by Kat Adamski, North Shore Times
THE ghosts of Christmas past are making a timely appearance on the North Shore.
Historian and tour guide Daniel Phillips has discovered many quirky facts about Christmas since he started organising daytime history tours and Ghost tours at night.
Mr Phillips became fascinated by the names on the gravestones at St Thomas Cemetery in Crows Nest, when he was walking his three year old Weimaraner dog William.
"I've lived in this nick of the woods for 16 years and I realised that most of the history of the North shore is here under our feet" Mr Phillips, of North Sydney, said.
"I researched their names, who they are, and what they did, and real life is always weirder than anything you can make up. I didn't even have to start stretching the truth ( for a good story) - the stories I found freaked me out, and I have a reasonably strong constitution".
One story revolves around a 19th century Cammeray Mansion called Tarella, on Amherst Street, where a number of children died of Cholera. Neighbours have reported seing "lights" which are floating orbs of Ghosts , Mr Phillips said.
"One of the things that really stands out when you read the letters and diaries of Sydney's pioneers is how important celebrations like Christmas were" Mr Phillips said.
"They had fun trying to keep essentially European traditions in a place where even the seasons appeared to be upside down"
"I explain the history of many of these traditions in a north shore context, how all of the street and suburbs names came about, and how our pioneers adapted winter traditions to summertime living"
The ghost tours ( at 9.15pm and 11.15pm) and the Ghost of Christmas Past tour ( at 7.15pm) run 7 days a weekwith the exception of Christmas day, New Years Eve and New Years Day.
For Details go to sydneyghosttour.com
The history that's right under our feet:
- Artarmon – Named after the house of William Gore, Provost Marshall, ( or head of military police of Governor Bligh), that was named after the family estate in Ireland.
- Blues Point – Named originally after Wiliam “Billy” Blue, a former convict, very unusually a negro man in an almost all white country of England at that time, reputedly ( depending on what source of reference you believe ) originally born in either New York USA, or in Jamaica in the West Indies, who was granted 80 acres in this area.He became one of Sydney’s first row boat ferrymen. “ The Commodore Hotel” on Blues point road is named for his nickname “ the old commodore”.
- Cammeray – named originally “Suspension Bridge” after the bridge over what is now Tunks Park between Cammeray and Northbridge, it was re-named after the Cammeraigal Clan of the Guringai aboriginal tribe – the first residents of Sydney’s lower north shore.
- Chatswood - is named after the wife of district pioneer and Mayor of Willoughby Richard Hartnett. His wife Charlotte was affectionately known as Chattie, or “Chat” and in 1876 Hartnett named his estate “Chatswood”. When the post office was built in 1879, the suburb took on the name of the district’s most significant property
- Crows Nest – named after the house “Crows Nest” , on Crows Nest estate, the first 500 acres of numerous land holdings that were Granted by Governor Macquarie, and held by Edward Wollestonecraft and Alexander Berry. It was positioned roughly where Willoughby road and the Pacific highway is right now. It was named for the view down the harbour resembling the observation post on the top main sail of a sailing ship
- Gordon – named for Charles Gordon, ( d 1911) Seventh Baronet of Earlston, Scotland
- Gore Hill – Named for William Gore, Provost Marshall ( head of Military police)
- Hornsby: - Chief Constable Thorn of Parramatta, and his deputy Sam Horn, captured two bushrangers who had held up a Dr Sherman while he was riding home along the Windsor Road near Parramatta. As a reward, Chief Constable Thorn was granted 640 acres of land ( that became Thornleigh) and Sam Horn was granted a neighbouring 320 acres that became “Hornsby”
- Killara – Name was chosen by an early settler Mr J.G.Edwards, when securing the building of a railway station in the area., from the aboriginal language, meaning “Permanent” or “Always there”
- Lane Cove- named after John Lane, son of the Lord Mayor of London, a great friend of Governor Arthur Phillip
- Lavender Bay – Named after George Lavender ( d 1851) the boatswain of the prison hulk ( stripped out sailing ship used to house convicts) that was moored in what is known as Lavender bay. George would row back and forth from this ship daily to go to work.
- Lindfield – named after the home of an early settler called List, who had named his home after Lindfield in Surrey, England
- Milsons Point – named after James Milson, granted originally 50 acres by Governor King in 1807. Eventually became a supplier of food and supplies to ships, a major landholder and farmer, and a property advisor / land steward to both Governors Macquarie and Brisbane. His original home is roughly where the north Eastern Pylon of the Sydney Harbour bridge is now.
- North Sydney – Originally part of the suburb of St Leonards, this area had it’s name changed in the later 19th century. Ironically this was the last railway station on the North Shore line to be built, taking place in 1932 when the re-alighnment of the railway track took place so that trains started crossing the harbour bridge. The distinctive “second CBD” skyscraper skyline originally started taking place in the late 1960’s and early 1970s, and has grown since then
- Pymble – Named for Richard Pymble, and the Pymble family. First Orchardists
- Roseville – named afer the substantial stone cottage of George Wilson, and orchardist of the district. The original house was demolished to make way for the railway station
- St Ives – named for Isaac Ellis Ives, (d 1906) mayor of Sydney, Member of Parliament for St Leonards ( Which used to cover most of the lower north shore ). Resident of “Gibraltar” Mansion on Blues Point Road, Blues Point.
- St Leonards – is named after St Leonards-on-Sea (or for short, St Leonards) a part of Hastings, East Sussex, England. Originally had a much wider meaning than it does now, as it was the original name of North Sydney, and the North Sydney district area including much of the lower North Shore. St Leonards has a close connection to Sydney itself, because the British Statesman Thomas Townshend, the then British Home Secretary, Baron Sydney of Chiselhurst ( whose name Captain Phillip gave to Sydney Cove in 1788) was the man whose idea it was, nd was the primary political mover behin to send the First Fleet to Botany Bay. He was created a viscount on his retirement from public service in 1789, and took the name Viscount Sydney of St Leonards, after the North Shore of Sydney and it's district was then named.
- Thornleigh: Chief Constable Thorn of Parramatta, and his deputy Sam Horn, captured two bushrangers who had held up a Dr Sherman while he was riding home along the Windsor Road near Parramatta. As a reward, Chief Constable Thorn was granted 640 acres of land that became “Thornleigh”.
- Turramurra – Name was chosen by Robert Pymble after overhearing the local aborigines refer to the area as “Turramurra” or “Turraburra” – meaning “big hill”
- Waitara – Chosen by local residents who had also spent time in New Zealand, near a sea port in Taranaki province. It comes from the Maori language, and means “hail”. In Australian usage we emphasise the “tar” part of the name – in Maori each syllable is said “Wai-ta-ra”
- Warrawee – Chosen by J.G Edwards and a Mr Remington, early local settlers in the district, who took it from the aboriginal language, meaning “stop here”.
- Wahroonga – Chosen from the Guringai aboriginal language, meaning “Our Home”
- Waverton – named for the home owned by the Carr family, an early pioneering family of the North Shore – Carr Street is also named for them
- Willoughby - commemorates Sir James Willoughby Gordon, who was the Quartermaster-General of the Royal Navy when the first fleet set sail in 1788
- Wollestonecraft – named for Alexander Berry’s business partner, Edward Wollestonecraft. Major Land holders in the district. Alexander Berry donated the 4 acres of land in West Street Crows Nest to the St Thomas' Church, for the Cemetery for a burial place for his wife, Elizabeth Berry, nee Wollestonecraft, Edward's sister.