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Traditional Custodians of Illawarra Land
Local communities of Aboriginal people were the original inhabitants and Traditional Custodians of Illawarra Land. Their dialect is a variant of the Dharawal language. Before European settlement, the Aboriginal people of the region lived in small family groups with complicated social structures and close associations with specific areas. Suburb boundaries do not reflect the cultural boundaries of the local Aboriginal community. Traditional Custodians today are descendants of the original inhabitants and have ongoing spiritual and cultural ties to the Land and waterways where their ancestors lived.
Parish of Woonona County of Camden
The name Bulli appears to have been first recorded in the Sydney Gazette of 22 April 1815 when it was reported that one of a party searching for lost cedar-getters was at a place called "Bolye", thirty-five miles south of Port Jackson. In 1823 reference was made to a small land holding at "Bull Eye".
A 300 acre grant was promised to Cornelius O'Brien on 31 March 1821. His quit rent of six shillings a year was to commence on 1 January 1827. Cornelius O'Brien's house was the only one in this part of the district for some years. It was on the property of Cornelius O'Brien, and his neighbour William Bowman, that the township of Bulli was built. In 1841 the estate of Bulli, consisting of 900 acres, was offered for private sale. Later the estate was subdivided into farms of from 25 to 165 acres. For many years the name Bulli was used for all the country from Wollongong north to Coal Cliff. The original Aboriginal name for the area was Bulla or Bulla Bulla, meaning "two mountains" (Mt Kembla & Mt Keira). Other meanings of the name Bulli have been given as "white grubs" and "place where the Christmas Bush grows". (Place names of the Wollongong Region)
In response to Cornelius O'Brien's application for a grant of land Governor Macquarie's successor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, granted him three hundred acres. The Grant was selected in the vicinity of Bulli and the deed was dated 31 March 1821. The grant extended to the sea between Bulli Point and Woniora Point in the east; it was bounded on the north by James Christianson's grant; on the south by Farrell's grant and on the west by the mountain range. In 1836 the land was sold to Robert Marsh Westmacott.
Cornelius O'Brien migrated to Australia at the age of sixteen. He was married to Catherine Browne. In the intervening years between his arrival in Australia, and his application for a grant, proof was evident of his owning cattle. In the "Sydney Gazette" of October 18, 1817 it is listed that, as a contractor to the army, he supplied two thousand pounds of beef to the government. (King, 1965)
In 1828 Bulli was known as Bowman's Estate. Bowman was the grantee, and the Estate consisted of three hundred acres. The only residents of Bulli were Peggy McGawley, Cornelius O'Brien, and the Gerraty brothers ( James and Patrick). The latter occupied a grant of one hundred acres adjoining McGawley's.
In late 1820 four convicts ran away from their master at Appin and travelled down over the Bulli mountains to Peggy McGawley's. Here they stole a fowling piece, and then went to the adjoining farm where the Gerraty brothers lived. Peggy McGawley sent a little girl by a short cut to tell her neighbours that the bushrangers had taken a gun from her house and were out for mischief. Jim Gerraty shot and killed one of these convicts. The convict was buried at the corner of Peggy McGawley's Point north of the Bellambi jetties. (Young, 1989)
Other grants to be made in the Bulli area were one of three hundred acres to William Bowman; one of one hundred acres to George Tate; and small grants to R M Westmacott, P Callaghan and John Kelly at Woonona. (Lindsay, 1994)
According to Royal Australian Historical Society data, the town of Bulli stands on original land grants to Cornelius O'Brien, William Bowman and George Tate. (Illawarra Mercury, 1/6/94 p.21)
In July 1868 the board of the Bulli Coal Company donated fifty pounds and land valued at one hundred pounds for the establishment of a public school. The land was on the western side of the road just north of the Company railway.
Alexander Ross, manager of the Bulli Coal Mine, occupied the Chair. After the opening, Bulli Coal Company entertained about two hundred children to tea and buns in the playground and three hundred parents and friends to tea in the tent erected for the occasion. Alexander Ross, Richard White and Samuel Smedley were appointed members of the school board on 1 October 1869.
In the 1880's the Bulli Coal Company Directors granted a sum for the purchase of prizes which were presented on 23 December - break up day - by Alexander Ross. Prior to the presentation the "pupils gave recitations and otherwise entertained an interested audience….". (Ninety Years On, 1959)
G S Turnbull
The coal mining village of Bulli obtained an official Post Office on 1 October 1869. It was situated near the present corner of the Princes Highway and Hobart Street. Post Master G S Turnbull received and despatched the mail. Turnbull's salary for running the Post Office was £12 per annum.
Post Master Turnbull erected a new Post Office building in 1879. It consisted of a large room adjoining his general store and let to the Postal Department in conjunction with another three rooms used for the existing Post Office. The Telegraph Office was moved from Bulli Point to these new premises and J H Miller became the Post and Telegraph Master. Turnbull's services to the community were recognized when he presented with an address at Wilson's Assembly Room in 1879. (Roberts & Smith, 1993; Illawarra Mercury, 30/5/1879)
Bulli, a small coal mining township located at the northern end of the Illawarra district, first came into prominence in 1850 when Captain Westmacott made formal application to open up the Bulli coal field. The powerful Australian Agricultural Company promptly opposed the proposition but the Crown Law Offices refused to admit that the latter company had a monopoly and informed Westmacott that he could proceed with his plans without official interference. However, little seems to have been done insofar as actual mining was concerned, and the scheme was eventually abandoned.
Further delving into the mountain side occurred about 1859 and a company, known as Bellambi and Bulli Coal Company, was formed with a capital of thirty thousand pounds. Operations commenced at the Bulli Mine in 1861 when a tunnel or adit was driven into the seam about four hundred feet above sea level. The workings were connected with the sea-board by a standard gauge tramway. The line was officially opened in 2 June 1863. The first ship loaded with Bulli coal from the new jetty was the "Ironside". The Ship left with a cargo of seven hundred and fifty tons.
In about August 1878, a second mine known as the "B" Pit, was established on the hillside to the north of the old Bulli workings, near the famous Bulli Pass. The "B" Pit had a very chequered history and after a period of about seven years the mine closed.I
n 1879 an article in the Town and Country Journal stated that "the Bulli mine is the most important mine in the Illawarra, and its development is proceeding at an astounding rate. The company are working a fine seam of coal, by the inexpensive process of a single adit or tunnel. Not fewer than three hundred and fifty hands are now employed".
On 23 March 1887 the company gained world-wide notoriety in connection with the explosion at Bulli Mine. Eighty one persons were killed. Rescue work was immediately organised and the parties worked with great courage in clearing away debris and fallen ground to gain access to the mine. (Eardley, 1954)
One of the first pioneers to cut a track down the mountain slope to the Bulli vicinity was Dr Charles Throsby in 1815. He was travelling with a party of two whites and two aborigines, and was investigating whether the land at the foot of the escarpment was rich in grass and water as he had been told by the aborigines. Amazing enough, by 1828, the pioneers had found a way to take bullock drays down the mountain.
Determined efforts by the pioneers led to gradual improvements in negotiating the steep descent. The original Throsby track, which lay less than a kilometre to the south of today's Bulli Pass road, was used from 1815-1844. Eventually, in 1867, today's Bulli Pass was built. The Pass was not bitumen surfaced until 1926. Wheeled vehicles began using the road in 1863. Prior to that date, carriages had to take the road built by Deputy Surveyor General Perry in 1852, which led from Mt Keira through Broughton's Pass to Appin. Perry reported at the time that the road down the mountain at Bulli was both difficult and dangerous.
The new road down Bulli Pass was shorter and safer than Rixon's Pass, and provided Bulli residents with a greatly improved method of travelling by horse-drawn coach via Appin to Campbelltown to meet the Sydney train. (Wood, Anne, 1999)
The Bulli Coal Company constructed a horse tramway of standard gauge between the incline of Bulli Colliery and a jetty on Bulli Point in 1861. In May 1867 it operated its first steam locomotive, the first in the Illawarra district.
Bulli Coal Siding was close to the site of the North Bulli Colliery Crossing where the isolated portion of the Illawarra line, opened in 1887, crossed the old private line of 1867 to Bulli Jetty.
Bulli Station was opened on 21 June 1887. The yard had the usual crossing loops and goods siding arrangement until 1916. During the duplication of 1923 the western platform and brick station building were added.
A triangular connection between the two railways was opened on 9 August 1890. (Singleton, 1970)
The Bulli Family Hotel opened its doors for business on September 6, 1889. This grand old building is a classic example of the Federation Filigree style of Australian architecture. The Architect was William Kerwood.
George Croft, a wealthy landowner, was the first owner of the hotel. The hotel was very grand for its day. It contained twenty eight bedrooms, an assembly room, a dining room, a billiard room, parlours and a bar. There were electric bells connecting the upper and lower floors, and the water supply, which came from three underground wells, was pumped up into iron tanks for the convenience and comfort of the guests in the apartments.
The first licensee of Croft's Hotel was William Tory Dickson, who leased it from Croft for nine years. Of the many distinguished guests who visited the hotel at that time, the most notable was Sir Henry Parkes. During the period 1901-1910, Henry Stokes held the license of the hotel. The street adjoining the Hotel is called "Stokes Lane".
Today the Bulli Family Hotel, garbed in its heritage colours, still stands proudly on the Princes Highway as a prominent landmark.(Wood, 1999). The charming and distinctive external appearance of the building has changed little in over one hundred years. It is a key townscape element and part of the Bulli streetscape. It has a high level of architectural significance as one of the best examples of this type of Victorian period hotel in Australia. (City of Wollongong Heritage Study, 1991)
This building is located at 202 Princes Highway, Bulli. It is a two storey building with a look out tower. It is a rendered masonry building with a corrugated metal roof, lace veranda and the rear section is built of timber boards (older). The rear lodging quarters of the original hotel (1877) were retained when the two storey front section was built in 1886. It was previously a stop over hotel in association with the Cobb & Co Coach.. It also operated as a tourist hotel in 1896. It is a landmark building, with architectural and townscape value.
These buildings are located at 96 Princes Highway, Bulli. The church is a small sandstone Victorian Gothic building with a tile roof. The Manse is a single storey brick house with a corrugated metal roof. The church was built 1864/5, and opened on the 7 May 1865. The church spire was rebuilt to the original design in 1962. The manse forms a valuable element within the Church precinct.
The sequence of sedimentary rocks in the Bulli district is Wianamatta Shale, Hawkesbury Sandstone, Chocolate Shale, Narrabeen Sandstone, Upper Coal Measures. The influence of parent rock and topographic shelter is very apparent on the type of vegetation that grows in different areas of the district.
Vegetation on the Escarpment in the Bulli area consists of mixed heathland, mature eucalyptus forest, remnant rainforest, dry sclerophyll and wet sclerophyll. Species present include Eucalyptus seeberi, Banksia serrata, Eucalyptus Sieveriana, Banksia ericifolia, Cargillia australis and the tree-fern, Alsophila australis.
Fauna found in the area include the lyrebird, Satin bower-bird, Red-necked pademelon, Rec-necked wallaby and Long-nosed Rat Kangaroos. (Gordon, 1985; Davis, 1936)
Sandon Point is located at the southern end of Thirroul Beach between the Illawarra Railway line and the Pacific Ocean. The site encompasses the northern slopes of Bulli Point and covers an area of approximately 61 hectares. Three creeks flow in an eastward direction through the site, Hewitts Creek, Woodlands Creek and Tramway Creek. The site is highly valued for its significant coastal wildlife habitat and local aesthetic appeal.
Flora and Fauna species sighted at Sandon Point
Vegetation - Large areas of remnant vegetation community bordering the creeks are representative of the Sydney Coastal Estuarine Swamp Forest Complex, which is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community; Hibiscus diversifolius is regionally rare in Illawarra; Melaleuca stypheliodes is uncommon north of Corrimal; Eucalyptus robusta is uncommon north of Bellambi; Crinum pedunculatum is regionally rare in northern Illawarra; Isachne globosa is the largest population recorded in the district and is regionally rare
Birds - Brown Quail are breeding on the site; Southern Emu-Wren and White-cheeked Honeyeaters have been identified as resident 'refugee' species at Sandon Point wetlands; Australasian Bittern; Lewin's Rail; Latham's Snipe; Cormorant use the area of Tramway creek lagoon; Cattle Egrets; White-faced Herons and the Australian Night Heron.
Mammals - short beaked Echidna; Eastern Pygmy Possum; Bandicoot; Large-footed Myotis 'Fishing bat'
Reptiles - Eastern Water Dragon; She-oak Skink; Swamp Snake; Weasel Skink
Amphibia - Brown-striped (Marsh) Frog; Bleating Tree Frog; Leaf Green Tree Frog
Fish - Short-finned eel; Striped gudgeon; Mosquito Fish; Sand Mullet (Tramway Wetlands Planning Committee, 2003)