BULLABURRA PAST AND PRESENT

Text of the address presented by Mrs Una King

22 February 2001

Before I begin I must make it clear that while some of these points are facts from Progress Association Minutes and from maps, many are anecdotal.

Thanks are due for much of the information to Mr John Graham who interviewed many of the older long-time residents and has kindly allowed me to use the information he gathered. Thanks also to Mr Brian Fox of the Bathurst Geographical Names Office for the copy of the 1879 Subdivision Map and further information which I have obtained from his book Upper Blue Mountains Geographical Encyclopedia.

Opinions vary as to the meaning of the name... Twin Peaks perhaps referring to Mt. Hay and Mnt.Banks which are both visible from the town; Blue Skies or the Aboriginal translation of Clear Skies - Pleasant Weather. Whichever one you choose the name Bullaburra when used by the Aborigines was, it is said,"pronounced in a deep sonorous manner as if coming from a didgeridoo".Aboriginal relics dating back to 12000 - 5000BC have been found on Kings Tableland so Bullaburra could well be one of the oldest names in Australia still retaining its original sound.

Before the railway crossed the mountains in the mid 1860s the only access was by coach, horseback or on foot. To serve the needs of travellers various stopping places sprang up. One of these was built in the 1830s opposite where the railway station now stands. When railway replaced coach travel Sir Henry Parkes purchased the site and built a residence, Buena Vista. Parts of these early buildings remain as part of a residence in Kalinda Road, one of which had been a kitchen and one a guest room. When the floor of the kitchen was being replaced a huge flat hard grey rock that was part of the core of the hill was found which was perhaps the original floor.

A map produced in 1879 by the NSW Government is the first map of the area available.!t shows most of the land to the north of the railway line as owned by Joseph Hay. The area to the south, between Godfrey's Hill and Genevieve Road almost all belonged to Sir Henry Parkes. West of Genevieve Road to Kings Tableland was an area under the ownership of a Mr John Graham.

Joseph Hay lived in what is now Hay Street on the eastern side of the Lawson-Bullaburra boundary. During the 1880s and 1890s he bought large Crown Portions mainly on the northern. side but also on the south of the track. He built his log cabin in what was then called Berg Street. He and his wife Mary, for whom Mary Street in Lawson is named, lived in the cabin with their family for some years,naming their property Lanassa Park..In the mid-1920s, Arthur Rickard's Real Estate Weekly (price Id) carried an advertisement for his recently sub-divided land. It was called Lanassa Park Estate.After the Hays moved from the house it was occupied by Tom Arundel and his family. He was an electrical engineer involved with the installation of electricity for the Western Line during the 1950s.

It seems to be a little unclear as to whether the land held by Sir Henry Parkes was all Crown Grants or whether some too was and it was added to by further purchases. He gave the name Village of Coleridge to the area he held. He also named Genevieve Road, De Quency Road (spelt De Quincy on the map), Cottte Road and Christabel (now Boronia) Road.

The original railway line had no stopping place at Bullaburra. This was built in the mid 1920s when Sir Henry Rickard wished to auction off the land The station was originally called Blue Skies. I do not know when the name Bullaburra was first used. Workers on the building of the railway.station lived in a shanty town where Eungella Park is now. Part of the area is now the commuter car park.

At the end of Albert Road there was a stand of cedar and assorted hardwoods. The first industry in the area was timber getting with one sawpit beside Bedford Creek where trees were prepared before being sent to the top of the hill by flying fox for processing at another saw pit. When the track to the Western Road became impassable a log road was laid. This road was still navigable in the 1950s by foot and bicycle. A part-time resident, Sir Herman Black (Chancellor of Sydney University) found a yoke from a bullock team in the area in the 1970s. Two houses in Bellevue Street, Lawson are said to have been built from Bullaburra cedar.

Bullaburra was the last town to be developed.

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The blocks offered by Arthur Rickard, a Sydney developer, were 100ft frontage, no water or sewerage, for 5.0.0 each. On the north side where Rickard intended the shopping centre to be there were several 50ft blocks and a car park planned. In 1925 apart from the"new railway station the only buildings in the area were some DMR sheds opposite Genevieve Road, the shop opposite the station, the shanty town which DMR workers apparently took over and a roadhouse on the comer of Genevieve Road and the highway. This roadhouse apparently had quite a reputation (as did another house in Boronia Road). This building, which was used as tea rooms from the 1930s until it closed in 1971, is now a private dwelling.

The reserve shown on the 1879 map is now Red Gum Park. At one time there was quite a good pool, formed by putting a cement wall across Bedford Creek, which was used by the locals as a swimming pool. Mr John Graham remembers it as being over one metre deep in the mid 1950s, but run-off from pig and poultry farms and septic tanks polluted it until it became dangerous to use so the wall was broken and the pool silted up. Remnants of the concrete wall can still be seen. The tracks through the park have been largely restored and the area is now reasonably accessible.

The shop on the comer of Cooranga Street and the Great t Western Highway was first occupied by a Mr Fletcher, a World War I veteran, who died shortly after taking it on. He was followed by a Mr Wigan who took over in 1929. He recalled that most of the adults (there were only three children)lived in the DMR camp in Eungella Park, opposite the store. His Income from the store was so meagre that he also worked for the Blue Mountains Shire Council (Lawson).

In 1936 he was sent by foreman Bob Metcalf to "turn the first sod" for the construction of Concrete Water Tower B on Godfrey's Hill. Godfrey's Hill was possibly named after Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Charles Mundy who travelled to Bathurst with Governor Fitzroy in 1846. It was referred to as.Godfrey's Pinch in the 1860s. It is the highest point in this area at 791 metres.)

In 1939 Margery Anderson, community leader and Councilor took over the store. Then came Rodders, Swinbourne and .others. The store was really the centre of the community. It was the Post Office, grocer,newsagency, greengrocer and general goods shop. It was possible to leave your shopping list and have the goods delivered.!t was open from6am to 8pm seven days a week.

When it ceased to be this kind of shop in the 1970s a community meeting place and focus was lost. When I first moved to Bullaburra in 1981 it was still open, selling fish and chips, bread, milk, sweets and ice cream and perhaps a few grocery lines.!t closed soon after and has been lots of things since: a patchwork shop which ran classes at night,an antique shop, a bed shop, secondhand goods and so on. It is now called Strange Brew and sells New Age things such as aroma therapy oils, candles, crystals, dream catchers, spells and a variety of clothing and gifts.

The Progress Association was formed in 1942 and as Margery Anderson was one of the founders it is not surprising that meetings were held at the store.!ts first stated aim was to work for a vehicle crossing to join North and South Bullaburra. 59 years later we are still waiting for this to happen.

The Progress Association obtained the land at the comer of Noble Street and the Great Western Highway in 1949 and constructed the hall using sheds obtained from the Navy Depot at Kingswood. Over the following years the Progress Association Minutes detail every step of bringing the hall to its present state.In the early days it was used only by the Association itself or by the members with an occasional exception being made for worthy causes.!t also became the Polling Booth for Council, State and Federal elections.

Games nights were held on a regular basis and were well attended. Dances were held from time to time and it was apparently the centre of local activity.

A Ladies Auxiliary met each 1 st Monday and played Bingo and had lunch. Street stalls at Lawson and a table on election days were the main fund raisers.Many bus trips and bush walks were also held.
After a grant from the Western Area Assistance Scheme and some money from insurance following vandalism enabled the leaking fibro roof to be replaced, the also leaking fireplace to be removed and security to be upgraded the hall has been let more frequently.

It was declared a heritage site in either the late 50s or early 60s so we probably should not have removed the chimney but as we had not been told it was too late when we found out. The" Blue Mountains Lapidary Club has also built a workshop on the land and conducts regular meetings there.

In 1950 the petrol station was built on the comer of Boronia Road and the Great Western Highway by Arthur Denning of Lawson. The first proprietor was Ken Perkins.

It has passed through many hands since then and sold many different brands of petrol. It also was the site of an unexploded World War n cannon shell.During the 1980s when it was known as the Grumbling Turn it was closed down when the Council Health Inspector found the kitchen to be in an unacceptably dirty condition.!t was refurbished and reopened after a short period.

Plans to extend it into a convience store and car wash have apparently been shelved.

The Bullaburra Volunteer Bushfire Brigade was formed in 1955 with 25.members.Harry Baker" was the first captain.. Meetings were initially held in the store.

The first "shed" was behind the store. The first tanker was provided by Stan Lattye and funds to equip it were raised by the Ladies Auxiliary. 1O0-was raised in the first 2 months from Bunker evenings. (Bunker, for those unfamiliar with the term was a dice game which was very popular, at least in Bullaburra, about that time.)A single brick shed was built on the eastern comer of Kalind Road and the Highway in 1955-57. There was a brief period when the Brigade was apparently inactive but it revived again in 1977 when land was donated and the present shed started.

This was the year when disaster seemed to strike. In January the Granville Disaster took place. I am not aware if any Bullaburra residents lost their lives but some were certainly injured as I remember seeing the name Bullaburra on the casualty lists.

Then in December the disastrous bushfires swept through the area destroying many houses and other buildings. One of the buildings damaged and later removed was the lookshed built on the comer of Cooranga Street and Kalinda Road by the Progress Association. The view from this point was said to cover from the sandhills of Kumell to Mittagong. The trees have grown up in front of the site and the air was certainly not clear enough for this when I tested this theory but no doubt in prepollution days it was a magnificent view and people no doubt made good use of the shed.Also . destroyed were the amenities in Red Gum Park. Tables have been replaced but there are no longer any other amenities.

There was a wish among Anglican residents to construct a church on the land now occupied by the Progress Hall. Home services were held because of the lack of a church. By 1928 the sum of 28 had been raised but this was given to Lawson. House services ceased in 1939.

At the end of World War IT the block of land at the comer of Noble Street was offered by Sir Arthur Rickard for 45 pounds to provide a church which was built within two years. The two years passed and nothing eventuated so a Mr Pressley suggested a United Church be built behind the store for the use of all religions. A church hall was built in the early 1950s. The 25th anniversary of the Progress Association was marked there with a service in 1967. In the early 1970s it became a private residence.

The North Bullaburra area has not been the scene of so much activity as the South. Houses were more scattered until recent years. Many of the roads which are shown on Council maps and street directories are in fact not made or are mere tracks.

In 1961 the Progress Association requested that the two lanes joining Railway Parade to Bullaburra Road be given names. The Council asked them to suggest names so the names of Anderson Avenue (for Margery Anderson) and Flanagan Avenue (for another longtime resident) came into being.

The initial request for a pedestrian crossing was made in 1961.. It was refused on the grounds that a count of traffic showed that there was not a sufficient volume of traffic to justify it. Many accidents occurred over the years and it is said that it was only after a fatality that a crossing was finally installed.

Heavy traffic made this crossing dangerous over the years and after intense lobbying of the RTA, Council and local Members lights were finally installed.

Bullaburra was an unmanned station and many requests for a station attendant fell on deaf ears. Apparently the first attendant was appointed in September 1964 as Progress Minutes mention that Margery Anderson presented the first ticket from Bullaburra to Lawson to the Association.Unfortunately I could not locate it.

This attendant sold tickets only and Bullaburra . remained an unattended station until the mid-1980s. The matter of a road over or under the line to link North and South Bullaburra has been pursued over the years to no avail. Maybe it will happen when the Highway is widened.

It was in 1964 that the Progress Association requested that the area near the swimming pool in the then Bullaburra Park be renamed Red Gum Park because of the large number of Sydney Red Gums (Angophoras) growing in the area. This was granted.

Over the years Bullaburra has lost a few of the things it had. Eungella Park used to have a white picket fence, play equipment and seats for parents to sit and watch while their children played. This equipment was removed, some in 1984 the rest a few years later, on the grounds that it was dangerous and would be replaced by safe modem equipment.

We are still waiting. Tennis courts which were maintained (and possibly built) by the Progress Association were removed and replaced with a car park. The tennis shed was moved to a Lawson park.

The loss of the swimming pool, mentioned earlier, the ticket office from the railway station as well as the loss of facilities in Red Gum Park and the lookout shed in Kalinda Park have removed a lot of our history.

The Department of Main Roads depot had its own railway siding. A large green two-storeyed building that had once belonged to Dormann Long Pty Ltd and had been used as an architect's office at the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Bridge construction dominated the site. The building was destroyed during the December 17 1977 fires.

A reminder of Sir Henry Parkes can be seen near Genevieve Road- Sir Henry Parkes Park- which is mainly pine trees. The pine grove was donated to the community by Mr Swain who served as Forestry Commissioner in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. Before retiring to Bullaburra he was Forestry Adviser to Emperor Haillie Selassie of Ethiopia.

With recent arrivals mainly being the younger age group with children the whole character of the to  is changing. New homes are going up and there are moves to have an area behind the Progress Hall handed over as a park and children's playground.

I hope I have covered most of the important events that have occurred over the years and once again wish to thank John Graham and Brian Fox for their help.