History of Woodbine

Woodbine got its name because an alderman - fed up with his chain-smoking colleagues - suggested that Council should name the suburb after a brand of cigarettes.

Former Mayor, Guy Thomas, remembers the debate that was sparked in 1975 by the name originally proposed for the hilltop neighbourhood - "Kiddlea". This was designed to honour John Kidd, a local State MP (on and off) from 1877 to 1904, who lived nearby in Blair Athol.

But Guy recalls the Kiddlea failed to impress anyone and he thought it sounded "stupid".

"I was a heavy smoker at the time, and in Council I sat next to Alderman Arthur Jones, who hated smoking," Guy said. "Things were made worse for him because Alderman Peter Bernard, also a smoker, sat on his other side. When I was on my feet arguing against the name Kiddlea, Arthur suggested I name the suburb after a packet of cigarettes."

But this tongue-in-cheek comment suddenly reminded Guy, an ex-Royal Navy man, of the famous English cigarette brand - "Woodbine". And being a keen amateur local historian, he remembered the old Payten family homestead which once stood nearby had been known as Woodbine Cottage.

Council agreed the name was apt and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sitting at the suburb's main entrance, Payten Reserve now honours the pioneering clan, which was so deeply connected in both the suburbs history and the early history of Australia.

As early as 1818, stonemason Isaac Payten was appointed to build the Female Factory in Parramatta. One of his sons, Nathanial Payten, followed in his footsteps and from the 1820's to the 1840's was involved in building contracts as diverse as Parramatta Gaol and the circular stone staircase of the Glenlee mansion(PDF, 304KB) at Menangle Park.

Nathanial and his wife, Susannah, had eleven children, one of whom was James Payten. While James was living at Leppington Hall in 1873, he bought Woodbine - the remains of John Scarr's early farmhouse - as a new family home.

The homestead stood on Campbelltown Road (Sydney Road), just north of the bridge, which crosses the railway line. And here, nestled amongst majestic karrajongs, acacias, pines and cedars, the Paytens enjoyed a peaceful existence on the outskirts of town. James and his wife, Sarah (nee) Rose, shared their home with her brother, Alfred Rose and his family.

The clan became a leading dynasty of Campbelltown's community, business and sporting life. Alfred Payten was an architect who designed many local buildings including the old fire station (now part of the Town Hall Theatre(PDF, 219KB)) and the Menangle Park Racecourse. His daughter, Sara, collected and preserved much of her family's history, now stored at Campbelltown Library (The Sara Payton Diaries).

But best-known of all the family was arguably James' daughter, Rose (Babe) Payten, a champion tennis player who was Campbelltown's first major sports star. At her peak, she held the Tennis Association's Triple Crown from 1901-04 and again in 1907, being simultaneously the singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles champ. She also helped pioneer golf tournaments in the district.

Rose died in 1951 and her aging Woodbine cottage was demolished in the 1960's.

By early 1970's, plans were being drawn up to develop the treeless hills that stood behind the old Payten farm into a new suburb. Work on the first housing estate began in 1976 at the northmost extreme of the proposed suburb. Landcom later purchased much of this land from development underwriters in the bad economic climate of the late seventies.

Campbelltown Council in its search of an out-of-the-ordinary theme for street names, looked to Sydney's beaches for inspiration. And just to be that extra bit creative, the planners then attempted to place all the street names in the same geographical order they occur along the coast.

To this end, the early Landcom estate boasted beach names from Sydney's far north such as Terrigal Place, Patonga Close, Bungan Place, Whale Place, Avoca Place, Long Reef Crescent, Mona Vale Place and Ocean Place.

The roadway that would later become the suburb's main thoroughfare was called North Steyne road, while an access way onto Campbelltown Road was established with the formation of Collaroy Road.

Hundreds of residents began calling the suburb home, but not without some protests over the lack of services and claims of "isolation". "Ask Campbelltonians where Woodbine is and you're likely get a blank stare," reported the local press in May 1978. The estate was described by the words: "Not a tree in sight and resting on a hillside where cows once grazed".

At Woodbine's southern fringe, off Badgally Road, a host of new streets were also created in housing estates opened up by Neeta Homes and Defence Service Homes in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

When these southern streets were eventually named, they too took note of the geographic location of the beaches. Hence they were called Cronulla Crescent, Eloura Crescent, Maroubra Crescent, Garie Close, Wanda Place, Bundeena Road, Coogee Place and Bondi Place.

But what about the middle of the suburb? This was still vacant hilltop, which boasted sweeping views for kilometres around still remained undeveloped and unplanned.

This was because the owner of the land, the Council itself, had been unable to find a buyer. Offers by the Housing Commission, Landcom and a host of private developers had all fallen well short of the $1 million asking price. So faced with little choice, Council took the then-unprecedented step of "turning land developer" and creating its own estate. And not just any estate - a prestige one for the "executive market".

This was vocally criticised by Labour aldermen, who argued Council should not be involved in real estate developments "so out-of-reach for battlers". But Mayor Gordon Fetterplace led a counter-argument that there was an increasing need for prestige housing in the area.

By February 1979, tenders had been called for road construction and Harbord Road, named after the Manly beach, became Woodbine's new main entrance.

Estate sales boomed and the streets included Freshwater Close, Forresters Close, Newport Close, Clontarf Close, Palm Circuit and Warriewood Street.

The mid-1980's saw the creation of a "community forest" along the once-treeless ridge skirting the suburb. In 1989 this was officially declared Kanbyugal Reserve, after an Aboriginal warrior chief who once roamed the area and met the explorer and botanist George Caley in the early 1800's.

Jackson Park, Woodbine's major sportsground, gets its name from John Jackson, whom parish maps reveal was the original owner of the land on which the park now stands.

"Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs - How and why they got their names" written by Jeff McGill, Verlie Fowler and Keith Richardson, 1995, published by Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.

Reproduced with permission of the authors.