Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arncliffe, New South Wales
Arncliffe's name comes from a small village in North Yorkshire, England. Ron Rathbone in his book "A Village Called Arncliffe" says that an early land speculator, William Hirst, created a subdivision in 1840. It was named The Village of Arncliffe Estate. William Hirst was born in Settle, Yorkshire. Settle is a market town serving a cluster of villages, of which Arncliffe is reputed to be the prettiest. Rathbone says it is likely that Hirst gave Arncliffe its name, although it was more than two decades before it received official recognition.
The original inhabitants of the area were the Gweagal clan of the Dharug people. Valleys of local creeks, Wolli Creek and Bardwell Creek contain evidence of Aboriginal presence in smoke-blackened caves.
In 1856 another subdivision, Tempe, was described as being close to the village of Arncliffe, described as having "all the characteristics of an English village, being beautifully situated amidst quiet rural scenery, spotted here and there with neat cottages which charm the eye with their pretty, well trimmed gardens, perfect pictures of competence and content".
In the years between then and now Arncliffe has hosted a stinking boiling-down works (1870s), a sewerage farm (1886 - 1916) and various factories and workshops throughout the 20th century, particularly after WW2. These included the Streets Ice Cream factory, and Fontana Films, where the film "Jedda" was produced. Many of the sequences were shot in Arncliffe. Both Streets and Fontana have now closed.
Arncliffe had many grand and gracious Victorian era houses. Too many have been demolished, or fallen into disrepair, been subdivided and so on, but in the most recent years there has been some attempts to preserve these as part of local heritage.
From the 1960s Arncliffe has become home to many immigrants from around the world. In 1963, after an earthquake devastated much of Macedonia and Northern Greece, the first southern European families arrived. From the early 1970s they were joined by many families from Lebanon, who sought asylum from the civil wars and ongoing conflict in the Middle East and Lebanon. Sixty percent of Arncliffe's residents now come from backgrounds other than the predominantly Anglo-Saxon and Irish origins of the earlier immigrants.
Arncliffe hosts much evidence of the diversity of its population, including architectural styles ranging from Victorian through Federation era cottages to latter day "statement mansions". The Al-Zahra mosque is an important feature of the community, as is the recently established olive grove in an area known as 'Bardwell Valley'. It is in recognition of the contribution made to the City of Rockdale by citizens who have their origins in Greece.
Arncliffe also borders an extremely important piece of remnant bushland, the Wolli Creek valley. There have been very active movements fighting for its preservation in the face of demands for land. The most successful of these prevented the building of a tollway through the valley, resulting in the road being built as a tunnel under the valley. Nevertheless, community concern remains over what is seen as the release of unfiltered particle pollution from exhaust emissions into the atmosphere in the Barwell Valley.
Another community issue is the high-density housing development occurring in the area of North Arncliffe around the new railway station of Wolli Creek . Arncliffe itself is accessible by rail, via the Arncliffe railway station on the Illawarra line
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