The suburb of Putney fronts the Parramatta River on its northern bank, between Gladesville and Meadowbank. Kissing Point Bay stretches to the west of Putney Point. Much of the Putney peninsula is now occupied by Putney Park. There are slipways on the shoreline that link the area with its boatbuilding past.
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Bennelong Memorial, Putney
This strip of Parramatta River foreshore on Waterview Street, Putney, has historic connections as it was here that the first private settlement outside of Sydney and Parramatta was established in 1792. Known first as Eastern Farms and then Kissing Point, the settlement of Ryde which grew in the hinterland beyond Kissing Point became a flourishing fruit growing region. It was at Ryde that Australia's first brewery was established and the famous Granny Smith apple was developed. Kissing Point is believed to have been thus named because the keels of laden sea-going vessels travelling up the river would 'kiss' the rocky outcrop which extends into the river at the location.
Bennelong Park received its name from the fact that Bennelong, the Aborigine who befriended Sydney's first Governor, Arthur Phillip, was buried near the river north of Kissing Point in an unmarked grave. When Bennelong's remarkable life ended on 2nd January 1813, not only did he die on James Squire's farm along the banks of the Parramatta River - he was buried in the orchard of brewer James Squire, which falls within the modern day park. While there is no evidence to explain how Bennelong and Squire first met, historians summise that Bennelong regularly "wandered" on to the brewer's property and that over time, the pair became such good friends he later lived on the land. The brewer insisted on burying his dear friend personally and later erected a plaque in his honour. The Reverend Charles Wilton, minister of the parish of the Field of Mars, wrote at the time: "He lies interred, between his wife and another chief (Nanbarry), amidst the orange trees of the garden."
The unmarked site was allegedly found again in 1927 by Charles Watson, a descendant of Squire, who was told by his mother about a black man's grave underneath a tennis court that had been built behind the brewer's old house. In the decades that followed roads were laid down, further clouding Bennelong's location. In 1970, a local elderly man who had visited the site in 1927 with Watson insisted the grave was now part of a suburban allotment on the intersection of two streets in Putney. Today, a memorial plaque sits in Cleves Park, Putney, to mark the approximate area where he is believed to be buried. UBD Map 213 Ref J 8
Public transport: Train to Chatswood, Bus No. 536. Alight cnr Delange and Pellisier Rds, walk south along Pellisier Rd.
When Nanbarry, nephew of Colebee the Cadigal elder, died in August 1821 he was buried at his request with Bennelong and his last wife, who might have been Boorong, sister of Bidgee Bidgee. They lie together somewhere overlooking the river. For twenty years the most prominent leader in this district was Maugoran's youngest son, Bidgee Bidgee, made chief of Kissing Point in 1816 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who also gave him a brass breastplate and a fishing boat. Bidgee Bidgee meant a river flat.
Bennelong, Nanbarry and Bidgee Bidgee went on long sea voyages in English sailing ships, but they spent their last years at Kissing Point. Bundle, was another key figure in the area who tracked robbers for Squire in 1804 when he was district constable. Bundle joined the crew of ships commanded by Captain Philip Parker King. He was the Old Bundle who held Bennelong's son Dicky, baptised as Thomas Walker Coke, in his arms the day he died aged nineteen in 1823. History records that Bidgee Bidgee and a few other Kissing Point Aborigines received blankets at Parramatta in 1834 and 1836. At this time it seems that Samuel Marsden was probably referring to Bidgee Bidgee (who seems to have died in 1837) when he wrote that: "... from Sydney to Parramatta all along the north side of the river, there is but one original Native, the rest are all dead; thou they were very numerous in these districts."
In 1840, experiments were carried out into the viability of operating steam powered vehicular punts guided by cables to carry vehicles from one side of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River to the other. Due to the impracticalities of laying cables across the busier parts of Sydney Harbour, cable punts were never used in Port Jackson itself. Cable punts began operation at Putney Point and Uhr's Point in the 1840s. The Uhr's Point service provided a vehicular link between Concord Road and Church Street, Ryde, until 1935 when it was replaced by the first of two bridges which today carry vehicular traffic from Concord to Ryde. The punt between Mortlake Point and Putney Point commenced operation in 1928 and is the last of its kind on the Parramatta River/Sydney Harbour waterways.
Hilly Street, Breakfast Point. UBD Map 213 Ref L 12
Tennyson Point sits on the northern bank of the Parramatta River on a peninsula positioned between Morrisons Bay and Glades Bay. The suburb was originally called Tennyson before it was renamed Tennyson Point by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales in 2001. In the 1820s all the land of the current suburb was owned by the daughter of brewer James Squire, Mary Ann Farnell, and her husband Thomas Charles Farnell, also a brewer. Mary Ann and Thomas were the parents of James Squire Farnell who became the first Australian born premier of New South Wales.
Morrisons Bay is named after Archibald Morrison, a soldier who received a land grant in 1795 of 55 acres. One of the colony's wealthiest settlers, Captain William Raven, owned 100 acres that ran between Glades Bay to Morrisons Bay. The land was subdivided in 1887. Named after Lord Alfred Tennyson, the Tennyson Estate was promoted as having front seat views to the Championship rowing course. Two world Champion rowers, Beach (1884) and Kemp (1887) have streets named after them. The Eastern side of Morrison s Bay once had a textile mill. The Head of bay is a reclaimed mangrove flat; River baths were established 1918. The tip of the peninsula into the Parramatta River at Tennyson Point is now called Raven Point. The creek running into Morrisons Bay near the western boundary of Tennyson Point is now called Grove Creek.
Kissing Point Wharf
The geographical feature is a point on the Parramatta River, located in Putney. Historically, the name referred to a much wider area than the current-day point. The origin of its unusual name is somewhat of a mystery. There are several possibilities - one is that the name was given because the area of water around it was the furthest up Parramatta River that heavily laden vessels could reach before their keels "kissed" the bottom. Another, more romantic possibility is the area was popular for picnics and that Governor Hunter may have had a kiss in return for his chivalry on one such occasion. A third is that Governor Hunter rowed up the river on a journey of exploration, had breakfast at Breakfast Point, rowed across the river to Kissing Point where he kissed his wife goodbye before embarking on his journey. The first suggestion is the least romantic but the most likely.
The area was inhabited by the Wallumedegal people prior to European Settlement. When the area was first settled by European colonists it was known as Eastern Farms. Land grants were made to 10 emancipated convicts in 1792. By 1794 the name had given way to Kissing Point. In the early 19th century the name was applied to an area including the current day Ryde, Putney and Gladesville. One of the emancipists was James Squire who brewed the colony's first beer and became a wealthy business man. He grew hops in the area and established a brewery and a tavern on the location just west of the current-day Kissing Point. A plaque to James Squire is erected on the site.
Kissing Point was also an important source of fruits and vegetables for the early colony. Bennelong died in the area. He was buried on the property of James Squire, probably in the area of the current day Cleves Park, around 300 metres from the point. Kidman and Mayoh's Shipyard established to build freight ships to replace freight fleet post World War I. A disastrous outcome, as the two ships built here were not commissioned, and were burnt and sold for salvage. Halvorsen s ships located where James Squire's original wharf stood. Halvorsen's made ships for World War II.
Kissing Point, New South Wales, 1825. Artist: Joseph Lycett (1775-1828)
Aboriginal people lived for thousands of years in what we call the City of Ryde. When the first Europeans settled at Sydney Cove in 1788 the traditional owners of this area were the Walumedegal. That name was told to Captain Arthur Phillip, first governor of the convict colony of New South Wales, by Woollarawarre Bennelong who came from the clan called the Wangal on the south side of the river. Evidence of the Walumedegal clan remains around Morrisons Bay and Glades Bay, with four distinct sites including shelters amongst the sandstone overhangs, open rock engraving site, sheltered stencil (art site) and an axe grinding site.
The first encounters between the foreigners in boats and the river people in February 1788 were friendly, with laughter and mimicry on both sides. Their lives changed forever the following November when armed marines built an earthwork fort at Parramatta. This action displaced the family of the Burramattagal elder Maugoran and his wife Gooroobera, who were forced to move down the river to The Flats, near Meadowbank. Then in April 1789 came the smallpox epidemic, which Bennelong said killed half the Indigenous population. Smallpox might account for the fact that no Wallumedegal are identified in history, unless, which is possible, either or both of Maugoran's wives, Gooroobera or Bidgee Bidgee - mother Tadyera who died of dysentery, were Wallumedegalleon (wallumedagaliang), or women belonging to the clan. The most enduring symbol of the Aboriginal presence in the City of Ryde is the grave of Bennelong and Nanbarry, two key figures in the history of early Sydney.
When the area was first settled by European colonists it was known as Eastern Farms. By 1794 the name had given way to Kissing Point. In the early 19th century the name was applied to an area including the current day Ryde, Putney and Gladesville. It was of one the first areas of British settlement in the colony. Land grants were made to ten emancipated convicts in 1792. One of the earliest settlers within the present day suburb was the brewer James Squire who settled there in 1792. He established his brewery, the Malt Shovel, near the present day Kissing Point. The eastern section of Putney was part of a land grant to Nicholas Bayley. The land was later sold to Eugene Delange who subdivided the land calling it the Village of Eugenie. The name was later changed to Putney, derived from its namesake Putney on the River Thames in London. Parramatta River had been known as the 'Thames of the Antipodes' and other nearby suburbs were also named after Thames localities of Greenwich, Woolwich and Henley.
Putney's link with rowing began when Sydney's first rowing regatta was held in 1847 at Kissing Point. The following decade, Sydneysiders were mad about rowing, and lucrative prizes were given to local and national championships. By the 1880s the river was a focus for thousands watching the world championship sculling races. The course ran between Kissing Point and Uhr's Point (south east side of Ryde Bridge). The local addiction to sculling fever was called "water on the brain". Local resident and poet, Banjo Paterson, recalled; "from twenty-five to thirty men could be seen on any fine morning swinging along in their sculls at practice and such men! From riverside farms, and from axe men's camps in the North Coast timber country, from shipyards and fishing fleets, they flocked to the old river as the gladiators flocked to Rome in the last days of the Empire."
Around 1900, on its western shore, Christian Nielsen operated a boatshed and built racing sculls, fours and eights. Nielsen was born in Denmark in 1860. He ran away to sea at 16 and eventually, because of his prowess as a sculler, found his way to the Parramatta River. He was one of many such boatbuilders along this Parramatta River rowing course. In January 1943, the Slazenger company leased 1.6 hectares of waterfront land at Putney to build 14 metre long plywood punts for the United States Army. The facility became a wholly owned government works managed by Slazengers on behalf of the Australian Shipbuilding Board. There were about 80 shipwrights, painters and dockers working at the site. In 1944,work began on building motorised scows for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). These boats were 17 metres long with a 3.6 metre beam. They were built of Oregon and the hull, from the keel to the waterline, was copper sheathed. They were fitted with diesel motors, and destined for the Pacific area. Six were completed and another 27 were in production by the end of World War II in 1945.