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The suburb of Bradbury is part of the city of Campbelltown. The entire Campbelltown area was originally owned by the Dharawal people, who travelled the Georges River, fishing, hunting in the forested hills, and using rock shelters created by the erosion of sandstone cliffs. Once European colonists noted the agricultural potential of the area however, the government began making large land grants. By the 1810s, Dharawal occupation was increasingly being disrupted by competition for resources, leading to armed conflict with settlers and soldiers. In 1816 a campaign by a contingent of the 46th Regiment broke Aboriginal resistance to the colonisation of what is now the Campbelltown area. In 1820, the township of Campbelltown was established and European diseases further devastated the Dharawal population.
William Bradbury's estate
One of the beneficiaries of colonisation was William Bradbury. In the 1820s, he owned a large estate on the southern border of the new township, and here he built a two-storey house known as Bradbury Park. Bradbury also owned the Royal Oak Inn and apparently sampled the rum too enthusiastically. He often fell asleep while other drinkers bet on how long it would take him to sober up and discover that someone had removed his watch. Even the local magistrates refused to prosecute for theft when Bradbury complained.
After Bradbury's death in 1836, his estate was subdivided and the first allotments were sold in 1844. The development of the estate's northern section was essentially urban. Relatively small lots along Allman Street and the high road (now Queen Street) went to tradesmen, storekeepers and real estate speculators. This area was and remains part of central Campbelltown.
The creek that ran under Queen Street and through Bradbury's land also attracted industries. Tanneries operated on this stream and in 1845 Laurence Kendall built the district's first steam flour mill, which was taken over by James Bocking in the 1870s. The mansion of Bradbury Park, however, was insulated by extensive gardens and parkland, and remained a prestigious property. From the 1890s until 1928 it belonged to Campbelltown Alderman James Quilty. The house kept Bradbury's name alive until it was demolished in 1956.
The land covered by the suburb, south and west of Bradbury and Hoddle avenues, was rural for more than a century. Some substantial houses were built there such as Raith, a 16-room Indian bungalow on the Appin Road that was completed for the Merewether family in 1903. But much of the land was given over to dairying. Today Quirk Reserve occupies a portion of the farm operated by Jeremiah Quirk.
New suburban estates
During the first half of the twentieth century the population was small and scattered, until postwar planning authorities selected Campbelltown as a growth centre. Improvements to roads, rail and sewerage encouraged an influx of new settlers, and many of them were young families. Bradbury itself became a residential suburb, largely built by private developers.
Lend Lease Corporation set the standard when it completed the first stage of Sherwood Hills in 1965. This was a model estate, designed by the Sydney architect George Clarke. All the lots were sewered, there were no overhead power lines, and covenants controlled the quality of buildings. Because there were no front fences, the first owners were disconcerted when cows from nearby farms invaded their gardens.
The dairy farms were steadily displaced by the expansion of new suburbs with Robin Hood-inspired names like Sherwood Hills and Lockesley Mews. Yet, the area retained open space, especially the large park popularly known as Fisher's Ghost Creek Reserve. Despite some local objections, the reserve was renamed Bradbury Park in 1965, and a long-planned Olympic swimming pool was opened there two years later. Finally, in 1969, the suburb was officially gazetted as Bradbury and the name was soon attached to the new primary school and shopping centre. Today Bradbury is known as Campbelltown's garden suburb.
C A Liston, Campbelltown: The Bicentennial History, Council of the City of Campbelltown, Campbelltown NSW, 1988
J McGill, V Fowler, and K Richardson, Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown NSW, 1995
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser