Continuing an alphabetical look at the suburbs of Sydney.
Castle Hill is located 24 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district and is within the Hills District region, split between the local government areas of The Hills Shire and Hornsby Shire.
Castle Hill was first named by Governor King in 1892, possibly for the views it afforded from the hills in the area across to the Blue Mountains.
The land that is now called Castle Hill was originally home to the Bidjigal people, who are believed to be a clan of the Dharuk people, who occupied all the land to the immediate west of Sydney. The best-known Aboriginal person from that time is Pemulwuy, a Bidjigal leader who led the resistance movement against settlers, including sacking farms in Castle Hill, before his eventual capture and dispatch by local law enforcement.
The first Europeans to visit the area around Castle Hill were Captain Arthur Phillip and his party, on one of their exploratory trips in 1791. The first land grant in the area was to William Joyce, in 1794. The following grant was to Matthew Pearce in 1795. This adjoined Joyce's land and is still known as Kings Langley Farm. The first European to actually settle in the area was the free settler Lalouette de Vernicourt, known as Baron de Clambe, a Frenchman who received a grant of 100 acres (40.4 hectares) in 1802.
The area was designated a Public Agricultural Settlement or Government Farm in 1801. Governor King organised 50 convicts to clear the land for farming. The farm encompassed land from West Pennant Hills through to Maroota. Only a small portion was cultivated and after the 1810 harvest it was abandoned as a government farm.
The convict barracks were converted into a lunatic asylum for deranged convicts. Free citizens were also later admitted to the asylum, and it remained in operation until 1826.
Castle Hill Rebellion and the Battle of Vinegar Hill
On Sunday night March 4, 1804, the convicts rose up as one in what was to become known as the Castle Hill convict rebellion, leading to "The Second Battle of Vinegar Hill". Overpowering their guards, they marched towards Parramatta, having torched a hut at the prison farm as a signal to convicts at the Hawkesbury (which they either ignored or did not see). However, disciplined British troops, Red Coats, vastly outgunned and outnumbered them. About fifteen to twenty were killed in the first skirmish at the western gates of the Governor's Domain at Parramatta, not far from Constitution Hill. The main group headed west, pursued by the Red Coats and by a citizen militia, the Parramatta Loyal Society, under protection of martial law which comes of the Mansfield doctrine of posse comitatus. Opposite where the Rouse Hill Regional Town stands, although the exact location is lost to time, a twenty-minute skirmish happened where an unknown number were killed.
Martial law was declared across the whole of the colony and was allowed to cloak the activities of the military and their militia as convicts were deemed "to be in a state of insurrection". Martial law continued in effect for seven days, throughout which muskets were heard by locals who wrote to King about the calamity (HR NSW). The government-controlled newspaper reported only 133 convicts were involved, but over 600 left Castle Hill in the hope of joining with another 1,100 from the Hawkesbury plains. The population of the colony at the time was around 5,000, thus the panic that beset the administration and general population. The Rev. Marsden, known as "the flogging parson", put about his old story that all the Irish wanted to do was to rebel and secure ships to sail home in, but what they wanted was a New Ireland, a free and democratic home for all. Nine were hanged, with three left hanging dead in gibbets for many months as a reminder for all.
Settlers grew wheat and raised sheep until more suitable lands were opened up to the west of the Blue Mountains. Citrus growing then took over and the Castle Hill area became renowned for its fine orchards.
Castle Hill's most famous resident was Patrick White, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. In March 1948, White and his partner Manoly Lascaris settled at Castle Hill, then on the outskirts of Sydney, where they grew and sold vegetables, flowers and milk, and bred dogs. In their house, Dogwoods, White wrote The Tree of Man and Riders in the Chariot, among other novels. White and Lascaris moved to Centennial Park, near the centre of Sydney, in 1964.
In later years, Castle Hill and the surrounding area was home to a number of market gardens and orchards which supplied Sydney with fresh produce. However as Sydney has grown, the orchards have disappeared and been replaced with suburban dwellings, shopping centres and light industry.
Convict Rebellion, 1804, Australia’s first uprising. Artist unknown
Is it just me or does anyone else think he looked like Boris Karloff . . .
Train awaits at Castle Hill Station in 1930. The station is now defunct.
Rouse family and others, Rouse Hill House, 1859
Rouse Hill House and Farm
Public School, Castle Hill 1879
Castle Hill steam tram
The tramway opened in 1902 and extended to Baulkham Hills, then on to Castle Hill in 1910, and Rogans Hill in 1924. In 1923 the tramway was replaced by a railway. The line generally followed the roadway, and as vehicular traffic increased and patronage decreased the railway was closed in 1932 and replaced by buses.
Fairgoers, Castle Hill Show, early 1900’s
Ackling family Church Street Castle Hill 1929
Cooper's General Store & residence Windsor Road Rouse Hill 1940
CWA Castle Hill members ready for Orange Blossom Parade 1983
Castle Hill Public School, 1920