Shipping Cattle at Darling Island
Sydney Harbour is full of Islands. Among the most famous are Clarke Island, Garden Island and Fort Denison, yet there are many other islands which many who visit might wonder about the names of. This postcard, from circa 1910, shows Darling Island, which today is not an island at all!
Once Darling Island (now the area of land between Pymont Bay and Jones Bay) was a tiny, rocky island, but reclamation projects in the 1800s soon joined it to the mainland. In 1851 the Australasian Steam Navigation Company used the area as a shipyard, but in 1899 the New South Wales Government purchased the area for use as railway yards and wharves. As this postcard shows, all sorts of goods from wool to livestock passed through the wharves. Today the railway, industrial activity, cranes and noises of the busy working wharves are a distant memory.
Chinese Gardens in depression among sand hills on north shore of Botany Bay
This image, another from the amazing archive of images taken by an unknown photographer circa 1936, documents a Sydney institution. The area around Botany Bay and La Perouse was in use as market gardens and small scale farms over 150 years ago. In fact, land around the La Perouse area was cleared as far back as 1788 by Count de La Perouse to grow vegetables for his return journey to France. The earliest known name for the area is ‘The Frenchman’s Gardens’.
The market gardens at La Perouse, areas of which are still operating on land adjacent to Botany Cemetery, were established as far back as 1830. Although originally run mainly by Europeans, after the 1850s gold rush, many Chinese families took up areas of the market gardens to grow and sell vegetables. By the 20th century, these market gardens were mainly run by Chinese families. The Chinese grew not only the ‘common’ vegetables of the time, supplying Sydney markets, but also many of the more unusual Asian greens.
This image, of gardens on the North Shore of Botany Bay not only shows the expanse of land used for growing vegetables, but also the dunes which were once so prominent in Botany. Many of these dunes have long since disappeared due to sand mining.