|Queen Street historic
Campbelltown (including Airds, Leumeah, Menangle Park,
Menangle, Kentlyn, Macquarie Fields, Ingleburn, Minto)
Historic town now part of Sydney's southwestern suburban
Although Campbelltown, 53 km south-west of the GPO, is
essentially a rather unattractive urban centre on the
periphery of Sydney's suburban sprawl, the bushland to the
south and the older buildings in town and around the
district indicate that it was the first district to be
settled outside of Sydney and was, at one time, dramatically
different to the Campbelltown of today. The current
population of the city is about 150 000 and it is located 70
m above sea-level.
Prior to colonisation the area was inhabited by the
Tharawal Aborigines. The first Europeans in the vicinity
were an exploratory party who noted a stray herd of cattle
in 1795 by the Nepean River at a time when there was very
little livestock in the colony. This discovery generated
another expedition led by Governor Hunter that same year. He
called the area the Cow Pastures.
Francis Barallier investigated the district in 1802.
Despite the objections of the governor John Macarthur was
granted 5000 acres on the banks of the Nepean in 1805. When
Governor Macquarie visited the area in 1810, sentries were
posted for fear of Aboriginal attack. He chose the site of
Liverpool and named the district around present-day
Campbelltown 'Airds' after the family estate of his wife
Elizabeth (an estate situated in the village of Appin in
Scotland where Elizabeth was born).
By the following year there were 107 settlers in the
district. Continuing expansion and development suggested the
need for centralised services and for a staging post to
accommodate through-traffic. Campbelltown became the central
thoroughfare for those headed on to the south-west grazing
plains and south along the road that went through Appin to
the Illawarra. Hence Macquarie returned in 1820 marking out
a townsite which he named after his wife, Elizabeth
A daily mail service was established from Sydney to
Campbelltown in 1826. That same year witnessed the murder
that generated the legend of Fisher's Ghost. An ex-convict
named Frederick Fisher settled on a farm on the western side
of town after his pardon. He disappeared in 1826. The
following year another ex-convict named George Worrall was
arrested, tried and convicted of his murder. It is said he
confessed just before he was hanged.
|The Fisher's Ghost
Worrall was either living on or near Fisher's farm (some
accounts suggest they lived in the same hut). He apparently
claimed that Fisher had fled the district and had left him
in charge of the farm and property. Some suggest Worrall
claimed Fisher was fleeing to avoid prosecution for forgery.
Others assert that Fisher had in fact stabbed a man and that
he had given the power-of-attorney to Worrall as he expected
a long gaol term. One source claims that Fisher served six
months and disappeared soon after he returned and attempted
to resume control of his property. Some say Worrall then
sold some of Fisher's property and 'generously' offered to
clear a debt of Fisher's in return for the deeds to the
How Worrall was discovered is also a cause of
disagreement. It has been said that it was Worrall's
activities regarding Fisher's property that aroused
curiosity. One story has it that Worrall was then arrested
but released due to lack of evidence. Apparently two boys
later found bloodstains, a tooth and some hair on Worrall's
fence. An Aboriginal tracker was employed and the battered
body was located in or near what has since been called
Fisher's Creek, at the southern end of town.
According to folklore a respectable local named John
Farley claimed to have seen Fisher's ghost sitting on a
fencing rail when he was returning home after a few drinks
at a nearby inn. He apparently said that the ghost pointed
to the location of the body. Others stories say the spectre
merely sat on the fence and that this was the rail whereon
the scraps of Fisher were found. It has been claimed that
this 'sighting' initiated the police search.
The first published account of the apparition did not
emerge until 1832. Fisher was buried somewhere within the
Anglican cemetery at the corner of Broughton and Howe
Streets though his exact whereabouts is unknown. The legend
has become the focal point of an annual celebration - the
Festival of Fisher's Ghost, held each November.
Another infamous local was bushranger Mad Dog Morgan who
was born at Campbelltown in 1830, the son of convict
A survey of the town was made in 1826 and it was laid out
over the next few years according to a plan by Robert Hoddle
who later laid out Melbourne. Buildings began to appear in
1827 but their occupation did not go ahead until 1831.
Wheat-growing and flour-milling proved vital to the economy
in the early days. The town's growth was hampered by the
lack of a reliable water supply. Consequently a reservoir
was built by a convict chain-gang in 1838-39. It operated
A migrant depot was established at Campbelltown by
Caroline Chisholm in 1841. That year the population was
recorded as being 446. A district council covering
Campbelltown, Camden , Narellan and Picton was set up in
1843 and the railway opened in 1858. In the 1860s when wheat
production was wiped out by wheat rust and a drought. The
focus then shifted to dairying, stock-raising and orchards.
A post office was built in 1881 and the town became a
municipality in 1882, the year a tramway connected Camden
and Campbelltown. It operated until 1963 transporting silver
ore from Yerranderie and milk from the local dairy farms. A
courthouse was erected in 1888.
In the 1880s suburban development commenced. Subdivisions
occurred to the north at Minto, Ingleburn, Macquarie Fields
and Glenfield. Campbelltown became the first country town to
have piped water - supplied by the Upper Nepean scheme which
commenced in 1888.
In 1907 work was completed on Cataract Dam, the first of
the Upper Nepean Valley dams.
By 1911 the population had slowly climbed to 1429. After
World War II the population increased as workers were
increasingly able to afford their own homes. Campbelltown
was early identified as a means of accommodating these
rising expectations. It was envisaged as a satellite city of
Sydney, providing housing, work and proximity for those who
had to commute. The population increased from 9690 in 1954
to 16 374 in 1961. After much decentralisation planning in
the late 1960s and early 1970s housing estates supplanted
the remaining farmland and Campbelltown experienced some of
the fastest growth rates in Australia's history. By 1986
there were 120 000 residents. It was declared a city in
Things to see:
Quondong Visitors' Centre
Quite a number of historic buildings remain in the town and
surrounding district. There are walking and driving
heritage-tour pamphlets available and heritage coach tours
are organised twice yearly by the Quondong Visitors' Centre
in Art Gallery Rd at the southern end of town. To get there
situate yourself at the intersection of the Camden and Appin
Roads, head south along the latter and take the first right.
This is Art Gallery Rd. Park your car at the visitors'
centre which is located in the old St Patrick's schoolhouse.
Erected in 1840 it was the first Catholic school in
Australia to be built from private subscription. The
building was designed by Father John Therry. An influential
and historical figure Therry, along with a colleague, was,
in 1820, the first priest to be appointed to Australia. The
building has been thoughtfully renovated and now contains a
replica schoolroom and small historical display.
Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery and
Across the road is the Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art
Gallery and Japanese Gardens. The gardens and tea house -
based on a 16th-century design - were set up by
Campbelltown's sister city of Koshigaya in Japan to mark the
bicentenary. The landscaping is exquisite and meticulous and
there are a number of koi in the stream. The gallery is open
Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m., and 12.00
a.m. - 4.00 p.m.on Sundays.
Adjacent is a quaint and attractive old building (c.1840) on
the corner named Emily Cottage, a small stone house with a
dormer window and gabled roof thought to have originally
operated as a toll house.
Across Camden Rd is the southernmost end of Queen St and
what remains of Fisher's Ghost Creek, its historical
qualities eradicated by recent development of the water
|The Old Coach House (now
the Women's Health Centre)
Opposite Big Rooster, at 320 Queen St, is the Campbelltown
Art and Craft Society. This building was licensed as the
Farrier's Arms Inn in 1843 and was owned by blacksmith
Edward Fitzgerald. Some sources claim the building was
originally a grog shop dating back to 1826. It is certain
that it was in existence by 1840.
Next door is Kendall's Millhouse, now Fisher's Ghost
Restaurant. It was erected adjacent Campbelltown's first
steam-driven flour mill in 1844. Both were built by the
uncle of noted 19th-century poet Henry Kendall. The mill
closed in the 1880s.
Virtually opposite is the Campbelltown Community Centre,
originally a produce store and bakery dating back to 1853.
Walk up Queen St to the mall. At number 315 is the old
town hall, located on the site of George Worrall's farm. The
building was constructed around the old Temperance Hall
(built either in 1862 or 1882 depending on which source one
accepts) which the newly-formed municipal council bought,
adding the facade and front offices in 1892, the year they
also took over the newly-built fire station next door, now
incorporated into the structure. These buildings are now
used by the Campbelltown Theatre Group.
The buildings from 284-298 form an 'historic precinct'
within the city mall.These two-storey colonial houses of
brick or sandstone make a major contribution to the
streetscape. They all date from the mid-19th century and all
feature some fine work on the balustrades, columns, windows
and doors, though some are falling into disrepair. That at
298 Queen St (c.1858) is said to have been a staging post
for Cobb and Co. 294 was Bursill's shop (c.1842); 292 was
Legacy House (c.1844); 288-90 is the Old Railway Hotel
(c.1840), converted to a music hall in the 1850s. 284-86 was
McGuanne's Cottage (1850s).
At the end of the mall, at 282, is the former CBC Bank
(early 1880s), now the Macarthur Advertiser. Just beyond it
is the former post office. Erected 1881-83 it was one of the
first seven country post offices.to be built. The mail was
delivered by horseback twice daily. Designed by James Barnet
it is valued as a good example of a Victorian Classical
Revival country post office.
Further north at the intersection of Queen St and Railway
St is the courthouse. The central block, facing out to Queen
St, was also designed by Barnet and dates back to 1888.
Over the road from the courthouse is Mawson Park, once
known as 'the green', where cricket and other sports were
played and where the gallows and stocks associated with law
and order formerly stood.
Just north of the courthouse, to your left, is the civic
precinct wherein lies the civic centre, the council chambers
and the library. There is a cast bronze mural inside which
portrays the history of the city in nine sections. The swan
adjacent the mural is the crest of Elizabeth Campbell's
family. In the gardens is a sandstone water trough erected
in 1890. Opposite is an 1870s gas lamp donated by the town
of Campbelltown in Scotland in 1966.
St Peters Church
Return to Mawson Park which contains one of the many
milestones placed along the Liverpool-Campbelltown Rd in
1854. A plaque at the eastern edge of the park marks the
approximate spot where Governor Macquarie stood when he
declared the town in 1820. It is situated next to St Peter's
Church. Designed by Francis Lawless and built between 1821
and 1823 it is the oldest building in Campbelltown. The
clock was installed in 1838 and other additions were made in
the 1870s. Inspections can be arranged by phoning (02) 4625
1041. Next door is the rectory, built in 1887. Now in need
of some attention its features include a bay window,
cast-iron balustrades and an iron colonnade added at a later
St Johns Roman Catholic Church
Also of significant historic interest is the old and disused
St John's Roman Catholic Church, considered the first
Catholic church built in Australia. It is situated on a
hillside overlooking the town. The rectory is on the corner
of Cordeaux and Lindesay St. Turn left into the latter and
take the immediate right into Sturt St. At the top of the
hill turn left down George St. The entry gates to the
property are near the end of the street.
This Georgian church is made of stuccoed brick with stone
quoins. It was built between 1825 and 1841 under the
direction of Father John Therry. The mezzanine floor and
wooden wall decorations were added c.1886. The grounds are
also attractive. If you wish to have a look at the interior
ring the presbytery on (02) 4625 8044.
|The graves of James Ruse
and his wife
Graves of James and Elizabeth Ruse and the Cemetery
The historic graves of James and Elizabeth Ruse are located
in the north-western corner of the church graveyard. However
in 1994 descendants of the family removed the headstones due
to the extensive vandalism which was occurring in the
cemetery and placed them in the Stables Museum.
An unusual diamond-shaped headstone marks the grave of
Matthew Healey, a pioneer of the Goulburn district who built
the historic Riversdale Inn. Another occupant is Harry
Manns, a member of John Gilbert's bushranging gang who
pulled off one of Australia's most infamous robberies when
they made off with 14 000 pounds worth of material after
holding up a gold escort at Eugowra Rocks near Forbes. He
was caught, tried and hanged in 1863. His body was displayed
at a local inn for a short time as an example to the
citizenry. Its whereabouts within the cemetery is unknown as
such disreputable types were buried in unmarked graves and
the cemetery records have been destroyed.
Also in the cemetery are James Tyson, who owned 3.8
million ha, and James Waterworth, an early coachman who
covered the area between Cambelltown and Wollongong and who
was held up by highwaymen on several occasions.
Return down Sturt St and take the first left into Stewart
St. On the corner of Stewart and Lithgow St is Hurley Park
where you will find the remains of the convict-built
reservoir of 1838. This was the first public water
conservation scheme in Australia and the last major
convict-built structure. The site includes a large cattle
watering tank of fine ashlar masonry with a stone-paved
access ramp and spillway, as well as two deep silt traps,
also of stone. Allman St, which runs along the southern side
of the park, is named after the captain of the convict
Historic Buildings in the Area
Turn into Lithgow St. After you cross Lindesay St, St
David's Church and manse (1882) is on your right, just past
the school. Built in the Gothic style with pointed arches
and small obelisks on the roof it has been renovated.
On the corner of Lithgow and Oxley Sts is a lovely
two-storey Victorian house with some well-established trees
in the yard. Built in the 1860s the balcony, verandah and
supporting columns are of especial note. Next door, at 26
Oxley St, is 'Caversham' which has a brick cornice, a wide
verandah and attractive wooden lattice work. It dates from
the 1830s with a facade added in the 1850s.
Return to Lithgow St and continue westwards. On your
right, at number 12, is 'Richmond Villa' (c.1840, though the
separate rubblestone kitchen is thought to date back to
1830). Although it has been altered it is still a good
representative of a principal building type from the town's
At number 8 is one of Campbelltown's most attractive, but
most incongruously situated buildings, 'Glenalvon' (c.1842)
- a well-preserved and sensitively renovated two-storey
Georgian sandstone townhouse built by publican Michael
Byrne. Its highlights include a stone-flagged verandah,
Doric columns, carefully detailed stonework, original cedar
joinery and staircase, eight-panelled doors and the marble
and stone fireplaces. A valuable array of colonial furniture
and English items lend an air of elegance to the interior.
The Stables Museum
At the rear of the building (but visible from the roadway)
is a large well, a kitchen wing, a coach house and the large
sandstone Gothic stables building with elegant gables, which
has been converted into The Stables Museum, run by the local
historical society. It contains a number of heritage items
including the headstones of James and Elizabeth Ruse. James
Ruse was a convict transportee on the First Fleet who, after
completing his sentence in 1789, had some success as a
subsistence farmer at a time when the colony was in
desperate need of such successes. Consequently Governor
Phillip made Australia's first ever land grant in 1792; that
being Experiment Farm. He began working as an overseer near
Campbelltown in 1828 and died in 1837. Elizabeth was the
first emancipated female convict in Australia.
The headstones were removed from the churchyard of St
John's Catholic Church in 1994 due to the vandalism of
headstones occurring in the graveyard. The museum is open on
the first, third and fifth Sundays of the month from 2.00
p.m. - 4.00 p.m., or by appointment, tel: (02) 4628 0469.
South of Campbelltown
If you wish to investigate the area to the south start from
Quondong, turn left into Camden Rd then take the first left
again into Kellicar Rd. Proceed through the next set of
lights to the top of the hill then turn left into Gilchrist
Drive. Turn left at the second roundabout into Englorie Park
Drive. Head up the hill to Parkholme Court, turn left and it
is about 70 m to Englorie Park House (c.1880), a large
Victorian country house which was originally part of a large
farm property. Some outbuildings remain. The verandah which
links the house to the ballroom block has some attractive
cast-iron trim. It is currently being used as a child-care
|St Helen's Park, Appin
St Helen's Park
Return to the roundabout at the corner of Gilchrist Drive
and Therry Rd. Turn right into Therry Rd and proceed through
the next roundabout to the lights at the top of the hill and
turn right into Appin Rd. At the second set of traffic
lights turn left into Woodlands Rd then take the first right
into St Helens Park Drive. To your right, about 750 m along,
is St Helen's' Park House, a truly beautiful mansion with
associated outbuildings. It was erected on land granted to
John Wild who called it 'Egypt Farm'. The house dates from
1887 and is made of Menangle stone. It is strongly
symmetrical with highly picturesque gables.
Return to Appin Rd and head south through the roundabout to
the top of the hill. The second house on the left (about 340
m from the roundabout) is 'Denfield' (c.1837), an
outstanding and well-maintained example of a traditional
farmhouse which was reputedly built by John Farley, the man
who claimed he saw Fisher's ghost. The walls are rendered
and the kitchen detached after the style of the period.
Mt Gilead is located west of the Appin Rd on a parallel
spur. Upon a land grant issued in 1812 are a group of stone
buildings situated about a windmill tower (now sail-less)
which was built in 1835. It is located at the crest of the
ridge and can be seen from the Appin Rd entrance, 6.5 km
from the Quondong Centre.
Further south is 'Beulah', built by the Hume family
(possibly Hamilton Hume's father). The 1824 Hume and Hovell
expedition to Port Phillip left from a point nearby on the
Appin Rd which is marked by a monument erected in 1924 and
made of stone taken from Hamilton Hume's house. It can be
found 9.3 km from the Quondong Centre.
South-West of Campbelltown
Starting from the intersection of the Camden and Appin Rds
head along Camden Rd and again turn left into Kellicar Rd.
At its end turn right then take a left at the T-intersection
into Menangle Rd. 1 km south turn left into Glen Alpine
Drive. Take the first right into Heritage Way then the
second right into Belltrees Close.
At number 12 you will find 'Glen Alpine', dating back to
1890 or 1912, depending on your source. It has a fine
pyramidal roof and verandahs with turned wooden posts,
fretwork brackets and a frieze of spindles. The first 'Glen
Alpine' was built in 1832 for Thomas Reddall, the incumbent
of St Peter's in Campbelltown. Later used as a school it was
demolished though some olive trees from the original estate
Campbelltown Steam and Machinery Museum
Return to Menangle Rd. 2 km south is, to your right, the
Campbelltown Steam and Machinery Museum which is open from
10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month.
They have a number of old steam trains which run on some
railway track established within the grounds. Opposite is
the Sugarloaf Horse Centre which offers trail riding and
lessons, tel: (02) 4625 9565.
Continue south for just over 3 km to Menangle Park. On the
corner of Menangle Rd and Racecourse Ave (to the right) is
the former Horse and Jockey Inn. This sandstone brick
structure was built either in the 1840s or 1853 (depending
on who you believe). It has a particularly fine staircase.
The stone building adjacent is thought to date back to 1823.
Just past it, to the right, is 'The Pines', a colonial
stone house built in the Classical style (c.1870) with
french doors. Next door and associatedwith it is an Alpaca
Menangle Rd continues across the Nepean River and south
becoming Picton Rd. Just on the northern side of the river
is the Nepean River Reserve. The railway bridge over the
Nepean is the oldest still in use today.
1 km south of the river Menangle Rd meets up with
Woodbridge Rd, which heads off to the right, and Station St,
which heads off to the left. At the junction is the Menangle
Store (1904) and on the hillside behind it is the imposing
presence of St James's Anglican Church.
Menangle is a lovely and quiet rural village of 570
people full of attractive old timber buildings which
developed to service the operations of Camden Park Estate.
Take the left turn into Station St. Near the end of the
road take the right turn. After 1.9 km is a signpost to the
left indicating the driveway of the Gilbulla Memorial
Conference Centre. Follow the loop road around to the old
Gilbulla homestead, built in 1904 for James
Macarthur-Onslow. It is a large and handsome house with
extensive gardens and is used today by the Church of
Return to the Menangle Store. Turn left back into
Menangle Rd. At the top of the hill is St James's (1876).
The nave was designed by noted architect J. Horbury Hunt who
built 'Camelot' at Kirkham (see entry on
North of Campbelltown
Turn into Campbelltown Rd and proceed to the second set of
lights and turn right into Leumeah Rd then take the
immediate left into Hollylea Rd. At its end is Hollylea
House, a charming two-storey Victorian building with plenty
of delicate iron lacework, and a balcony with decorative
Further west is the Wat Pa Monastery, opened in 1988 as a
retreat for buddhists. There is also a Thai pagoda, built in
Return to the intersection of Leumeah Rd and Campbelltown
Rd and turn right. Turn left into Raby Rd then take the
first left after the roundabout into Eschol Park Drive. At
the top of the small hill is Eschol Park House (c.1860 with
additions c.1890). This substantial two-storey house with
stone quoins is now a restaurant. The property was the site
of vineyards which won a gold medal at the Paris Wine
Exhibition of 1885. There is a large stone wine cellar built
into the hillside south of the house. The latter was used as
a detention centre for German embassy staff during World War
II. A Victorian fountain stands in the garden.
Return to Campbelltown Rd and continue north. The first
left, at the turntable, is St Andrews Rd. 1.9 km along here,
to your right, is the driveway to Varro Ville which can be
seen perched on the top of the hill. This attractive and
substantial house was built c.1859 though there have been
later additions. The outbuildings probably date back to the
1820s. The house can be seen a little more clearly if you
continue a short distance along St Andrews Rd to the Mt
Carmel Retreat and look from this vantage point.
Varro Ville was a 1000-acre land grant issued by Governor
Macquarie in 1810 to Robert Townson, a friend of Joseph
Banks. Governor Macquarie and his wife visited the estate
twice in 1810. The property and buildings have been placed
under a permanent conservation order.
Townson ran cattle and sheep and established an
impressive vineyard and orchard. Explorer Charles Sturt
purchased it in 1837. During the drought of 1838 he
generously sank dams in every paddock to ensure the water
supply for his neighbours. It is said his generosity was
even recognised by then-bushranger Jack Donohoe who declared
the Sturt family off-bounds. In 1839 Varro Ville was
purchased by the first postmaster-general James Raymond who
bred and trained racehorses.
Scenic Hills Riding Ranch is located a little further
north along Campbelltown Rd, tel: (02) 9605 7410. It is
situated on a part of the Varro Ville estate.
Continue north to Denham Court Rd. On the corner, to the
right, is the Denham Court Homestead belonging to a Captain
Brooks, the former master of convict transport ships. It has
been described as "one of the most interesting and
historically significant early country houses in NSW". The
house was designed by John Verge in 1832 though the
buildings to the rear may predate Brooks' possession of the
property in 1820. There is an attractive portico and
If you turn into Denham Court Rd then take the first
right into Church Rd you will find St Mary the Virgin Chapel
(1838), built as a memorial to Captain Richard Brooks and
designed by John Verge. It is a rare surviving example of an
early Regency Gothic Revival church in a pleasant rural
setting with an historic graveyard.
Return to Campbelltown Rd. 6 km north of Denham Court Rd
Campbelltown Rd and Camden Valley Rd intersect to form the
Hume Highway. Turn right at the next set of lights into
Leacocks Lane. 900 m from the highway you can see, to your
left, the Glenfield farmhouse and barn, built by Dr Charles
Throsby in 1817 on land he was granted in 1810. The house is
named after his English birthplace.
|The Sundial at Mt Annan
Mt Annan Botanic Garden
Mt Annan Botanic Garden is Australia's largest botanic
garden. Within its 400 ha you will find 20 km of walking
trails, a loop road, two ornamental lakes with lakeside
picnic areas, an education centre, nursery and arboretum, an
abundance of birdlife, most of Australia's known native
plant species and some introduced species. The flora is
featured in a variety of settings - a terrace garden, a
bottlebrush garden, a wattle garden, a banksia garden and a
western garden. There are also woodland and lakeside plant
communitites. From the hill it is possible to see
Campbelltown, the Sydney skyline to the north-east, and, to
the south-west, the Menangle district and the Razorback
Range. There are picnic facilities, bike tracks and bicycles
for hire. The entry fee is currently $5 a car.
Guided walks and mini-bus tours are available for free on
a daily basis depending on staff availability, tel: (02)
4648 2477. Don't miss the human sundial, a sculptural feat
made of basalt columns which allows you to tell the time by
raising your hands in the air (just follow the instructions
on the brass plate).
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