Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pioneers' Track

On Tuesday last, Mary and I did a bushwalk along Pioneers' Track which meanders through Epping, Beecroft and Carlingford in Sydney's northwest.

This opened up many surprises about the early history of the area.

We entered the track at Midson Road where Devlin's Creek forms the boundary between Epping and Beecroft. The surrounding area is the site of the original land grants in Epping (then named the Field of Mars Common) made to Captain William Kent (170 acres on 12 May 1796) and his nephew Lieutenant Willam Kent (460 acres on 18 April 1803).

The younger Kent called his property William Farm. It was not a working farm but both Government and private contractors removed timber from the property between 1816-1835.

In 1835, James Devlin purchased the property renaming it The Devlin Estate. Devlin, like Kent did not live on the farm but allowed former convicts to rent and farm the land.

Devlin's Creek is named after James Devlin and Kent Street, Epping of course after the Kents.

We then came upon came upon Ray Park which was the site of the first orchard that grew the Granny Smith Apple on a commercial basis.

At the Orchard Road exit, we came upon the history of the first settlers in what is now the Hornsby Shire. David Kilpack was transported as a convict to New South Wales on the First Fleet aboard the Scarborough. In June 1791, he married Eleanor McDonald who had been also transported as convict aboard the Lady Juliana in 1790. Kilpack received his freedom in 1794 and was granted 30 acres at Mobbs Hill (Field of Mars) where the couple settled. The following year he was granted another 50 acres.

History Services NSW has records for both David Kilpack and Eleanor McDonald . It also has 10 records of convicts assigned to James Devlin. For example:

"James Hillyer, aged 18 years, who arrived in Port Jackson on 18 February 1833 from Sheerness on the convict ship, Camden. It is recorded that he was assigned to James Devlin at Kissing Point in 1833. He was granted his Ticket of Leave in 1843 at Parramatta. In 1844 at Hunters Hill, he applied to marry Mary Ann Jones who was born in the Colony ".

If you are researching your local area history, History Services NSW may hold records of early convict settlers in a summary format that you cannot get from any other source.

You should go to our website at: