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Castle Hill Travel Guide

Castle Hill: History, location and things to do

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The Castle Hill and Hills area of New South Wales has been inhabited for more than 40,000 years. The Darug tribe, a nomadic group of Aboriginals, first occupied the area and maintained camps in the caves and alongside the waterways. They traded tools and other necessities with other area tribes. The women gathered figs, grapes and tubers while the men hunted and fished. After the arrival of the First Fleet, smallpox killed a large number of the Darug people. In fact, the tribes who remained joined together, but their homes were taken over by the Europeans and turned into farmlands.

The displaced Aboriginals were gradually absorbed into European society, and certain parts of their language have since become adopted and are now some of the best known Australian words today, including boomerang, wombat, koala, dingo and wallaby. Some of the places still retain the original names as well, including Parramatta.

(1) Castle Hill House.JPG
"(1) Castle Hill House" by Orestes654 (talk) 08:52, 18 November 2010 (UTC) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The network of roads through Castle Hill was built via convict labour, including the Great North Road which provides access to the Hunter Valley region. It's one of the best-known roads of the Convict Trail and is considered a great engineering feat. The 1798 Rebellion in Ireland triggered unrest amongst the convicts in Sydney, and the Castle Hill Rebellion followed in 1804. After the Battle of Vinegar Hill, 400 of those involved were transported to NSW. Convicts comprised more than 40 percent of Sydney's population, and the settlement was still quite new. The military was concentrated at the city's centre and scattered sparsely at various outposts.

The final rebellion was staged at sunset when the Irish prisoners set a house on fire in Castle Hill. The convicts began to raid homes and buildings to secure the arms they needed to continue their plan, which was to capture Parramatta and then Sydney itself before sailing off out of the harbour, shouting, "Now, my boys, liberty or death!" Martial law was quickly declared, the leader of the rebellion was arrested and the rebellion ended.

(1) Public School Castle Hill.jpg
"(1) Public School Castle Hill" by Sardaka (talk) 11:10, 24 April 2012 (UTC) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

After that dramatic interlude, Castle Hill settled into a quiet farming community. It became one of the major producers of citrus and wool throughout the latter part of the 19th century. As the 20th century dawned, more residents began adding eggs, milk and other types of fruits to their farms. An influx of migrants diversified the farms even more, and flowers and mushrooms became important commodities. Agriculture gradually declined throughout the 20th century, and the suburb developed rapidly.

Although some hobby farmers still exist in Castle Hill today, the suburb is well urbanised today. Pretty bungalows, low-density housing and a residual feel of rural Australia remain. Local landmarks include Castle Hill Heritage Park, Bella Vista Farm Park, Balcombe Heights Estate and several homes that belonged to some of the earliest European residents and convicts. Shopping is located along Old Northern Road and includes the Castle Mall shopping centre and the Castle Towers shopping centre. The suburb features a library, a community centre and a performing arts complex, and the Powerhouse Discovery Centre, which features educational workshops and programs for guests and school groups, is also located in Castle Hill, which is at Sydney's northwest.

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