Dictionary of Sydney

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Turramurra has an area of 22.05 square kilometers and is 192 metres above sea level. Turramurra is a predominantly residential area, with some commercial land-use near the railway station.

First inhabitants

The original inhabitants of what is now the suburb of Turramurra were the Aboriginal people believed to be known as the Tarramerragal. They lived on the eastern side of the Lane Cove River.

They were hunter-gatherers whose work included fishing or collecting shellfish:

The Terramerregal clan pecked and grooved engravings near Browns Waterhole on the Lane Cove River at Turramurra, consisting of pairs of kangaroo footprints meandering between a series of small rock holes. They terminate at an engraved emu foot. The engravings relate to a companion rock on the other side of the river (now destroyed) which depicted a number of kangaroos. The Terramerregal land stretched along the eastern side of the Lane Cove River and south-east down the Pacific Highway ridge possibly as far as Mowbray Road which forms the watershed. The northern boundary was possibly the Hawkesbury River. In their seasonal wanderings the clan were observed to head north from the Lane Cove River after camping at Wright's Hill near the present reservoir at Pymble. They were probably following a traditional pathway muru down to Bobbin Head to fish or to attend ritual gatherings further north. [1]

Early development

White settlement of the area can be traced back to 1822, when the first Europeans worked in the area as timber-getters. Timber-getting was the earliest industry in the district.

Large tracts of land were granted to Thomas Hyndes in 1838 on the eastern side of Lane Cove Road (in Turramurra), and to Thomas Boyd on the western side in 1839. After the death of Thomas Hyndes, in 1855 the estate was broken up and a number of small orchards were developed. Thomas Boyd developed an orchard on his land and Boyd Street is named after him.

Naming and transportation

Turramurra was named after an Aboriginal word meaning 'big hill'. When the northern line of the railway was opened on 1 January 1890 the suburb was called Eastern Road. This was changed to Turramurra on 14 December 1890, as it was thought more appropriate to have an Aboriginal name.

Growth occurred after the opening of the railway line in 1890. Turramurra was much higher than Sydney: the air was clean and business men who wanted family homes in the country but needed to travel to Sydney each day purchased blocks of land in Turramurra and Pymble in the early 1900s. Subdivision of large blocks of land took place between 1910 and 1920.

A publication titled Descriptive notes and views: Milsons Point to Hornsby 1898 advertised the sale of land in the Avoca Estate close to Turramurra station. After mentioning the beautiful dwellings at Turramurra, the author notes that the suburb 'abounds in lovely drives and extensive views'. The climate is described as being as 'bracing as the Blue Mountains'. [2]


Turramurra, along with other elevated parts of the northern suburbs, receives the highest rainfall in metropolitan Sydney. High rainfall and pockets of fertile soil in and around Turramurra allowed settlers to grow a wide variety of crops, and while land was used mainly for timber-getting until the 1840s, once the valuable timber was removed farmers started to establish farms and citrus orchards. Their produce and timber were hauled along bullock tracks to the Lane Cove River and then taken by barge to Sydney's markets.

After the opening of the railway line in 1890, farmers grew more varieties of fruit and vegetables. Plums and peaches, strawberries and tomatoes, which would have been damaged travelling over the rough dirt roads, could now be quickly transported to the Sydney markets by train. However, a disease affecting citrus trees and the appearance of fruit fly meant that the commercial growing of fruit ceased on the north shore by 1920. Some orchardists leased their land to Chinese market gardeners who supplied the local district with fresh produce.

It was not until the Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 that the main road north through the shires of Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby became known as the Pacific Highway. At Turramurra it was known as the Lane Cove Road, while further south it was called Gordon Road, and through Hornsby, Peat's Ferry Road.


In the early days of settlement around the Turramurra area, timber-getters and orchardists built rough slab and bark huts. The slab huts were made of timber split from the logs of straight trees. Bark huts, constructed of bark, thin sapling posts and animal hides, were one of the first types of houses built in the region by the white settlers.

But eventually, many stately houses were built in Turramurra. The Sulman family home, Ingleholme, was built in 1895–96. The Queen Anne style was represented by Glensloy, also known as Wychwood, in Ku-ring-gai Avenue, and the late twentieth-century style is represented by Palmer House in Trentino Road, Turramurra.

One impressive home, Chasecote, in Ku-ring-gai Chase Avenue, was acquired by the residents to be used for wounded and sick soldiers. It was managed by the Turramurra Voluntary Aid Detachment. The Turramurra Convalescent Soldiers' Home was officially opened 16 December 1915 by Lady Cullen, [3] a founding vice-president of the New South Wales division of the British Red Cross Society in 1914 and president of the Australian Red Cross Society in 1916–17. [4]

While Turramurra had many wealthy residents, the effects of the Great Depression caused some hardship in the district. On 21 December 1933, it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Turramurra residents protested against an increase in the price of bread 'which was described as a serious injustice and hardship on the section of the community least able to bear it'. [5]

Population and town planning

The population of Turramurra was a mere 142 in 1881, but by 1891 after the rail line was opened it had reached 788 and was 1,306 by 1901. Electricity was available in Turramurra in 1927 – before this time, streets near the station were lit by gas lamps.

Significant residential and commercial development occurred in the 1960s and in the next few decades some medium-density housing had been constructed along the Pacific Highway. By the 1980s there was a major supermarket, a library, extended car parking and a number of small shops in an arcade in Rohini Street.

The population increased slightly from the early 1990s, as result of new dwellings being added to the area. In 1991 the population was 9,949, and by 2006 it had climbed to 10,978.

In January 2008 the New South Wales Planning Minister Frank Sartor imposed an external planning panel on Ku-ring-gai Council. The Planning Panel's approval of high-density development along the Pacific Highway and railway corridor is expected to impact on the town centre, and result in a substantial increase in the population of Turramurra.

Following the announcement in 2010 of the Planning Panel's 12-month extension to May 2011, the then Planning Minister for New South Wales, Tony Kelly, appointed five members to the Ku-ring-gai Planning Panel, comprising three government appointed members and two council representatives. During this period the panel will continue to make decisions on major development proposals in Ku-ring-gai which will have an impact on Turramurra.

In addition to Bobbin Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Turramurra has over 25 parks, reserves and playing fields, which include Comenarra Playing Fields, Hamilton Park, Howson Avenue Reserve, Karuah Park, Kent Playing Fields, Lower Dam Forest Recreation Reserve, Rofe Park, Turramurra Forest, Turramurra Memorial Park, Twin Creeks Reserve, and Upper Cowan Creek Reserve.


Ralph Hawkins, personal communication, 14 July 2010

Kerrin Cook, The Railway came to Ku-ring-gai: A pictorial History of Ku-ring-gai Municipality 1890-1991, Genlin Publishing, Pymble NSW, 1991

Focus on Ku-ring-gai, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Gordon NSW, 1996

Richard Apperly, Robert Irving, Peter Reynolds, A pictorial guide to identifying Australian architecture: styles and terms from 1788 to the present, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1989


[1] Ralph Hawkins, personal communication with Joan Rowland, 14 July 2010

[2] Descriptive notes and views: Milsons Point to Hornsby 1898, Bratty, Richardson & Co, Sydney, 1898, p 7

[3] Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 1915, p 5

[4] JM Bennett, 'Cullen, Sir William Portus (1855–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 8, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1981, pp 167–68

[5] Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1933, p 10