Dictionary of Sydney

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West Lindfield

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West Lindfield

West Lindfield is situated on the traditional land of the Aboriginal people. Located in Sydney's northern suburbs, it is part of the Ku-ring-gai local government area.

West Lindfield was one of the earliest areas in Ku-ring-gai to be settled by Europeans.

Explorations of the forests on the north shore of Sydney Harbour by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 and George Caley in February 1805 revealed a wealth of timber resources. To exploit these resources, a government sawing establishment and convict timber-getting camp was established on the Lane Cove River near Fidden’s Wharf, sometime between 1805 and 1809. Though the Lane Cove Sawing Establishment was disbanded by October 1819, timber getting remained an important industry for the district for another 50 years.

Early settlers

The first settler in the West Lindfield area was William Henry who, on a verbal promise from Governor Bligh, in 1808 claimed a 1,000-acre (404-hectare) lot which would have encompassed the West Killara/West Lindfield suburbs of today. Though his claim to the 1000 acres was never recognised, he farmed part of the land. The site of his farm Millwood was near the corner of Lady Game Drive and Millwood Avenue, Lindfield.

On 30 October 1813, a convict, Joseph Fidden, received the Governor's promise of a 40-acre (16.2-hectare) grant of land bounded by Pennant Hills Road and Fiddens Wharf Road. He sold the land in 1821 and then took up the life of a boatman ferrying goods, timber and passengers up and down the Lane Cove River, making a trip with every tide. The wharf he used later became known as Fidden's wharf.

The track from the ridge leading down to the Lane Cove Sawing Establishment formed the first road in Ku-ring-gai, later known as Fiddens Wharf Road. At the end of Fiddens Wharf Road are the remains of convict-built steps. In 1973 a plaque was erected by Ku-ring-gai Council in recognition of Joseph Fidden, with the following inscription:

This Public Reserve and road leading to it commemorate the name of Joseph Fidden, a pioneer of the district, who arrived in the Colony in 1801 and later lived in this secluded spot for twenty-five years, ferrying pit-sawn timber from the virgin forests of the North Shore to the growing town of Sydney. The site also marks the convict built steps leading to the old Government Sawing Establishment on the edge of the river below. [1]

The first orchards in West Lindfield were along the river flats in the area where the Lane Cove Picnic grounds are now.

Thomas Jenkins married Maria, who was the granddaughter of William Henry, and they settled on part of the land that had been 'promised' to William Henry. Their orchard was named Millwood after William Henry's farm. The Jenkins's stone kitchen, an outbuilding of the main house, was built between 1850 and 1860 and is, along with the cottage built by the orchardists William and Jane Baker, the oldest cottage in Ku-ring-gai.

Orchardists and others in the district would gather at 'Cook's Flat' for horse racing. The racecourse, along what is now Bradfield Road, was later the site for an air force base and migrant settlement, that became the suburb of Bradfield, later absorbed into West Lindfield.

A community develops

The West Lindfield Neighbourhood Shopping Centre was built from 1950 to 1955. Because of growing competition with large shopping complexes, business owners in the West Lindfield Shopping Centre signed a petition which was presented to Ku-ring-gai Council in September 2008, requesting more prominent signage regarding the name of the centre and the services offered.

The Lady Game Community Centre, an important focus for West Lindfield residents, was built in 1958 as a result of community pressure. It was financed by the local community and the Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council.

West Lindfield benefited from the actions of the West Lindfield–West Killara Progress Association from 1947 to 1971; the members lobbied Federal and State governments as well as Ku-ring-gai Council for improved services and additional resources for the area. The association helped in the provision and improvement of sewerage, roads, footpaths and bus services and the use of Commonwealth land at Bradfield Park and other residential areas. [2]

The Progress Association was formed on 31 March 1947 under the name Bradfield Progress Association, later the Bradfield & District Progress Association, then in September 1949 the West Lindfield Progress Association. In May 1956 it incorporated West Killara and became the West Lindfield–West Killara Progress Association.

Landscape and danger

The housing stock in West Lindfield varies, with a mix of styles from modest cottages to grand two-storey interwar houses on Fiddens Wharf Road and Coronga Crescent.

The streetscapes are typically a mix of native plantings, remnant bushland trees, Jacarandas and conifers. Many houses are in close proximity to bushland.

In January 1994, bushfires that had been burning since mid December flared up along the coast of New South Wales. On 6 January, a fire broke out at the northern end of the Lane Cove National Park, spreading across the valley at West Pymble. The next day the fire raged into West Lindfield and destroyed seven houses and damaged others on Winchester Avenue. By 8 January 1994, 80 per cent of Lane Cove National Park had been destroyed by fire.

In mid-January Ku-ring-gai's community leaders met to discuss a recovery plan for the council area. The council gave priority to building applications from residents whose houses were destroyed or damaged in the fires.

Two local residents of Ku-ring-gai stated that within two weeks of the fires, ferns were appearing on the forest floor due to the light streaming through the now open canopy, but trees, because of the severity of the fires, took longer than usual to recover. [3]

Towards the end of February, Lane Cove National Park was re-opened but it was still vulnerable to human intervention and weed infestation. A grant of $330,000 was made by the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife to the Lane Cove National Park to help with the recovery and this money was used to form a community-based regeneration program known as the Friends of Lane Cove Park.


Godden Mackay Logan, 'Ku-ring-gai heritage & neighbourhood character study: draft report', prepared for Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, Sydney, 2000

Ku-ring-gai: a collection of early photographs in the possession of the Society, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Ku-ring-gai, 1973

Jamie Shaw and staff of the North Metropolitan District, in association with Alison Ramsay, 'Lane Cove River National Park: draft plan of management', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney 1997

Lynne McLoughlin and Margaret Wyatt, The Upper Lane Cove: history, heritage, bibliography, Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University, Ryde NSW, 1993

West Lindfield: local studies resource folder no 3, Ku-ring-gai Municipal Library, 1988


[1] Ku-ring-gai: a collection of early photographs in the possession of the Society, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Ku-ring-gai, 1973 p 16

[2] Anne Cooke and Ian Smith, 'A guide to progress association records held in the Ku-ring-gai local history collection' , unpublished manuscript assignment for the Diploma in Information Management - Archives Administration, University of New South Wales

[3] Conversation with Ku-ring-gai residents and the Local Studies Librarian at Gordon Library, 4 April 2012