Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc
incorporating the
Ku-ring-gai Family History Centre

Turramurra

Turramurra is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘high hill’ or ‘big hill’.  When the railway was opened on 1 January 1890 the suburb was called Eastern Road after the border of one of the major estates in the area.  This was changed to Turramurra on 14 December 1890 as it was thought more appropriate the suburb have an Aboriginal name.

Turramurra is a large suburb, extending from the Lane Cove National Park in the south to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in the north.  Both these parks govern the boundaries of North and South Turramurra.  The township of Turramurra is divided from Wahroonga by Finlay Road, Cherry Street, Brentwood Avenue then east to Eastern Road.  From here it continues along Eastern Road to its junction with Burns Road, to swing south to a branch of Cowan Creek.  On the Pymble side, the boundary goes south to Pentecost Avenue, west to Bobbin Head Road, then south again to the Pacific Highway.  It crosses the highway, runs down along the edge of Rofe Park to end of the Lane Cove River.

Turramurra is 170 metres above sea level, lies thirty metres above Pymble and is 17 kilometres from Sydney.  It receives an average of 1,400 mm of rain per annum, one of the highest annual rainfall readings for the Sydney metropolitan area.

In 1822 Thomas Hyndes leased and subsequently purchased 2,000 acres north of Robert Pymble’s grant.  Turramurra was part of this lease, known afterwards as The Big Estate Lease.

 
Pacific Highway (as in early 1900s : as in June 2008)

The Orchardists

After 1850, the reign of the timber-getters had ended and that of the orchardists began.  Johann Henri Reely (Rhule) was the first.  He settled in an area of Turramurra which became unofficially known as Irish Town, because it contained so many families of Irish extraction, though Reely was of German.  They included the King, Adams, Bourke, Ryan, and Connolly families.  John Reely, Samuel King, Michael Connolly and Michael Bourke went on to buy extra blocks in Fairlawn Avenue and North Turramurra.  These orchards produced a variety of citrus and other fruits, but included also more exotic types such as persimmons, custard apples, and china pears.

All the orchards were very much family concerns and life was hard.  Before any trees could be planted, huge gums left by the timber-getters had to be grubbed out and the stumps burnt.  Wells were dug for the storage of water, cooking was done on a fuel stove, homes were lit with candles, kerosene or paraffin lamps, and all hot water needed had to be heated in coppers or chip heaters.

Each family was self sufficient, grew its own vegetables, kept poultry and at least one cow.  During the fruit season, the fruit was picked, boxed, taken down the highway to the Milsons Point ferry by horse and dray, and from there to the Sydney markets.  Some however, did send their fruit from Fiddens Wharf to the city.  Any leisure time was spent fishing and boating at Bobbin Head, or picnicking at a waterhole such as Lovers Jump Creek.  Not surprisingly in this small isolated community, intermarriage occurred frequently between the local families.

© Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc.