Wahroonga

2008
CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wahroonga

Wahroonga, in the parish of Gordon and Ku-ring-gai local government area, derives its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'our home'. It was previously called Pearces Corner after Aaron Pierce, a timber-getter who built a slab hut on land purchased in the area in 1835.

The first Europeans to work and live in the area were sawyers assigned to Thomas Hyndes, a convict who became a wealthy landowner and held the largest original land grant in the Wahroonga district. As in other parts of Hornsby shire, one of the first industries was timber-getting. Once the land was cleared, orchards were established.

Wahroonga, 200 metres above sea level, lies along the ridge followed by the North Shore railway line. Although the railway from Hornsby to St Leonards opened in 1890, urban development was limited until the extension to Milsons Point was opened in 1893. This made it possible to commute by train and ferry to the city and led to Wahroonga's residential development, with orchardists selling off large parcels of land on which many fine mansions were built. Wahroonga's population climbed from 941 in 1891 to 1,353 in 1901. [1]

The station that opened on 1 January 1890 was known as Pearces Corner, though the construction name was Noonan's platform, because it was built on land belonging to Patrick Noonan. It was not until August of that year that it was given the name Wahroonga. [2]

In October 1896, Wahroonga post office was opened. Some of the suburb's early residents were the brewer John Thomas Toohey; Frank Sargood, the owner of a large warehouse; Judge Heydon; Frederick Chilton, a fruit merchant; Alfred James Hordern of Hordern Brothers; and Eccleston du Faur, the man responsible for the establishment of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

In Wahroonga, urban settlement took two forms – grand mansions and big Federation houses on one hand, and small, mainly weatherboard, cottages on the other.

The large houses were owned by wealthy businessmen and professionals, while the cottages were for the people who serviced these houses (providing fresh produce, milk and bread, or working as gardeners, cleaners and railway workers). Very few of these cottages have survived, and those that remain have great historical value.

St Paul's Church of England, at Pearces Corner, was first built in 1862, but was replaced on the same site in 1881 with a stone building.

George Collingridge, an artist and writer, was the Foundation Honorary Secretary of the Wahroonga Progress Association, which was formed in June 1895. The association's major work was the establishment of Wahroonga Park. The association closed in 1976. [3]

As the population of Sydney expanded, so did Wahroonga's. There were many subdivisions and 'infill', starting near the station in the 1920s and moving outward to the suburban boundaries in the 1940s and 1950s, right through to 1980.

Wahroonga Park is valued by the people of Wahroonga and the surrounding suburbs as a place for passive recreation, and is popular as a venue for wedding photographs.

A huge storm struck the suburb on 21 January 1991, causing widespread damage. Wind speeds reached 145 kilometres per hour and 37.5 millimetres of rain fell in six minutes in Fox Valley. [4]

Wahroonga still retains a natural bushland setting in its residential areas, and has little commercial development.

Notes

[1] Ian A Ramage, Progress in suburbia: a study of the nature of progress within a Sydney suburb, as revealed in the records of the Wahroonga Progress Association 1895–1976, the author, Waitara, NSW, 2000 p 16

[2] Frances Pollon, The book of Sydney suburbs, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde, NSW, 1988

[3] Ian A Ramage, Progress in suburbia: a study of the nature of progress within a Sydney suburb, as revealed in the records of the Wahroonga Progress Association 1895–1976, the author, Waitara, NSW, 2000

[4] Ian A Ramage, Progress in suburbia: a study of the nature of progress within a Sydney suburb, as revealed in the records of the Wahroonga Progress Association 1895–1976, the author, Waitara, NSW, 2000, p 29

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