Bayside in 1881

Did you know that much Bayside was once covered in scrub, swamps and rocky outcrops? We have come across lots of specific details like this while researching the museum’s upcoming exhibition on historical maps.


Close up of Thomas Samuel Parrott’s ‘Map of the country around Sydney’. Courtesy NLA (

Thomas Samuel Parrott’s ‘Map of the country around Sydney’ , which you can see above, is one of the resources we have been looking at. It was produced in 1881 for research into the defence of New South Wales. Because of the aims behind it’s production, the map provides us with lots on concrete information such as the houses that existed and elevation of hills in the area.

One of the most interesting details is how the Cooks River once flowed into Botany Bay. Look carefully below and you will see that the entrance to Sheas Creek (later the Alexandria Canal) was once a large body of water. Much of this area has since been resumed for Sydney Airport. The river itself was rerouted west towards Kyeemagh.


Close up of land that is now predominately occupied by Sydney Airport.

A spot called Gum an nan is also visible.  Historians are unsure of its meaning, but if it did have Aboriginal significance these stories have been lost to time. This spot is now buried under or near the Airport’s International Terminal.


The same area today. © OpenStreetMap Contributors

If you would like to take a closer look at Parrott’s map, check it out online at the National Library of Australia. The Library’s interface allows you to zoom in and out. Modern day Bayside is located down at the bottom of the map. If you find anything interesting do let us know.

We don’t know how long this survey took or how accurate it is for 1881,  however a consultant historian working with Council has found that the houses marked on this map, to her experience, do indeed match up with historical records. Is your house or street there?

The Museum’s yet to be named mapping exhibition will open in mid-May.

Samantha Sinnayah, Curator.


2 thoughts on “Bayside in 1881

  1. I believe that this map shows my grandparents house in Kent Rd Mascot near Shea’s Creek and Rickety Street Bridge
    It also shows my great grandfathers house at Turrella on the Wolli Creek.


    1. Wow that great! I look forward to seeing which houses you are talking about when the exhibition opens. I also find it interesting that you had family living on the other side of the Cooks River. Recently we have come across a few historical figures who had family or land across what we now call Bayside.


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