Tag Archives: history

Old photos from the Ku-Ring-Gai area

Ku-Ring-Gai library has been posting old photos from the area ( including some from Garigal ) to it’s Flickr account . What a great way to make access to it’s archives more convenient. I didn’t even know the library had the photos until I came across one of their online postings by fluke when searching for pictures of Bungaroo.

William Henry, the first settler in the Lane Cove Valley. circa 1860.

There are well over 1000 photos in their stream, and they seem to post a new batch every few weeks. Having lived in the area for a while I’ve found it addictive to browse through them and recognize familiar locations back when they were a rugged frontier.

Road filling work being undertaken in Vale Street, Gordon. A Dennis truck can be seen tipping. Mr C. Bowes Thistlethwayte and three children can be seen standing near his car in the foreground.

Unfortunately many of the photos are not labeled making them hard to identify, and also hard for people to discover when searching. ( I was lucky to be searching for one of the few photos with a label. ) I wrote to the library asking them if they had any information on the unlabeled photos. They do! They are working on linking the images back to the library catalog and then posting some of the information back to their Flickr stream. Apparently a large and time consuming job, not something that will be done anytime soon. But they did give information on how to search the catalog for information on each photo myself!

Go to http://library.kmc.nsw.gov.au
Click on the “Find information” link on the left hand side and chose catalog. Next, select the advanced search. In the fourth drop down menu labelled “Dewey class”, change this to “Call number”. Type in “photo” in the field along with the last four digits of the flickr photograph title and press search.

For example for the photo labelled “0044593“. Follow the above sets and type in photo 4720.


Their latest batch of posts are mostly on the constructions of Lady Game Drive  and Lane Cove National Park. Here’s a selection with annotations from the catalog:

Shows three men including Mr. C. Bowes Thistlethwayte standing at Horse Shoe Bend on Bradfield Road above the Lane Cove National Park. ( 1937? )
Shows the stone wall of the culvert at De Burgh Creek being constructed. Two horse and cart teams can be seen in the background. The culvert was part of the construction work for Lady Game Drive. ( 1934 )
Qarryman working at Pymble Quarry circa 1930 ( where was this? that looks like columnar basalt )
Shows men working on the construction of Lady Game Drive. Site is above Little Blue Gum Creek, Lindfield. 1937
Shows tents on the Australasian Scout Jamboree site at Bradfield (now West Lindfield), which ran from December 1938 to January 1939.

The full Flickr stream can be found here.









Bungaroo is an area located within Garigal National Park around the tidal limit of Middle Harbour Creek. It’s accessible by boat (at high tide) or bush track, even so it’s a wild area with a feeling of remoteness, it’s easy to forget how close it is to civilization. Bungaroo is also of historical significance to the early colony of New South Wales. It was at this spot that Governor Phillip camped with a small exploration party on April 16, 1788.

Middle Harbour Ck crossing at Bungaroo, looking east (upstream) about 150m from the tidal limit

My interest in Bungaroo was sparked when I was contacted by a man named John Byrnes about any information I had about the area. After numerous emails it was clear that Bungeroo is of great interest to John and he’s somewhat of an authority on the place. Much of what follows is from articles John sent me and documents he’s uncovered.

Not long after their arrival at Sydney in 1788 the new colony was having trouble getting crops established, not surprising considering the poor soil in the vicinity of Sydney cove. The animals they had brought with them were not doing well, many of the sheep had died and the chooks and roosters were not breeding. To save the colony from starvation Phillip set out on an expedition with a small group of men with the intention of locating fertile land capable of supporting the new colony. They  left Sydney on April 15th, travelling overland from Manly to Middle Harbour River all the way to the tidal limit at Bungeroo. Here they  they camped. The next day they climbed out of the valley and made their way up to the ridge line that is now occupied by the pacific Highway in the vicinity of Turramurra station. It was here where they glimpsed the blue mountains in the west. As a man of the world Phillip knew that large mountains meant a large river, which in turn meant fertile alluvial flats. The agricultural future of the colony lay in the west! They were back at Bungeroo that night, Phillip and his party returned to Sydney on April 18th.

Fresh water cascades down a rock into a deep pool at the tidal limit of Middle Harbour Ck

So resolute was Phillip to reach those mountains that just four days later, and before he had fully recovered from from the effects of the first trip, a similar party set off again directly westwards from Sydney on the 22nd April. They had much better rations but only reached as far as a hill that Phillip christened “Bellvue Hill”. They had then reached what we now call Prospect Hill – with an even better view of the Mountains. It took the English a bit longer to reach the Mountains and the expected big river, but reach it they did – and as anticipated it did become the food bowl of the Colony

Phillip sent a report of his Bungaroo expedition back to England, addressed to Lord Sydney, on the 15th May 1788, and here is what he wrote:

“The country we passed thro’ when we left the low grounds was the most rocky and barren I ever saw; the ascending and descending of the mountains being practicable only in particular places, but covered in flowering shrubs; and when about fifteen miles from the sea-coast we had a very fine view of the mountains inland, the northernmost of which I named Carmathen Hills and the southernmost Landsdown Hills.  A mountain between I called Richmond Hill, and from the rising of these mountains I did not doubt but that a large river would be found”.

From the early 20th century Bungaroo has been used by many as a picnic and camping spot, today there are well marked tracks through the area, although it would look pretty much as it did in 1788 when Phillip visited.

Sign at Bungaroo
Bungaroo track sign

There’s more detail on Bungaroo and it’s later use in this document obtained from Ku-Ring-Gai Library by John. Short histories and oral statements on Bungaroo

If you know of any more information on Bungaroo and it’s history John and myself would love to hear, you can contact us here.