|Location: Where is Erskine Park?|
Erskine Park, New South Wales Australia, is located on the eastern fringe of the Penrith Local Government Area. The eastern boundary is Ropes Creek to the south where the southern boundary is located along the Sydney Water Supply Pipeline. The suburb’s western border runs along Mamre Road and the Erskine Park Road till the M4 Motorway and up to Ropes Creek. A new housing development during the 1990s has greatly changed this suburb. Its history has been largely rural with some extractive industries in recent years.
33 46′ S 150 46′ E
|Postcode: 2759||Distance from Sydney: 45.5 kms|
|Land Area: 8.51 km2 or 851 ha||Erskine Park NSW on Google Maps|
- Erskine Park Community Hall and Community Centre: 57 Peppertree Drive, Erskine Park, NSW 2759.
Ph: (02) 9834 1570.
Erskine Park Road marks the western boundary of Erskine Park. This road is a vital thoroughfare south to Mamre Road and north to St Marys and Sydney. Named after James Erskine who obtained a land grant in the area.
Swallow Drive is one of the main streets into this suburb. Many streets in this suburb are named after birds.
Peppertree Drive is one of the main streets into this suburb.
M7: Erskine Park links to M7: (25 May 2004) Mayor of Penrith City David Bradbury has welcomed the Premier’s announcement that the NSW State Government will rezone land to enable a road link between the Erskine Park Employment Area and the M7 Western Sydney Orbital.
For more general information on the Dharug people please see The Dharug Story by Chris Tobin (Penrith City Library collection 994.004 DHA).
The Aborigines of South Creek
The first inhabitants of the Sydney basin bounded by Port Jackson and Botany Bay in the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, north to the Hawkesbury River and south to Appin, had in common the Dharug language. Fourteen tribes or clans made up this language group and the people who inhabited both sides of South Creek were known as the Gomerrigal-Tongarra clan.
Unlike the Blue Mountains clans who used rock shelters, the Gomerrigal-Tongarra people lived in open camp sites along the creek in simple gunyahs. These were constructed from three leaning poles lashed together at the top and covered on two sides with bark. They had a habit of smearing mud on their skin to protect them from the effects of both weather and insects. In winter they wore animal skins to keep warm.
Very little is known of their cultural and ceremonial life. According to researcher and writer James L. Kohen, the Gomerrigal-Tongarra clan had rights to the ridges at Plumpton and the gravels of Eastern Creek. From these areas they used red silcrete rocks to make sharp flakes which were then fashioned into tools or used as barbs on spears. The MacLaurin family (who lived at Mamre) also asserted that the bodies of the dead were not buried, but wrapped in bark and placed on platforms elevated in the branches of trees.
There are no remaining rock carvings or marked trees in the area. Emily MacLaurin described a meeting place on South Creek at Mamre at a point where ‘…the Creek takes in a small stream from the west, the right bank of which reaches into the creek in a narrow finger’. It is thought that despite the arrival of the Rev. Samuel Marsden in 1804, ceremonies continued to be held at this spot for some time.
By 1816 however, the Gomerrigal-Tongarra, together with the rest of the Dharug clans, had been ravaged either by clashes with the settlers or by contracting European diseases. They became increasingly dependent on the settlers for their survival. Although they had always maintained a camp on or around the Mamre estate, the Rev. Samuel Marsden now sought to encourage them to work in exchange for food and clothing. He was obviously successful in this endeavour, as by 1835 the Quaker missionary James Backhouse wrote in his journal after a visit to Mamre that ‘…the South Creek Natives may be considered as half-domesticated, and they often assist in the agricultural operations of the settlers.’ He was also impressed by the fact that the wife of their Aboriginal guide – supplied by Marsden – could read, having been ‘educated in a school, formerly kept for the Natives, at Parramatta’. The next day, Backhouse travelled onto Penrith, his guide ‘another South Creek Black, named Simeon. His wife was killed, about two years ago, by some of those whom he termed “Wild Natives”…We tried in vain to persuade this man to accompany us to Wellington Valley; he did not like to go…These people are afraid of other tribes of their own race’.
Another visitor, Charles Darwin, passing through Mamre in January 1836, was impressed by the ‘…good humour and superior hunting skills’ of the Aborigines he encountered around Penrith.
History has given us sparse records indeed about the Gomerrigal-Tongarra people. As part of the Dharug-speaking Aborigines, their life-style was probably similar to others of the Dharug clans. They were hunter-gatherers over specifically defined territories, in this case, mainly the banks of South Creek; and they adhered to particular laws of kinship, marriage, sexual practice and burial which ensured the well-being of the clan. Men and women had particular roles in the clan which were clearly defined; children were given a totem name; traditional medicine was carried out by the ‘koradji’ or doctor; and, like all Aborigines they had a spiritual Dreaming.
The clash of European and Aboriginal cultures, despite original good intentions, meant that the Gomerrigal-Tongarra people and their culture was virtually destroyed within a century of
Cree, Laura Murray, ‘Mamre’ Place of Promise, St Marys, 1995.
Backhouse, James, ‘Account of a Journey from Parramatta across the Blue Mountains’, in Mackaness, George, Fourteen Journeys Over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales 1813-1841, Horwitz-Grahame, 1965.
Origin of the place name – Erskine Park
Erskine Park was the name of a 3,000 acre grant made in 1818 to James Erskine (1765-1825). The grant covered an area east of the present Mamre Road to Rope’s Creek taking in what are now the suburbs of St. Clair and Erskine Park. James Erskine was born in 1765 in Ireland and was a career soldier who fought in the West Indies, Ireland and the Peninsular Campaigns. He arrived with his regiment in Sydney on the “Matilda” in August 1817. He was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor on September 12, 1817. In recent times (1980-81), there were controversial moves within the community to change the name of this historic suburb to St. Clair – a name having no historical connection with the area. The matter was finally resolved in the latter half of 1981, when the Geographical Names Board created two separate suburbs, Erskine Park and St. Clair.
|1818||8 May||James Erskine given land grant of 3000 acres located from Mamre Road to Ropes Creek|
|1823||30 June||1600 acres south Great Western Highway granted to John MacHenry|
|1960||Rick Pisaturo purchased 120 acres of an old dairy farm and named it Mandalong Park|
|1968||Sydney Regional Outline Plan identified land at St Clair and Erskine Park for future residential development|
|1981||Name of suburb officially recognised|
|1981||A new breed of beef cattle developed from the Charolais breed at Mandalong Park called Mandalong Specials were officially recognised by the Royal Agricultural Society|
|1982||13 January||Erskine Park suburb declared by the Geographical Names Board|
|1990||17 October||First Local Environmental Plan for Erskine Park Employment Area
went on display
|1992||13 May||Second Local Environmental Plan for Erskine Park Employment Area went on display|
|1992||21 September||Local Environmental Plan for Erskine Park Employment
Area is gazetted
|1992||CSR Readymix owners of Erskine Park quarry site plan to rehabilitate the site into parkland|
|1993||April||Erskine Park Community Centre and Hall opened|
|1993||12 July||Andrew Thompson Park named|
For photos and more information on Erskine Park, search Penrith City Library’s catalogue using an All Resources search.
Penrith City Council, Erskine Park Employment Area: Draft Local Environmental Plan, 1991.
Council supports locals over name-change dispute’, Penrith District Star, 17 September 1980.
Feltham, Carolyn St Clair Estate and Erskine Park, n.d. – Penrith City Library LCVF – St Clair.
Green, Annette, St Marys Industrial Heritage Study, Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1987.
Murray, Robert and White, Kate Dharug & Dungaree: The History of Penrith and St Marys to 1860. Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1988.
Nepean District Historical Society, From Castlereagh to Claremont Meadows: Historical Places of Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1997.
Parr, Lorna, A History of the Nepean and District Street Names, Nepean District Historical Society, Penrith, 1990.
Parr, Lorna, Penrith Calendar, Nepean District Historical Society, 1987.
Penrith City Library LCVF – Erskine Park.
Stacker, Lorraine Pictorial history: Penrith & St Marys, Kingsclear Books, 2002.
Stapleton, E. South Creek – St. Marys – From Village to City St. Marys. St. Marys Historical Society. 1983.
Stevenson, Colin R., Place Names and their Origins within the City of Penrith, Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1985.
Stickley, Christine, The Old Charm of Penrith, 2nd ed., the author, St. Marys, 1984.