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Fun, food and Ferragosto

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Ferragosto, Five Dock’s fabulous celebration of all things Italian.

To celebrate this year’s event, an exhibition at Five Dock Library looks back at twenty years of fun, food and people which combine to make Ferragosto the vibrant street fair that it is. The exhibition features a digital frame which glides through 100 images from past years.

Ferragosto this year will be held along Great North Road, Five Dock on Sunday, 20 August. The exhibition continues at Five Dock Library until 31 August 2017.

The photograph shows performers (in the tradition of commedia dell’arte) at last year’s Ferragosto.

One hundred years of shelter


While the Great North Road at Abbotsford has changed markedly since this photograph was taken in 1918, the tram shelter (seen on the right) has remained a constant fixture for over a hundred years.

According to the Sydney Tramway Museum these shelters were called ‘Waiting Rooms’ or ‘Waiting Sheds’. The one at Abbotsford was erected on 21 July 1911.

The Abbotsford line opened as a steam tramway and was the last of the western suburbs tramways to be electrified. The fully electrified tramway opened on Sunday, 16 April 1905. The first electric tram to Abbotsford was N class car 647 which completed a trial trip a few days before the opening. Services were provided by the Rozelle Tram Depot and an improved service, running every twenty minutes, replaced the steam service.

Now serving as a bus shelter, it has recently been fully restored, ensuring it will continue to provide shelter for many years to come.

Building blocks


Five Dock Quarry, near the corner of Great North Road and Lyons Road provided stone for building and road construction in the nineteenth century.

During the 1870s the Five Dock Quarry was operated by entrepreneur Thomas West who had interests in other quarries, brickmaking and horse racing. Although his business dealings resulted in him being twice bankrupted, Thomas West was nevertheless a highly respected member of the local community. From 1877-1887 and again in 1890-1894 he served on Five Dock Council and was Mayor in 1879-1880. For a time he lived at Fairlight house where he built stables for his race horses. In 1879 he had the misfortune of losing a hand and the sight of one eye in an explosion at Five Dock Quarry.

The Five Dock Quarry was filled in 1938 and later became the site of Five Dock RSL Bowling Club. Today, the site is yet again undergoing transformation and being redeveloped for apartments.

The photograph, showing the quarry in about 1890, is from the Mitchell Library (State Library of NSW) collection and is currently among images of the Great North Road on display at Five Dock Library until 17 October 2016. The Five Dock Methodist Church seen on the right of the photograph was undoubtedly built from blocks of stone quarried on the site.

Along the Great North Road


An exhibition at Five Dock Library highlights the changes along the Great North Road over more than a century.

The Great North Road was built using convict labour between 1826 and 1836 and extended 240 kilometres north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley. For its time, the road was a significant engineering achievement and today a section has World Heritage listing.

The Five Dock to Abbotsford section of the road is the only section still retaining the original name, ’Great North Road’.

The land either side of the Great North Road was originally all part of one large land grant to Surgeon John Harris in 1792 and known as Five Dock Farm. In 1837 the land was subdivided into smaller lots by auctioneer Samuel Lyons. The area remained largely semi-rural until the introduction of a tram service in the 1890s promoted further subdivision of the area for housing.

The photograph shows a tram near the Abbotsford terminus in the 1890s. One imagines the well-dressed crowd may well have been spectators at one of the many rowing contests along the Parramatta River in that period.

The display continues at Five Dock Library until the end of 17 October 2016. There’s an album of the images on the library’s flickr page.

Viva Ferragosto!

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Every August the Great North Road comes alive as Five Dock celebrates Ferragosto, a wonderful mix of Italian food, culture and fun.

To coincide with this year’s Ferragosto, Five Dock Library has a digital exhibition of 100 images of past events selected from the library’s collection,‘Canada Bay Connections’.

Ferragosto this year will be held on Sunday, 16 August. The exhibition continues until 31 August 2015.

A selection of photographs of Ferragosto can also be viewed on flickr.

Telling the stories of the Great North Road

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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

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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.

Five Dock Celebrates Ferragosto

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Five Dock celebrates Italian food and culture every August with Ferragosto, one of Sydney’s premier street fairs.

To coincide with this year’s Ferragosto, there is an exhibition at Five Dock Library of photographs and front pages from Ciao magazine which explores the fun, food and people that help to make Ferragosto such a vibrant street fair.

The exhibition also recognises a publishing milestone for Ciao which this year celebrates ten years of publication.

The photographs are complemented by original posters, programs and ephemera from the Local Studies collection.

Ferragosto this year will be held on Sunday, 17 August. The exhibition continues at Five Dock Library until 31 August 2014.

A selection of photographs of Ferragosto can also be seen on flickr.

The world’s largest filling station

All Cars Service Station at the corner Parramatta Road and Great North Road, Five Dock claimed to be ‘The World’s Largest Filling Station’. An advertisement in The Story of Drummoyne (1940) explained, ‘In the older world there are Filling Stations that cover a larger area than ‘All Cars’, but they have not the number of pumps nor such a large and convenient service area. If you call at this station you will be satisfied that it is the world’s largest, and for service and civility -the world’s best.’

Local Studies holds a copy of the architect W. L. Knispel’s block plan for the ‘Proposed Service Station at Five Dock for W. Smythe Esq’.

The site was originally occupied by the Arlington Hotel which was built about 1850. All Cars has now disappeared but the site’s association with motoring continues through the Audi dealership and Five Dock Smash Repairs (which appears to be part of the original All Cars Service Station building).