planner’s dream turned nightmare’ and in  1989 the MDC restructured and renamed Business Land Group, which was little more that a sales unit.[27]

Ugly Campbelltown

The Macarthur growth centre road crash had been driven up onto the rocks of divisiveness by the state government’s push of large scale public housing into the Campbelltown area,  the development of the ‘ugly Campbelltown’ stereotype and the moral panic that ensued. Problems originated in  1969 when Campbelltown Council was forced to sell large tracts of land at Macquarie Fields to the state government for welfare housing. Fortuitously McGill notes in his history of Campbelltown that critics of the sale were concerned at the time that it would result in ‘slums for the future’, claims that were dismissed by the New South Wales Housing Commission.[28]  In 1975 there was a  recession and private developers were forced out of housing market and the New South Wales Housing Commission took up the slack. In 1975 the Sydney media portrayed an image of Campbelltown as an ‘ugly houso wasteland’ and in 1976 The Sunday Telegraph  stated that ‘Campbelltonians were so embarrassed by their address that they would not admit it’. In 1978 Catholic Bishop Dr William Murray visited Minto and criticized the high density public housing and by 1978  one third of  all Campbelltown residents were ‘public housing tenants’.  In 1980 the Sydney media generated moral panic around public housing ‘ghettos’ and there was continued criticism of public housing enclaves at Macquarie Fields, Airds, Minto, Claymore and Ambervale. Public housing was accused of generating a ‘demoralised’ way of life and public meetings of tenants labeled criticism at ‘cheap, shoddy journalism’. By 1984 the  New South Wales Housing Commission had changed its priorities and abandoned a new public housing estate at Bow Bowing.[29]

Elizabeth Kernohan MLA for Camden 1994 Camden Images
Elizabeth Kernohan MLA for Camden 1994 Camden Images

Local politician Elizabeth Kernohan,

From the 1970s one of the biggest champions of the Macarthur legacy was local politician Elizabeth Kernohan, whose political activity indirectly supported the Macarthur place-name. Kernohan, an agricultural scientist, was originally politicized by the 1973 release of the New Cities Plan,  which she felt would destroy the area’s rurality. She was subsequently elected to Camden Council and in 1991 state parliament. Her political mantra centred on the powerful combination of the Macarthur mythology at Camden Park, along with Camden’s rurality, Englishness, rural heritage and conservatism. She used this an effective weapon to batter the supporters of both Sydney’s urban sprawl and the Macarthur growth centre at a local and state government level. Her political activities were enlivened by the public outcry at a local, state and national level in 1973 by the sale of most of Camden Park by the Macarthur family to land speculators. She vigorously defended the history and heritage of the Macarthur legacy in a bitter 1995 election campaign in defence of her Camden seat   where Kernohan raised the folk devil of public housing and ‘the ugly Campbelltown’ stereotype against a residential development at Cawdor.  She successfully elevated the iconic symbolism associated with presence of the Macarthur brand across the region while staunchly defending the areas rurality assisted by her immense popularity. One of her legacies is the location of the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute on the former pastoral property of Camden Park, with the institute’s website boasting that it continues the traditions of John and Elizabeth Macarthur.[30]

Picton Railway Station c1900s LDavey
Picton Railway Station c1900s LDavey

Ongoing connectedness

The communities of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton have an ongoing connectedness to their rural heritage and in  the face of Sydney’s urban sprawl the region’s rurality takes a number of forms. There is the annual country show in each community and other community festivals that honour their colonial past.  There is also a common nostalgia about the loss of their country town status and the countryside that went with it with its rural landscape of fences, paddocks, haysheds, farmhouses, and other features. At Campbelltown the rural landscape and vistas have been protected along the ridge line between Denham Court and Mount Annan  under scenic protection zonings as the ‘Scenic Hills’ in 1972, which restricted development of an area that is still today characterized by its rural acreages and large homes. Even in the late 1960s, as McGill notes is his Campbelltown’s history,  as new suburbs started to appear at Bradbury, Ruse and Leumeah Heights newcomers were complaining in letters to editor in local newspapers that ‘they had escaped the rat race and wanted Campbelltown to remain as the same uncomplicated, semi-rural haven they had first found’.[31] Even under the 1951 County of Cumberland Scheme where Campbelltown was identified as a satellite town there were green belts of open space, which effectively aimed to protect the area’s rurality. The scheme acknowledged the both natural and historic landscapes and County of Cumberland Scheme undertook a historic survey of historic buildings in Campbelltown in 1963 and purchased Campbelltown’s Queen Street Georgian buildings. This was the first time that the New South Wales Government had acquired privately owned buildings and was seen as a landmark in the state’s conservation movement.[32]

Macarthur regionalism and peri-urbanism

Today the most important unifying theme between Campbelltown, Camden and Picton in their peri-urban location, on the city’s rural-urban fringe which acts to foster Macarthur regionalism.  Their community identity and sense of place has been re-shaped by the forces of urbanization as the Sydney juggernaut as it moved across the Cumberland Plain. The urban fringe has attracted newcomers and Sydney’s ex-urbanites looking for an imagined rural arcadia promoted by land developers and other rent-seekers in master-planned estates. The rurality of these edge communities is contested as a range of actors seek to commodify it on a stage of competing interests around stereotypes and perceptions. The combination of these factors has meant the arrival of Sydney’s urban sprawl has seen some in the community retreat to an idealized version of these country towns, a form of ‘country town idyll’ that is based on the use of local history and heritage.[33] Wollondilly Shire promotes its rurality through its policy ‘Living Together in Rural Wollondilly’ which states that the council provides ‘an opportunity for residents to live amidst a rural setting of productive farming enterprises’.[34]

MACROC

With the failure of the Macarthur growth centre another official attempt at developing Macarthur regionalism occurred in 1986. The Hawke Federal Government played a role in development of Regional Organisations of Councils (ROCs) through the Federal Government’s Office of Local Government and its Local Government Development Program. It came out of the Hawke government’s conviction that local authorities could make a positive contribution to the Commonwealth’s national economic reform strategy.[35]  The Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly LGAs came together in 1986 as MACROC, the Macarthur Regional Organisation of Councils with its headquarters in Campbelltown. MACROC’s charter states that its aim is to ‘promote a regional approach to issues’ and to develop ‘regional facilitation, planning and coordination’, to promote ‘a regional economic growth strategy’ and ‘provide a voice for regional issues’.[36]  MACROC has had mixed success, and while some accuse it of being a talkfest, its presence has supported Macarthur regionalism. MACROC spokesperson Christine Winning defends its role as in regional advocacy  and states that has a achieved a number of outcomes of regional importance in the areas of job creation, economic growth, education, small business, local government, environment and tourism since its foundation.[37]

Macarthur Country Tourist Association

The voluntary sector has had a role to play in promoting Macarthur regionalism through the establishment of the Macarthur Country Tourist Association in 1978. The association had the supported of Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly and Liverpool councils, although it collapsed in 1994 after Wollondilly Shire withdrew support.[38] In 1996 after the collapse of the association, Camden Council set up the Camden Interim Tourist Committee and continued to operate independently from Oxley Cottage in Narellan.[39] In 2008 Camden and Campbelltown LGAs started a joint tourism project as part of the Macarthur Tourism Action Plan which was marketed as Destination Macarthur, and was influenced by Tourism New South Wales’s Destination Development Program and the 2007 Griffith Local Government and Shires Association Tourism Conference which used the theme Tourism – An Investment. Wollondilly General Manager Les McMahon has stated that the council was not involved in the 2008 venture because of cost considerations and not any lack of support for local regionalism. In recent months, according to McMahon, the council has re-examined the potential benefits of being involved with a regional approach to tourism. The Wollondilly region conducts an  independent tourism strategy through the Wollondilly Tourism Association Inc which is supported by Destination Macarthur, MACROC and Wollondilly Shire. While the website promotes shire attractions, it omits Camden Park, which is located in Wollondilly Shire.[40] McMahon agrees that Macarthur regionalism needs a clear identity based on the place-name of Macarthur,[41] which has been partially  accomplished in Destination Macarthur’s Official Visitors Guide 2013/2014. The Guide gives an account of the Macarthur legacy around Camden Park, although not recognizing its unique national status, while attempting to build a Macarthur tourism brand based on ‘adventure, dining, outdoors, golf, farm visiting  and accommodation’. Within the Guide  the Macarthur legacy is relegated to a short section on ‘living history’ and states ‘the region of Macarthur is named after renowned pioneers, John and Elizabeth Macarthur’. It does add that ‘Macathur’s heritage is evident at every turn and adds to the region’s charm’ and ‘a simple walk down the towns’ main streets will reveal a rich array of colonial architecture’.[42]

Macarthur regionalism and local business

Over the years Macarthur regionalism has had mixed support by the local business and community voluntary organizations. A survey of telephone listings of local businesses in 2011 indicated that only 156 business listings used the term Macarthur in their business name, for example, Macarthur Tavern, Macarthur Camera House and of these 61 businesses were located in Campbelltown, while the remainder were located in other local suburbs. On the other hand  the traditional names of the country towns of Camden, Campbelltown and Picton were the preferred option for business names with 134 had Camden in their business name, while 140 used Campbelltown in their business name, for example, Camden Towing Services and Campbelltown Car Detailing. A search of the 2014 Wollondilly Business Directory reveals that  24 businesses have used the Picton place-name, while  at a district level even the Telstra telephone  listings were located in  the  2013 Campbelltown Telephone Directory which included Camden and Picton.

In Macarthur Cover Autumn 2013
In Macarthur Cover Autumn 2013

In Macarthur lifestyle magazine

Amongst local businesses there are some prominent and enthusiastic supporters of Macarthur regionalism as a coherent market place and branding that has a distinctive identity. Most notably In Macarthur lifestyle magazine publisher David Everett who has stated that his support for Macarthur regionalism for his business ‘seemed obvious and wasn’t really a decision’. Everett’s quarterly magazine started in 1999, has a print run of 20,000, is published in Campbelltown and is distributed throughout the three LGAs at points in Macarthur Square, Campbelltown, Camden, Narellan, Mt Annan, and Picton. Everett feels that Macarthur is a different geographic region to Sydney’s south west, ‘is culturally quite different’ and has ‘a sense of community’, which he maintains is ‘quite rare in the rest of Sydney’. He states that there is ‘a distinct region [which] feels like a region’ and the ‘name describes quite an organic community’ across all three LGAs.[43]  Amongst other local businesses that use the regional branding is the  Macarthur Credit Union, which adopted the Macarthur name in 1978.  The credit union wanted to extend its brand and grow its customer base and changed it name in 1978 from the Clutha Employees Credit Union, which was established in 1971,  to the Macarthur Mutual Credit Union and extended membership to the local community. It then progressively established branches across the region starting with Picton in 1979, Camden 1979, Narellan 1990, Tahmoor 1994. It changed its name in 1994 to Macarthur Credit Union and started a mobile service at Oran Park.[44]

Community radio station 2MCR,

Local media outlets are prominent supporters of Macarthur regionalism including Community radio station 2MCR, which started operations on the 1989 and promotes itself as   “Heart of Macarthur”. It was the first radio station aimed at broadcasting to the Macarthur region, are staffed and operated entirely by volunteers and broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[45] The local commercial radio state C91.3, which has been on air since 2001,  uses a call sign 2MAC  and the slogan ‘Macarthur First’. It has a limited broadcast area of the major centres of Campbelltown and Camden under Federal Government broadcast regulations and is owned by WIN Corporation.    The local print media have been supporters of Macarthur regionalism for decades, although in recent years have  responded to the resurgence of localism under the influence of globalization by re-establishing local editions of Macarthur regional newspaper titles (mentioned earlier).

Camden Community Directory

Similarly the community voluntary sector has a mixed response for its support of Macarthur regionalism. An examination of the 2005 Camden Community Directory only has 53 voluntary organizations that used  Macarthur in their title, out a total listing of 380 entries. One current regional organization is the Macarthur Community Forum, which is an inter-agency organization which was incorporated in 2000 and changed its name to Sector Connect in 2008. It covers the four local government areas of Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee and acts a peak organization for the not-for-profit sector across the LGAs. The organization operates Volunteering Macarthur and acts as an agency for other government related services including Macarthur Youth Services Network and MacUnity.   Other regional voluntary organizations range from the Macarthur Rural Fire Service to regional sporting organizations including Macarthur District Soccer Football Association and Macarthur Basketball Association, while 2013 saw the birth of Quota International of Macarthur after the demise of the Camden Quota Club.

 Conclusions for Macarthur Regionalism

In conclusion, a name does matter and Macarthur regionalism is a touchy issue in the communities of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton where identity, place, stereotypes and perceptions are realities for some but not for all. The authentic use of the regional term Macarthur has been  contested from its origins and still generates more heat than light. While acknowledging that the Macarthur story and Macarthur legacy does have links to all these communities they all developed identities as small closed rural communities. Government, business and the voluntary sector have a mixed response to Macarthur regionalism. Government has a mixed history on the issue while some local businesses see an identifiable separate market place.

Macarthur regionalism has been caught up in the broader issues of regional stereotypes applied to Sydney’s west and south west. McGill and others are seeking to re-take ownership of their identity using the Macarthur place name. It is a hot-button issue given  people’s emotional investment in the characteristics that make up the identity of local residents. While Macarthur regionalism has some traction there is still parochial loyalty to the place-name of Campbelltown, Camden and Picton. This creates layers of meaning and memory for many based on hope and loss and a host of other elements that are all part people’s daily lives and their identity.

For Macarthur regionalism to gain wider community acceptance its supporters need to develop a much clearer identity and branding. While it has the support of government, business and voluntary organizations there needs to be a stronger narrative around a common message. The cultural landscape of Macarthur regionalism has three common elements that need to be part of the message: the colonial narrative of the Macarthur legacy at Camden Park; the regions rurality; and other aspects of the region’s cultural heritage.   A  reasonable start would be to develop a coherent story based on the heritage of the Macarthur family and the national status of Camden Park homestead precinct, followed by support for the region’s rurality that is used by local government, land developers, newcomers, politicians and a host of others.  A strong narrative around these themes will have the additional benefit of strengthening community connections and social cohesion, which will in turn increase the meaning, purpose and satisfaction in people’s lives. Regionalism will build community resilience and break down social exclusion particularly in the newly emerging communities where Sydney’s ex-urbanites are seeking a new beginning in a new community. Hope and loss are constant themes that emerge for newcomers as they attempt to build their new identity and sense of place.

Notes

[1] Jeff McGill, ‘Careful what you call south-western Sydney’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 2013. Online @ http://www.smh.com.au/comment/careful-what-you-call-southwestern-sydney-20130522-2jzuv.html Accessed 17 February 2014.

[2] Jeff McGill, ‘Careful what you call south-western Sydney’.  Comments.

[3] McGill, ‘Careful what you call south-western Sydney’.

[4] McGill, ‘Careful what you call south-western Sydney’.

[5] Jeff McGill, Address, Camden Historical Society,  14 November 2007.

[6] SM Low, ‘Symbolic ties that bind: place attachment in the plaza’ in I Altman and SM Low (eds), Place Attachment, New York, Plenmum Press, 1992, pp. 165-85.

[7] Premier and Cabinet, ‘About Western Sydney’, NSW Government, Sydney, 2013. Online @ http://www.westernsydney.nsw.gov.au/about-western-sydney/  accessed 27 May 2013.

[8] Bruce Baskerville, Blog comment, ‘Branding the Macarthur region’, PHA NSW. Posted 4 March 2014. Online @ http://www.phansw.org.au/branding-the-macarthur-region/ accessed 30 March 2014.

[9] BM Taylor, ‘Regionalism as resistance: Governance and identity in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt’, Geoforum, 43 (2012), 507-517.

[10] Bernard Salt, ‘City of hills and tribes flying into urban chaos’, The Australian, 31 March 2012.  Kirsten Craze, ‘The seven tribes of Sydney’, The Daily Telegraph, 11 July 2012. Sacha Militorisz, ‘Tribes of Sydney’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2010. James Robertson, ‘Defining western Sydney’, The Sydney Morning Herald Online, 5 April 2014. Online @ http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/defining-western-sydney-20140404-3646u.html accessed 5 April 2014.

[11] Camden Interim Tourist Committee, Minutes, 26 June 1996.

[12] Lesley Johnson, Julie Langsworth and Michael Symonds, ‘Introduction’, in Home/World, Space, Community and Marginality in Sydney’s West, (eds) Helen Grace, Ghassan Hage, Lesley Johnson, Julie Langsworth and Michael Symonds, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1997, p2.

[13] Diane Powell, Out West, Perceptions of Sydney’s Western Suburbs, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1993, p.xvi

[14] Rachel Olding, ‘McGuire-he lied with a falafel in his hand’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12-13 February 2013, p.3.

[15] Michael Symonds, ‘Outside the Spaces of Modernity: Western Sydney and the Logic of the European City’, in in Home/World, Space, Community and Marginality in Sydney’s West, (eds) Helen Grace, Ghassan Hage, Lesley Johnson, Julie Langsworth and Michael Symonds, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1997, pp. 85, 88-89.

[16] ‘Man stabbed in Sydney’s west’, 5 July 2008, Online http://www.abc.net.au/news . ‘Man shot in Sydney’s west’, 8 July 2011, Online at http://www.abc.net.au .  ‘Man shot dead in Sydney’s west’, 31 December 2011, Online at http://www.abc.net.au/news . ‘Four men wounded in western Sydney shooting’ 26 April 2013, Online at http://www.abc.net.au/news. ‘Two men in custody after Sydney shooting’, 24 June 2013, Online at http://au.news.yahoo.com. ‘South-west Sydney ‘ a recruitment hotspot for Islamic fundamentalists’, 20  March  2014, Online at http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au .

[17] Jeff McGill, ‘Careful what you call south west Sydney’, Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser, 23 May 2013.

[18] Ainslie Drewitt-Smith, ‘Don’t call us ‘South-Western Sydney’, ABC News Illawarra, 23 May 2013. Online at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories. Accessed 24 June 2013.

[19] Gabrielle Gwyther, ‘Western Sydney’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008. Online at http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/western_sydney .  Accessed 27 May 2013.

[20] Megan Gorrey, ‘Why we call ourselves Macarthur?’, Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, 22 May 2013

[21] TKD Architects, Managing the Future of Camden Park, Menangle, New South Wales, Camden Park Preservation Committee, Camden, 2014.

[22] ‘Mr Syd Richardson board chairman’, Camden News, 26, 27 & 28 August 1969. Jeff McGill, ‘Local history caught by newspaper Webb’, Camden Advertiser 2 March 2005. ‘From Camden Advertiser to Macarthur Advertiser’, Wollondilly Advertiser 10 February 2010.

[23] James Deane, ‘Roles in Response to Change’, Royal Australian Planning Institute Journal, January 1974, vol 12 no 1, p.35.

[24] Macarthur Development Board, New Cities With History, Promotional brochure, Campbelltown, 1976.

[25] Ian Willis, ‘Townies, ex-urbanites and aesthetics: issues of identity on Sydney’s rural-urban fringe’, AQ – Australian Quarterly, Vol 83, Issue 2, (Apr/June 2012).

[26] Bob Meyer, ‘Peter Kacirek, Obiturary’, Australian Planner, December 1993, p.62.

[27] Jeff McGill, Campbelltown, A Modern History, 1960-1999, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown, 1999, p. 29.

[28] McGill, Campbelltown, A Modern History, 1960-1999, pp. 29, 49.

[29] McGill, Campbelltown, A Modern History, 1960-1999,  pp. 29-70.

[30] Ian Willis, ‘Townies, Ex-urbanites and aesthetics, issues of identity on Sydney’s rural-urban fringe’, AQ- Australian Quarterly, April-June 2012, pp.20-25. Ian Willis, ‘The member for Camden, Dr Elizabeth Kernohan’, AQ – Australian Quarterly, January-February 2005, pp.21-25.

[31] Jeff McGill, Campbelltown, A Modern History, 1960-1999, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown, 1999, p38.

[32] Carol Liston, Campbelltown, The Bicentennial History, City of Campbelltown, Campbelltown, 1988. Rachel Roxburgh & Helen Baker, Historic Buildings Vol 3, Liverpool and Campbelltown, Cumberland County Council, Sydney, 1963.  Environment and Heritage, ‘Queen Street Buildings Group’, Heritage Sites, NSW Government, 2014. Online @ http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045135 accessed 14 April 2014.

[33] Ian Willis, ‘Yearning, Longing and the Remaking of Camden Identity: the myths and reality of the ‘a country town idyll’, Camden History, March 2012, Vol 3, No 3, pp. 107-117.

[34] WSC, Living Together in a Rural Wollondilly, Wollondilly Shire Council, 2014. Online @ http://www.wollondilly.nsw.gov.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=497545:living-together-in-rural-wollondilly&Itemid=3040 accessed on 14 April 2014.

[35] Neil Marshall, Brian Dollery, & Angus Witherby, ‘Regional Organisations of Councils (ROCS): The Emergence of Network Governance in Metropolitan and Rural Australia?’, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, Vol 9, No. 2, 2003, pp. 169-188.

[36] MACROC Annual Report 2011-2012, MACROC, 2012. Online @ http://www.macroc.nsw.gov.au accessed 27 May 2013.

[37] Christine Winning, Executive Officer, MACROC, email, 4 April 2014.

[38] Camden News 16 August 1978. Betty Yewen, Interview, Camden, 9 April 2014. Betty was the former secretary of the association for a number of years. Pam Down, Macarthur Country Tourist Association, Correspondence, 26 November 1994.

[39] Camden Interim Tourist Committee, Minutes, 26 June 1996.

[40] WTA, Welcome to Wollondilly, Wollondilly Tourist Assoc Inc, Picton, 2014. Online @ http://www.visitwollondilly.com.au/index.php accessed 14 April 2014.

[41] Les McMahon, Wollondilly LGA General Manager, Telephone Interview, 2 April 2014.

[42] Macarthur, Camden and Campbelltown, Official Visitors Guide 2013/2014,  Destination Macarthur an initiative of Camden Council and Campbelltown City Council.

[43] In Macarthur Magazine. Online @ http://www.inmacarthurguide.com.au/. Accessed 30 March 2014. David Everett, Publisher In Macarthur Magazine, Email communication, 31 March 2014.

[44] The Macarthur Credit Union. Online @ http://www.themaccu.com.au/ . Accessed 30 March 2014

[45] Macarthur Community Radio. Online @ http://www.2mcr.org.au/ . Accessed 31 March 2014

 

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

Macarthur · Sydney's rural-urban fringe · Uncategorized

Hope and Loss on Sydney’s urban fringe

Winners and losers on the urban fringe

Mount Annan around 2002 CHS2005
Mount Annan around 2002 CHS2005

Sydney’s rural-urban fringe is a site of winners and losers.

It is a landscape where dreams are fulfilled and memories lost. The hope and expectations of newcomers are met with the promises of land developers in master planned suburban utopias.

At the same time, locals grasp at lost memories as the rural countryside is covered in a sea of tiled roofs and concrete driveways.

Conflict over a dream

As Sydney’s rural-urban fringe moves across the countryside it becomes a contested site between locals and outsiders over their aspirations and dreams. The conflict revolves around displacement and dispossession.

Sydney’s rural-urban fringe is similar to the urban frontier of large cities in Australia and other countries. It is a dynamic landscape that makes and re-makes familiar places.

More than this the rural-urban fringe is a zone of transition where invasion and succession are constant themes for locals and newcomers alike.

Searching for the security of a lost past

Fishers Ghost FestivalAs Sydney’s urban sprawl invades fringe communities locals yearn for a lost past and hope for some safe keeping of their memories. They use nostalgia as a fortress and immerse themselves in community rituals and traditions that are drawn for their past. They are drawn to ever popular festivals like the Camden Show and Campbelltown’s Fishers Ghost Festival which is celebration of the rural heritage of Sydney’s fringe.

Local communities respond by creating imaginary barriers to ward off the evils of Sydney’s urban growth that is about to run them over. One of the most important is the metaphorical moat created by the Hawkesbury-Nepean River floodplain around a number of the fringe communities of Camden, Richmond and Windsor.

Fringe communities use their rural heritage to ward off the tentacles of the Sydney octopus that are about the strangle them. In one example the Camden community has created an imaginary country town idyll. A cultural myth where rural traditions are supported by the church on the hill, the village green and the Englishness of the gentry’s colonial estates.

Hope and the creation of an illusion

Outsiders and ex-urbanites come to the new fringe suburbs looking for a new life in a semi-rural environment. As they escape the evils of their own suburbia they seek to immerse themselves in the rurality of the fringe. They want to retreat to an authentic past when times were simpler. It is a perception that land developers are eager to exploit.

Ex-urbanites are drawn to the urban frontier by developer promises of their own piece of utopia and the hope of a better lifestyle. They seek a place where “the country still looks like the country”. These seek what the local fringe communities already possess – open spaces and a rural countryside.

The imagination of new arrivals is set running by developer promises of suburban dreams in master-planned estates. They are drawn in by glossy brochures, pollie speak, media hype and in recent times subsidies on landscaping and other material benefits.

Manicured parks, picturesque vistas and restful water features add to the illusion of a paradise on the urban frontier. Developers commodify a dream in an idyllic semi-rural setting that new arrivals hope will protect their life-savings in a house and land package.

Destruction of the dream

CHS2436
Oran Park Development 2010 (Camden Image/P Mylrea)

Dreams are also destroyed on Sydney’s urban frontier for many new comers. Once developers of master-planned estates have made their profit they withdraw. They no longer support the idyllic features that created the illusion of a suburban utopia.

The dreams of a generation of ex-urbanites have come crashing down in suburbs like Harrington Park and Mt Annan. The absence of developer rent-seeking has meant that their dreams have evaporated and gone to dust. Manicured parks have become overgrown. Restful water features have turned into dried up cesspools inhabited by vermin.

Paradoxically the invasion of ex-urbanites has displaced and dispossessed an earlier generation of diehard motor racing fans of their dreams. The destruction of the Oran Park Raceway created its own landscape of lost memories. Ironically new arrivals at Oran Park bask in the reflected glory of streets named after Australian motor racing legends and sculptures that pay tribute the long gone raceway.

The latest threat to the dreams of all fringe dwellers is the invasion of Sydney’s southwest urban frontier by the exploratory drilling of coal seam gas wells. Locals and new arrivals alike see their idyllic surroundings disappearing before their eyes. They are fearful for their semi-rural lifestyle.

So what of the dreams?

Sydney’s rural-urban fringe will continue to be a frontier where conflict is an ever present theme in the story of the place. Invasion, dispossession, opportunity and hope are all part of the ongoing story of this zone of constant change.

Read more @ Imaginings on Sydney’s Edge: Myth, Mourning and Memory in a Fringe Community (Sydney Journal)

Read more here

Camden

Do or Die! Heritage and urban planning in the burbs

Yamba Cottage, KIrkham c. 1913 (Camden Images)
Yamba Cottage, KIrkham c. 1913 (Camden Images)

‘You are the problem’ railed Michael Pascoe in a recent op-ed about the current imposition of heritage listings by local government authorities.

It prompted me to think about a piece I wrote in 2010 about the loss of Edwardian farming heritage on the urban-rural interface on Sydney’s edge. In that I expressed dismay at the loss of early 20th craftsmanship that was seen by decision makers as redundant and out of date. To be replaced by ubiquitous uninteresting modern boxes.

It is interesting that those who think outside the box can take a simple Edwardian cottage, with flair and patience, turn it into a modern family without devaluing the original craftsmanship that built it.

There is a distinct lack appreciation amongst many contemporaries of simple robust country farm cottages that, with imagination and patience, can be up-dated with contemporary fit-outs that suit the needs of the current homeowner.

Despite Pascoe’s outcries others have a different take on the story.

In 2010 Jonathon Chancellor noted (‘Fight to save Tilba underlines heritage neglect’, SMH 22/3/10) that many councils had ‘neglectful heritage lists’.

Even more damming, ‘heritage listing at the local level does not provide much protection at all’, wrote Graeme Aplin, from Macquarie University, in Australian Quarterly (May-June 2009).

‘What we have witnessed over the last five years is the systematic dismantling of heritage protection’, stated Sylvia Hale, Greens spokesperson on planning (‘Heritage at risk’, National Trust Magazine, Feb-Apr 2010).

In 2010 Camden Council approved the demolition (Camden Council, 23/3/10) of a simple 1890 Federation farm cottage known as Carinya at Harrington Park. The owner, Nepean Pastoral Company, sought to develop a 97 residential lot subdivision on the farm site.

Carinya Cottage c1890 (Camden Historical Society)
Carinya Cottage c1890 (Camden Historical Society)

The Harrington Park housing estate is now fully occupied by newly arrived families from the burbs who are probably completely unaware of the history of Carinya. They come with the own hopes, just as the Cross and Paxton families, who lived in Carinya cottage, did in an earlier generation.

The story of Carinya cottage fits within the Australian Historic Themes identified by the Australian Government (Australian Heritage Commission 2001). These are common national standards for identification and conservation of heritage places. Yet this did not save it from the demolisher’s hammer.

Australian’s have a genuine interest in their past and the story of their ‘historic’ homes. Witness ABCTV’s ‘Who’s Been Sleeping in My House’ and the efforts of what Adam Ford calls housetorians. He is able to ‘unlock the mysteries of the past’ and tell a good yarn about houses across Australia.

One homeowner Dorothy felt that Ford’s investigations increased her sense of attachment to place and her home. She stated

‘I feel like it has been a place that has nurtured and cared for a lot of people over the years. It’s cosseted us and cared for us’.

Dorothy’s husband Mark felt a sense of responsibility to the future occupants of the house. He stated

‘The house will be here long after I’ve gone and I’m just privileged enough to be living here for a period of time.’

These homeowners have a creative appreciation of the worth of the story embedded in their homes. They understand that they are participants in an unfolding history, by providing a new layer in the story.

For Pascoe this is part of the ‘creeping heritage disease [that] is making its way up through the decades’.  This is an unfortunate view of the world, but not uncommon is a world driven by post-modernist individualism. A world where communities have lost their soul and inclusiveness. The dollar reigns supreme and does little to nurture the landscape.

In 2010 the developers of the Carinya sub-division were selling a dream. For some the dream is realised for others the new estates create a bland homogenised suburban streetscape with little charm or character.

Carinya Cottage c.1890 (Camden Historical Society)
Carinya Cottage c.1890 (Camden Historical Society)

The Carinya sub-division was part Sydney’s urbanization that, like an octopus, devours all in its path. Including ethical standards, community identity, sense of place and apparently local heritage and history.

The destruction of a simple charming 19th century farming cottages was unnecessary. Old and new can blend and add to the vibrancy and interest of emerging urban landscapes.

This is clearly illustrated in current fuss over the Camden Town Centre Strategy where there have been noisy disagreements between the Camden Community Alliance, Camden Chamber of Commerce and Camden Council. The complete lack of imagination and creativity in the council’s plans for the historic town centre have created a loud back-lash from resident and business owners alike.

The council seems to be blind to the possibilities that a creative use of history and heritage has in the urban landscape for tourism, business and the wider community. The pleadings of the Chamber of Commerce for a ‘prosperous’ business sector have fallen on deaf ears at council. Likewise the pleadings of the community for positive and deep engagement in the urban planning process in one of Sydney’s most sensitive and historic town centres.

Heritage values and good urban planning are not mutually exclusive as some commentators obviously think. But they do require patience, creativity, flair and community engagement from all stakeholders.

For the story of Yamba Cottage at Kirkham read the Kirkham article at the Dictionary of Sydney

Read more about the Town Centre Strategy decked car park proposal.

Read more about new subdivisions on the rural-urban fringe.

Read more about Camden’s Edwardian Cottages