Castle Hill, New South Wales
Sydney, New South Wales
Public school (1879)
|Population||37,915 (2011 census)|
|Elevation||197 m (646 ft)|
|Location||30.1 km (19 mi) north-west of Sydney CBD|
|LGA(s)||The Hills Shire
|State electorate(s)||Baulkham Hills
Castle Hill is a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia located 30.1 kilometres north-west of the Sydney GPO, in the Hills District. Castle Hill is the administrative centre of the local government area of the Hills Shire and part of the suburb is located in the local government area of Hornsby Shire.
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 the British forces, including sacking farms in Castle Hill, before his eventual capture and execution by the British militia.
The first European visitors to the district were Governor Phillip and an excursion from Parramatta which reached the hills in April 1791. They wanted to find new country for settlement and farming to feed their struggling Sydney colony.
Governor King began a government farm there on 8 July 1801, referring to it as "Castle Hill" on 1 March 1802. The majority of the convicts who worked the prison farm were Irish, many having been transported for agitation against British rule. They were deemed "politicals" and exiled for life, never to return.
The first free settler in Castle Hill, the Frenchman Baron Verincourt de Clambe, received a grant of 200 acres (81 ha) in 1802. It has been suggested that locals commonly referred to de Clambe's house ("The Hermitage") as "The Castle" because of the Baron's noble status.
In 1804 the convicts rebelled in the Castle Hill convict rebellion, also known as the second "Battle of Vinegar Hill". Overpowering their guards, they marched towards Parramatta, having torched a hut at the prison farm to signal to fellow convicts at the Hawkesbury (which they either ignored or did not see). However, British troops vastly outgunned and outnumbered them. About fifteen to twenty were killed in the first skirmish at the western gates of the Governor's Domain. The main group headed west, pursued by the Red Coats and by a citizen militia under protection of martial law and posse comitatus. Where the Rouse Hill Regional Town stands, it is believed[by whom?] a twenty-minute skirmish happened where more 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 whom?] to fire day and night. 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 to many[quantify] 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.
In later years the area became filled with market gardens and orchards which supplied Sydney. As Sydney expanded, the orchards disappeared and were replaced with a sprawl of suburban dwellings, retail and commercial establishments and light industry. The Hills Shire Council commemorates the shire's former role as an orange-growing area with the Orange Blossom Festival each year.
Castle Hill Post Office opened on 1 January 1869.
In the past Castle Hill was serviced by the Rogans Hill railway line to Parramatta to take the rural area's produce to the city. However, it was closed in 1932, due to competition with buses, trucks and cars.
Local landmarks include Castle Hill House (circa 1844) on Old Northern Road, which has a local-government heritage listing; the public school (1879), Old Northern Road, also with a LG heritage listing; the former parsonage (1866), Parsonage Road; and the former church, Old Northern Road, now converted to commercial use.
A notable part of Castle Hill's cultural history was the period from the post-war period until 1968 in which Nobel laureate Patrick White and his partner Manoly Lascaris lived at 74 Showground Road in a house they named "Dogwoods". For much of that period, they worked several hectares of farmland at the site. White wrote several of his most well-known novels while at Castle Hill; the suburb formed the basis of fictional settings for the novels The Tree of Man, The Solid Mandala, Riders in the Chariot, the collection of short stories The Burnt Ones, and the play The Season at Sarsaparilla. In his work, Castle Hill went variously by the names of "Sarsaparilla" and Durilgai". White based several characters on his experience of local individuals in Castle Hill at the time.
Castle Hill's commercial area centres on a section of the Old Northern Road at the suburb's eastern side. Its southern side is an older, traditional shopping strip, with the modest-sized Castle Mall shopping centre. Its northern side is dominated by the large Castle Towers shopping centre, with two department stores as well as two Event cinema multiplexes (giving a total of 16 Cinemas). A new library and community centre, with a unit apartment building on its upper floors, opened next to Castle Towers in 2004.
Work has finished by the local council to convert the stretch of Old Northern Road between Castle Mall and Castle Towers, into a plaza walk way. The main traffic road has been diverted through the nearby, Terminus Street. A$500 million plan to add 60,000 square metres to the Castle Towers Shopping District is currently being tabled by The Hills Shire Council and, if approved, Castle Towers will become the largest shopping centre in New South Wales, with a total of 170,000 square metres of active floorspace.
Castle Hill also has a light industrial area at the suburb's western side. It is linked with the commercial area by Showground Road. The Castle Hill Showground, former council chambers and former performing arts centre complex, the Hills Centre are all situated next to the industrial area.
Castle Hill is a mix of low- to medium-density housing, with exception to a few apartment complexes. In 2005 year under the NSW Housing Strategy Hume Avenue was rezoned to medium density, to allow for low rise unit, and town house developments.
The largest residential area in Castle Hill is located at the two sides of Showground Road, sandwiched between the commercial and the industrial area. Smaller residential areas are located at the east of the commercial area, as well as the suburb's north-east (part of Hornsby Shire, separated by Old Northern Road and Castle Hill Road). These consist almost entirely of free-standing houses. Several government and private schools, as well as an RSL Club, are located within these areas. To the North of Showground Road lies suburban, with approximately 1000 homes, the Samuel Gilbert Public School, Castle Glen Oval and the Knightsbridge Shopping Court. South of Showground Road, and to the east of Old Northern Road, lies the East Excelsior section of the suburb, known for its leafy streets, mature gardens and established homes on large land parcels, which is adjacent to Bidjigal Reserve. Managed by a community Trust, Bidjigal Reserve is about 186ha of bushland located within the Sydney suburbs of Castle Hill, West Pennant Hills, North Rocks and Baulkham Hills. There are many walking trails, and three marked tracks: Platypus loops along creeks from the entrance at Excelsior Ave; Burraga follows creeks and climbs Bald Hill from Platypus track, and the Murri Yanna begins at Aiken Road or Heidi Place and follows Darling Mills Creek to North Parramatta.
The bulk of Castle Hill residents own private vehicles and travel to work using these, however bus services run to the suburb. Castle Hill was once served by the Rogans Hill railway line to Parramatta, which closed in 1932. There have been various plans to build railway lines through the suburb but none ever progressed past the proposal stage until June 2013 when the North West Rail Link was announced by the NSW Government for the Hills District. It is scheduled to be open to the public in the first half of 2019.
Castle Hill is well served by private buses such as Hillsbus which provides express services to Sydney CBD, as well as Parramatta, Pennant Hills, Dural, Hornsby, Macquarie Park, Baulkham Hills, Rouse Hill, Cherrybrook and Busways, which provides services to Stanhope Gardens, Kellyville, Glenwood, Bella Vista and Blacktown. Castle Hill is served by the following services
- M60 – Hornsby to Parramatta
- M61 – Castle Hill to Railway Square
- T60 – Castle Hill to Parramatta
- T62 – Castle Hill to Parramatta
- 600 – Castle Hill to Parramatta
- 603 – Rouse Hill Town Centre to Parramatta
- 604 – Castle Hill to Parramatta
- 610 – Rouse Hill Town Centre to Railway Square
- 610X – Rouse Hill Town Centre to Railway Square
- 612X – Riley T-Way Station to Milsons Point
- 619 – Rouse Hill Town Centre to Macquarie Park
- 621 – Castle Hill to Town Hall peak hour to Macquarie Park only
- 632 – Castlewood Estate to Pennant Hills
- 633 – Castle Hill to Pennant Hills
- 635 – Castle Hill to Beecroft
- 637 – Castle Hill to Glenorie
- 638 – Castle Hill to Berrilee
- 639 – Castle Hill to Kenthurst
- 644 – Castle Hill to Round Corner
- 651 – Castle Hill to Macquarie Centre occasionally to Town Hall railway station, Sydney
- 715 – Castle Hill to Seven Hills
- 745 – Castle Hill to Glendenning
- T70 – Castle Hill to Blacktown
- T71 – Castle Hill to Blacktown
Castle Hill railway
In 1902, a steam tram line began operating between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills. The extension of the line to Castle Hill was officially opened with great fanfare on 30 July 1910. Major works were undertaken in 1922 to convert the line into a railway, and trains began servicing Castle Hill on 28 January 1923. In 1924, the railway line was extended beyond Castle Hill to Rogans Hill. Stations and stops were provided at Mons Road, Woollen Mills (Northmead), Moxham Road, Model Farms, Junction Road, Baulkham Hills, Cross Street, Southleigh (Excelsior Avenue), Parsonage Lane, Castle Hill and Rogans Hill. As a cost-cutting measure, the state Labor government of Jack Lang closed the line on 31 January 1932, amid much public protest.
- Gilroy Catholic College – Private Catholic College
- William Clarke College – Private Anglican School, K-12
- Oakhill College – Private Catholic College
- St. Bernadette's – Catholic Co-Educational Primary School
- Castle Hill High School – Public High School
- Castle Hill Public School – Public Primary School
- Excelsior Public – Public Primary School
- Samuel Gilbert Public School – Public Primary School
- St. Angela's – Catholic Co-Educational Primary School
- Oakhill Drive Public School – Public Primary School
- Castle Hill House – Vocational Centre run by Redeemer Baptist Church
- Hills Adventist College – Private Seven Day Adventist K-12 School
The Hills Centre for the Performing Arts was a theatre and convention venue located on Showground Road, Castle Hill. Opened in late 1988 and under the ownership of The Hills Shire Council it was one of the largest venues of this type in New South Wales until it was demolished in 2013 to make way for the North West Rail Link.
The Powerhouse Discovery Centre Collection Stores at Castle Hill is part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, along with the Powerhouse Museum in Darling Harbour and Sydney Observatory at the Rocks. The Powerhouse Discovery Centre is the Museum's off-site storage and collection care facility, located on the corner of Windsor and Showground roads in Castle Hill. The Museum's unique and diverse collection of 385,000 objects spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. The Discovery Centre houses 40 per cent of the collection (by volume), or about 50,000 objects and is now open to the general public.
Access programs include monthly public open days (on the second Saturday of each month); themed supervised tours into stores on site; educational programs and workshops, tours for school groups and special-interest groups; school holiday programs; community engagement programs; regional partnership events; and specialist/industry and professional development programs. These provide insight not only to the Powerhouse collection but to the important preservation undertaken there.
The Hills Craft Markets are open the fourth Sunday of each month, except January. A variety of arts and crafts and foods are offered for sale. Children can enjoy plaster painting, music, riding and playing in the showground.
In late March the annual Castle Hill Agricultural Show is held at the Castle Hill Showground. This show dates back to the 1880s and reflects the heritage of the Hills District. The show is mainly agricultural with many sheep, cattle and horse competitions on every year. The Castle Hill show also includes novelty games and items, showbags and educational stalls. The show runs for three days over the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
In 2008, The Hills Shire (formerly known as Baulkham Hills Shire) ranked 4th amongst all LGAs in Sydney and 12th amongst the 590 LGAs nationally in terms of Quality of Life.
According to the 2011 census, there were 37,915 residents in Castle Hill. 62.3% of people were born in Australia. The most common other countries of birth were England 4.4%, China 3.5%, India 2.5%, Korea, Republic of (South) 2.0% and South Africa 1.7%. In Castle Hill 68.8% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Cantonese 4.1%, Mandarin 3.9%, Korean 2.5%, Arabic 1.8% and Italian 1.2%. The most common responses for religion in Castle Hill were Catholic 31.1%, Anglican 19.1%, No Religion 16.1%, Uniting Church 4.0% and Buddhism 3.3%.
Notable current and former residents of the suburb include:
- Patrick White - Deceased Nobel Prize-winning novelist, playwright, poet, short-story writer, essayist. Lived in Castle Hill for eighteen years after World War II.
- Ray Warren – sports commentator, nicknamed "Rabbits" or "Rabbs", best known for his passionate commentary of Rugby League matches and Swimming championships. His voice has become synonymous with important rugby league matches in Australia, and he is renowned for his proficient ability to take over from fellow-commentators when anything interesting happens on the field.
- Christina Parie – 6th place on The X Factor Australia season 3.
- Waqar Younis – former Pakistani cricket captain.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Castle Hill (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8
- Reece, Bob, ed. (1989). Irish Convicts: The Origins of Convicts Transported to Australia. Department of Modern History, University College Dublin. p. 3. ISBN 9781870089340. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
The government's worst fears were borne out at Castle Hill, thirty miles[sic] north west of Sydney, in March 1804 where the predominantly Irish convict workforce employed on the government farm seized some arms and attempted to march on Parramatta [...]
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- State Heritage Website
- State Heritage Website
- Patrick White. A Life, David Marr, Random House, 1991, pp. 243–356
- "Rail Transport in Western Sydney". Government of New South Wales. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
- .BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Castle Hill (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
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