Menai is a suburb in southern Sydney, 29 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district in the Sutherland Shire. A mainly residential area, Menai is named after Menai Bridge, a town on the Menai Straits between the Isle of Anglesey and Bangor, Wales. The area now known as Menai was originally called Bangor in 1895 by the land's owner, a farmer named Owen Jones, after his birthplace Bangor in Wales. To avoid confusion with Bangor in Tasmania, the Postmaster General's Office changed the suburb name to Menai in 1910. Menai Bridge in Wales lies opposite Bangor on the Menai Strait. When Menai expanded, the eastern section became Bangor again.

A large part of Menai is new, having been developed only since the early 1980s, and as such, nearly all the homes have four bedrooms, dual bathrooms and double-garages and are mostly owner occupied. In fact, the region has the highest rate of home ownership in Australia, at over 70%.

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Bangor is a mostly residential suburb with a small shopping centre. As part of the modern development of Bangor, the streets were all named with an Aboriginal theme. Bangor sits south of the Georges River and to the west of the Woronora River. The nearby rivers and extensive bush areas are popular with the locals and offer a variety of outdoor activities including bush walking, mountain bike riding, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, fishing.

Lucas Heights

Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor

Lucas Heights was named after John Lucas Snr., a flour miller at Liverpool who was granted 150 acres in 1823 at the 'head of unnamed stream sailing into Georges River'. He built a water-driven mill for grinding corn from the Illawarra farms in 1825; small ships sailed up the coast into Botany Bay, Georges River and Woronora River to the mill at Port Aiken (Hacking). The was destroyed by fire in the 1830s. In 1822 Lucas had built the Brisbane Mill on Harris Creek (later called Williams Creek) in the present day suburb of Holsworthy near Liverpool. Lucas was the son of Nathaniel and Olivia lucas who had arrived as convicts with the first fleet. Nathaniel was a carpenter and in 1795 constructed an overshot mill on Norfolk Island as well as supervising the construction of many of the island's buildings. Nathaniel was a carpenter and in 1795 constructed an overshot mill on Norfolk Island as well as supervising the construction of many of the island s buildings. He returned to Sydney on the 17th March 1805 to take up the position of Superintendent of Carpenters in Sydney. With him on HMS Investigator came two disassembled windmills and several mill stones fabricated on Norfolk Island and his eight year old son, John. The two smock mills were erected one above the Rocks and the other in what is now the Domain.

In August 1826, three armed parties raided the coastal schooner Alligator while disembarking her cargo, presumably of wheat, at Lucas's Woronora mill on Port Aiken (Hacking). The ports of Broken Bay, Botany Bay and Port Aiken did not have a customs presence until 1832 and in 1826 smuggling was common practice. The customs duty on wheat was one shilling per bushel and on flour 2 shillings and sixpence a hundredweight (a bushel of wheat is 60lb and a cwt 112 lb). By importing the Alligator's wheat through Botany Bay, Lucas was presumably avoiding this duty thus giving his mills an edge over the 19 or so windmills operating in Sydney at the time. The tip off to the authorities could have come from any one of the law abiding tax paying millers of Sydney who were doubtless incensed that Lucas was escaping duty. Escaping excise is the only explanation for the existence of Lucas' mill on the Woronora River. It was a lonely isolated spot in 1825 with no local supply of wheat to grind and no road access. It is no coincidence that the mill closed when a customs presence appeared in Botany Bay and Lucas declared himself bankrupt. Even after Sir Thomas Mitchell's Illawarra road linked the mill to Sydney in 1843, repeated attempts to sell or lease this mill were unsuccessful.

Lucas Heights is notable today for its nuclear reactor, the only one in Australia, used mainly for medical research. The Lucas Heights facility was established in 1958. The reactor is run by the Australian Science and Nuclear Technology Organisation, which also operates a Visitors Centre. The "Up and atom" free science tour provides a general overview of ANSTO that runs for 2.5 hours. It is suitable for individuals, family and friends, as well as budding scientists aged 8 to 88, Up and Atom Tours are available on weekdays during the NSW school holidays and every second Saturday. Bookings are essential. For bookings, information on visits, transport options etc. call 02 9717 3090 A cafe, situated outside the site near the Visitor's Centre, serves hot and cold lunches, as well as cake and coffee. It is open weekdays from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Breakfast, lunch and beverages are served at the cafeteria. Ph: 02 9717 3111.

Barden Ridge

Old Illawarra Road, Barden Ridge

The suburb of Barden Ridge is located on the high, rocky ridge from which it takes its name, which is above the Woronora River on its west side, opposite Engadine on its western side. The Woronora River flows north into the Georges River. Barden Ridge has shifted from a remote bushland area, when known as Lucas Heights, to an expanding suburb that now contains all the necessary amenities that have established a strong community.

Barden Ridge was named after Alfred Barden, whose pioneering family is associated with the Bangorarea prior to the 1850s. In early times Barden Ridge had been used to identify the geographical location and Lucas Heights was given to the suburb that developed here. In 1992 local residents voted to rename part of the suburb of Lucas Heights. In 1996 the Geographical Names Board assigned the name Barden Ridge to the area 3 km south of Menai, to disassociate it from the area containing a nuclear reactor and waste management centre.

Woronora River

The Woronora River flows through the deeply dissected plateau to the Georges River from near the sources of the Port Hacking, within the Sutherland Shire. The Woronora River flows through the deeply dissected plateau to the Georges River from near the sources of the Port Hacking, within the Sutherland Shire. The River is tidal at this point. River levels and water quality at Woronora can be affected by the release of water from the Woronora Dam upstream upstream from the suburb. Woronora Plateau, is a geographical region adjacent to the Sydney Plain. Slightly higher in altitude, it is capped with Hawkesbury Sandstone.

The Needles: A rocky ledge on the Woronora River, it was used by one of the original roads west from Helensburgh as a ford. On the northern side of The Needles lies the fresh water source of the Woronora River, whilst on the other side is salt water. The water, between two steep hills, remains so cold that even during summer it has been known to have caused heart attacks. While car access has been generally blocked, pedestrian access is still available. This area is also popular for recreational activities such as hiking and mountain biking.

Old Illawarra Road

Major Mitchell's road through Barden Ridge

Construction of Old Illawarra Road allowed the new route towards the South Coast to be about 32 kilometres shorter than the existing road that passed through what is today the Holsworty Military Firing Range and then Appin. At the southern end of the district Major Mitchell took the road across the Woronora River near its head, naming the steep path it followed the Pass of Sabugal. Sabugal is a town in Eastern Portugal, and as Mitchell served in the Peninsular war and would have passed through Sabugal many times, it is probable that the George River here reminded him of the scenery of Sabugal.

The road was mapped out and constructed between 1813 and 1845 under surveyor-general Major Mitchell's personal supervision. In all probility it would have followed ancient paths used by the Aborigines for humdreds of years to travel from one district to another. Old Illawarra Road as far as Old Ferry Road, and then Old Ferry Road down to the waterfront, is the section of Mitchell's road that passes through Illawaong. The road crossed the Georges River by means of the Lugarno Ferry. On the Lugarno side of the river, the road continued along what is now known as Forest Road to Hurstville, then along Forest Road (and later Wollongong Road from Bardwell Valley) to Tempe, where it joined Princes Highway into the city via Newtown.

The survey of the road south commenced in March, 1843 and in charge was Roderick Mitchell and later William Darke (after whom Darkes Forest is named). Thomas Mitchell used overseers and 20 convicts when he started in June 1843, clearing land at the headwaters of Woronora River. The road he constructed can still be seen today. South of Illawong, Old Illawarra Road still follows Mitchell's Road through Menai to Barden Ridge, where its line is followed by David Road, Thomas Mitchell Drive, then Old Illawarra Road again through the Pass of Sabugal down to its ford of the Woronora River at The Needles causeway. Woronora Road then follows the line of Mitchell's road through Engadine, The present Princes Highway from Heathcote to Bulli Pass is practically Mitchell's Road of 1843. The route never saw the level of traffic Mitchell anticipated, and it fell into disuse when the punt as Tom Ugley's Point was established around 1880.

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