Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

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The Campbelltown suburb of Varroville takes its name from the estate originally owned by Dr Robert Townson. In 1810, Governor Macquarie confirmed a grant of 1,000 acres (400 hectares) to Townson in the Minto district. Townson, a scientist, linguist and friend of Sir Joseph Banks, called his large estate Varro Ville after the Roman writer on agriculture, Marcus Terentius Varro. It was soon abbreviated to Varroville. Having quarrelled with Macquarie, Townson withdrew to his estate where he raised prize sheep and cattle as well as developing a vineyard. He also built a classic sandstone colonial mansion where, once Macquarie had left the colony, he entertained the Sydney elite. Guests were expected to contribute to lively scientific and literary debate and at Varro Ville, they could consult Townson's library, which was then the largest in the colony.

After Townson's death in 1827, his estate remained a country retreat for a series of well-connected owners. They included the explorer Charles Sturt and the colony's Postmaster General, James Raymond. In 1858, the Raymond family sold the estate to Alfred Cheeke, a Supreme Court judge and racing enthusiast, who established a successful horse stud farm there. Varroville remained intact until his death in 1876. However, subsequent owners began leasing out extensive tracts for dairy farming, which by the 1890s was the main rural industry in the Campbelltown area. In the 1920s the consolidation of the dairy industry was reflected at Varroville, when local dairyman WH Staniforth was bought out by Smith Brothers, a large milk distribution firm. Smith Brothers ran a dairy, processing milk from their own and other local herds at Varroville until 1958. Meanwhile Townson's mansion was in disrepair.

Varroville did not join in the rapid postwar development of the Campbelltown district. The zoning of the area put a brake on subdivision and in 1972 it was included in the Central Hills Scenic Protection Lands. Although Varroville was officially named as a suburb in 1976, it remained semi-rural and suitable for a convent (the Carmel of Mary and Joseph) along with a Catholic retreat centre. Apart from the restored and heritage-listed Varroville House, these are the suburb's leading landmarks.

Varroville also boasts two schools. Mt Carmel Catholic High School opened in 1986, and St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church College began enrolling students in 2006. They draw their pupils not from the small population of Varroville but rather from the northern suburbs of Campbelltown.


C A Liston, Campbelltown: The Bicentennial History, Council of the City of Campbelltown, Campbelltown, 1988

J McGill, V Fowler and K Richardson, Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown, 1995

Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser