Monthly Archives: June 2015

Telling the stories of the Great North Road

Convict marks Great North Road1 (Small)

The Great North Road was built between 1826 and 1836, extending 240 kilometres north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley and originally included 33 bridges.

It was built using convict labour. Up to 700 convicts worked on the road at any one time. Some would be clearing the area while others would be digging drains, quarrying stone, shaping the stone and shifting it in to position. Many of the convicts working on the road were secondary offenders and to add to the gruelling work they worked in leg-irons weighing up to six kilograms.

The Five Dock section of the road is the only section still retaining the original name,’Great North Road’. Locally, little evidence remains of the convicts’ efforts, other than some pick marks which survive at Abbotsford (pictured above).

Over the years the Convict Trail Project has done much to preserve and promote what remains of the Great North Road. The story of the Great North Road has now been brought to life through a series of colourful videos which can be viewed on youtube.

Bustling Five Dock

SCAN0412 (Small)

Great North Road, Five Dock looked quite different in 1916, when this photograph was taken, than it does today.

The photograph appeared on a real estate poster published for Arthur Rickard & Co to promote the release of land at Dobroyd Point, Haberfield and the Fairlight Extension at Five Dock.

Descriptive notes on the reverse of the poster state that ‘Fifteen years ago a steam tram at Marion Street, Leichhardt picked up passengers for Five Dock and Abbotsford, and ran hourly (later half-hourly) trips. From Leichhardt to Five Dock the land was known as Ramsay’s Bush and almost uninhabited…. Now there are nearly a thousand beautiful cottages, and there is a service of electric trams at intervals of 10 minutes for most of the day, and of 3 to 5 minutes in busy times.’ Present-day commuters can only envy such service.