Pictorial History Camden and District
Cattle which strayed from Farm Cove in 1788 led to the European discovery of Camden. Seven years later the Europeans discovered the lost cattle at Cowpastures in 1795. The area had been home to the Dharawal, the Gundungurra and Dharug who recorded the arrival of cattle in cave paintings. When the whites met the blacks it was friendly but after large land grants were given to the new settlers, the Aborigines struggled to find food. Conflicts arose in the Cowpastures and in 1816 Governor Macquarie made a declaration of war in which 14 Dharawal were massacred. The Cowpastures were fertile and the colonial gentry were attracted to this fine cattle country. It was in 1797 that John Macarthur, with Dutch-Spanish sheep, formed a small stud at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. Macarthur was granted 5,000 acres near Mt Taurus to raise pure merino rams and ewes. After the Rum Rebellion conflict with Governor Bligh in 1808, Macarthur was exiled to England and his wife Elizabeth and nephew Hannibal bred wool on Camden Park. By the late 1830s the property had grown to 28,000 acres. The township of Camden was surveyed and allotments were put up for sale. St Johns was under construction by 1840 and other churches, schools, post office and court house followed. By the 1860s the population had grown, the town was busy and the hotels were crowded with travellers. Industry prospered, a council was formed and Camden was decorated with beautiful buildings. 'Pansy' the tram arrived in the 1880s. Camden district had both a strong working class rural and aristocratic population which embraced World War One. The Red Cross was very strong. The inter-war years enjoyed peace and prosperity. Burragorang Valley's coal mines boosted the economy and Camden Park flourished. Post WWII Camden saw the demise of Camden Park estate and the emergence of the Camden township and its surrounding districts. Today rural and agricultural land are being swallowed by residential development, defied only by the persistent flooding of the district.