Alan Ashton Reserve
East Hills, a residential suburb on the northern bank of the Georges River to the south west of Bankstown, is located 26 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district.
Transport: East Hills railway station is on the Airport and Macarthur Line of the Sydney Trains network. Parts of East Hills are serviced by buses operated byTransdev NSW, generally following the routes established by McVicar's Bus Services.
Alan Ashton Reserve: Alan Ashton Reserve, on Georges River at East Hills, with a small beach, a kiosk nearby, boat hire facilities, wharf (fishing), barbecues and grassed area. Nearby Yeramba Lagoon is a wildlife sanctuary with bushwalking tracks. Upstream a few hundred metres is Kelso Beach, which has picnic shelters and a large grassed area.
Henry Lawson Drive, East Hills. UBD Map 291 Ref B 13.
Kelso Beach: Kelso Beach is a little further upstream from Alan Ashton Reserve on the other side of the railway bridge, also on Henry Lawson Drive. This pleasant beach, on a bend in the river, is very popular among the locals. The sand is clean and there are picnic facilities. Henry Lawson Drive, Henry Lawson Drive, East Hills. UBD Map 290 Ref M 2.
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Voyager Point is located 25 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district on former Defence land on the opposite bank of the Georges River to East Hills. Voyager Point takes its name from the commemorative park established there following the loss of HMAS Voyager with the loss of 82 lives after the destroyer collided with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in February 1964. The park was within the former East Hills Naval Estate, which contained about 70 married quarters for families of members of the Royal Australian Navy, which is the cleared area in the above photograph.
The original streets in the suburb, such as Torch and Pelorus, were named after ships of the Second Fleet, a group of ships which brought a second batch of convicts out from England to Sydney Cove in 1791. Voyager Point is in fact a minsnomer as the locality is actually on a concave bend on the Georges River and not a point. The suburb is a relatively new development by Delfin Lend Lease and contains many large new homes often cynically referred to as McMansions.
Though Voyager Point is riverside, there are no riverfront homes here as in neighbouring communities. A strip of bushland, through which there is a walking track, protects extensive stands of mangroves on the shore. The area includes many native flora, fauna and walkways through the bushland areas. Williams Creek, a tributary of the Georges River, forms its western boundary and connects to the Georges River approximately one kilometre to the north. The western, northern and north-eastern boundaries of the site adjoin bushland on the Voyager Point Peninsula which is formed by the confluence of Georges River and Williams Creek. A footbridge across the Georges River connects the suburb to East Hills, near Henry Lawson Drive. The Avenue is the only access road into the suburb from Heathcote Road.
The leafy residential suburb of Sandy Point is both a locality and a geographical formation on the southern bank of the Georges River, east of Deadmans Creek. The Sandy Point estate was created here in 1925 and it was later adopted as the suburb's name. For some unfathomable reason, given Sandy Point's idyllic surrounds, the suburb never grew and today still consists only of three streets - St George Crescent, Bingara Drive and Gambier Avenue - and a few cul-de-sacs leading off them. Picnic Point is on the opposite bank to Sandy Point.
The name of Deadmans Creek is derived from its Aboriginal name, Tudera. Tudera means 'place of the dead' and is believed to have been the location of a tribal burial ground or a fighting ground. The English name has been in use since 1837 and was identified by that name on military maps and in street directories. Because of its connotations, the creek's Aboriginal name was adopted in 1925 but both names have remained in use.
The original two lane, 6 span, simply supported reinforced concrete bridge carried Heathcote Road over the tidal creek. Deadmans Creek Bridge was built to facilitate the military presence at Holsworthy Army Base during World War II. An example of both the design and construction developments of the 1930s, it demonstrates aspects of the changing relationship between road and bridge construction of the 1940s and 1950s. The deck and piers are skewed and the bridge plan follows the road curvature. A $19 million 2-lane bridge over Deadmans Creek has been built alongside the original bridge and was opened to traffic at the end of October 2015.
Located on the opposite side of the Georges River to East Hills at what is now the residential suburb of Voyager Point, the land occupied by the East Hills Army Barracks was originally acquired for Defence purposes in 1913 and was most likely used for field training. In 1953 a migrant hostel was constructed on the site. It was intended to house migrant intakes from countries all over the world, but in its early inception was predominately filled with British migrants.
The hostel consisted of 128 Nissan Huts and provided basic living conditions. Migrants were crowded into a small space divided by a very flimsy wall, with minimal privacy. Family life was different; children whose parents were at work all day, were free to roam, meals were provided, although not necessarily tasty ones. The first group of migrants, who came to live here in 1954, were British. English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge considered communal life in hostels 'abhorrent' to the 'English temperament' and assumed that European refugees would cope better because they had come from more desperate situations. However, many Europeans found this type of housing unpleasantly reminiscent of their experiences in concentration and refugee camps.
Some British migrants enjoyed the hostel community, but others could hardly wait to find their own home. One migrant said, "It's a bit of a no man's land; it's neither Britain nor Australia, so you can't judge the Australian way of life until you actually move off the hostel." Hundreds of migrants from different countries passed through the hostels. Many settled permanently in the Hammondville and East Hills area.
Around 1970 most of the huts were demolished and replaced by brick flats when it was converted into army barracks for soldier accommodation, including some married quarters. In 1999 the site was used to accommodate refugees from Kosovo and later East Timor. Finally, in 2000, it was used for Operation Gold, the Olympics security operation. Between 2000 and 2002, Defence demolished the above-ground structures and decommissioned all the services.
Nearby is a significant corridor of native vegetation with associated habitat values. Several walking tracks, including the Wetland Walk, Mangrove Walk, Eucalypt Walk and Creek Walk cross through this bushland and can be accessed from the site.
Looking like the Sydney Harbour Bridge's little brother, the East Hills-Voyager Point Footbridge replaced an earlier wooden structure which allowed access to East Hills, its shops and railway station from Voyager Point. The earlier bridge was built by the US Army for its personnel who were stationed at Heathcote Road Defence facility during World War II. After the Americans went home the bridge was used first by Australian defence personnel living at East Hills Barracks, then by migrants during their stay at the East Hills Migrant Hostel. The bridge was closed in 2001 due to structural concerns, but it took some time to replace it with the present bridge because the state and federal governments couldn't agree on sharing the cost of it.
A short distance downstream is the Voyager Point Railway Bridge, a dual track bridge over the Georges River, built in 1987 as part of the extension of the East Hills Railay Line to connect to the Main South line at Glenfield, allowing through services to and from Campbelltown. From the time of it opening in 1931 until its extension in 1987, the line terminated at East Hills station. Originally the line was a single-track non-electrified extension from Kingsgrove station to East Hills. The single line between Kingsgrove and East Hills was opened for electric services on 17 December 1939. The line was duplicated between Kingsgrove and Riverwood in 1948, with points for terminating trains provided at both stations, and a passing loop at Revesby was opened in 1956. In 1985, the line was duplicated through to East Hills.
The East Hills line branches from the Illawarra line at Wolli Creek Junction, between Tempe and Arncliffe railway stations. From Wolli Creek, the line heads west towards East Hills, where the alignment is within 2 km of the since-constructed M5 South Western Motorway. It then turns south-west through the new suburbs of Voyager Point and Wattle Grove to meet the Main South line at Glenfield Junction. The line is four tracks between Wolli Creek junction and Revesby station, then two tracks to Glenfield junction. The bridge over the Georges River at East Hills is the only significant engineering structure on the line.
Pleasure Point is a geographical formation on the southern bank of the Georges River which lends its name to this small suburb. The only adjacent suburbs are Voyager Point, Sandy Point and Holsworthy. The Holsworthy Army Base is located close by. The suburb was created in the 1970s, its boundaries were altered by the creation of Voyager Point in 1987. Pleasure Point takes its name from the Parkesville pleasure grounds that existed there from the mid 1880s until the beginning of World War I. In the 2000's, Pleasure Point experienced an explosion of prestige, architect-designed homes, many of which are waterfront or near-waterfront properties.
Site of the Parkesville Pleasure Grounds, Pleasure Point
East Hills was the name used to describe the whole area south of Bankstown to the Georges River and east to The River Road. The name is commonly thought to be derived from that of the farmhouse of Robert Gardiner, a tenant of the area's first land grantee. Why that name was used is a mystery - it is not east of Sydney or its nearest neighbour, Bankstown, nor is it hilly. The fact that the neighouring suburb of Panania was once part of East Hills may hold a clue. The name 'Panania' is derived from either an Aboriginal word meaning "sun rising in the east and shining on the hills" or a reference to a location identified as being where the sun can be seen rising in the east over hills. Perhaps East Hills is simply the English version of the name or phrase by which its original Aboriginal inhabitants identified the location.
Another less likely explanation is that it is possibly named after the region of that name near Liverpool, England. The suggestion has some merit, since Sydney's East Hills is also close to a Liverpool. George Johnstone (1790 1820) was granted 500 acres here in 1804 and called his property New Jerusalem. It was west of The River Road between Bransgrove and Tomson Streets. Robert Gardiner took up tenancy here in 1810, establishing a small farm. The area became extensively farmed, with some market garden activity until subdivided and sold for residential purposes. In 1828 Thomas Graham was granted 640 acres, south of Johnston's land, which he sold to Charles Tompson in 1835. The area to the west was bought by George Nicholas Weston in 1838.
The area was subdivided and named East Hills Park Estate in 1893. The residential development comprised of riverfront blocks of 1000 square metres and more. The estate included a park - originally more than twice the size of today s East Hills Park. The large water front blocks some of which still exist today, for example those in the middle of the two sections of Burbank Avenue, ran down to the picturesque Georges River. Many early purchasers used these as weekenders and built boat sheds. Hundreds of people every weekend caught buses out to the East Hills Park where they had picnics in the grounds and swam in the river. Other bus-loads of people stopped at the nearby Lambeth Street Reserve. Residents today can enjoy these wonderful parks.
The railway line was opened in 1931 and East Hills was the terminating station. The railway took some of the original park away, then in 1939 when Henry Lawson Drive was built it ran through the park and took even more land away. Finally in 1987 when the railway was extended to Glenfield, more of the park was lost again. This line was extended in 1987 to a new station at Holsworthy and connected to the Main South Line at Glenfield.
Following the opening of the railway crossing the Georges River downstream at Oatley in 1886, the three enterprising Sanbrook brothers began the operation of Paddle Wheel ferries on the Georges River from Wills boatshed adjacent to the southern end of Como Railway Bridge. Their ferries travelled up the river to a pleasure reserve called Parkesvale near Sandy Point, opposite East Hills, stopping at Lugarno Park in both directions. Both Parkesvale and Lugarno Park became popular excursion destinations, excursion tickets were advertised in Sydney papers with combined train-ferry tickets to Parkesvale from Sydney for 1/6d second class and 2/6d first class. Parkesvale offered a number of summer houses for picknickers, a public refreshment room, pavilion (with piano), cricket pitches, children's playground equipment along with fishing, swimming and boating activities in the river. The location of the Parkesville pleasure grounds is recalled in Pleasure Point Reserve and the locality of Pleasure Point.
The suburb is renowned today for million dollar homes along the Georges River, and these people enjoy the same views and relaxation this had to offer. Other blocks on the non-river side of Henry Lawson Drive are extremely large and can either be used to build a luxury family home on, or to develop and build two homes in the form of a duplex.
Panania is said to be an an Aboriginal word either meaning 'sun rising in the east and shining on the hills' or a reference to a particular place where the sun could be seen rising over hills to the east. Panania was once part of a much larger district known as East Hills, the first Europeans in the area were timber-cutters. Operators of small farms moved in during the 1890s and they were replaced by residential homes after the arrival of the railway in 1931. It was at this time that various names, including Nioka, Elmswood and Linden Park, were suggested for the new station and the locality, but Panania was the popular choice. A section of the new suburb, Picnic Point, was to later take the name of the geographical feature on the Georges River which forms one of its boundaries.
Milperra is taken from an Aboriginal word said to mean or be a reference to 'a gathering of people'. Milperra sits on the bank of the Georges River and features a number of parks and reserves along the river, including Deepwater Park, Bankstown Golf Course and Vale of Ah Reserve.
For years the Milperra district was part of Bankstown and was sparsely populated by small farms. The land at Milperra was originally owned by George Johnson Jr. After World War I, returning soldiers established poultry farms and vegetable gardens in the area. The area commonly known as Thorns Bush, became officially known as Bankstown Soldier Settlement in 1917. Many streets in the area are named after World War 1 battles and officers. A similar settlement of returned servicemen took place after World war II, however this time the subdivision was into residential lots and the houses were for the families of returned servicemen.
The Milperra Massacre, Milperra bikie shoot-out or Father's Day Massacre was a firearm battle between rival motorcycle gang members on 2 September (Father's Day in Australia) 1984, in Milperra. The shootout had its roots in an intense rivalry that developed after a group of Comancheros broke away and formed the first Bandidos Motorcycle Club chapter in Australia. Seven people were killed and twenty-eight injured when the two groups clashed at Milperra. Police believe that the war began over turf or drugs or a combination of both. The event was a catalyst for significant changes to gun laws in New South Wales.
Flooding on the Georges River around Milperra and neighbouring Chipping Norton was once the subject of intense scrutiny. Much money was invested on flood mitigation works that partially address the flood problems. Floods that occurred in 1986 and 1988 heightened community concerns regarding flooding, however they were relatively small events. Floods that occurred in the late 1800's were much more severe, in some places one building storey above the 1986 or 1988 flood levels. Flooding was extensively studied in the 1970's and 1980's. This culminated in the construction of a physical model that provided design flood levels between East Hills and Liverpool. The model was kept for several years, but was demolished due to storage limitations at the laboratory where it had been constructed. The potential damage bill from major flooding on the Georges River is enormous and ranks as one of the most severely flood prone valleys in the State.