History of Our Suburbs
The land area along and near the Cooks River was first explored by Captain Cook's Officers, in 1770. It was subsequently settled very early in the European establishment of Sydney, because of its fertility. The area's first land grant was made to the Chaplain of the First Fleet, the Reverend Richard Johnson, in 1793.
He was known as the best farmer in Sydney in those early colonial days, successfully growing corn, wheat, fruit, grapes and livestock. His grant was one of only a few dispensed at that time, and contributed markedly to the opening up of the area to later farming settlers.
Canterbury Vale - the name he gave to the grant he took up, just north of the Cooks River, was of some 500 acres. The first grant south of the river was made to Mrs Hannah Laycock by Governor King - she named her grant Kings Grove Farm in the Governor's honour. In early years timber was a chief resource, aside from vegetable and crop growing, grazing and other primary industry.
The first large process industry was established in 1841 with the building of the Australian Sugar Company's sugar mill near the Cooks River to produce molasses and spirits. Other industries and trades such as boiling down works and tanneries later developed along the river.