St Marys

Its is often thought that the areas to the west of Parramatta, being further out, were settled more recently that some of the inner suburbs, but this is not the case. Within 20 years of the founding of the settlement on Sydney Cove in 1788, land around what is now known as South Creek was being settled, as it had a permanent water supply and rich alluvial soil along the banks of the Creek. The expanding agricultural community here, originally known as South Creek, soon became a became a convenient staging post on what was then called the Great Western Road, later renamed to the Great Western Highway. Many of the key pioneer families of colonial Sydney were associated with the area.

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St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church and Cemetery

The suburb of St Marys is named after the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, built between 1837 and 1840 and situated between the Great Western Highway and King Street. The church's foundation stone was laid on November 22 1837 by William Grant Broughton, Australia's first Anglican Bishop. It is one of the oldest churches in New South Wales that still has regular services. The church is heritage-listed. Internees in the church cemetery include the wife of Philip Gidley King, Governor of New South Wales, plus numerous members of the King and Lethbridge families.

Another notable pioneer buried here was Thomas Smith lived from 1819 to 1896. He was the original owner and builder of the famed Red Cow Inn and Thornton Hall. Smith hosted a cricket match between six players of the local Nepean Cricket Club and Lord Sheffield's English team on 16th and 17th February 1892. The match, played on Thornton Hall's land, was drawn. The cricket pitch used for the match still exists at Thornton Oval, Penrith. Thomas Smith was a councillor on Penrith's first council.

The land for the church was donated by King's son and the bricks were made on his estate. The site is believed to have been chosen by the mother of Phillip Parker King. the oldest grave in the cemetery - of Thomas Harper - is dated 1818.

Bronte House

Bronte House (1889) was constructed for the renowned wagon builder James W Bennett in close proximity to the Bennett Coach and Wagon Works formerly located in Queen Street. This grand house was designed to overlook both Penrith and the mountains and originally stood on grounds of three acres. Apart from being a residential property Bronte House has also operated as a guesthouse and a cafe. Location: 50 Gidley Street, Cnr Corner King Street, St Marys.

Victoria Park and War Memorial

Victoria Park began when Sir Maurice O'Connell made provision for a park in the subdivision of his wife's estate (Mary O'Connell, the daughter of Gov. William Bligh) in 1842 to establish the village of St Marys. In 1892, local tanner, Alfred Alcock, bequeathed adjoining land making it a five acre reserve. The War Memorial was erected in 1922 to honour the residents of St Marys who fought and died in World War I. Location: Victoria Park and War Memorial, Great Western Highway and Pages Road, St Marys.

Bennett Wagons Pavillion, South Creek Park

The Bennett wagon 'Maxina' (1920) is one of three wagons on display in an exhibition pavillion as a monument to St Marys' industrial past. The Bennett Wagons enterprise was one of St Marys' manufacturing stalwarts in the 19th Century. The wagons were made originally by James Bennett (Snr) in a shed behind the hotel now know as the Park View opposite Victoria Park. His wagon building business started in the 1850s. Subsequently his sons took over an area of Queen Street. Eventually there were two Bennett factories; their wagons were famous throughout Australia for their strength and quality. Location: South Creek Park, Great Western Highway and Charles Hackett Drive, St Marys.

Orchard Hills

The Explorers' Memorial Cairn

The neighbouring locality of Orchard Hills takes its name from the orchards located on the area's undulating hills at the turn of the 20th century. In 1806, Governor Philip King granted 600 acres (2.4 km2) in what is now Orchard Hills to Mary Putland, the daughter of the incoming governor, William Bligh. She named the property Frogmore. Adjoining the Frogmore Estate was the York Estate, originally owned by the York family. When it was subdivided in the late 1880s, the land was mainly sold for orchards and vineyards. By the early 1900s a rural community had established in the area and a village developed.

Rev. Samuel Marsden built Mamre, a two-storey Georgian house, c.1830, on the west side of what is now Mamre Road. It was constructed of sandstone and is heritage-listed. It is now used as a function centre and is open for guided tours. The Mount Hope Methodist Church was built in 1904 and the York Estate Public School was built in 1910. Until this time the area had no consistent name being known by different people as Frogmore, York and Mount Hope.

The Explorers' Memorial Cairn was unveiled in 1938. The memorial commemorates the starting point for the expedition undertaken by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth to cross the Blue Mountains. The cairn is located adjacent to the former site of Gregory Blaxland's farm, 'Leeholme'. The white marble tablet erected by the citizens of St Marys in 1938 to commemorate the site of his farm on the South Creek. Blaxland set out from his farm on the 11th May 1813 with William Lawson and W.C Wentworth attended by four servants with four pack horses and five dogs on the first offical expedition that crossed the Blue Mountains. Location: 31 Luddenham Road, Orchard Hills.
Mamre Homestead

A rare regional example of a fairly intact pre-1860 colonial landscape and homestead on the Cumberland Plain, Mamre Homestead is a two-storey Georgian home that is heritage-listed. Built between 1822 and 1832 for Reverand Samuel Marsden, Mamre served as a model farm for the surrounding communities. Known for its fine fruit and vegetables, and became the centre of his famous Merino breeding programme which played a key role in the early development of the wool industry in New South Wales. Samuel Marsden (1764-1838), the first Anglican chaplain of Parramatta, is remembered as an important figure in the early missionary history of New Zealand, with strong ties to settlement and missionary activities in Kerikeri and the Northland district in particular.

Marsden purchased 38 acres from a lapsed grantee at South Creek in 1799 where he commenced experimental wool production activities. He then purchased a further 200 acres, also at South Creek. By 1802 Marsden's total land holdings at South Creek amounted to 333 acres, primarily devoted to wool production. The name comes from Genesis 13:18 "Mamre which is in Hebron" (meaning land which is promised). By 1802 Marsden's total land holdings at South Creek amounted to 333 acres, primarily devoted to wool production. In 1804 Marsden received a 1030 acre grant, again at South Creek and he proceeded to plant experimental crops of hemp and flax. Flooding in 1805 destroyed the experimental crops but experimental wool production continued and in 1807 Marsden left for England taking with him the first "weavable" wool from the Colony, produced at Mamre.

Between 1822 and 1832 the homestead at Mamre was built and the farm itself became firmly established. The house was not intended as a permanent residence, but rather as a country cottage to provide basic accommodation for the overseers of the farm. In the 1820s it was noted for its cultivated rose and cottage gardens. In 1838 Samuel Marsden died and ownership of the property passed to his only surviving son, Charles, who used the house as a permanent residence. There are believed to have been between 20 and 30 servants employed to work the farm and orchards at this time. In 1840 the Mamre farm was sold to Richard Rouse, a prominent public servant and grazier and in 1841 Rouse gave the farm to one of his daughters, Elizabeth Henrietta Rouse, as a wedding present upon her marriage to the Hon. Robert Fitzgerland, MLC.

The house was restored for the bicentennary in 1988. Mamre is today a project of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, having been developed as a training centre for the unemployed of the area. Programs are taught in a supportive atmosphere where personal development is encouraged and nurtured. Mamre House Cafe is open to the public Tuesday to Friday 10.00 am to 2.30 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm (Breakfast 9.00 am to 11.00am) and at other times for group bookings. The rustic setting, with magnificent oak trees and a fragrant rose garden provides an ideal location for a wedding or special occasion. The quiet atmosphere and well appointed rooms provide effective meeting and conference venues. Guided tours of the homestead and property bring Mamre's history to life. The gift shop has a unique variety of Australian made pottery, glassware, jewellery, woodwork of a special employment program, will delight the home gardener.

Mamre Homestead, situated on Mamre Road, St Marys.

Werrington House

Werrington is a two storey sandstone house, built between 1829-1832 by Robert Copland Lethbridge and his wife Mary, who was the youngest child of Governor Philip Gidley King. Werrington House was based on the Lethbridge family home in Cornwall, England, and is one of the most significant colonial homes in New South Wales and is heritage-listed. The house features an unusually formal facade with fine cut ashlar stone, decorate pilasters and architrave to the front door, and a false window to maintain symetry.

The property was part of four grants made to Governor King's children in the last week of his term of office in 1806. The Lethbridge family farmed the surrounding estate until 1865, when Robert Lethbridge died. Werrington House itself was leased to New South Wales premier Henry Parkes between 1860 and 1872. Parkes arranged for the construction of a private railway platform nearby. In 1878, it was opened to the public as Parkes Platform but was renamed Werrington in 1893. It is currently the home of former NSW Opposition Leader Peter Collins and his wife Jennine. The home is opened annually to raise money for the St Marys Historical Society.
Location: 108 Rugby Street, Werrington, NSW.

South Creek Station

It looks like a railway station, it even has a train in the station waiting for the signal to change so it can leave, but if you board the train you ll be waiting forever to begin your journey, or if you try to buy a train ticket to South Creek you ll get a blank look, because there s no such station on the Sydney System. This phantom railway station, located on Mamre Road, St Marys, is in fact a novel home for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia St Mary s Sub-Branch. Its buildings and associated railway memorabilia are all genuine, rescued from various locations around the state, including the restored ticket office, steam locomotive and carriages standing in the station that are now used by the members of the Association.

The locomotive at the platform is Former BHP Newcastle 0-4-0T steam locomotive Number 16. Behind it is a Tulloch double-deck EMU trailer car T4823; ODS2257 (ex-OFS2257), an RUB Daylight Express carriage; and EPT1481, a 1913-vintage wooden-bodied guards van (formerly EHO669, converted for use DEB Set railcars for a time and renumbered 1481 during 1966 before being condemned in 1982. This collection, in its current display form was assembled from a variety of sources (some local), while the station itself also features a number of classic luggage trolleys, platform lamp posts and indicator boards.

The Porter-built 0-4-0T (builders number 6596 of 1920), although originally built for BHP Newcastle, was sold during 1962 (along with sister engine 12) to the Emu Plains Sand & Gravel Company for service at that operator s quarry on the Western bank of the Nepean River, just North of Emu Plains Railway Station. The pair worked the quarry until closure in 1967 (although it reopened for a period sometime later) and 16 eventually found its way into the collection of the NSW Rail Transport Museum at Thirlmere, where it was used as a depot shunter for a time. UBD Map 185 Ref G 5

St Marys Munitions Factory

The remains of an ammunition building and bunkers which were once part of a munitions factory and storage facility are located within the St Marys Industrial Estate, which was built on the site of the wartime complex. Designed for explosives, the buildings were erected during World War II, each being surrounded by mounded earth. A number of tunnels and trenches remain. After the War ended, the factories were leased or sold to private enterprise and the Dunheved Industrial Estate came into being. Many of the munitions workers had established lives in the town and stayed on to work in the new industries, as did the returning servicemen and women. Part of the Munitions Factory was turned into a Migrant Hostel, again swelling the population of St. Marys. Migrants and their dependants were permitted to remain in the hostels from 3 to 12 months, and were given training to assist with re-settlement. The factory site is now an industrial estate. Location: Dunheved Circuit, St Marys.

Werrington is a neighbouring suburb located 48.5 kilometres(30 mi) west of the Sydney central business district. Prior to European settlement, what is now Werrington was home to the Gomerrigal-Tongarra people who spoke the Darug language. They lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle governed by traditional laws.

The first land grant in the area was made in 1806 to Mary King, youngest daughter of the Governor Phillip Gidley King. Mary did not take possession of the property until 1827, after her marriage to Robert Copeland Lethbridge. They built a house, which they named Werrington, and farmed the surrounding estate until 1865, when Robert Lethbridge died. The Lethbridge family name still survives in Lethbridge Street and Lethbridge Avenue.

Werrington County

A neighbouring suburb located west of Werrington and South Creeks, and east of Werrington Downs, Werrington County is a modern residential suburb with the vast open land of the St Marys' Australian Defence Industries (ADI) site located along its northern border. Originally, the area was farm land and orchards. Tanneries were once located along Werrington Creek. This suburb has a natural bushland boundary on its northern and eastern side. Werrington County is close to many recreational activities such as Dunheved and Colonial golf courses and the Kingsway sporting fields.

The suburb of Werrington County is named after Werrington Estate. Werrington County forms part of Mary and Elizabeth King's grants. It was developed as a residential estate from the late 1970s and by the mid 1980s was almost built out.

The heritage-listed property Werrington House stands in Rugby Street. The property was part of four grants made to Governor King's children in the last week of his term of office in 1806. The Lethbridge family farmed the surrounding estate until 1865, when Robert Lethbridge died. Werrington House itself was leased to New South Wales premier Henry Parkes between 1860 and 1872. Parkes arranged for the construction of a private railway platform nearby. In 1878, it was opened to the public as Parkes Platform but was renamed Werrington in 1893. The home is opened annually to raise money for the St Marys Historical Society. The Werrington estate was sold and subdivided from the 1880s.
St Clair

Erskine Park Road

St Clair was a new housing estate established in the 1980s. It is bordered by Erskine Park Road on its east, the M4 Motorway to the north and Mamre Road along its western boundary. It was largely rural land until the new housing development, but is now a well established suburb with modern facilities with close access to the M4 Motorway, and a refurbished shopping centre. Its population has soared over the past ten years.

This suburb s name is a controversial one, as it has no historical links with the area. Originally it was the name given to a residential housing development established in 1970. The whole area was formerly called South Creek and consisted of several large land grants. It was later, unofficially, known as South St. Marys, with the southern section being Erskine Park. The Geographical Names Board eventually made the decision in late 1981 to divide the area into two separate suburbs named St Clair and Erskine Park, rather than call the whole area Erskine Park as many people wanted.

Colyton, a neighbouring suburb, is within the greater regional locality of St Marys. This suburb is mainly residential, featuring large sporting fields, a primary school, high school, shopping centre and a Life Education Centre. There is some industrial activity along Roper Road. Its boundary is Ropes Creek, the Great Western Highway, Marsden Road and the M4 Motorway. Colyton is one of the older established suburbs with older homes on large blocks of land. Historically, the name Colyton generally referred to the area east of Ropes Creek. The present site of Colyton was traditionally known as St Marys.

Colyton is named after Colyton House in Devon England which had been the family home of the wife of William Cox Junior, son of the famous builder of the road across the Blue Mountains, also named William. The property of 800 acres had been granted to Cox on 17 August 1819 by Governor Macquarie. It was located on the southern side of the Western Highway opposite the present Colyton Primary School. It was only used for grazing and wheat growing. In 1842, William Cox's estate was subdivided to form the 'Village of Colyton' with surrounding farmlets.
Oxley Park

Oxley Park is a neighbouring residential suburb. It is one of the older suburbs in Sydney's Greater West, with older homes on large blocks of land. Its boundary includes Ropes Creek, the Great Western Highway, Sydney Street and the Main Western railway line. Oxley Park was named after explorer John Oxley (1784-1828) was granted 600 acres (2.4 km2) in this area in 1823. The grant extended from Queen Street St Marys east to Ropes Creek and from the Great Western Highway to the railway line.

Oxley never lived there nor was any homestead built there for occassional stays. It was most probably used as a cattle run. After the death of John Oxley, his property at St. Marys was purchased by Phillip Parker King. Anna Josepha King, Phillip's mother chose a site on this land for the St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church. After World War One this land was subdivided into five acre lots and named Oxley Park.

St Marys General Cemetery occupies the north-eastern corner of the Great Western Highway and Sydney Street at Oxley Park. The cemetery was opened in 1881 with an Anglican Section and with Anglicans as Trustees. In later years, as the area was developed, it was divided into denominational sections. The first recorded burial were two Lutheran children (undated) and the next registered was not until 1886 with the interment of David Knighton. St Marys General Cemetery is the major burial ground for the St Marys region. It has a large number of Greek, Maltese, Italian and Eastern European graves.
Claremont Meadows

South Creek forms its eastern boundary

Claremont Meadows is one of the more recent residential developments within the City of Penrith. It is a small quiet and isolated estate bounded by the Great Western Highway, Gipps Street, Caddens Road and the University of Western Sydney Nepean. Although there are few services available in comparison with other more established suburbs, Claremont Meadows is centrally located to take full advantage of the tertiary facilities within the City as well as the shopping centres of both St Marys and Penrith.

Governor Macquarie granted Mary Bligh an additional 1055 acres of land in the Parish of Claremont as a wedding present when she married her second husband Maurice O Connell in 1810. Her first husband John Putland had died of tuberculosis in 1808. This property was named Coallee. The O Connells never lived on the property and in 1855 the land was initially sold to Andrew McCullock who subdivided the area into four blocks before reselling them.

The western blocks, which make up the neighbourhood of Claremont Meadows were initially purchased by Henry Nash, and later by Bryan Molloy. It was Molloy who named his property Claremont. The farm was divided between his children after his death in 1885. The area was opened up as a housing estate in 1984.
Australian Defence Industries (ADI) Site

The 1,535 ha Australian Defence Industries (ADI) site, situated between Penrith and St Marys, is a bushland oasis within western Sydney's rapidly expanding suburbia. It is of outstanding conservation significance because it contains: one of the largest remnants of the threatened Cumberland Plain woodlands; a range of other rare and endangered bushland, including Castlereagh, grey box and paperbark swamp woodlands, river flat forest, small wetlands and sedgelands; a highly diverse native fauna including 110 bird species, 9 mammal, 10 reptile, 8 frog species including the threatened green and golden bell frog, and over 40 species of jewel beetles as well as the only emus and kangaroos in the wild in the Sydney area (though these were introduced). Much of the site has been listed by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) on the Register of the National Estate for its conservation value.

The site was acquired from unwilling land owners by the Commonwealth Government from 1941 to 1943 for the production and storage of munitions. The factory was closed and some land in St Marys was sold in 1946, but the Korean War created a need for a new factory (completed in 1957); this facility was closed in 1995. The site was transferred to ADI in 1989. In late 1990, ADI sought a rezoning from Penrith and Blacktown councils.

900 hectares of virgin bushland within the former ADI site has been handed over for public ownership with the creation Wianamatta Regional Park. Now in the care of NSW Parks & Wildlife Services, the park gives protection to the site's population of wild emus and kangaroos. The park runs between Jordan Springs and Ropes Crossing.
Ropes Crossing

The neighbouring suburb of Ropes Crossing is located 49 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. Ropes Crossing was originally part of St Marys. The suburb is named as a place where Ropes Creek was crossed.

Ropes Creek Station before restoration

The area was the site of a World War 2 munitions area, now formerly known as Australian Defence Industries (ADI). The area had its own railway line, built during World War II to serve the Department of Defence area to the north of St Marys station. The line had had three stations on it: Dunheved, Cochrane and Ropes Creek. Cochrane station is on restricted property, so the opportunities to visit are limited. The line was closed to passenger rail traffic with a down turn of passengers and munitions traffic in the early 1980s but remained open to freight traffic for Sims Metal. However, when this was then switched to road traffic the line closed. The line then lay idle for a number of years. On 22 March 1986, the line was officially closed forever, with an enthusiasts' special being the last train to traverse the section and not long after that, the overhead power supply was removed.

The suburb has recently been developed for housing by Lend Lease with up to 2,200 homes and contains a regional park in the centre. Housing is divided up into five villages - Aurora, Barinya, Brookwood, Talloway and Woodlands. Rochford Place is allocated as "Over 55's Living". Ropes Crossing Public School was opened in 2008. After the station building was destroyed by fire in June 2011, the site was redeveloped as cultural park. The platform has been retained, and the name Ropes Creek Station retained, through trains do not run here, as it is part of a recreational area redevelopment.
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  • Ropes Creek from Forrester Rad, North St Marys

    Ropes Creek is approximately 23 kilometres long rising near Devils Back Tunnel, about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north north-east of Cecil Parkand, flowing north into South Creek north of the Wianamatta Regional Park. The creek itself was named for Anthony Rope, a convict who arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. He married female convict, Elizabeth Pulley in May 1788. Rope learned bricklaying whilst working at Brickfields near Sydney and later moved to the Nepean District. In 1806, the Ropes were renting 48 acres on the Nepean and by 1820 had been granted 20 acres in the district.

    It is thought that that Rope was granted land fronting the creek, since it was named after him, however this has yet to be established. Ropes Creek flows in a northwesterly direction to join South Creek and then into the Hawkesbury River. There are six tributaries along Ropes Creek. Numerous reas along Ropes Creek have significance to the local Aborigines.

History of St Marys
The location was first granted to Major George Druitt (1775-1842), after whom the nearby suburb of Mt Druitt, and Druitt street in Central Sydney, are named. Druitt was appointed acxting chief engineer and inspector of public works by Gov. Lachlan Macquarie in 1817. Family members of Philip Gidley King, Governor of New South Wales, were among the early grantees of land in the area. The land for the church which gave the settlememnt its present name was donated by King's son and the bricks were made on his estate.

King, Gidley and Lethbridge Streets were named after various members of the King family. Internees in the church cemetery include the wife of Philip Gidley King, plus numerous members of the King family. The family property had been acquired from John Oxley in 1828 by King, the original grant having been made in 1823. Other land grants in the area by Gov. King included those to Anna Josepha King in 1807 (Dunheved), the famous (some would say infamous) Angican cleric Samuel Marsden (Mamre), and Mary Putland (Frogmore), the daughter of the incoming governor, William Bligh.

The name St Marys was first used when the St Mary's Post Office was opened on 1 October 1840. The township formed part of the grant to Mary Putland (1783 - 1864), who later married Sir Maurice O'Connell. Mary was the Lady of Government House during the period her father William Bligh was the Governor of New South Wales, as Bligh's wife had stayed in England, fearing the long ocean voyage. O'Connell, who arrived in Sydney with Mary's father's replacement - Major Lachlan Macquarie - became the Major-General of all the troops in New South Wales in and a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1838. Closer settlement of the South Creek area was made possible when part of the O'Connell Estate was sold off and subdivided. In the early part of the 20th century, St Marys became an industrial town, with wagon builders and tanneries. During World war II, a large munitions factory was located here, which at the time was not yet part of the outer suburban area of Sydney.

The St Marys & District Historical Society is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Community Centre complex located on Mamre Road on the Southern side of the Great Western Highway.

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