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. Its 430 ha of parkland are 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 and the upper Lane Cove River. 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.

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.<
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.

West Pennant Hills

Cumberland State Forest

The neigbouring suburb of West Pennant Hills is a residential suburb with a commercial area located at Thompsons Corner. The nearest train stations are Beecroft and Pennant Hills, the suburb is also serviced by buses. Attractions include the Cumberland State Forest and the Koala Park Sanctuary.

The suburb was named for both its geological features and its man-made additions. When Sydney was first established, 'Pennant Hills', applied to the range of hills stretching north from Parramatta. The Pennant refers to a flag pole erected on the area s highest point. During the first years of the Sydney settlement this flag pole with its pennant was a form of early communication between the government in Parramatta and the governor s outer Sydney residence. It was used to signal to Parramatta that the governor was returning to Parramatta after spending time at his retreat in the outer areas of Sydney.

Thompsons Corner

Thompsons Corner is named after Andrew Thompson (1773-1810), a convict who received a grant of 100 acres (0.40 km2) in 1796 opposite the signal station in Pennant Hills. Workmen on the railway from Strathfield to Hornsby established a camp and stores depot there in about 1890. During Lachlan Macquarie's governorship (1810 21), a timbersawing establishment stood near today's Thompsons Corner.


Cheltenham railway station

The neighbouring suburb of Cheltenham is 21 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Cheltenham is small residential suburb with a distinctive English atmosphere, with a number of 19th Century mansions on tree-lined streets. Cheltenham shares its postcode of 2119 with Beecroft and has sometimes been viewed as simply part of that suburb. Most residents of Cheltenham see themselves as distinct from Beecroft, although local issues are addressed together in the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust.

Cheltenham takes its name from a house built by William Chorley, a Sydney tailor and men s outfitter, who acquired the land when it was released from the Field of Mars Reserve. He named the house after his birthplace of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Chorley asked the government to build a station here and to name it after his property when it opened in 1898. Sutherland Road was named for John Sutherland, Minister for Public Works from 1887 to 1889.

Cheltenham railway station is on the on North Shore, Northern & Western Line of the Sydney Trains network. The M2 Hills Motorway runs along the southern border of the suburb.


The neighbouring suburb of Beecroft is 22 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Beecroft was orchard country before its suburban development. The railway arrived in 1886 and Sir Henry Copeland, Minister of Lands, conducted a survey of the area to determine its suitability as a residential area. He named the suburb after the maiden name of his two wives, Hannah and Mary Beecroft, (two sisters he married in succession). Their names are also remembered through the respective naming of the suburb's east-west streets; Hannah Street, Copeland Road and Mary Street. The bushland and amenity of Beecroft has been largely preserved due to the efforts of the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust which has been very active since its inception in 1958.

Beecroft railway station is on the North Shore, Northern and Western Line of the Sydney Trains network. Prior to the construction of the M2 Hills Motorway, Beecroft's main road thoroughfare was commissioned as part of Sydney's Metroad system of major arterial roads and throughways.


Cherrybrook Lakes Conservation Reserve

The neigbouring suburb of Cherrybrook is 27 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Samuel Argall, who had married Bianca Van Struik, settled on a block in the area in 1839, planted orchards and built a small timber cottage they called "Cherrybrook Cottage". The name "Cherrybrook" is believed to have come from the fact they grew cherry trees near the creek, which passed through their land. Their 65-acre (260,000 m2) block, which became known as "Cherrybrook Farm", had been granted originally to Mary Russell during the 1820s.

In February 1959, the land was subdivided to become the first project home village in Sydney. The original bushland was bulldozed, and exhibition homes were built on cut and fill sites, then landscaped. Accelerated development occurred again in the remaining rural areas in the 1980s.

Many of Cherrybrook's streets are named after native plants, trees, historical figures from convict times or local landowners. When Cherrybrook was subdivided from 1959 onwards, the developers chose colonial architects as a theme for naming some streets, however none of the colonial architects and surveyors were associated with or lived in Cherrybrook.

Cherrybrook Lakes Conservation Reserve (The Lakes) is a tranquil Wildlife Protection Area. The animals that reside within this small stretch of bushland live in one of the last remnants of the Blue Gum High Forest of the Sydney Basin. The Reserve contains a series of pretty, man made lakes which are surrounded by the wonderful, shady, tall Blue Gum High Forest.


The neigbouring suburb of Normanhurst is 23 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Normanhurst is serviced by rail and buses. Normanhurst railway station is on the North Shore, Northern and Western Line of the Sydney Trains network. Normanhurst was originally known as Hornsby, with the suburb that is now known as Hornsby called Jack's Island Normanhurst was named after Norman Selfe, who settled in the area in the 1880s and campaigned for a railway station at Hornsby. The name was chosen by local residents in 1898 in preference to Pearce's Corner and Hornsby Junction, two names in common use at the time. Selfe was an engineer who installed the mining equipment for the Hartley Shale Mine and designed the scenic railway at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Normanhurst was settled by Samuel Horne, who planted the area's first orchard. Part of Samuel Henry Horne's property, it was subdivided into small farms after his death in the 1860s.

The construction of the Main Northern and North Shore railway lines in the 1890s brought about a name change. The two lines were joined at a station called Hornsby Junction, whereas the station one stop south on the Northern line kept the name Hornsby. Due to confusion around the similarly named stops, the postmaster demanded that Hornsby station change its name. The railway station originally known as 'Hornsby', opened on 21 November 1895 and the name was changed by the local community to Normanhurst in 1900.

Both the east and west sections of Normanhurst have extensive bush access. On the east side, a small section of bush lies between Normanhurst and Fox Valley. The western side of the suburb backs onto the southern reaches of the Berowra Valley, a continuous section of bush stretching all the way to Broken Bay. This gives Normanhurst a very "leafy" and rural look. This in turn contributes to making native bird life abundant. The area is home to cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, noisy miners, native brush turkeys, and powerful owls. Additionally, Normanhurst has several small waterfalls, which promote reptile and marsupial life, such as Eastern grey kangaroos, echidnas and red-bellied black snakes. It also has encouraged the growth of retirement residences in the suburb. The Hornsby Shire Historical Society and Museum is located on Kenley Road.


The neigbouring suburb of Westleigh is 22 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Westleigh derived its name from its location, directly west of Thornleigh. The area was originally heavily timbered, so many streets bear the names of Australian trees such as Stringybark Close, Spotted Gum Road, Eucalyptus Drive, Hibbertia Place, Peppermint Gum place and Ironbark Close.

Development as a residential suburb began in 1967, as a housing estate west of Quarter Sessions Road. Prior to this time the area was rural with many citrus orchards, with a small number of homes on acreage along Quarter Sessions Rd, extending north towards the former sandstone quarry near Blackfellow's Head, which was used as a dumping ground for stolen cars of the 1940s and 1950s.

Most of the suburb (except the southern side) is surrounded by natural bushland, which at times poses significant bush fire danger. On the western side of the suburbs runs the Great North Walk, which can be accessed from multiple points within the suburb. Heading north, the walk leads to a nearby water hole "fragile rock", also known as "Fraggle Rock". It features a large ten meter cliff sometimes used for diving, underwater tunnels and minor waterfalls. Refuge Rock is a large area of sandstone rock in the bushland to the west, used for training of soldiers prior to WWII; bushwalkers can observe blast marks from mortar fire in the sandstone.

On the eastern side of the suburb between Warrigal Rd and Gum Blossum Drive lies an area of scrub and bushland formerly occupied by the council rubbish dump (closed in 1962), the former sewerage dump (closed in about 1964), and the Sydney Water Reservoir which was completed in 1967. This area is now often used for various outdoor activities including walking and motorbike riding.

Westleigh Aboriginal Engravings

Over 100 Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the Hornsby region. These include engravings on sandstone ridges; rock shelters on the valley slopes containing cave paintings or drawing sites and archaeological deposits; open campsites and grinding grooves on valley floors; shell middens along tidal waterways; and scarred trees. A set of engravings are to be found on the Great North Walk bush track near the end of Quarter Sessions Road )photo above). Mainly fish and kangaroos, they 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.

A signposted site, known as the Blackfellow Head Engravings, has a timber platform providing some filtered views across the valley[. On the left side of the platform is a sandstone block with the engraved images of two wallabies. There are reports of other engravings in the area, but like many similar sites, their exact locations are not published to protect them. Please keep off the engravings area to protect them from wearing away.


The neigbouring suburb of Normanhurst is 22 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. Thornleigh is bounded to the north by Waitara Creek and south by the Lane Cove National Park. Thornleigh offers great district views and the topography varies greatly with many established areas built around bushland settings and into the hills to afford the great views. The northern areas of the suburb bounded by Larool Creek and Waitara Creek are leafy and lush with vegetation and native fauna including rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, cockatoos, and bush turkeys. Majorie Headen Lookout is a vantage point which overlooks Larool and Waitara Creek Valley.

Thornleigh was originally part of the land occupied by the Kuringai Aboriginal people. The first non indigenous people to explore the area of Thornleigh were a party led by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788. Settlers moved into the area in the 1830s and among them were James Milson, Patrick Duffy, John Thorn and Samuel Horne. Thornleigh is named after Constable John Thorn, who, along with Constable Horne, captured bushrangers Dalton and John MacNamara, leader of the North Rocks gang, on 22 June 1830, and were granted land as a reward in 1838. Horne's land became Hornsby (now Normanhurst), and Thorn's land became Thornleigh. Constable Horne never actually lived in the area but his land - 320 acres (130 hectares) 2.5 kilometres from present-day Hornsby - extended from Thorn's grant at Thornleigh along Pennant Hills Road to Pearces Corner.

Orcharding was one of the major mainstays of Thornleigh during the late nineteenth century. Thornleigh railway station opened on 17 September 1886 where the local produce (mainly citrus fruits) was exported to the city markets. Fruit grown at Thornleigh was also being exported as far as Vancouver and San Francisco. After the arrival of the railway, the district was progressively subdivided into suburban lots.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, unemployment was a problem in the area, so a local woman named Lorna Brand raised money for the construction of a walking track near the Lane Cove River as a way of providing relief work. The track begins at Thornleigh Oval, at the bottom of Handley Avenue, and goes through the bush towards the Lane Cove River. It then goes parallel to the river for a short distance before looping back to arrive at Comenarra Parkway. An extension goes down to the river, through a spot called Conscript Pass. At this spot, there are rock carvings done by the men who worked on the track. One of the carvings is a caricature of Bertram Stevens, Premier of New South Wales from 1932 to 1939. The track is known as Lorna Pass in memory of Lorna Brand, and is now part of the Great North Walk, a long-distance walking trail between Sydney and Newcastle.

The Lithgow Zig-Zag in the Blue Mountains is the most well known of the three such railway lines built in the Sydney region; the other two are at Lapstone and Thornleigh. The Thornleigh Zig-Zag, built in 1883-4 by Messrs. Amos & co, was used to haul crushed sandstone from a quarry behind Oakleigh Oval 30 metres up a steep gradient to the main line at Thornleigh station. There were two reversing stations. The branch was closed before 1900. Evidence of the line are still visible, including a cut??ting near Thornleigh station and embankments in the bush near Tillock Street.
Elouera Walk (Thornleigh to Hornsby)

Starting at Thornleigh station you walk through suburban streets for a short while before diving into the bush at the southern end of Berowra Valley Regional Park. Soon after visiting the site of the historic Zig Zag railway you start wandering through the Berowra Creek valley, passing a few cascading creeks. The track undulates along the side of the valley visiting a range of environments from moist fern forest to the drier grass tree and eucalypt forests of the ridge. There is a short side trip to visit the Westleigh engravings and a chance to pop down to fishponds, before climbing up the depression era stone steps to Hornsby station. Length: 10.2 km one way.
The Great North Walk

This is the Big Daddy of bushwalks in the Sydney region, comprising of 250km of walking track between from Sydney to Newcastle. It was developed by the former NSW Dept. of Lands and pain-stakingly explored and planned by Sydney bushwalkers Garry McDougall and Leigh Shearer-Heriot. Starting from the obelisk at Macquarie Place, Sydney the walk traverses through Hunters Hill and Lane Cover River NP, via the Benowie Track through Pennant Hills, Thornleigh, Berwora Waters and Cowan. It continues to Brooklyn, following the Hawksebury Track to Yarramalong, then over the Wattagan Mountains into Newcastle.

Where possible it passes through natural tracts of bushland and follows pathways used by for centuries by the Aborigines to travel from one region to another. The first 75km are within the bounds of the Sydney metropolitan area with many easy access routes to public transport. Ideal for day walkers, weekend jaunts or a full 14 day excursion. A set of six pamphlets by the Lands Dept. which detail the walk with interesting trivia, tips and maps are also available.
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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