Closer to Campbelltown than Picton, the village of Appin (settled in 1810) is the oldest town in the Wollondilly Shire, and one of the first villages in New South Wales. Some of the first land grants here can still be seen in the names of the farms on the right hand side of the road from Campbelltown. This land has been farmed continually for almost 190 years - for wheat, barley, and vegetables for the Sydney market in the earliest days, and later dairying and fodder for horses.
Appin is the last township on the route through Campbelltown down the escarpment to Wollongong, and if you go straight ahead at the intersection after town, you can still follow the old route inland - down Broughton Pass over the Cataract River, through Wilton - to old Stonequarry (Picton), and to the Highlands and beyond.
Among Appin's free settlers was Andrew Hamilton Hume, father of the explorer Hamilton Hume. Hamilton and his brother John were tireless investigators of the local countryside, often journeying in the company of Duall, a Dharawal man. Hamilton Hume became an expert bushman, and was well-prepared for major exploration when he set out in 1824 from 'Humewood', in the company of William Hovell, to explore the land between the Sydney settlements and Port Phillip, at the request of Governor Brisbane. A cairn on Appin Road marks the approximation location of 'Humewood', from where they began their journey.
Throughout the nineteenth century Appin remained mostly a farming community, civic life being centred on nearby Campbelltown, which explains the lack of the village square common in Georgian towns. Similarly there are few early buildings still standing, though those that remain warrant a look. They include the old schoolhouse 91868), the Catholic and Anglican churches (both c.1841), the old police station (1814 - closed and moved to Campbelltown 1933) now a private residence, and around the corner early church school (now much renovated as a home). There is also the stone corner section of which was part of the first hotel (Appin Inn, 1826); the Appin Hotel of today was built in 1930, not far from the site of another early inn. A few blocks to the west of town are playing fields, and a memorial to 14 colliers who died in a local mine tragedy in 1979.
Appin is the birthplace of John Fuller, better known as the bushranger Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan.
The drive through Broughton Pass takes you down into the valley of and across the picturesque Cataract River. The Broughton Pass Weir was built in the early 1880s and was part of the Upper Nepean Water Supply Scheme. Access is via Wilton Road just south of Appin. Broughton Pass offers its best views after periods of heavy rain when the Cascade waterfall, upstream from the bridge and weir, spills its waters into the Cataract River. There is no access to the weir area as it is a restricted site.
Broughton Pass was the site of a low point in the history of relationships between the colonial white settlers and the indigenous population. The Dharawal people made friendships among several Appin settlers, but others came into conflict. In 1814, both Aborigines and Europeans died in skirmishes, usually over stolen crops. After further deaths at Bringelly Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent a punitive expedition to round up all Aborigines in the area. Those who resisted were to be shot. On 16 April, at least 14 were killed by shooting; others were driven to jump to their deaths into a rocky gorge, near Broughton Pass. Broughton Pass is named after Deputy Commissary General W. Broughton, who, in tribute to the Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, named his grant Lachlan Vale.
Bounded by Lake Cataract, Lake Woronora, Appin and Holsworthy, this reserve shelters threatened plants and animals in the Sydney sandstone region and has important Aboriginal sites. Location: 45 km south-west of Sydney CBD, access is from Darkes Forest Road off the Princes Highway or the Bulli-Appin Road. Educational walks are available through the park.
No direct access by public transport.
Minerva Pool, Dharawal National Park: this pool is a near-perfect 40m oval, enclosed by a horseshoe-shaped rock platform, with a huge monolithic boulder standing like a sentinel opposite. The water is clean and deep and good for jumping into. A waterfall flows continuously into the pool, thanks to the hanging swamps upstream in the park. Avoid of jumping straight in from the rock ledge, the water in these pools is often murky and there are unseen hazards at places below the surface. Enter is from carpark at end of Victoria Road, Wedderburn. The pool is a 30 minutes/1.5km bush walk from the car park. Jingga Pool (below) is nearby and accessed by the same track.
families increased the population of the town (there were even two extra schools for a while). Construction of the Cataract Dam was the major step towards the ultimate provision of a reliable water supply for Sydney. It is the first of the major water supply dams to be built in Australia, being larger than both of the earlier Avon and Nepean Dams. The dam was a testing ground for engineering innovation and structural technology, being the first water storage apparatus constructed within Australia to utilise the cyclopean masonry civil engineering technique. Further to this, the building team made extensive use of electricity as a powerful new construction tool, and used production line techniques for the quarrying of stone blocks for the first time.
The dam is built of cyclopean masonry, composed of sandstone blocks weighing from two to four and a half tons. These were quarried at the site and bedded in cement mortar. The vertical joints were filled with basalt or sandstone concrete. The upstream face consisted of basalt concrete moulded blocks set in a cement mortar. The downstream face was of basalt concrete, 1.8m thick in the lower section and 0.9m thick in the upper section. There were two lines of 122 cm diameter pipes which passed through the dam and discharged water into the river. The flow is controlled by a Larner Johnson Needle valve. The upstream parapet was castellated with sandstone blocks while the top of the downstream wall was corbelled in concrete. The water from Cataract is discharged into the Cataract River downstream to Broughton's Pass. From here it is diverted into the Cataract tunnel, the first of the Upper Canal structures by which it is conveyed to Prospect reservoir. The total cost of construction of the dam was 329,136 pounds.
The reservoir was filled to capacity for the first time on 13 January 1911. However, it was realised that the spillway should be widened to avoid the risk of floodwaters over topping the wall. This work was completed in 1915. Cataract Dam presently serves the suburbs to the west of Sydney and those of Wollongong, and remains a symbol of engineering innovation at the turn of the century. It provides a venue for passive recreation within the cartilage of the dam and its immediate surrounding catchment. The public area surrounding the dam is maintained and a large picnic area, shelter sheds, fireplaces and playground area are provided amongst attractive gardens. The site contains many intact elements of the early 20th century landscape design scheme. The Cataract Dam (on the road to Wollongong) has first class picnic facilities, beautiful bushland and spectacular views of the dam: a great place for a family outing, BBQs and entrance free.
Beulah homestead with outbuildings behind. Photo: Paolo Busato
Beulah, on Appin Road south of Campbelltown, is a unique property that combines elements of both heritage and environmental significance. The site contains a state-significant 1830s stone homestead and surrounding farm outbuildings alongside 60 hectares of critically endangered woodlands. Its history includes entrepreneurial Irish convicts and one of NSW s most significant settlement families.
Until recently, the Beulah homestead was generally assumed to have been built by one of the Hume family and the property has derived a great deal of its significance from this association. New research by Megan Martin, SLM s Head of Collections and Access, has uncovered a different story which sheds new light on the story of Irish convicts in Australia. The Beulah farmhouse was built around 1835-1836 by an emancipated Irish convict named Connor, or Cornelius, Boland, a native of County Clare, transported on the Three Bees in 1814.
Marhnyes Hole on the Georges River has long been a popular swimming and picnic spot. It was named after William Mohony, who had a 40 acre land grant on the Appin Road roughly opposite the hole. Mahony arrived in Sydney as a convict from Ireland in 1802. An early Appin resident carved the name "Marhnyes Hole" into surrounding rock and accidentally changed the spelling of the location forever. The pool was enlarged and stabalised with the construction of a weir some time before 1930. The weir was built by poultry farmer Charles Stephens, who was also an engineer at Monier, to provide water for his poultry farm. The weir is formed of roughly shaped sandstone blocks which create an artificial waterfall down into the hole.