Southern Suburbs; Georges River
Oatley is a pleasant riverside suburb, located 18 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. It is one of the best suburbs in Sydney's south to see and experience natural bushland. There are a number of reserves to choose from, most are within walking distance of the railway station. Being on the Illawarra suburban railway line some 30 minutes by train from the city, it is an ideal destination if you want a day or half day relaxing away from the usual tourist destinations.
Oatley is well served with cafes, eating houses and purveyors of fine food. Many are in the village-like main shopping area around Frederick and Letitia Streets, there are more on the west side of the railway line at the top of the hill on Mulga Road. Oatley Village Pie Shop in Oatley Avenue has a reputation for baking some of the finest pies in Sydney, with over 30 varieties available.
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Located on Oatley Bay, this is the best beach and recreation area on the Georges River in the Oatley/Lugarno region. It features extensive open areas making it ideal for activities for larger groups, a boat ramp, parking for over 200 cars and lots of picnic facilities. Moore Reserve is former municipal garbage tips that has been converted into reclaimed grass fields with recreational facilities and an artificial wetland area. If you plan to swim in the river, remember that pollution levels can get high after rain, at at other times swimming here is fine.
Within Moore Reserve two smaller segments of land have been allocated different names. Binnawie Reserve is a small creek side reserve and Seymour Street Reserve is a small segment of land bounded by Seymour Street and West Crescent on the eastern side of the reserve. Seymour Street Reserve has an impressive stone wall gateway entrance with a playground and seating area for the public and a tiled fish sculpture immersed in a planted maze. A pathway circulates around Moore Reserve which provides access for recreational users and also links a number of exercise stations.
The reserve is a 1.0km walk from Oatley station; it you approach it from Frederick Street, there is an entry into the reserve opposite where Frederick meets Louisa Street. From here a walking track to the main reserve passes through a very pretty stretch of natural bushland where a waterfall flows after rain.
Picnic facilities with coin operated barbecues, a playground and toilets are provided at the southern end of the reserve. The car park provides boat and trailer parking for the nearby Oatley Bay boat ramp.UBD Map 293 Ref F 11.
Moore Reserve, Morshead Drive, Oatley.
One of the largest reserves of natural bushland on the Georges River, Oatley Park is a well-used, tree covered area that is almost completely surrounded by water. It covers an area of about 45 hectares and it is one of the most significant areas of bushland remaining in the St George area. It also has Aboriginal rock carvings, a reminder of its early Aboriginal occupation. The man-made wetlands of Lime Kiln Bay Reserve, which adjoin Oatley Park, provide refuge for bird species, such as, chestnut teal, Pacific black ducks, dusky moorhens and purple swamphens. During 1919 a Turkish Pine pinus brutia was planted near the main entrance, from a seed that was collected from the Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.
Native mammals which are uncommon in the region can still be found within the park, including the short-beaked echidna and swamp wallaby. Over 310 plant special have been recorded. The park is an important regional sanctuary protecting a number of plant species not found anywhere else in the St George area. Possums are the main mammal species, but the park is also home to bats, swamp wallabies, and echidnas. 107 bird species have been recorded. It is an important sanctuary for both resident and migratory birds.
During the depression of the 1930s, considerable work was done there under the Unemployment Relief Scheme. The scenic road was constructed around the river foreshores (as part of a wider scheme never completed). At the same time, the kiosk and eye-catching castellated tower (the Castle) were built as an attraction for visitors. Several paths and scenic lookouts were also formed, giving excellent views over the river. The Castle is available to hire for private functions, from weddings to coporate functions. Bookings are very popular during the Spring and Summer months, advanced bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment. For booking enquiries contact Council's Sport and Recreation Officer on 9330 6209. Location: 1.9 km walk from station. Facilities: swimming area, playground, lookouts, barbecues, Soccer/Cricket Oval and a castle-like picnic shelter.
In July 1942, the 26th Field Company of the Royal Australian Engineers was moved from Carss Park to Oatley Park. Several temporary structures were assembled to accommodate about 250 soldiers, including a mess tent, kitchen, shower blocks, an Aldershot oven, and storehouse. By January 1943, after only 6 months, most of these soldiers had joined the AIF for service in New Guinea so the 26th Field Company was disbanded. They were then replaced by the Tasmanian 12th Field Company, RAE, which was stationed there for 10 weeks. The concrete floor of a kitchen, ordinance store and shower block, some stone steps and a small concrete map of Tasmania can still be seen.
There are expansive views of the river in both directions from Christensen Lookout and Websters Lookout.
In the 1920s Harry Linmark established Oatley Pleasure Grounds and the boatshed on the bay provided boats for fishing and picnic parties. When Hartlands acquired the grounds they introduced a miniature zoo and also put in a wine bar that became noisy and controversial. In 1934 Kogarah Council bought the Pleasure Grounds, closed the wine bar, extended the area of the grounds and renamed it Oatley Bay Reserve. The Oatley Baths are the main attraction. It is a sheltered river swimming pool on Jew Fish Bay, ideal for small children but observe the pollution warning for Moore Reserve which also applies here. UBD Map 292 Ref K 13. Annette Street, Oatley. 1.0km walk from station. Facilities: shaded picnic facilities, toilets, bike track, bush walks in surrounding 3 hectare natural bushland reserve, bay lookouts, playing fields.
A small but interesting nature reserve offering panoramic views of Georges River and Oatley Bay. It has some of the highest quality remnant coastal forest in the Municipality of Kogarah. The reserve is home to a colony of Sugar Gliders, Ringtailed Possums and Dusky Antechinus. Its rocky tip is a popular spot for fishing, and has been for centuries. Middens - piles of discarded oyster shells - around the shoreline point to it being a popular feasting place for the Aborigines who lived here in pre-colonial times. There are a number of examples of Aboriginal rock art on the rock platform on the point; some have been covered by soil and plants, while those exposed to the elements have all but disappeared. Algemon Street, Oatley. 1.8km walk from station.
A leisurely stroll across the Como Bridge has become somewhat of an institution for many residents of the St George district in Sydney s south. Spanning the Georges River, the former railway bridge can be approached via a level walking path that begins at the southern end of Oatley Parade and follows the path taken by the original railway line. A visit to the restaurant or marina for lunch or a cup of coffee, to hire a boat or perhaps a picnic in the nearby park makes it all the more worthwhile.
Erected in 1885, Como Bridge is the twin of the John Whitton Bridge at Meadowbank and one of a number of similar Lattice Girder railway bridges used at a number of locations around the state. Built as part of the Sydney to Illawarra railway, the [single line Como bridge remained in use until 1972 when the new double line, pre-stressed concrete structure alongside it was completed and began taking rail traffic. The old bridge was saved from demolition as it carries the pipeline from Woronora Dam to the reservoirs at Penshurst, a function that commenced in 1945 and continues today. The bridge is today used as a footbridge and cycleway.
Soon after the opening of the Illawarra railway line, train drivers found that the grade up the hill from the bridge to Mortdale was too steep for fully loaded coal trains. A deviation was built around the centre of Oatley in 1905 to reduce the grade for Sydney bound trains to a maximum of 1 in 80. The route taken by the original line is still clearly visible at both ends of the bridge. At the Oatley end, the walking path follows the line of the original tracks. From the beginning of the houses, the line continued north, occupying the narrow strip of land between Oatley Parade and Oatley Avenue. It crossed Hurstville Road near the roundabout and proceeded over the rise to Mortdale station. This section of the original line remains and is visible from Hurstville Road. The two platforms of the original Oatley station are now buried under James Oatley Memorial Park.
Como station was built just beyond the bridge alongside the Como Pleasure Grounds, a convenient location considering the popularity of Como as a picnic and holiday destination for city dwellers in the first half of the 20th century. When the new bridge was built, the station was moved some half a kilometre south. The disused station platform still exists and can be seen beyond the cyclone fencing where the line left the bridge.
The iron members of the Como bridge, manufactured by Cochrane & Co. of Pennsylvania, USA, were shipped out in the Summer of 1885. By the time they had arrived by sea, a tent village had been built on the Como bank of the Georges River to house the 200 men employed in cutting the path through bush and levelling the ground in preparation for the laying of the single line track. In the midst of all this activity, stonemasons were forming the piers now encased in concrete that would carry the spans.
When the bridge components were landed at Botany, there were assembled on platforms mounted on barges. The platforms were built to a height so that at high tide they would be marginally higher than the piers on which the spans would eventually rest. As each span was completed, the barge on which it had been constructed was towed to Como and positioned at high tide between the piers upon which the span would eventually rest. As the tide fell, the span lowered itself onto the piers at which time a team of men maneuvered the span into place by hauling ropes attached to each end of the span. Once in its correct position, the span was bolted securely to the piers and the following day the next span was brought upstream and the process repeated. The bridge was stress tested with three heavy steam locomotives in January 1886 before being brought into service a week later.
The line across the bridge was laid as Gauntlet track. Taking up slightly more width than a normal single track but not as much a double track, Gauntlet track is always four rails of the same gauge, interlaced on the same set of sleepers to allow two way running on a single track bed. Trains running in opposite directions did not share the sam
If you've ever thought that the town planners left room for a railway station between Oatley Parade and Oatley Avenue, you would be right. Oatley station once did exist there but it had to be moved. Soon after the opening of the Illawarra railway line in 1885, train drivers found that the grade up the hill from the original Como Bridge to Mortdale was too steep for fully loaded coal trains. A deviation was built around the centre of Oatley in 1905 to reduce the grade for Sydney bound trains to a maximum of 1 in 80. The new line deviates to the west of the original line through a cutting. Oatley station was moved from its original position to it present location.
The route taken by the original line is still clearly visible at the Oatley end of the bridge. The walking path to the bridge follows the path of the original line. From the beginning of the houses the line continued north, occupying the narrow strip of land between Oatley Parade and Oatley Avenue. It crossed Hurstville Road near the roundabout and proceeded over the rise to Mortdale station. The two platforms of the original Oatley station are now buried under James Oatley Memorial Park. The first station platform was located at the western end of Frederick Street and extended north as far as the Oatley Hotel car park.
The electrification of Sydney's passenger network began in 1926 with the first suburban electric service running between Sydney s Central Station and the suburb of Oatley approximately 20 km south of Sydney. The Oatley campus of Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education opened in 1981 on the site of the former Judd s Brick Works and quarry. In 1981, when many teacher s colleges were amalgamated, it became The St George Institute of Education, part of Sydney College of Advanced Education, and then a campus of the University of New South Wales. It is now a secondary school, the Oatley Senior Campus of the Georges River College.
Christensen Lookout and Websters Lookout are located in Oatley Park, one of the largest reserves of natural bushland on the Georges River. A well-used, tree covered area that is almost completely surrounded by water. It covers an area of about 45 hectares and it is one of the most significant areas of bushland remaining in the St George area. There are expansive views of the river in both directions from the lookouts. Location: Christensen Circuit, Oatley Park. 1.9 km walk from Oatley station.
Neverfail Bay is the small bay to the immediate east of the Como railway bridge on the Oatley side of the Georges River. Its name is a refrence to a permenant spring at its head that provided fresh water throughout the year. Its discovery is often attributed to George Bass and Matthew Flinders but it would have been an important water supply to the Aborgines who lived in the Georges River area long before they came exploring in October 1795. The Aborgines regularly camped here and feasted on Sydney rock oysters that were plentious.
In the late 1840s, white settlers began taking trips to the Georges River, four decades before present day Oatley was subdivided and the suburb began to take shape. White colonists soon recognised the potential for the development of an oyster industry on the Georges River. Back then, oysters were so plentiful they were simply collected oysters and sold them for around 35 shillings a bag.
In 1868, it became illegal to use live oysters for lime and mortar prudction to help and encourge the young industry. A small settlemnt of oyster farmers was established in Neverfail Bay. By 1884 the oyster industry had become regulated and leases were granted to farmers. The railway came to Oatley in 1886 and brought people to the area, however Neverfail Bay remained isolated and it wasn't until after World War I that the road up the steep hill to Oatley village was sealed and the two settlements were connected.
Urban development around the George River brought pollutants to the river and affected the oyster industry. Water treatment and purification methods developed by the industry helped it survive until the 1990's when the QX virus began to attack the Georges River oysters. The virus almost ended the industry in the Georges River. A virus resistant oyster was introduced but it was too late for the majoity of farmers. Only one Sydney Rock oyster farmer from the thriving Neverfail Bay group remains farming today, growing a virus resistant variety and the larger Pacific Oyster in Woolooware Bay at the outlet to the Georges River.
Jewfish Bay from Jewfish Bay baths
Oatley Point / Bay: Name taken from the nearby suburb of Oatley which recalls the name of the area's first landowner, James Oatley (1770-1839), the convict turned colonial watchmaker who installed the clock on Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks.
Neverfail Bay: This name has been used many times in the Sydney region and refers to a spring of fresh water that flows all year round. So called because a natural spring there was said to "never fail". Said to have been a discovery attributed to George Bass and Matthew Flinders.
Hurstville Bay: Name taken from the nearby suburb of Hurstville, possibly because it marked the western extremity of land in Hurstville Municpal Council's jurisdiction.
Gungah Bay: name is of Aboriginal origin, possibly derived from the word for a shelter - gunyah.
Jewfish Bay: Perhaps jewfish were caught here.
Lime Kiln Head: lime kilns once existed here. Limeburners initially used oyster shells from Aboriginal middens found in abundance along the river shore, and later they used live oysters.
Gertrude Point: Gertrude and Arthur Phillips operated the first shop in Oatley opposite the original railway platform in Douglas Cross Gardens. Gertrude was the daughter of a Mrs Coleborne, who had first opened the shop. Her husband, William George Coleborne (b. 1895 - ) was a delegate to the first St. George County Council, an alderman on Kogarah Council 1914-29 and designed Oatley School of Arts with Harry Towers. The family were among Oatley's first residents, and lived in Letitia Street.
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Public Transport: by train. Oatley station is on the Southern line. Trains to Cronulla stop at Oatley.
Oatley and Oatley West are named after James Oatley, a convict clock maker. As a convict, Oatley erected the clock still in use on the front of Hyde Park Barracks. After being pardoned, James Oatley was granted and acquired various tracts of land in Sydney s south, among them was what is now the suburb of Oatley, a 175 acre grant which he received in 1831. Oatley called it Needwood Forest, after woodlands in his native Warwickshire, England. He never lived here, choosing instead to build his home near Beverly Hills.