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The Campbelltown suburb of Minto Heights, which was named in 1976, is based on the old village of East Minto. Although land was granted in this area as early as the 1810s, the district remained largely bushland for years. John Warby, an ex-convict constable who received about 100 acres (40 hectares), preferred to develop his larger holding at Leumeah.
By the 1880s, there was a scattering of families between the Georges River and the larger settlement of Minto. These pioneers – many of them living in slab huts – cleared scrub and sank wells to establish small mixed or dairy farms. When the Campbelltown Common was opened for homestead selections in the 1890s, the combined populations of East Minto and the Common (now the suburb of Kentlyn) finally justified the opening of the East Minto Public School, in 1898. Before then, children had a long walk to school at Minto or simply began work on family farms.
East Minto changed little in the first half of the twentieth century. Its rural character was reflected in the legend of the 'Minto beast' – Campbelltown's answer to the Loch Ness monster. In the 1930s, farmers searching for a lost cow reported a mysterious 'bellowing' creature that seemed to hover over the ground. (Since then, there have been other sightings, or rather hearings, of the beast).
East Minto remained an area of bushland and subsistence farms, vulnerable to bushfires and market forces. By the end of World War II, most of the farms were gone and population was falling; the school was not rebuilt when it burned down in 1947. In the late 1950s, the area was so isolated that Eric Aarons chose a stretch of bush above the Georges River to run a camp and Marxist summer school.
East Minto did not share in the rapid postwar development of the Campbelltown district. In the 1960s state planning authorities blocked attempts to subdivide farms and in the next decade the government zoned and acquired much of East Minto as Regional Open Space. Because the remainder of the suburb was zoned under 'scenic protection' provisions, it could not be densely developed. By 2006 Minto Heights, as it had become, was a 'dress circle' suburb, with large mansion homes and fewer than 500 residents. However, population pressures in Sydney have raised the possibility that the current zoning may be relaxed.
CA Liston, Campbelltown: The Bicentennial History, Council of the City of Campbelltown, Campbelltown NSW, 1988
J McGill, V Fowler, and K Richardson, Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown NSW, 1995
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser