Monday, June 28, 2010

Some snippets of history: Turramurra, a northern suburb of Sydney

Some varied history and observations about Turramurra, a suburb in the north and west of Sydney, split by the north shore rail line and the Pacific Highway. Anecdotally the northern side of the suburb is the place to be if you happen to like big houses, big cars and expansive lawns and gardens. The Pacific Hwy was variously in parts called either Lane Cove Road or Gordon Road up to Pearces Corner, where Peats Ferry Road began. 

Geological Sites - Especially around Sydney
TURRAMURRA
Lovers Jump waterfall. Lovers Jump (locally also known as Lovers Leap) is a waterfall with a significantly large pool at its base, on the northern side of Burns Road between Finchley Place and McRae Place. A pool at the base of the waterfall is not known to have ever dried up, even though the creek may periodically run dry. The relatively deep valley of Lovers Leap (Lovers Jump) Creek below the waterfall has an area of remant Blue Gum High Forest ecological community. Brush turkeys in groups of up to 4 or 5 lives along the creek and the birds are seen in McRae Place where nesting mounds have been built and chicks have emerged in recent years. Also known in the area are lyre birds, owls, lizards like the water dragon, water rat, eels, etc. No particular reason for the waterfall development here is apparent. The creek at the top of the falls is probably close to the top of the Hawkesbury Sandstone. Where McRae Place makes its first bend (to the east) shale has been met with in digging on the northern side of the road, and close downslope from here the sandstone outcrops. This is probably an accurate elevation point for the base of the Mittagong Formation. Opposite the entrance to McCrae Place, on the south side of Burns Road, building excavation in 2007 exposed weathered Ashfield Shale passing down into Mittagong Formation. Near here was Irish Town. For a time this was an isolated community of orchardists who settled after 1850, with frequent intermarriage and picnicing at the Lovers Leap waterhole (fide Ku-ring-gai Historical Society). Irish Town is remembered by the small "Irish Town Grove" creek reserve between Bannockburn Road and Adams Street; although some accounts state that much of North Turramurra was known as Irish Town. The orchards are also remembered by the Orange Green park behind North Turramurra public school. This school was opened in 1914 to serve the community of orchardists, market gardeners and dairy farmers. In 1920 fruit fly proved disastrous to commercial orchardists on the North Shore

Turramurra, New South Wales - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Turramurra is a suburb on the Upper North Shore of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Turramurra is located 17 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Ku-ring-gai Council. North Turramurra and South Turramurra are separate suburbs.[1]
Turramurra, New South Wales - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Early settlers referred to the area as Eastern Road until the name Turramurra was adopted when the railway station was built here in 1890. One of the early local landmarks was Ingleholme, a two-storey Federation home in Boomerang Street. It was designed by John Sulman (1849-1934) as his own home and built circa 1896. The house was part of the Presbyterian Ladies College for some time afterwards and is now on the Register of the National Estate. It is notable as an example of John Sulman's style.[2] The first post office opened in 1890. The Hillview estate was marked for heritage listing.[3] Another humble landmark is St Andrew's in Kissing Point Road, which is an example of the Federation Carpenter Gothic style.
Ku-ring-gai Historical Society - Local history - Turramurra
Turramurra is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘high hill’ or ‘big hill’. When the railway was opened on 1 January 1890 the suburb was called Eastern Road after the border of one of the major estates in the area. This was changed to Turramurra on 14 December 1890 as it was thought more appropriate the suburb have an Aboriginal name.

Turramurra is a large suburb, extending from the Lane Cove National Park in the south to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in the north. Both these parks govern the boundaries of North and South Turramurra. The township of Turramurra is divided from Wahroonga by Finlay Road, Cherry Street, Brentwood Avenue then east to Eastern Road. From here it continues along Eastern Road to its junction with Burns Road, to swing south to a branch of Cowan Creek. On the Pymble side, the boundary goes south to Pentecost Avenue, west to Bobbin Head Road, then south again to the Pacific Highway. It crosses the highway, runs down along the edge of Rofe Park to end of the Lane Cove River...

In 1822 Thomas Hyndes leased and subsequently purchased 2,000 acres north of Robert Pymble’s grant. Turramurra was part of this lease, known afterwards as The Big Estate Lease.


Tempe and St Peters map via Wilsons 1926


St Peters_Wilsons 1926_290
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
As promised, the 1926 street directory map of Tempe... and haven't things changed!

Yes, the trams have gone now and Cooks River and Shea's Creek (Alexandra Canal) have moved, but several streets in Marrickville (like Renwick, premier and Warren Rd) have also been truncated somewhat since 1926.

Unwin's Bridge (of Unwin's Bridge Road fame) appears to be in the current location of the road bridge near the velodrome. Bridge Street has no bridge.

The dam, long gone of course, is marked on the Princes Highway. And there's a cricket oval on the highway at the Railway Road intersection (not to mention a host of disappeared streets). The extra park land apparent now at Sydenham is because of house buy-backs to reduce Sydney Airport's runway 34/16 noise footpoint.

And there's even a lime advert on the opposite page.

Some snippets of history - lime, mills, dams, silting and sewage : the Cooks River, Sydney

I've previously mentioned that the Riley Street (Surry Hills) indoor board velodrome was shifted holus-bolus to Canterbury - splinters and all - which is remarkable enough, but there's more to Canterbury than just an old velodrome site, a station, a bus terminus and a horse racetrack. There's also a river - the Cooks River - that runs from Botany Bay to Canterbury and further westward. It was of course once a working natural river with meanders but dams, industry and concrete culverts put an end to much of the "natural-ness".

I'll post a map of the Tempe dam soon, but the article quoted below makes the location clear enough. The river was dammed to poor effect at Tempe and at Canterbury. The flood of the late 19th century wiped out much of the market gardening and led to grand schemes of tunnels and canals, of which only Alexandra Canal really came to pass. The river's mouth was also moved to accommodate an enlargement of Sydney's Mascot airport. You can find maps of that elsewhere on this blog.   

City of Canterbury - History of Cooks River
Descriptions of the country along Cooks River by the early explorers were not optimistic about the land's potential for food production. Captain John Hunter and Lieutenant Bradley both mentioned the shallowness of the water and the large swamps, in place of Cook's 'fine meadow', so it was to the alluvial terraces of the Parramatta and Hawkesbury Rivers that the farmers of the colony went. The Reverend Richard Johnson, however, took time out from his chief mission - first pastor to the settlements in New South Wales - to cultivate his properties, among them being a grant of 250 acres at Canterbury (stretching along the river from present Garnet Street, Hurlstone Park to Croydon Avenue, Ashbury). There is no evidence that he ever lived on his 'Canterbury Vale' farm. But with the help of an overseer, several convicts, and labourers paid by himself, he cleared and planted several acres. Yields were high enough from his estates for him to be described by Watkin Tench as 'the best farmer in the colony'. When the property was sold to William Cox in 1800, it included livestock, two acres of vineyard, and another acre of orchard with orange trees, nectarines, peaches and apricots.

City of Canterbury - History of Cooks River
Major industries of the area were fishing and lime burning, especially around the mouth of the river and in Botany Bay. In a new settlement, three basic needs had to be satisfied: the need for food, the need for water, and the need for shelter for the inhabitants. Although brick-making clay was abundant, nothing could be found for a long time to hold these bricks permanently together. Lime, essential in making mortar, was in such a short supply that most brick buildings collapsed in a heap of rubble as soon as the walls were leant on, and Governor Phillip constantly appealed for limestone to be sent out as ballast in the ships from home. Shell middens left by the aborigines on the shores of the Cooks River and Botany Bay proved to be a vital source of lime, and many colonists managed to make a living gathering the remnants from thousands of years of aboriginal meals to supply their kilns.
City of Canterbury - History of Cooks River
Cornelius Prout built a punt to give him access to his property, Belle Ombre (along the river from today's Canterbury Road to Clissold Parade, Campsie); a punt also operated somewhere about the same time at Undercliffe, known as Thorpe's Punt. This was a link on one of the roads to the Illawarra district. Fords existed at Tempe and further up the river, but with the spread of settlement and eventually industry, permanent bridges were needed.
City of Canterbury - History of Cooks River
A B Spark, Leslie Duguid, and F W Unwin all built country houses beside Cooks River in the late 1830's, and by 1840, three bridge crossings were in use; Unwin's Bridge at Tempe, (to give access from Sydney to his house, Wanstead); Prout's Bridge, replacing the punt, at Canterbury; and the dam at Tempe, continuing the line of Cook's River Road (Princes Highway) past the house of Alexander Brodie Spark.
City of Canterbury - History of Cooks River
A second dam was built to serve the river's first manufacturing industry: the Australian Sugar Company's refinery at Canterbury; this location was selected because of the need for ample supplies of water in processing.

The Sugar House is placed within one hundred feet on Cook's River which is shortly expected to be fresh water, the Dam being quite close and is built of beautiful white sandstone. (Sydney Herald, 4 October, 1841)
Cooks River - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Cooks River is a 23 kilometre long urban waterway of south-western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia emptying into Botany Bay. The course of the river has been altered to accommodate various developments along its shore. It serves as part of a stormwater system for the 100 square kilometres of its watershed, and many of the original streams running into it have been turned into concrete lined channels. The tidal sections support significant areas of mangroves, bird, and fish life, and are used for recreational activities.
Geological Sites - Especially around Sydney
The river was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770 but it was not until 1793 that any permanent settlement began to occur along it. The first bridge was erected here in 1810, give access to the southern bank of the river for timber getting. It was then a limit of recreational excursions from Sydney.

With the degradation and growing inadequacy of Sydney's Tank Stream water suppy by 1826 the Cooks River was considered as a possibly fresh water supply. A dam was built across it here for that purpose, in the 1830s. The work was mainly completed in 1839-1841 using convict labour. It was considered that floods might flush out the saline water and give allow a fresh supply behind the dam (cf. in a flood of 1889 the river flowed 10 above the dam at Tempe). However, the dam was unsuccessful, as the water remained saline and the main effect of the dam, because of the increase of upstream polluting industries, was to generate a cesspool. Most of the fresh water remained dammed behind the later dam at the Sugar House at Canterbury, but that dam water too was often in a very offensive condition. There was an outbreak of typhoid fever affecting swimmers in 1896. The Tempe dam was lowered to improve flushing, and eventually demolished entirely.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

The changes wrought to Randwick since 1940


Randwick_Robinsons 1940_245
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
There's so much that's changed here - and it was only 70 years ago. Where do I start?

OK, from the left - South Dowling street just stops at Kensington Golf Links. Today it carries on to the airport. To the left of that, Victoria Park Racecourse - gone. Below, Rosebery Park racecourse - gone, replaced by flats - lot's of 'em. To the right of that is a tramway sand quarry (or whatever you call it!). On the next page is Centennial Park at the top, largely intact but now sadly invaded by sports fields and other "single use" recreations like coffee drinking (not that I don't enjoy a coffee) and car parking.

Below that is Randwick Racecourse with its own tram station. Of course pre-war transport was mostly by foot, bike or tram so the dreaded waste and extravagance of low-cost private cars was still ahead of us.

You'll also spot Randwick Tram Workshop in the middle with a few stretches of reserved track so public transport was not only better but quicker. Wait here for trams: Sydney's trams during the last decade of operation

Click through for more personal research and opinion on Sydney history.

Street directory and associated material, scanned for historical research purposes only. Attribution for street directories to HEC Robinson and Gregory's Maps, now UBD. As I say, it's for historical reference only.

Penrith in 1926 according to Wilson's. Love the old garage.


Penrith_Wilsons 1926_293
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
There's a lot to enjoy here - the old Penrith garage in the advert to the left, the 1926 Penrith streetscape.. what about the amazingly narrow bridge over the Nepean River... was it even passable by opposing traffic?

Click through for more personal research and opinion on Sydney history.

Street directory and associated material, scanned for historical research purposes only. Attribution for street directories to HEC Robinson and Gregory's Maps, now UBD. As I say, it's for historical reference only.

Victoria Park racecourse - Waterloo according to Wilson's 1926


Waterloo_Wilsons 1926_291
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Nice layout shown here for Victoria Park racecourse, including the tramway on reserved track (probably through a paddock?). Of course it's no more, replaced by a succession of English car makers culminating in the Leyland car plant that built the P76. When the wheels fell off that in the mid-70s it became a Navy supply yard before finally rebirthing as the new suburb of "Green Square", or whatever they call it. To me it's still Victoria Park.

Early aviators such as Defries used Victoria Park racecourse as an airfield (of sorts).

A bit more

A lot more.

Click through for more personal research and opinion on Sydney history.

Street directory and associated material, scanned for historical research purposes only. Attribution for street directories to HEC Robinson and Gregory's Maps, now UBD. As I say, it's for historical reference only.

Bankstown West according to Wilson's 1926 street directory


Bankstown_Wilsons_1926_547
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
It's 1926 and Liverpool Rd is also "Great Southern" Road. Marion Street is shorter and there's a blank canvas awaiting for Bankstown Airport.

Click through for more personal research and opinion on Sydney history.

Street directory and associated material, scanned for historical research purposes only. Attribution for street directories to HEC Robinson and Gregory's Maps, now UBD. As I say, it's for historical reference only.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bike racing circuits of Sydney... mapped

Where have we raced our bikes in Sydney? Lots of places. Cycling was the workingman's way to travel long distances before mass production of the motor car. The bike was ridden everywhere (if someone tells you that Sydney's 'too hilly' for bikes just laugh - they have no idea what's possible on a bike) and inevitably raced.

It's a work in progress, but here goes....

Crit circuits and velodromes in the Hurstville area: 
Oatley Park (St George club criterium circuit)

Olds Park, Penshurst (cycling circuit around circumference of park). Raced at least once, possibly during a Commonwealth Bank Cycling Classic in the late '80s?)
Hurstville Oval (a shallow-banked velodrome), track racing venue for St George Club.

Kempt Field, another Commonwealth Bank Cycling classic stage venue. Narrow track in parts with some twists, sandy edges and a steep-ish climb every lap. 

And - reportedly - there was a small, steep indoor velodrome at Railway Parade, Carlton. The building appears to have gone/been remodelled but I did check it out on the early 1980s when it was an art warehouse. It was certainly old, full of iron spars and posts but there was hardly enough space between the ironwork to race track bikes... surely? More investigation needed.

Crit circuits in the Sutherland area:

Waratah Park - Sutherland Club - several useful criterium loops including the main, long circuit that drops way, way down (ie potentially very fast) and turns hard left before climbing back up to the main straight.

Crit circuits and velodromes in the Eastern Suburbs:

Riley Street (old, long-lost, steep timber velodrome, later moved to Canterbury)

Heffron Park, home of Randwick-Botany and Eastern Suburbs clubs, a 2.2km circuit with plenty of twists, a hill and a long, long finishing straight.

Coogee - a street circuit used in the Commonwealth Bank Cycling Classic

Bondi Beach - the promenade, used by the Randwick Club before traffic got the better of it all

Bunnerong Road - a road course used after Bondi beach was no longer available but before Heffron came about

Centennial Park - a regular venue for road championship cycling.

Western and Inner Western Sydney crit circuits and velodromes:

Merrylands Oval (saucer velodrome)

Canterbury (old Riley Street timber velodrome, moved)

Tempe (or Canterbury velodrome, a concrete twin of Chandler in Brisbane)

Wiley Park (banked outdoor velodrome lost to road widening)

Bass Hill (crit track and indoor timber velodrome)

Camperdown (now closed, a concrete velodrome that replaced the Empire Games track at Henson Park)

Blacktown criterium track

Lidcombe Oval (outdoor velodrome)

Lansdowne Park, a twisty criterium course with a decent hill

Henson Park (the 1938 Empire Games velodrome)

As always, more soon...

Where was....

Where was Amaroo Park? North west of Sydney, in Annangrove. Now redeveloped.

Where was Oran Park? South west of Sydney, now redeveloped. Near Camden and Narellan.

Where was Catalina Park?The track remains but is unusable for motorsport (and unsafe anyway!). Was used for rallycross but looks abandoned now. The track can be ridden (bicycles) or walked. 

Where was Maroubra Speedway? On the hills above the beach, to the east of Anzac Pde.

More to come....

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.   

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The type of emotional rhetoric used to close an airport - in this case Hoxton Park but today's events will lead to more calls for Bankstown to close

It's obviously a traumatic and sad event when an aircraft crashes with a loss of life - and we don't need local agitators jumping on the bandwagon. But they will. Of course aircraft don't crash on approach or departure from Bankstown as regularly as cars and trucks crash on our roads - far from it - yet the fear campaign will be all about the unsuitability of having an airport adjacent to houses, schools and offices. It may be a statistically low risk but it's an emotive issue, especially so immediately after a crash occurs. It's ghoulish and sad that people will use this event in a manipulative way, but it will add to the aircraft noise debate (arguably the real issue) and may eventually cause Bankstown to be reduced in scope, or to close. Perhaps.

Sometimes issues just mount up and force a hand. Further to the west of Sydney Hoxton Park has closed, at least partly because of the fear campaigns of elected parliamentary members just "doing their job", and partly in aid of a bigger transport picture involving airport privatisation and development. The end result is another airport closure, putting more pressure on existing facilities - like Bankstown.

Now Bankstown airport has been around a long time (planned in 1929 but built during WWII) and pre-dates much of the industrial and residential development that now surrounds it. Indeed it is hemmed in and further growth is impeded. And as Sydney's airfields have closed - many of the WWII airfields such as Castlereagh or Fleurs lasting only into the '50s or at best early '60s - others have taken up the slack, like Bankstown, Camden, Wedderburn and The Oaks (despite the quote below very much an active field) . Be they the late lamented Naval Air Station at Schofields or the more recent closure of Hoxton Park the loss of landing strips forces light to medium aircraft users, owners and operators into either more distant airfields like Wedderburn or The Oaks or into busier ones like Bankstown. And we aren't actually opening any new ones, are we?

By the way I'm hardly a silvertail (read below for the bald faced rhetoric), having grown up in Marrickville in the 60's. I don't fly any more but the point is that private pilots can come from any socio-economic background. That's what our egalitarian society is all about - opportunity coupled with fairness and social mobility. Or is that just rhetoric as well?  

Hoxton Park Airport - 07/05/2002 - NSW Parliament
Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [4.41 p.m.]: I ask the House to note as a matter of public importance Hoxton Park Airport and the surrounding suburbs. Hoxton Park Airport is located within my electorate and it is the subject of considerable controversy. Both in terms of the safety of residents living around it and in the amenity of their neighbourhoods, a substantial number of people have been calling for the airport's closure. The suburbs surrounding the airport include Cecil Hills, Green Valley, Hinchinbrook, Hoxton Park and West Hoxton. I have called for the closure of the airport on previous occasions, and I restate that call today. I have raised this matter on a number of occasions in this House. Indeed, I debated an urgent motion on the matter in 1999. It is appropriate to raise the matter again today because only several weeks ago there was a further accident at the airport.

Hoxton Park Airport is a general aviation airport. It covers 85 hectares and has one sealed runway that is 1,098 metres in length. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, circuit training is restricted to between 6.00 a.m. and 11.00 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 6.00 a.m. to one hour after last light on Sundays. It caters to both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, that is, planes and helicopters. It is usually busier on weekends than on weekdays, which says something about the people who are using the airport to train. As I understand the evidence, an average of about six or seven planes are in the air around the vicinity of the airport at any given time.

The airport was originally constructed in about 1942 as part of a group of airfields to be used as aircraft dispersal fields in anticipation of a Japanese air attack. Others included Menangle, Bargo, the Oaks, Wallgrove, Fleurs, St Marys, Castlereagh, Pitt Town and Ettalong. Interestingly enough, none of those airfields is currently operating as an airport. RAAF pilots also used Hoxton Park Airport for training purposes and the like. After the war the airport was leased to the Hardy Rubber Company for use as a tyre test track. Eventually its use as an airport was resumed, but its current use is very different to what it was then. It is now used overwhelmingly for training purposes.



Speaking of developers eating airports, how about Cooranbong, north of Sydney?

Bankstown, Mascot and Hoxton Park are clear examples of developers gradually surrounding an airfield and then absorbing it, either completely or at least on enough sides that the airport becomes "hemmed in" and unable to operate optimally - or to possibly expand (short of reclaiming Botany Bay, for example). And then the complaints start. The noise and the "danger" of it all. As if getting hit by a motor vehicle wasn't an order of magnitude more likely.  

I mentioned also the pressure on Warnervale airport due to changing patterns of land use and the incursion of residences into flight (and thus noise) zones - and then I stumbled on another airfield with an interesting history as well as pressure to convert and rezone its use: Cooranbong, to the northwest of Warnervale.

"Heritage Impact Assessment of the Cooranbong Aerodrome in the context of potential rezoning and a concept master plan. The property has been assessed to have some local community heritage value, primarily for social and historic association, in the use by the Adventist Aviation Association, established 1973, and their aircraft assisted volunteer country outreach and missionary programs. There are secondary levels of significance, such as the formation of the main strip by early Adventist community members in the late 1940s, and the development of a flying school in the late 1970s. The size and scale of the airstrips form distinctive landmarks when viewed from the air.

The proposal sets out the re-zoning of the site to allow for future development, and the concept master plan comprises pockets of developable areas set within retained areas and corridors of natural bushland. The airstrips have been incorporated into the future road patterns planned for the site and will remain prominent elements that contribute to the heritage nature of the place. Areas of open space allowing for specific heritage interpretation are planned into the scheme."


In many ways transport has defined European settlement in Australia and set the pattern for development. Where we found a sheltered haven we built a port. Where we laid tracks towns formed. Where roads joined or rail was laid junctions were created and new focuses and possibilities came into being. It's the timing of transport development that gradually shaped where we lived. Obviously we had reasons other than transport alone - arable land, water and adequate shelter were all factors, sometimes key ones. The Central Coast relied for many years on timber felling for example, which led to a need for tracks and trails, railways and ports. We then link isolated towns and create alternatives to the ports, leading to a de-emphasis on one mode of transport. It is this decison making - or perhaps non-making - that shapes our direction. Cooranbong is an interesting example of this:

"Cooranbong was an important river port with up to ten ships trading here regularly for timber and agricultural produce. The town had a courthouse, shops, hotels and a ship yard. When the northern railway was coming, it was expected to pass through Cooranbong with a branch line to Newcastle and the main line to pass under the Gap as it went further north. The town’s people saw the town as the administration centre of the south. But the line was eventually built through Morisset and over Dora Creek. This prevented the sailing ships from coming up the river and Cooranbong rapidly went into decline dropping the population from 700 to less than 200 in five years. About that time the Adventists arrived and moved the town a mile to the east ignoring the old town and to a large degree, the local people."   

‘Cooranbong’ is from an Aboriginal word meaning rocky bottom creek or water over
rocks. This is Awabakal peoples land. 

And Cooranbong also has an interesting aviation history:

"Between 1932-37 a few local aviation enthusiasts including Albert Harris built a Piertenpole, a high-wing monoplane, in the fowl houses and tool sheds in different parts of the town. The plane was made from crude parts including a ten-year-old, four-cylinder motorcycle engine; a homemade contraption mounted underneath the wing as an airspeed indicator, and barrow wheel tyres. The only instruments were an oil pressure gauge and a rev. counter.
"

First flight was from "Miller's paddock", now Meyers Crescent, off Alton Road.
Don't try landing there now.

With an early airfield as well...
"The same enthusiasts made the first airstrip on the southern side of Cooranbong near the Post Office (near present day Martinsville Road). The site was bounded at one end by a dry creek and at the other end by telephone lines. It was 300 yards long. The Civil Aviation minimum requirements at that time were 500 yards. Despite not meeting regulations, the site is reported to have been used by the group until the outbreak of WWII."

 Don't try landing there, either.

And interestingly there's a link between Cooranbong and 'Wamberal airstrip':

"Harris and the other notable local enthusiast, Frank Wainman, put a second remodelled plane together. Intermediate tests with some crashes were performed on the first early Cooranbong strip, however the main tests for that plane was at Wamberal airstrip. Frank Wainman’s first solo trip was during one of these tests at Wamberal and resulted in the wreck of the second plane."


And the current - now closed - airstrip was created by clearing land circa 1946. And an east-west strip was added circa 1977 and other upgrades led to a flying school being established. It's a fascinating history well worth reading at the heritage planning site I have been linking to.

That heritage impact assessment document concludes negatively in regard to conserving the airfield itself but recommends using the runway alignments as a feature of any new development. The argument sounds reasonable in a heritage sense but does mean that another aviation resource - and one hard to replicate - is lost. But we'll have a memory imprinted in the roadscape, won't we? Better than nothing, I suppose.

Making Time for Flying: Moisture in the air and water in the tanks
I flew past the Cooranbong aerodrome, which is no longer used as one can tell from the big white crosses at the threshold of each runway. It's sad because it looks like a very nice airport, with a long sealed runway. Apparently, Avondale College used to run an aviation degree out of here up until 2006.
Hmmm, no, I wouldn't land there, either. And this is what we've lost (all images via Google Maps):
Still, it's a free country. Well, it's free in some senses. And in the end economics - and regulation - win. The airport (and the adjacent Avondale College) shown above was developed by the Adventist organisation over many years. It's their back paddock, after all, and they need to make best economic use of the land they can, within the laws of the land and the bounds of their beliefs. So be it.

The airport was just an idea, a concept, in 1946, and was 'opened' in 1949. It's quite an interesting story in itself. 

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Warnervale - an active airstrip north of Sydney

I feel like I'm cataloging airfields now, but each has a rich history and I intend coming back in due course to fill in the blanks.

Warnervale is in the Wyong district north of Gosford. It's an important regional airfield and one of the few remaining strips between Sydney and Newcastle. These days we have to catch a train or drive our cars first if we want to fly... and whilst flying is not the most fuel-efficient method of transport it's hardly going to be enhanced by extra car or truck journeys, is it? Alas airfields tend to secure an expanse of grass for runways and overruns, eventually attracting developers bent on turning the "wasted" grassy fields into houses or industrial estates. The airport itself may attract additional investment, leading to jobs, and further development. Which is a downward spiral leading to airport closure when newly local residents complain about the aircraft noise. Warnervale is secure for now but the fight to remain active is always on the horizon.  

Making Time for Flying: Moisture in the air and water in the tanks
After Patonga I adjusted my heading slightly toward Warnervale at 3500ft, with still lots of clouds in the Kariong area. I found Warnervale aerodrome, which is not really a challenge given its prominent location between the Pacific Highway and Tuggerah Lake. One lonely Cessna 152 was doing circuits at Warnervale. I made a call on the CTAF frequency advising everyone I was overflying the aerodrome and kept tracking north.
Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wedderburn, Wallacia, Wilton: the hidden airfields of Sydney starting with "W"

I've become a bit obsessed with the subject of the airports, airfields and landing strips that either exist now or existed once in the greater Sydney region. You may have noticed a few posts on this subject recently... well here's another one!

I have previously mentioned Wedderburn. Wedderburn airfield has a single runway, 17/35 measuring approximately 950 m (3,120 ft) long. There are some interesting historical pics in the Sport Aircraft Club's gallery from the Campbelltown City Council collection. It's a post-war private field that has grown somewhat since closure of Hoxton Park.

I should mention Wallacia. Wallacia airstrip was on Park Rd, Wallacia. It is no longer in use, indeed it's not really visible to me at all - not a trace! I also have found little historical information on ownership or use. I do know that it was adjacent to a Wildlife Park (Bullen's Animal World) and was used as carparking during a music festival in 1971.

Wikipedia says this about Bullen's Animal World:  
Bullen's Animal World was a circus style theme park located at Wallacia on the outskirts of Sydney. Its address was 11 Park Road, Wallacia. It was opened in 1969 by Stafford Bullen, the son of circus founder Alfred Percival Bullen, and operated until 1985.

And there's Wilton, of course, an active former WWII "dispersal strip" with 3 crossing runways in a triangular arrangement. At least 2 runways are visibly operational. Wilton is a skydiving centre with  some growth occuring since the closure of Hoxton Park airstrip. Wilton is located along the Hume Motorway, south-west of Sydney.
Wilton was considered as the site for the "2nd" major airport for Sydney but after much opposition and consternation plus decades of indecision Badgery's Creek is the current formally selected and 'semi-funded' site. We'll see what happens, I guess!


Need more? Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Last post on this for a while - gliding out of Camden - a potted history of that airport

Camden Airport is roughly 50km (by air) south and west of Sydney. Originally a private airfield, or perhaps paddock, it was seconded for RAAF use as No 13 Operational Base, Camden, early in WWII.

Camden airfield was constructed circa 1935 on what had become the  Macarthur-Onslow family property. The actual original settlers in this area were indigenous, of course. Likely there were populations of Gandangara to the south, Darug to the north and Tharawal people to the east. Some evidence probably remains on the site.

Post-invasion and before the Macarthur-Onslow family moved in, circa 1812 around 400 acres of land beside the Nepean River was granted to Rowland Hassall. The property was named “Macquarie Grove” in honour of Governor Macquarie (who had of course granted Hassall the land). In 1877 however the land passed on, into the hands of the Hon. H.C. Dangar MLC (the Dangars were prominent players in the Colony). Dangar may have introduced a rifle range into the southern end of the property and may - possibly, by at least one account - also have established a racecourse (isn't there always a racecourse involved somewhere?) which remained on the site until the flying school began operations c.1938.

After Dangar the property passed through several hands until purchased by F.A. Macarthur-Onslow in 1916 - in his wife Lucy’s name - or was it Sylvia? (2 sources, 2 wives - hmmm.) So we should say Lucy/Sylvia bought it, but that's not how these things worked, is it?

Anyway, circa 1921 a remarkable Australian aviator of aircraft design fame, Edgar Percival returned home after service with the Royal Flying Corps and opened a small commercial aircraft business. Percival landed on the Macarthur-Onslow property in 1924, and proceeded to inspire the three Macarthur-Onslow sons, Denzil, Edward and Andrew to pursue aviation careers. A film was also shot on the property, involving horse racing and an AVRO 504 (piloted by Percival, apparently!)

With the help of H.E. Broadsmith they designed and built their own aircraft, the B4. Broadsmith was one of the partners (with Nigel Love) in an A.V. Roe (Avro) agency under the name of the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company Ltd, based at Mascot.

Edward Macarthur-Onslow, a member of the Camden troop of the 1st Light Horse which used the pastures of Macquarie Grove as a parade ground bought his first plane, a Hornet Moth, in 1935 and this and the Comper Swift owned by brother Denzil were housed in a garage on the property. The family also established the Macquarie Grove Flying School in 1938.

Of cousre we all can guess what happened next. In 1939 the newly-christened Macquarie Grove Aerodrome (and hangars) were seconded - happily handed over, really, although the family expected it back - by the Commonwealth for war purposes. Work began on the airfield to clear approaches and install about 50 prefabricated huts. The 1st Light Horse Garrison moved in to patrol the aerodrome. Camden became home to perhaps seven squadrons that undertook training, anti-submarine, convoy escort, reconnaissance, general air and meteorological tasks. The squadrons included No 457 Spitfire Squadron which arrived in November 1942 and No 15 General Reconaissance Bomber Squadron (equipped with Beauforts), formed at Camden in January 1944. A substantial US Army Air Corp contingent was based at the airport as well. 
RAAF Station, Camden was handed to the Department of Civil Aviation (note - not the Macarthur-Onslow family, who remain a bit taken aback at this move) on 15 September 1946. Ownership subsequently transferred to the new, more commercially-driven Federal Airports Corporation in 1988. That's when the "user pays" principle really kicked in and pressure was put on existing users to make the most of their presence on the airport. Or move.
Further paper-based 'ownership' changes occurred in 1998 to Sydney Airports Corporation Ltd and then division of that body into a separate Camden Airport Ltd in 2001, pending privatisation (by long-term commercial lease) in 2003.

Here's a useful location map which may be found in the 2010 Camden Airport Master Plan (see link at end, if you must).
My first experience of Camden was as an aircraft-mad Marrickville kid growing up in the mid 1960s - and my recollection is much as the 1953 description below. Very much a "WWII RAAF airfield" feel with the gate house and raised gate, the house on the hill and the buildings on the hillside, the twisting road down to the hangars and so on. Of course there was also the Camden Museum of Aviation, an absolute must-see at the time. Sadly the museum, like other hangar-based museums at the time, was "moved on" in recent years to make way for "real" aviation activity. I guess it was cheaper than building another hangar but the museum really hasn't re-opened since.

That's probably a Camden Aero Club DH Tiger Moth, circa 1969, right there.

My next recollection would be around 1976 or so, flying into Camden in a Cessna 150 and a Cherokee, practising touch-and-goes. I did taxi there, too, and the WWII-era RAAF Kittyhawk-width grooves were certainly for real.

And then again in the very late '70s or possibly early '80s (I really can't remember!) I took off and landed a German-built sailplane there, on a grass strip. As a powered-flying pilot I found a long, shallow and quite fast approach somewhat harrowing, especially given a successful go-around was unlikely!
 
Finally the airport had a complete revamp, new tower, the museum was booted out and eventually new private owners took charge. I haven't been there since.


Here's an historical gliding snippet. Click on the link to read it in full.
 
Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
The aerodrome area was originally a race track owned by Arthur Macarthur-Onslow. In 1919 a film called "Silks and Saddles" was being made which required a race between a horse and an Avro 504K, and the Camden track was ideal for shooting this sequence... ...Camden became Australia's first private aerodrome. Edward Macarthur-Onslow became a great personality in aviation and formed the Macquarie Grove Flying School which by 1939 employed more than thirty people in the workshops at Camden Aerodrome servicing about a dozen aircraft at all levels, including engine overhauls and propeller manufacture.

When World War 2 came, Edward Macarthur-Onslow made the aerodrome available to the Commonwealth Government "for the training of Australian war pilots". Then the RAAF moved in, and then the Americans, the elegant Macquarie Grove House on the aerodrome was turned into an officer's mess and the sergeants made even more of a "mess" of Hassell Cottage at the top of the hill... ...What the gliding people saw in 1953 was an almost intact example of a WW2 Air Force training base. Near the top of the hill at the bend in the road was a sentry box with boom gate and khaki painted wooden huts stretched in rows right down the hill to the hangers which were full of unwanted aircraft, mainly Avro Ansons... ...That so much should have remained in 1953 was remarkable. But no one else visited the place and it was like an old movie set of WW2. The gliding people were even given the use of a few wooden huts.
Camden still looked much like that in the late '60s and early '70s, sentry box, boom gate - the lot.  However things changed as a new control tower was built and the old museum was (im)politelty moved on.

Currently there are 17 hangar buildings and 100-150 movements per day, peaking at about 200 (2010 figures).  There are 2 main runways, 06/24 (main, lit, 1464m) and 10/28 (grass, unlit, 723m) plus 2 grass gliding strips in parallel (or almost!) to the main runways. Most aircraft movements are single-engined but the glider movements are not counted so who knows for sure?

I have some more Camden pics on Flickr (account: gtveloce).

An extra note here is the training status of Camden:
Camden, NSW is recorded as being the only Central Flying School (CFS) in the
country as at December 1941.34 This seems to be the case as sources claim the
CFS moved to Tamworth RAAF Base.35 Table 1 therefore lists the CFS as the
principal function at Tamworth.


There's even a master plan with more maps and a wealth of detail.


Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

The first glider flight in Australia (excluding box kites) - 1909, Narrabeen. Mentions also of Cronulla, Granville, Bunnerong

I've already quoted from the excellent Gliding.com.au site but here I go again, just for the record.

The first glider flight: Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
The first "glider" flight in Australia was made in December 1909 by George Taylor at Narrabeen, NSW. A special memorial has been erected opposite the Narrabeen Post Office to commemorate this feat. Taylor's partner was a young fellow by the name of Edward Halstrom who was to become a household name in Australia for his gas powered Silent Knight home refrigerators of the 1950s and his private zoo of rare animals.

Did you realise that there once was a Granville glider club? Or that they test flew at Duck Creek, Auburn? Well it was a while ago... but on the other hand I can remember the odd paddock strung along Parramatta Road in that area from Homebush to Parramatta, persisting until the 1970s at least.
 
Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
I spoke to Stan Rose who was later to become Secretary of the Southern Cross Club about the early days. In 1930, he saw the Granville Club's glider and was very impressed with it. Being a lad of 15, he went home and found a design of a hang glider in "Chums Annual" and decided to build it. It had about a 5 metre wingspan and was made of bamboo tied together with cord fishing line.

When the wings were ready for covering the only logical material was some bed sheets and these proved ideal although his mother put on no end of a performance when she found out. Ah, one of the first of many little differences of opinion caused by gliding.

So with the wing covering held on with flour and water glue, it was ready for test flying. The site was Duck Creek at Auburn and it was blowing a good westerly. Stan got up a bit of a run and with a good angle of attack, the thing jumped about five feet into the air. Next it dropped one wing, zoomed into the creek and clobbered the only tree stump in sight.
Gliding - or perhaps hang gliding - is not a surprise at the Cronulla/Kurnell sandhills.

Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
Harry Ryan, who was later the CFI of the Southern Cross Gliding Club, was one of the early pioneers of gliding. He had his first flights with Martin Warner and Alf Pelton who operated a German Primary glider from the sandhills at Cronulla in 1931.
But Bunnerong Park is a bit of a surprise. Especially in the dark.

Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
Another group was started by Jack Munn who designed and built the Falcon. They formed the Sydney Metropolitan Gliding Club and flew at Bunerong Park, about a kilometre from Mascot Airport. They flew by day and night and records show that the group often flew until midnight if the moonlight was bright enough. To help with night landings, a motor bike headlamp was fitted to the front of the machine and a motor bike battery tied inside the nacelle. When coming in to land, at a few feet off the ground, the pilot used his left hand to clip a lead onto the battery terminal.


Another "known unknown" airstrip near Sydney - Wedderburn, south of Campbelltown

NSW Sport Aircraft Club - Wedderburn
Become a member of the NSW Sports Aircraft Club Inc. and enjoy the general experience of belonging to a club dedicated to the private ownership of aircraft and to the comradeship of the aviation fraternity. Wedderburn was founded as an inexpensive venue for members to fly, house their aircraft and fraternize with aviation minded people. And it continues to adhere to those principals today. So ideally it is the Flying Club there for your pleasure---- not simply a place to park your aircraft.


Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Sydney's Castlereagh dragstrip, formerly a WWII RAAF 'dispersal' airstrip

In my memory it's an airstrip marked on some 40's and even '50s Sydney street directories, well north of Penrith on the road between that city and Richmond. Later it became marked on maps as a dragstrip, before that too was closed and drag racing moved to Eastern Creek.

A composite map I made from Google Maps and Penrith City Council maps. It's approximate but pretty close (I think) to the airstrip alignment. If you view that location on a Google map you can see the faint outline of the airstrip on that south-west-north-east alignment.
 
According to Penrith City Council records drag racing was held on the site of the original Castlereagh Airstrip, used as an 'emergency strip' during the 1930s and during WWII (when it was a dispersal strip for RAAF Richmond). While drag racing had taken place as early as 1947, it wasn't until 1959, when the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) took over, that 'official' or organised racing began. This was the first recorded instance of "U.S.-style" dragsters racing in NSW. The 40 hectare area was leased from Walter Properties Pty Ltd, presumably the post-war owners of the airstrip land.

Subsequent to the ARDC's operations racing was also organised by the Manly-Warringah Sporting Car Club from 1962 to 1965. The NSW Hot Rod Association ran races here after that time.

The name of the track was changed to "Castlereagh International Dragway" c.1971 and racing continued until 1984, when the track was closed. An earlier threat occurred in 1982 when Penrith Council put in a development application to remove gravel from the land in Hinxman Road. However the council resubmitted its application excluding the drag strip from the application.

Closure came when the dragway lease on at least part of the land owned by Walters Properties expired in April 1984. The owners chose not to renew the lease, instead entering into a joint venture with Oakes Building Co. to develop a total of 115 hectares into 54 five acre blocks. This was to be called the Castlecrest (or possibly Castlereagh) Country Estate.  

Wikipedia's description: "Castlereagh Aerodrome was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) emergency landing ground and dispersal ground during World War II at Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia. The runway was 5,000 ft long (1,500 m) x 150 ft wide (46 m). The airfield was to become home to No. 94 Squadron's Mosquito aircraft and had been upgraded by No. 9 Airfield Construction Squadron, however the aircraft did not arrive before No. 94 Squadron was relocated to RAAF Base Richmond and disbanded. After disposal by the RAAF, the airfield was used as a drag strip from the early 1960s eventually closing in April 1984, becoming Castlereagh Country Estate."

OzAtWar says this: "Castlereagh airfield was used as an Emergency Landing Ground (ELG) during WW2. In 1947 the airfield was used as a drag strip. The Australian Racing Drivers Club took over in 1959 and it was from this time that US style dragsters were raced in New South Wales for the first time. The Manly Warringah Sporting Club managed the complex from 1962 through to 1965. The NSW Hot Rod Association then took over. It became known as the Castlereagh International Dragway in 1971. The drag track eventually closed in April 1984. The area then became part of the 115 hectare Castlereagh Country Estate comprising 54 five acre blocks. The north western end of the Castlereagh airfield started east of the southern end of West Wilchard Road and ran north east up to Hinxman Road. It crossed Sheredan Road near the intersection with Jolly Street."



Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Fleurs, the US Navy, a WWII airstrip and the CSIRO

Fleurs is located in western Sydney along Elizabeth Drive out of Liverpool. Kemps Creek is close to the south east and Badgery's Creek is south west. It was the site for a US Naval Air Wing during World War II with a host of satellite airfields nearby. Kind of ironic that we let this infrastructure slide after the war, only to have to rebuild it nearby (if on a far grander scale) just a few decades later.

So what was Fleurs? Of course it would have been home to generations of indigenous people before it became an aerodrome, after which is became an airfield popular amongst post-war gliding clubs. After that the CSIRO established a radiophysics facility that was handed over to firstly the University of Sydney and then to the University of Western Sydney. Nowadays it looks at least partly privately-owned (or leased?) with at least a substantial portion remaining in public ownership. At least that's how it looks - you may know more!

Anyway, here's a location map, courtesy Google maps (my extra edits though): 
Wikipedia has this to say:

Fleurs Aerodrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fleurs Aerodrome was a parent aerodrome built on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force near Penrith, New South Wales, Australia during World War II.

Construction started on the aerodrome in 1942 and was still under construction in 1944 as part of a proposal to base a United States Navy Fleet Air Wing in Sydney should the need arise. Initially planned with three runways, No.1 (5000ft) and No. 3 (6000ft) runways were serviceable, however construction of No. 2 runway (5000ft) was abandoned. A total of eight aircraft dispersal hideouts were constructed and accommodation was a farm house and a former Civil Constructional Corps camp.

In 1969, Fleurs was considered as a site of the second airport for Sydney. The aerodrome is now utilised as precision ground-reflection antenna range operated by the University of Sydney, known as the Fleurs Radio Observatory.
Well, it was an Radiophysics observatory. Not any more, though! And no, I haven't managed to pin down that suggested operational 2nd runway, although I'd guess it crossed the obvious remaining strip and ran roughly northwest by south east, based mostly on the available land. The image I've made (below) combines a map available from the earlier CSIRO link (above) with Google's data... as I said, at least one runway is plain to see!
 And what were these "parent" aerodromes, satellites and "dispersal fields"? Well (apparently)
"...Satellite aerodromes were constructed to alleviate congestion at ‘parent’ aerodromes. The degree of congestion at any of the ‘parents’ could be indicated by the number of satellites. For instance, in Western Sydney between Blacktown and Penrith (at the foot of the Blue Mountains), Fleur
had five satellites. Fleur was a Station for the United States Navy Fleet Air Arm (USN FAA). As Australia needed the assistance of the US with its extensive defence assets, the government considered it appropriate to provide any necessary infrastructure from which the US fleet could base itself in the southern hemisphere. It was an objective of the US Navy to have one ‘parent’ and six dispersal airfields in the Sydney region and Fleur met this requirement. The presence of the US in the State and at its aerodromes is obviously significant due to their success in the South-West Pacific Area campaign."


Post-war there is an extensive history of gliding (or sailplaning) at Fleurs. The primary driver appeared to be the Southern Cross Gliding Club, although several other clubs were certainly present. The club moved operations to Camden aerodrome c.1954 citing "smooth runways" and "the CSIRO were coming to take Fleurs anyway". Fair enough then.  

Interestingly there's a private airstrip at Luddenham, just 6km or so from Fleurs. (If you check it out today on Google Maps you'll find what looks like a Cessna 337 parked outside a small hangar.)  


There are 3 wartime images on Flickr showing a bit of real, historic Fleurs activity: a Bell Airacobra (and again, but maybe not Fleurs?) and a suspected '24 Oldsmobile.And the State Library of NSW has a general ground-level view of of Fleurs: "40 degrees from crest at 3950 foot on runway looking south west".

As an aside, here are some Sydney gliding history dot points (and yes, I have flown from Camden in a club glider and managed to land it again - just once was enough!):
  • The first “glider” flight in Australia was made in December 1909 by George Taylor at Narrabeen, NSW. It was more like a hang-glider but does it really matter?
  • There was a Granville Glider Club c.1930
  • A test flight was conducted c.1930 at Duck Creek, Auburn
  • Flights were conducted from the Cronulla sandhills, c.1931
  • And Nowra, 1936
  • Narromine, 1940
  • Matraville, 1941
  • Bunnerong (later Heffron) Park, c.1945
  • Doonside, 1946 (close to Fleurs)
  • Fleurs, c.1946 and 
  • Camden at least from c.1953 (probably earlier).   
Some selected sources (apart from Google Maps):
And more to read on this site:

RAAF Wallgrove Aerodrome - yet more on another Sydney airstrip - AKA OTC Doonside

Getting confused yet? The WWII airstrip at Wallgrove (or Doonside) is just 3km or so from the Fleurs airstrip. Sydney was ringed with the darned things, apparently. This one was located near a WWII US Army base, apparently. It was a satellite airfield.

Wallgrove Aerodrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wallgrove Aerodrome was a Royal Australian Air Force satellite and emergency airfield at Doonside, New South Wales, Australia during World War II.

The aerodrome was built in 1942 and the runway was 5000ft (1524m) long and 150ft (45.72m) wide running NW-SW. After World War 2 the aerodrome was closed in 1946 and reverted to farmland.

A number of former revetments are still in existence and the runway can still be located. A industrial area has been built over the southern end of the aerodrome.
This is Darug people's land and important Bungarribee Creek catchment. The location is also within historic "Bungarribee" farmland in what is now Western Sydney Parklands. Bungarribee is bounded to the west by the M7 Motorway, to the south by the Great Western Highway and to the east by Doonside Road. Some of the airfield has been lost to the south and east by development.


The map is a composite of images found on the web, overlaid on a Google Map view of the area.

"The military’s interest in the site was for the construction of an airfield to serve as a training site and as an overshoot runway for the nearby Schofields airbase. A runway was constructed of compressed gravel with aircraft hides and taxi ways to the south. The runway extended on the southern side of Bungarribee Creek, in a southwesterly direction from close to the junction of Eastern and Bungarribee Creeks, crossing Doonside Road and ending near McCormack Street (Arndell Park), approximately 1.8km in length." NSW Planning "Bungarribee Homestead" documentation
Post-war the site was released by the RAAF into the hands of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, a government body set up to take over what had been mostly coastal marine HF communications held in private as well as public, including wartime RAN, hands. This new body handled international telecoms in a similar manner to the handling of domestic communications by the PMG. Later OTC was merged with Telecom Australia to form the original Telstra. Telstra being subsequently privatised. More historical detail may be found here.

The Wallgrove airfield site thus became the "OTC HF Transmission (Doonside)" establishment, complementing the "Receiving (Bringelly) station". I presume that's also the RAAF site at Bringelly. Or perhaps adjacent to the RAAF?

Previous to Doonside, Sydney Radio (VIS) was established on a 40 acre site at Pennant Hills in 1912, remaining in place for various services until after the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. 
The Pennant Hills site, as it is now in 2014 (Google Maps image). More Pennant Hills OTC history may be found here. Long-range HF operations were subsequently moved to La Perouse in February 1927. In 1956 a new HF transmitting station opened at Doonside which was remotely controlled from La Perouse. See also this Coastradio site. And this extensive exOTC History.

Sources include NSW Planning, Ozatwar and exOTC.

Don't forget to checkout Fleurs, just 3km by air to the south and west.  Or perhaps Mt Druitt, about the same distance (or less!) to the west.

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

There is also an excellent heritage study available from NSW Environment and Heritage. On that page search for "World War II Aerodromes and Associated Structures in NSW".
 

RAAF Marsden Park - yet another WWII Sydney area airstrip

Marsden Park airstrip, a WWII dispersal airstrip and later motorsport venue. May have also been called "Berkshire Park", a neighbouring locale. (Or they were two separate airstrips!) Close also to Schofields and Richmond. Marsden Park, despite references suggesting the contrary, is not Pitt Town, another neighbouring dispersal strip to the north and east of Richmond.  
Somewhere in that Google Maps image is a clue to where Marsden Park airstrip actually was...

From the Penrith City Heritage Study, Berkshire Park: "Aerial photographs of the early 1970s show the land west of St. Marys Road was open forest, with a cleared area of the Second World War era diversionary airstrip." The area described, top left of the Google map, is now developed.

Meanwhile, I've found an interesting link between this airstrip and Australian F1 motorsport engineer Ron Tauranac: "Ron Tauranac was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia but lived and worked for most of his life in England. He will be known as one of the great race car designers covering the early Brabhams, the Ralts of the 1970s and 1980s, and less-well known the Theodore F1 car. Ron gained his initial experience of engineering with a local company CSR Chemicals, and bought himself an Austin 7. Out for a drive one Sunday, he came across a race meeting at Marsden Park airfield, near Pittown, Sydney. His interest was sparked, and he quickly met up with the Hooper brothers, of motorcycle repairers Hooper & Napier. The brothers were in the process of building their own 500cc car, using a dirt-track JAP in a very simple chassis." Full story here
Marsden Park Aerodrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Marsden Park Aerodrome was an aerodrome constructed by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) near Marsden Park, New South Wales, Australia during World War II.

The aerodrome was built in 1942, as a relief landing ground for RAAF Base Richmond, with a runway 5,000 feet (1,500 m) long and 150 feet (46 m) wide. A number of RAAF radar stations; No's 169, 170, 309 & 312 were located around the aerodrome during separate times. The aerodrome was abandoned after World War II and was briefly used as a motorsport facility in the 1950's.
Whilst it's hard to miss a 1,500m airstrip it has been almost 70 years and the land may have been redeveloped or simply ploughed out of existence.

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Love this story of meeting "Mr Lake" of Lake Road, Tuggerah

Woy Woy.net -A  Woy Woy Weblog
On the way out to the site I saw an old bloke walking a greyhound down the road and I pulled over to ask him if he knew of the airfield.
In a stroke of luck he did indeed know of the strip and pointed over the fence from where we were and said " that's it there " - right in the spot I suspected , he also told me to go see a local further down the road who had lived here all his life.
So I drove to the end of Lake road to see the " Mr Lake " , that was what the greyhound guy called him.


CSIRO radiophysics and RAAF Fleurs - the Sydney airstrip at Badgery's Creek

As I've mentioned several times before Sydney and nearby towns played host to a number of wartime airstrips including The Oaks, Cordeaux, Schofields, Hoxton Park and Woy Woy amongst many others. Some of these remain usable but others were re-used as motor racing tracks or simply became disused.

So here's RAAF Fleur (or Fleurs), another one with an interesting post-war use.

The CSIRO connection - Flowering_of_Fleurs
Fleurs is situated about 40 km west-south-west of central Sydney near Badgery's Creek, and occupies an expanse of flat land between South Creek and Kemps Creek adjacent to a disused WWII air strip. Between 1954 and 1963, Fleurs was the leading field station of the CSIRO's Division of Radiophysics, and was home to three innovative cross-type radio telescopes, the Mills Cross, Shain Cross and the Chris Cross (Figure 1), all of which played important roles in furthering international radio astronomy (Robertson, 1992). This article discusses these radio telescopes, and the research that was carried out at the Fleurs field station.
The Gliding connection - Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
In 1946 the AWA Club moved to a disused wartime emergency strip just west of Cabramatta called Fleurs Airstrip which was only 3 Km away from the Doonside airfield. It was to become more or less a permanent home for gliding operations. Being on the bend of a river, it used to flood regularly and when a hanger was finally built the machines were always lifted up on top of 200 litre drums as a safety measure. On visiting the strip after one of these floods, the first job was always to retrieve the toilet hut which always seemed to be a couple of kilometres downstream.

At the end of '46 things were pretty busy at Fleurs. The clubs operating from there were the AWA Club, Sydney Metropolitan, Cumberland-Phoenix (now amalgamated) and occasionally Sydney Soaring.
Gliding moves to Camden - Southern Cross Gliding Club, Sydney
Late in 1953 the NSW Gliding Association decided to hold a "gliding pageant" at Camden. The Hinkler and Sydney Soaring Clubs were already flying their sailplanes from this site. Although the Southern Cross membership was down to five, they loaded the old Primary onto an antique Bedford truck and decided to attend the pageant as well.

They were very impressed with the long smooth Camden runways and decided not to return to Fleurs Airstrip which was destined to be taken over by the CSIRO for the Maltese Cross Radio Telescope. Besides Camden was totally deserted apart from a few gliding people and a locally owned Macarthur-Onslow Hornet Moth which rarely flew.
Not enough detail? Well I've written a lot more and added some pics about Fleur in this post.

And here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

Some initial investigations into the history of the Sydney-Newcastle or F3 freeway

Before the F3 there was the Pacific Highway - a wondrously snaking road that originally crossed the Hawkesbury at Peats' ferry. And what a marvellous way to cross a mighty river - slowly. Just imagine the queues at either end these days! Well the ferry ended in c1945 (although there are substantial remains at each end) and the replacement bridge is still in use. (Let's not forget the rail bridges downstream, either, and the remnants of the original rail route.) Alas the F3 did away with the old and swept in the new, but it's still interesting to reflect on how we got where we are now, and the options that were spurned.

So why replace the old road? Traffic - too much of it. I do remember the traffic jams at the Hawkesbury crossing and at Wyong. Endless jams. And my father's car boiling over in summer. One time we stopped at a creek on the old highway and topped up with pure river water, bellbirds tinkling around us. I also remember my father dodging the 20cent toll. Doesn't seem like a lot now but "toll dodging" (usually by joining or exiting the "freeway" at Mount White) remained a popular sport for years, until the toll was lifted.
 
Ozroads: Sydney-Newcastle Freeway
Following World War II, it was glaringly obvious that the existing route between Sydney and Newcastle, not even 20 years old by that time, was completely inadequate for the amount of traffic it carried. By 1960, traffic across the 3-lane Peats Ferry Bridge had reached a daily average of 6,600 vehicles, rising to over 18,000 per day in holiday times. The existing two-lane, winding alignment was unsuitable to carry this amount of traffic, let alone any future increase, and there was considerable local-through traffic conflict through the busy town centres of Gosford, Wyong, Swansea and Belmont.
Interesting that the government of the day considered a private toll-road at the time but was pressured by its own bureaucrats to fund it publicly, even if a small toll was still required. It would have brought forward the idea of a "public-private partneship" by some years, had it gone ahead. Of course money for infrastructure was always - and remains - the main issue in a country so big in area yet small in population.
 
Ozroads: Sydney-Newcastle Freeway
the DMR was always against letting the private sector construct such an important project and the commissioner of the time, Howard Sherrard, threatened to resign when the government decided it would take Solomon up on his offer. This caused the government to abandon the private sector idea, and announce in January 1962 that it had accepted a proposal from the DMR for the construction of a four-lane expressway that would not only connect Sydney and Newcastle but form part of an improved route to the north and north-west of the state. In 1965, the proposal was refined to include a new route across Mooney Mooney Creek downstream from the Pacific Hwy crossing that would render the existing Peats Ridge route redundant. However, it was recognised that construction would not be possible until at least the mid-1970's due to financial restrictions.


Although there's a lot more that interests me about the F3, I'll also link to this history of Peats Ridge Road and allow you to read the details. If you ever drive this road (which proceeds northwards from Calga to almost Ourimbah) you'll be struck by its mostly excellent construction, its width and general feeling of over-engineering for the current task. And of you are old enough to remember when it was a national highway you'll understand why! Personally I remember stopping at the Oak roadhouse at Peats Ridge (now a strip of shops including a cafe with some memorabilia to look over) on a number of occasions, including when it must have been quite fresh and new. (There's another roadhouse at the old road on the southern side of the Hawkesbury, near Brooklyn - unused and strangely moth-balled but well worth a look-see.)    

Ozroads: Former NH1 Peats Ridge Rd
Peats Ridge Road itself was constructed purposely by the DMR to take the National Highway 1 shield (then National Route 1) as the main route between Sydney & Newcastle. However, it was not given the NH1 shield until the arrival of federal funding via the National Highway system in 1974. Prior to this, the route was signposted as either 'Newcastle via Peats Ridge' or 'Sydney via Peats Ridge'.

Peats Ridge Rd carried the steadily increasing expressway traffic for 22 years (12 years as NH1) until the 7km shorter expressway route between Calga and Somersby opened to traffic. Some of the original route was retained, the 7km between Somersby and Ourimbah was duplicated and incorporated into the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. National Highway 1 was removed from Peats Ridge Rd in December 1986