History of Kogarah

History of Kogarah

Railway Parade, Kogarah 

Kogarah is an Aboriginal word meaning 'rushes' or 'place of reeds'. The present spelling of the suburb was adopted with the opening of the railway station in the 1880s.

First grants of land

The first grants of land in the area now known as Kogarah Municipality were taken up by the Townson Brothers in 1808 and James Chandler in 1822. The Townson Brothers, Jonathon and Robert were granted a large amount of land which covered a great part of present Kogarah. James Chandler, a merchant, arrived in the Colony in 1820 and purchased 100 acres near Kingsgrove. He was later granted 1200 acres adjoining his earlier purchase and named his estate 'Bexley' after his English home, Bexley Heath.

Accessing the Cooks River

Lack of access across the Cooks River and the densely forested bushland, meant growth in the area was slow until the 1840s, when a dam was constructed at Cooks River, and the first road (Rocky Point Road) was cut from the dam to Rocky Point. Growth of the area increased in the 1840s with settlers taking up small blocks and establishing themselves; planting market gardens, orchards and vineyards. Several of these early landowners became influential and prominent members of the community - Peter Moore, Matthew Carroll, Joseph William George Blake, William Carss and Edmond English.

Railway opening

The opening of the railway in 1884 resulted in a new link between areas south of the Cooks River and Sydney. Transportation of goods became quicker and easier overnight, the cost of living now compared favourably with inner areas, and moving greater numbers of people by train was cleaner, quicker, cheaper and safer. Steam trams soon followed and the combined effect of the railway and trams on Kogarah was dramatic and rapid.

By 1890, most businesses had moved to the vicinity of the railway station and tramway terminal. Railway Parade had grown from just two houses in 1886 to contain a hotel, bank, butcher, 3 real estate agents, post office and a variety of other businesses.

Municipality proclaimed

The Municipality of Kogarah was proclaimed in 1885 and was largely due to the efforts of Joseph Carruthers who actively pursued the formation. Carruthers had come to the district in 1879 and worked as a solicitor. He and his family moved to the house 'Ellesmere' at San Souci in 1893.

In the 1920s Kogarah became the base for St. George County Council. Houses and streets were connected to electricity with lights being officially switched on at Kogarah in March 1923. The County Council continued at Kogarah until it was amalgamated into the Sydney County Council in 1979.

Medical services and facilities were provided from early on. St George Cottage Hospital opened with 8 beds in November 1894. Since then expansion has been continuous and today St George Hospital is a major teaching hospital with a number of areas of specialization. St George Private Hospital opened in 1995 with 206 beds.

Appearance today

Today Kogarah township retains much of its 1920s appearance. The old post office is still an architectural feature in the main street and is now used for community services. Kogarah Fire Station has stood on its present site since 1907. 

The population has increased dramatically since those early days with increased housing and facilities. The recently developed Kogarah Town Square opened in 2003, combines both commercial and residential development.

See more detailed information on Kogarah's key dates in history.  

Fletcher: River, Road and Rail | Hatton: The English Family of Kogarah Council' The English Houses of Kogarah' in Kogarah Historical Society Monograph No. 3: Kogarah and District  | Kogarah Council : School Resources Kit & Stormwater Education Kit | Lawrence : Pictorial Memories: St. George