Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

North Turramurra

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North Turramurra

Turramurra was named after an Aboriginal word meaning 'big hill'. North Turramurra is located to the north of this hill, on and around which the town of Turramurra is built.

North Turramurra is an established residential area which has developed around a shopping centre on Bobbin Head Road. The suburb has an area of 11.57 square kilometres, with large areas of bushland that border it on three sides.

The first inhabitants of North Turramurra were the Tarramerragal who lived on the eastern side of the Lane Cove River.

The first European to visit the Turramurra area was the explorer George Caley in February 1805. He reached Lovers Jump Creek where present-day Burns and Chase roads meet. Caley noticed a predominance of bluegum and she-oak trees in the forests of the area.

Robert Pymble was the first settler to own land in the vicinity of North Turramurra. He received a grant of 600 acres (242.8 hectares) in 1823. Another early settler was John Ayre, who received his grant of land in 1836.

Irish Town

Growth began around Bobbin Head Road in the 1860s, with the sale of large estates belonging to early grant-holders. Bobbin Head Road follows an Aboriginal track that leads to the headwaters of Cowan Creek.

There was a large cluster of farmers and orchardists of Irish descent near the northern end of Robert Pymble's estate, around Bobbin Head Road and Bannockburn Road in North Pymble. Part of Bannockburn Road was originally called Irish Town Road, and the area was unofficially known as 'Irish Town' until 1915, when the term fell out of use.


Roads were unpaved and in bad repair in the early 1900s. There was only one access road through the suburb which was Ku-ring-gai Chase Road, later known as Cowan Road and now as Bobbin Head Road. The main roads off Ku-ring-gai Chase Road were Miowera Road, Milton Road and Murrua Road, and these were little better than bush tracks.

Until electricity started to be provided to the area in the early 1920s, there was no street lighting in North Turramurra. Because of the lack of public transport, many residents had a long walk to the station to catch the early morning trains to Milsons Point and then the ferry to Circular Quay – which also meant a dark walk home in the evening without street lights.

In 1924 a grandson of Samuel King, an early landholder in the district, started a bus service to North Turramurra. The buses often broke down and from time to time the passengers had to push the bus over the rougher parts of the roads. Ten years later the bus service was more reliable as the proprietor, Billy King, had purchased newer buses.

Eccleston du Faur, who was responsible for the establishment of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, built the house Flowton on Bobbin Head Road in North Turramurra. Flowton is now part of the Lady Davidson Hospital. Eccleston du Faur also lived in another house, Pibrac, at Warrawee. Along with Francis Kirkpatrick, a business associate, he supervised and built the original road to Bobbin Head. He died at Turramurra in August 1915.

First established in 1915 and conducted by the Red Cross Society, the Lady Davidson Hospital was named after Lady Margaret Davidson, the wife of New South Wales Governor Sir Walter Davidson, in 1920. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1918, for her work with the Red Cross and the Scouts and Girl Guides in New South Wales. The hospital catered for ex-soldiers who were suffering from chest ailments. The soldiers were expected to work in the garden and one of the inmates elected instead to build a memorial: patient Private William Shirley spent one and a half years carving a sphinx out of solid rock on a site close to the hospital. This carving later became an ANZAC memorial.


Turramurra North Public School was opened in October 1914 and by March of the following year had 70 pupils enrolled. The school became the social hub of the area. There was a shop and a concentration of homes near the school, with orchards, dairies, poultry farms and market gardens close by. The area remained semi-rural throughout the 1920s. Some growth occurred between 1925 and 1930, following subdivision of larger farms and orchards. It was not until 1930 that the suburb gained its first church.

Until 1950 North Turramurra remained semi-rural, but significant development occurred in 1950 when the Housing Commission resumed land in the Keats Road area and built houses on it in 1958 and 1959.

Major growth continued in the 1960s when further subdivisions occurred. In the 1970s zoning changes, which allowed the subdivision of large estates for residential and medium-density purposes, resulted in a significant increase in population.

New houses continued to be built in the 1990s, increasing the number of dwellings between 1991 and 2001 by 355, although over the same 10-year period the population only increased by 306. The population density for the suburb in 2006 was 3.45 people per hectare.

Features of the area include Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, North Turramurra Golf Club, Girl Guides Glengarry State Training Centre, Knox Grammar Playing Fields, Bobbin Head Road Bushland, North Turramurra Park, and Terramerragal Reserve.


Streets of Ku-ring-gai, Ku-ring-gai, NSW, Ku-ring-gai Municipal Library, Ku-ring-gai, 1987

Margaret Wyatt, North Turramurra: the story of a community, 2nd edition, Jolyon Industries, Sydney, 1981

Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Focus Ku-ring-gai: the story of Ku-ring-gai's growth and development, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Lindfield, 1996