Pennant Hills

Pennant Hills, a suburb of Sydney located 25 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district, is considered to be part of the Hills District. Pennant Hills is one of the major commercial centres of Hornsby Shire, along with Epping, Carlingford and Hornsby. Pennant Hills is home to several entertainment venues including the Pennant Hills Hotel incorporating Patricks Nightclub.

Pennant Hills railway station is on the Northern railway line of Sydney's CityRail network. Pennant Hills Road is one of Sydney's major thoroughfares. Bus services by Shorelink and Hillsbus have their terminus in Pennant Hills and run to West Pennant Hills, Castle Hill and Cherrybrook.

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Pennant Hills Park
An area where numerous sports are played, Pennant Hills Park is surrounded by beautiful bushland. 430 ha of parkland located in the upper catchment of Lane Cove River Valley. Incorporated within it are a variety of regional sporting facilities catering for soccer, basketball, netball, tennis, hockey archery and model aircraft flying. Walking trails alongside the Lane Cove River and Scout, Delvins and Terrys Creeks follow these watercourses through a large tract of natural bushland towards the Lane Cove National Park and the Lane Cove Valley Walk which is part of the Great North Walk. Entry to park via walking trails from sports centre; Lorna Pass off Comenarra Parkway, Pennant Hills; Leuna Ave, Fox Valley; end of Kissing Point Rd, South Turramurra; Canoon Rd, South Turramurra; Ferguson Ave, Pennant Hills (Lane Cove National Park); west end of Bloundary Rd, North Epping; north end of Vimiera Rd, Marsfield.

Leading from the park many bush tracks into the northern end of Lane Cove National Park. These track give access to a number of set walks  Pennant Hills Park Loop 8km (Track Notes); Mambara Access Track 1km; Lookout Walk 1.5km; Lorna Pass Walk 2km; Shale Ridge Walk 1km; Whale Rock Circuit 5.3km; Lane Cove River Circuit 8km. There is a 10km bike ride from Pennant Hills Park to West Pymble. UBD Map 173 Ref D 4. Britannia Street, Pennant Hills.
Facilties: picnic and sports areas, toilets.
Public transport: train to Pennant Hills. Cross Pennant Hills Rd, walk along The Crescent, left into Charlotte Rd, right into Britannia St.

Bidjigal Reserve

A favourite bushwalking spot on the North Shore, Bidjigal Reserve is an extensive nature reserve which falls within the original Baulkham Hills Common that was set aside for grazing cattle in 1804. Incorporating Eric Mobbs Recreational Reserve, Darling Hills State Forest, Don Moore Reserve and Ted Horwood Reserve, it follows Darling Mills Creek and its tributaries through the suburbs of Castle Hill, Baulkham Hills, Carlingford, North Rocks and Northmead. A number of walking paths give access to the heart of what is the largest remnant of natural bushland in the area. Infamous 1820's bushranger Jack Donahoe, who carried out many robberies in the area, is reported to have used the gorge as a hideout.

With towering eucalypt forest, weathered sandstone cliffs, sparkling creeks cascading over rocks and sheltered rainforest gullies, Bidjigal Reserve is an island of natural habitat in the heart of the Hills area. 370 native plant species, over 140 native animals, myriads of birds, spectacular varieties of native orchids and a diverse show of fungi makes a walk through Bidjigal Reserve an interesting, relaxing and educational experience.

The earliest record of Indigenous people in the Bidjigal Reserve is from a rock shelter where, starting 10,000 years ago, they left many stone artefacts along with numerous animal bones.The area was part of the territory of the Bidjigal clan of the Darug people and provided an abundance of fresh water, fish, shelter, stone for tool sharpening and a wide range of plants and animals for food, medicine, weapons, tools and containers.

Mammals such as Echidnas, Sugar Gliders and Swamp Wallabies have made Bidjigal Reserve their home. There have been reports of possible Bandicoot tracks, but no actual sightings. Bush Rat,Water Rat and Antechinus may still be there but have not been found in recent surveys. Platypus were regularly seen up till the installation of the sewer in the mid 70s, but none since. A wide range of reptiles, with 22 species recorded, can be found in Bidjigal Reserve; the Eastern Water Dragon is common.The reserve is teaming with cicadas, dragonflies, butterflies, worms and other insects which constantly help keep the reserve in good health.The freshwater habitats in the reserve still support yabbies, eels and turtles.

There are numerous entry points into the reserve: via Excelsior Avenue, Castle Hill (Excelsior Creek); Blacks Road (Bellbird Creek), Westmore Drive (Blue Gum Creek), Bron Close and Sancturary Point Road, West Pennant Hills; Annette Place (Saw Mill Creek), Cross Street (Christmas Bush Creek), Park Road and Renown Road, Baulkham Hills and Woodbury Street (Rifle Range Creek), Larra Avenue and Raine Avenue, North Rocks.

Facilities: walking trails, toilets, sports, barbecue and picnic facilities at The Eric Mobbs Recreational Reserve and Ted Horwood Reserve. How to get there: train to Parramatta, Bus. No. 603 or 630, alight Cnr Park and Renown Rd near entrance to Ted Horwood Reserve.

Koala Park Sanctuary

Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills. Open 7 days 9.00am  5.00pm. A pleasant sanctuary where koalas and other native Australian animals may be viewed at close range. UBD Map 172 Ref C 2
Public transport: train to Pennant Hills. Bus to park.

Westleigh Aboriginal Engravings

Quarter Sessions Road, Westleigh: A set of engravings are to be found on the Great North Walk bush track near the end of Quarter Sessions Road in the southern section of the Berowra Valley Bushland Park. Mainly of fish and kangaroos, the engravings are located off the main track on a rock face close to the corner of a backyard. Another group, on a large slab of rock, was removed from a nearby housing development site to its present location to save it from destruction. It has an observation ramp leading up to it from Quarter Sessions Road.
Public transport: train to Hornsby, Bus No. 587 to Westleigh.

Lane Cove National Park

This National Park protects the peaceful bushland valley of the Lane Cove River, which passes through the North Shore's suburbs, making it within easy reach of the centre of Sydney. The Lane Cove River valley is home to some of the finest bushland in the Sydney area. There are bushland tracks leading into the park from most suburbs surrounding the park so access to its natural bushland is easy.

Unlike surrounding areas where evidence of Aboriginal occupation has been obliterated by urban development, such sites in the park have been preserved. Midden heaps along the river recall feasts of the oysters, fish, crabs and waterfowl found in the estuaries, while the forests would have provided possum, kangaroos, bandicoots and other animals. Rock carvings of kangaroos, an echidna, animal tracks and human-like drawings can also be seen.
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Pennant Hills Observatory

This now demolished observatory was completed in 1898. The Pennant Hills site  known as Red Hill  was chosen as it was a high point at 615 feet (190 metres) above sea level and free of wood fire smoke, with easy access to Sydney by road or railway. The observatory, a circular building with rotating dome and 330mm telescope, was operated for 32 years by James Short, the astronomical photographer. One of the assistants at Red Hill was Lawrence Hargrave, who went on to experiment with airfoil shapes and develop the basis for aircraft wing designs at Stanwell Park.

In 1930, due to Mr Short's impending retirement and a lack of funds to replace him, the government closed the facility. Light pollution and the increasing vibration from trucks passing along the road were other factors in the decision to shut the observatory, and in 1931 the telescope was moved back to the Sydney Observatory. The report on the Astrographic Catalogue was ultimately published in the 1960s, with over a million star positions plotted. A memorial plaque can be seen today in Observatory Park between Pennant Hills and Beecroft Roads, indicating exactly where the telescope was once mounted.

History of Pennant Hills
The area was first explored by Governor Arthur Phillip shortly after 15 April 1788. It was noted that the party saw "fine views of the mountains inland" (the Blue Mountains). Governor Phillip did not doubt that a large river would be found nearby; it soon was - it was the Lane Cove River. The first white settlement occurred in the area with the establishment of convict timber camps in the time of Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Permanent white settlement of Pennant Hills began only in the 1840s and took off with the arrival of the Northern railway line in the 1880s. In August 1912 the federal government opened a Wireless Telegraphy Station, the first of its kind on a national level. The suburb has grown considerably since the 1950s, when the motor car became commonplace.

The hill for which Pennant Hills is named is Mount Wilberforce, and is said to have been used in the early days of the colony as a signalling post, being a location from which both Sydney and Parramatta, the locations of the governor s places of residence, could be seen. Other signalling posts were at One Tree Hill (Ermington) and May s Hill (Parramatta). Extensively cultivated for citrus fruit growing before the arrival of suburbia, the first orchard in the district was planted by George Suttor. There are two theories about the origin of the suburb s name. One is that the name comes from a hill where a pennant was flown as a signal during the early days of New South Wales.

However, though such signals were certainly used, there is no evidence that such a pennant was ever flown at what is now Pennant Hills, but in the early 19th century the name applied to the whole ridge down as far as Mobbs Hill, which has a Telegraph Road to commemorate the signalling station. Also, references to the suburb of Pennant Hills were written 20 years before the establishment of pennant stations. Elizabeth MacArthur records receiving a flag signal at Parramatta that her husband John had returned from England in 1806. The other theory says that Pennant Hills was named after an 18th Century botanist, Thomas Pennant (Patrick 1994:79-80), though there is no contemporary evidence for this either. The fact that the area was first referred to as "Pendant Hills" in the Sydney Gazette when first published in 1803 makes this theory unlikely, as there was no Thomas Pendant either.

The name Pennant Hills originally applied to the area now known as West Pennant Hills. However, when the northern railway line was built it passed through what is now Pennant Hills, so a suburb grew around the station and took on the name. The area around Thompsons Corner was renamed West Pennant Hills. Pennant Hills is hilly and the highest altitude is at Observatory Park on Pennant Hills Road, which once was the site of the old astronomical observatory.

Pennant Hills Quarry: Actually located in Dundas Valley, Pennant Hills Quarry was opened in 1832 when the rich outcrop of volcanic rock was discovered by the Surveyor-General, Major Mitchell. The quarry was visited by many geologists of high standing, Charles Dana, Wilkes Expedition in 1840, Count Strzelecki in 1845 and Griffiths Taylor in more recent years. When it was discovered in the 1830s, convict labour was used for quarrying and breaking the stone. A roadway, reserved on the maps of the old grants, gave the government the right to the metal. A stockade to house the workmen was erected in what is now Dundas Park, remaining till the late 1800s. The metal was quarried and carted to the wharf, dumped into punts and conveyed to Sydney. In 1891 the Minister for lands received a deputation from the Dundas Mayor and Aldermen regarding the special lease of the quarry. It closed in 1902.

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