The southern Sydney suburb of Peakhurst in the St George Area, is located 21 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. Peakhurst has a western border on Salt Pan Creek, on the Georges River. Peakhurst Heights is a separate suburb to the south, which is bordered by Boggywell Creek and Lime Kiln Bay, on the Georges River. Peakhurst Heights is sometimes still considered to be part of 'Peakhurst' by some residents of the area. A very small number of fresh water watercourses exist in the suburb, mostly draining into Salt Pan Creek.
The main roads are Forest Road, Henry Lawson Drive, Stoney Creek Road, Boundary Road, Bonds Road, Broad Arrow Road, Isaac Street, Baumans Road. Forest Road, which links to Henry Lawson Drive at Peakhurst, is the busiest carriageway that extends through numerous other suburbs in Sydney.
Peakhurst's commercial centres are predominantly located along Forest Road and Boundary Road. Various retail shops, restaurants and cafes are located near the Peakhurst Inn Hotel on Forest Road. The hotel contains a pub and drive-through bottle shop. Peakhurst also contains a sizeable industrial area mainly on and around Boundary Road.
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Peakhurst was named after landholder John Robert Peake, who bought 10 acres of land near the junction of the present Forest Road and Henry Lawson Drive in 1838. He gave a block of land on which the Wesleyan Church was built in 1855. The area was originally part of an 1808 land grant to Captain John Townson. John Robert Peake bought his land from William Hebblewhite in 1838. School Inspector Huffer suggested that Peake's name be used to name the suburb when the public school was founded in 1871. The post office opened in 1885. The first industry in the area was timber-cutting, due to the surrounding natural forests being thick with a variety of woods, especially turpentine. The timber was carted to Sydney by bullock teams. As the land was cleared, orchardists followed the timber-cutters.
From as early as 1809, the land surrounding Salt Pan Creek was the site of uprising by Australian Aborigines against colonial settlement. Tedbury, the son of Pemulwuy, an Aboriginal elder, was involved in a skirmish that saw Frederick Meredith, a European settler, injured with a spear and forced to abandon his farm. It is understood that Meredith and another settler, sought to clear and cultivate land surrounding the creek that may have been an important food source for Aborigines. Between 1926 and 1935, lands surrounding the creek became a focal point for indigenous rights, as they set up squatter camps that consisted of refugee families whose traditional lands had been resumed and also those seeking to escape the Aboriginal Protection Board. Salt Pan Creek was named by early colonial settlers, who took salt from the swampland by evaporating the salt water.
Salt Pan Creek rises west southwest of the suburb of Mount Lewis, within the Canterbury-Bankstown local government area, and flows generally south by east through Georges River local government area, before reaching its confluence with the Georges River, at Riverwood. The catchment area of the creek is approximately 26 square kilometres, and is subject to flooding due to vegetation modification and urban development. The creek has a length of around 7 km.
Vegetation in the catchment area consists of three endangered ecological species, including coastal saltmarsh, Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest, and Shale / Sandstone Transition Forest. Vegetation varies substantially throughout the catchment area and includes freshwater environments, estuarine environments, mangroves and saltmarshes, riparian and terrestrial environments, which provide important habitat for native fauna.
The Salt Pan Creek catchment area provides numerous sporting grounds and other recreational activities including bird watching, picnicking, bushwalking, and constructed boardwalks throughout the creek for community use and nature study.
Salt Pan Creek Wetlands: Salt Pan Creek Wetlands have been transformed from a once under-used paddock into an interactive parkland. Since 2004, work on the Riverwood Wetlands has been steadily transforming the once an old and under-used paddock into a site that is fast becoming a popular recreation site for people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors.
The reserve features a wetland with fish, turtles, birdlife and other animals. Enjoy the wetlands and come and have a picnic while you enjoy watching your children playing, riding their bikes and feeding the ducks and other birdlife that is returning to the area. Native birds have made the area their home again, bringing a real sense of natural beauty and serenity to the suburbs.
Gannons Park occupies the former corridor of Boggywell Creek and forms part of the greater catchment of the Georges River. The site is bordered to the west by the suburbs of Peakhurst and Lugarno, to the east by mixed use commercial and residential development, and to the south by Boggywell Creek. Gannons Park is linked into the Great Kai mia Way which provides for both bike riding and walking.
The land on which Gannon Park was created was once the depot at Peakhurst where they buried the nightsoil before the area was connected to the sewerage system. It is now a picturesque, 5.5 hectare public park fronting Forest Road and Isaac Street and reaching down to Lime Kiln Bay. The park was named in July 1963. Gannons Park is linked into the Great Kai mia Way which provides for both bike riding and walking.
There is a dog off leash area in Lower Gannons Park. Four fitness stations have been placed along the walking/cycle track for public use to incorporate into their training program. The machines will assist in building strength and balance and are suitable for use from 12 years right through to seniors. There is a free golf practise birdie cage to practise your swing in a safe enclosed environment. The park also has barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and a childrens' playground.
The whole area between Arncliffe and Lugarno was originally heavily timbered. Illawarra Road was built by convicts in 1841 and it ran through Gannon s Forest, down to the Georges River. The road from Arncliffe was later known as Gannon's Forest Road and today is known as Forest Road. The name has been retained in Old Illawarra Road, over the river in Menai and Lucas Heights.
What is not generally known is that Forest Road is one of the oldest continuously used thoroughfares in the world. Before the arrival of white settlers in 1788, the Aborigines of the Sydney region had deveoped a system of tracks along which they moved to travel from one area to another within the Sydney Basin. Elsewhere, such tracks were created alongside the watercourses to keep them flat and easy to travel on, but the steep sides of the bays and coves of Sydney Harbour, Port Hacking, and the Georges and Hawkesbury Rivers made this impractical. Instead, the Aborigines formed tracks which followed the tops of the ridges, with minor pathways leading from these high tracks down to the water's edge where they spent most of their time. These paths had been used for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
When white settlers arrived in the Sydney region in 1788, they either discovered or were shown these high tracks by the Aborigines, and began to use them to get from one area to another. They became the main roads connecting towns throughout the colony and this explains why many major roads twist and wind their way along the ridge tops of Suburban Sydney. Forest Road in Sydney's south, Pacific Highway on the North Shore, Hume Highway between Ashfield and Villawood, Blaxland Road (North Shore) and Military Road through Mosman all follow what were originally Aboriginal pathways, making them some of, if not the oldest continuously used thoroughfares in the world.
Situated on the northern bank of the Georges River 23 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district, the residential suburb of Lugarno is known for its large areas of bushland. The whole area between Arncliffe and Lugarno was originally heavily timbered, hence the reason for the road through it being called Forest Road. Illawarra Road was built by convicts in 1841 and it ran through Gannon's Forest, down to the Georges River. It is believed it followed the line of a well used Aboriginal pathway.
Mortdale is a neighbouring suburb, and the next railway station up the line towards Sutherland. Though its name literally means Death Valley, Mortdale was in fact named after one of Sydney's leading 19th century businessmen, Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, who held land in the area in the 1850s. Dr. Robert Townson (1763-1827) was the first land grantee. Mort then took over his land and sublet sections to farmers. In 1894, an orchard and a farm here were subdivided and the land sold for residential development. They sold well and further subdivision took place in consequence to the opening of Mortdale Station in March 1897, however it was the establishment of houses for returned soldiers of World War I in the 1920s that brought the biggest influx of new residents.
The railway line to Oatley was electrified in 1926, altering the type of rolling stock required along the Illawarra line. A purpose built facility for storage and maintenance of the new electric cars were constructed in 1925, adjacent to Judd s brickworks, between Mortdale and Oatley Stations. RailCorp's Mortdale maintenance depot features nine roads under the main shed, two elevated outdoor roads, a train washing facility and several short outdoor storage sidings. The depot is responsible for the stabling and maintenance of all trains on the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line and South Coast Line local services.
The nearby suburb of Riverwood was named after a popular watering place on the Kentish coast in England. When the railway to East Hills was opened in 1931, the station was named Herne Bay after a small arm of Salt Pan Creek. In 1958 the name was changed to Riverwood.
From 1788 to 1810 the area was inhabited by Aboriginal Tribes with an occasional visit from escaped convicts or hunters employed by the Government. White settlement in the area officially began in 1810 with a series of land grants. Market gardeners and timber getters mainly occupied the area between Hurstville and Liverpool. Saw pits were dug and the sound of an axe and the rip of saws were heard across the land. The charcoal burners came, and many land owners in the area began finding deposits of ashes on their properties.
The area was subdivided in 1919 and redeveloped in 1942 during World War 2, when the Government of Australia and the Allied Works Council establish an army base hospital barracks for the United States Army, the 118 General Hospital. The Americans, who at the time, were using the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath as a hospital, relocated and moved into the first section of the Herne Bay premises in May 1943. By November, 1700 beds were being utilised.
After the war the military departed, and the hospital barrack buildings of timber and corrugated iron (some of which still survive today) were handed over to the Housing Commission from March 1946 and converted into public housing to relieve housing shortages. Some of the street names recall the American presence such as Pennsylvania Road, Kentucky Road, Wyoming Place, Idaho Place, Michigan Road, Montana Crescent, Roosevelt Avenue and Truman Avenue. Now the Herne Bay Hospital is the headquarters for the Australian Air League Riverwood Squadron.
The suburb developed an unsavoury reputation for poverty, overcrowding and violence, and its name was changed to Riverwood in 1957, in large part to remove the stigma associated with living there. This helped to change the reputation of the area. From the 1950s onwards, purpose-built utilitarian public housing apartment blocks and freestanding bungalows replaced most of the former military buildings on the northern side of the railway line, while the southern part of the suburb was mostly privately developed.
The suburb of Penshurst in southern Sydney is located 17 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and is part of the St George area. Penshurst features low to medium-density housing. It has a predominantly older population however it is increasingly being populated by a new generation of migrant families who are attracted by its proximity to Hurstville. Penshurst is one of Sydney South's desirable suburbs situated in the St George region neighbouring Oatley, Mortdale and Hurstville. The suburb has a great mix of medium and low density properties and is most famously known for its's exclusive MacRae's Estate which is home to affluent, desirable homes.
The nearby suburb of Padstow is located 22 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. Padstow is a mostly residential suburb bounded on the north by Bankstown and on the east by Salt Pan Creek, which is a stream feeding into the Georges River. The M5 South Western Motorway traverses the northern end of the suburb, which is also the location of a number of light industrial facilities. Padstow shopping centre is located around Padstow railway station.
Padstow was first named Padstow Park Estate after the town of Padstow in Cornwall, England. The Cornish Padstow's name means "the holy place of St Petrock" (not to be confused with St Patrick, as they are spelled and pronounced differently), an important Cornish saint. The estate included the grants of Simon McGuigan (130 acres), Joseph Cunningham 50 acres (20 ha) and Michael Conroy 40 acres (16 ha). Timber-getting and farming were the main activities here. The Padstow Park post office opened in 1927 and the first school opened in January 1929. The railway station opened on 21 December 1931, which encouraged development in the area, especially after World War II. The suburb s name was changed to Padstow in 1939.
A number of the streets in the vicinity of Padstow railway station have Egyptian themes as names, including Arab Road, Cairo Avenue, Pyramid Avenue and Sphinx Avenue. To the west of Padstow, on the border with Revesby there is also a group of streets with outer space related names, such as Uranus Road, Mars Street, Neptune Street, Hydrae Street and Vega Street.