Location: Middle Harbour
One of the residential suburbs of Sydney's Lower North Shore, Cammeray is the northern neighbour of North Sydney and Neutral Bay. Facing Long Bay on Middle Harbour, Cammeray is named after the original Aboriginal inhabitants of this part of the Lower North Shore, the Cammeraygal, reputed to be a group of fierce fighters. A number of small dairy farms operated here until the 1880s when it became one of the first parts of the Lower North Shore to be developed as a residential area.
There are two Long Bays in the Sydney region, one being a large inlet on Middle Harbour on Sydney's Lower North Shore. The bay, which incorporates the lesser waterways of Quakers Hat Bay, Wreck Bay (Salt Pan Creek) and Willoughby Bay, is surrounded by the affluent suburbs of Northbridge, Cammeray, Cremorne Junction and Beauty Point, Mosman. The residents of which make full use of the bay for the archorage and maintenance of their pleasure craft.
In spite of the encroachment of suburbia which now encircles it, Long Bay still retains much of its natural brauty, and the parks and reserves on its shores are popular places for family picnics and walks.
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Before the arrival of white settlers to the Sydney region in 1788, the area at the head of Willoughby Bay that is today known as Primrose Park, was marshland and a popular feasting site for the local Aboriginal peoples. The earth and area surrounding the tip of Folly point is still full of the remnants of shells and bones.
After colonisation, the location became a popular picnic spot among the white population too. In those days, the land around Middle Harbour was virgin bush, and many of the streams brought excess rainwater from the escarpments and cascaded into the valley below via picturesque waterfalls. The only one of these to have survived is Willoughby Falls. Back then, picnickers would walk to the waterfall's base via a bush track from a jetty on Willoughby Bay. Alternatively, they would approach the top via a bush track to Folly Point that eventually became Cammeray Road.
The construction of a sewerage works and septic tanks, the remains of which can be seen today in Primrose Park, stemmed the stream of visitors to the falls, though this trend was reversed when the works were closed and the area opened up for use by sporting groups.
The retention of the open space of Cammeray Golf Course above the falls has preserved enough of the catchment from which the watercourse is fed to keep the stream flowing. Channelling from the golf course to the head of the falls, along with the preservation of a small pocket of bush around the cascade has ensured the location has retained as much of its charm as is possible.
UBD Map 216 Ref H 5. Primrose Park, Cammeray.
Facilities: toilets, grassed area, sports fields.
Public transport: bus No. 263 from Wynyard. Alight at falls in Grafton Street.
In the days before Sydney's lower north shore had become part of suburbia, the runoff from the hillsides of Willoughby, Northbridge, Narremburn and Crows Nest drained into Long Bay and Middle Harbour via Flat Rock Creek. Munro Park and Tunks Park were created by the filling in of the middle and lower sections of the valley in the 1920s, to create a number of playing fields.
A walk up the valley is a rewarding experience. The view upwards as you pass under the Northbridge Suspension Bridge is not something one sees every day. Beyond the bridge is the rock quary from which stone for the bridge piers was hewn and brought to the construction site by barge. In those days, the creek was navigable as far as the quarry. Unused sandstone blocks remain there today. Beyond the quarry, the path wanders through the serene natural bushland of the upper valley.
Beyond stepping stones across the creek, the valley narrows and becomes a gorge where the creek paases over a series of picturesque cascades. Two steep paths lead from the falls to Flat Rock Gully Reserve and Bicentennial Reserve on Small Street, Willoughby. Dawson's Track passes the ruins of the stone house of Fatty Dawson.
Facilities: toilets, grassed areas, sports fields, boat launching ramp.
UBD Map 22 Ref P 5. Brothers Avenue, Cammeray.
Public transport: bus No. 263 from Wynyard, alight Cnr Carter St and Strathford La, walk down Strathford La, right into Alan St, left into Strathford St, right into Brothers Ave.
Built in 1894 as a suspension bridge by a private company to give access to its new land subdivisions at Northbridge. While the bridge was popular, such can not be said of the land which suffered from being released at the beginning of an economic depression as well as being seen as too isolated.
After World War I, land sales took off and the bridge saw increased use. In the 1930s when the Government took over ownership of the bridge the steel cables were found to be showing signs of corrosion. The cables were removed and the bridge's support became a 104m long concrete arch built underneath the roadway. The deck and stone castellated towers were retained to keep the bridge looking as close to its original form as possible. The changes were completed in 1937.
UBD Map 216 Ref E 2. Strathallen Avenue, Northbridge.
Public transport: bus No. 202, 203, 205, 207, 208 from Wynyard, alight at bridge.
Bicentennial Reserve is located in what was the upper valley of Flat Rock Creek in the neighbouring suburb of Willoughby. Early last century, the creek passed under Willoughby Road at Flat Rock Creek Bridge before cascading over Naremburn Falls, the highest waterfall in the Sydney region, into what was known as The Devil's Hole to the east of Willoughby Road.
When the land above the falls was cleared and subdivided, the creek began to flow only after rain. In an act of shortsightedness, the local council began using Devil's Hole and the upper valley as a rubbish tip in 1930 and began filling it in. In 1934 the Walter Burley Griffin designed Willoughby Incinerator was built from Sandstone cut from a quarry located there. In 1946 the reclaimed area was made a playing field with financial help from Sir Edward Hallstrom, whose Silent Knight refrigerator factory was on Willoughby Road opposite, and named Hallstrom Park.
In the late 1980s, the Willoughby Leisure Centre was built and the whole area re-landscaped and named Bicentennial Reserve. Henry Lawson Cave, at the southern end of the reserve, was just below the falls, facing The Devil's Hole. Its position indicates the original level of the valley floor. The cave's name commemorates the famous Australian author who used it as a refuge and did much of his writing here. Lawson lived at various houses in nearby Market Street.
UBD Map 196 Ref B 16. Small Street, Willoughby.
Public transport: bus No. 272, 273 from Wynyard, alight Cnr Willoughby Rd and Artarmon Rd. Walk east along Small Street.
A 2km walking track encircles Wreck Bay. The track starts at the western end of Dorset Road in Northbridge. The track winds around the southern end of the Northbridge Golf Course where you can see the wrecks of the ships Cobaki and Itata. Cobaki was a wooden steamship, built in 1918 by David Drake at Balmain for Langley (Longley) Bros. Ltd. During the period 1939 to 1945, Cobaki was owned by the Australian Army and used for training. At the end of World War II, of no further use, Cobaki (along with many other vessels including Itata) was laid up in Middle Harbour. On 2nd April 1946 vandals scuttled her in Salt Pan Creek.
The 61 metre steel barque Itata is understood to have traded between England , South America and Australia. The coaler was destroyed by fire while birthed at Newcastle in January 1906. Coal continued to burn in her hold for over a week. The remains were towed to Sydney for use as a hulk, but she was too badly damaged and was eventually abandoned in Salt Pan Creek.
Sydney is blessed with a landscape dotted with sandstone escarpments over which creeks of varying sizes tumble into the valley of the Sydney basin. The falls created where the creeks descend into the valleys vary from races and cascades to waterfalls with drops of up to 5 metres in height. Sadly, because of their location, many waterfalls which once existed in the inner city and suburban areas have long since dried up and all traces of them disappeared when the areas in which they flowed were swallowed up in suburbia. Today, we can go to their localities and only imagine what they must have been like.
Bicentennial Reserve near Small Street, Willoughby is where the upper valley of Flat Rock Creek used to be. Early last century, the creek passed under Willoughby Road at Flat Rock Creek Bridge before cascading over Naremburn Falls, the highest waterfall in the Sydney region, plunging 15 metres into what was known as The Devil s Hole to the east of Willoughby Road. It then flowed down to Long Bay at Cammeray after passing under Cammeray Bridge.
Site of Naremburn Falls
When the land above the Naremburn Falls was cleared and subdivided, the creek s flow was reduced considerably. In an act of short-sightedness, the local council then began using Devil s Hole and the upper valley as a rubbish tip and by 1930 had begun filling it in. In 1934 the Walter Burley Griffin designed Willoughby Incinerator was built from Sandstone cut from a quarry located there. By 1946, all trace of the waterfall had gone. The area, which was filled up to the level of the top of the falls and the fill area was made into a playing field. In the late 1980s, the Willoughby Leisure Centre was built here and the whole area re-landscaped and named Bicentennial Reserve. The walkway through Bicentennial Reserve, Willoughby, follows the path Flat Rock Creek took before it plunged over a cliff into The Devil's Hole.
Henry Lawson Cave, at the southern end of the reserve, was just below the falls, facing The Devil's Hole. The cave s name commemorates the famous Australian author who used it as a refuge and did much of his writing here. Lawson lived at various houses in nearby Market Street.
Cammeray is named after the Cammeraygal, the Aboriginal tribe who once resided in the North Sydney area. Cammeray was Sydney s first quarry, with sandstone blocks from the quarry making many of the first buildings in Sydney town. It is difficult to picture it now, looking at today's tree lined streets, fine residences and manicured gardens, but Cammeray was an area of dairy farms in the early 19th century. Alfred Thrupp was the first landowner here.
Another, a man named Levy, was responsible for the name given to the small peninsula which separates Willoughby Bay from Long Bay. Levy built his house on the point, but he mixed the mortar with salt water, and the house collapsed. Undaunted, he repeated the process, and the same thing happened. The point became known as Folly Point.
It was at Folly Point that Australian poet, Barcroft Boake (1866-92) hanged himself with a stockwhip in a tragic act of suicide. Boake was a talented, sensitive man who seemed obsessed with death and tragedy. He died following the death of his father and a number of close relatives. Boake is buried in St Thomas's Church of England cemetery, North Sydney.
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By public transport: bus from Sydney.
Cammeray is named after the original Aboriginal inhabitants of this part of the Lower North Shore, the Cammeraygal, reputed to be a group of fierce fighters.