History  - From a small publication by Valma Kerr 

First Exploration    Thomas Moore    E. H. Babbage   Goblin's Glen 

Earl of Carnarvon Estate

First exploration by Europeans

East Roseville had illustrious beginnings. The first white visitor to our district was Captain Arthur Phillip R.N.1, who left his footprints on East Roseville and his mark on Australia. Phillip was sent out to found a convict settlement and laid the foundations of a nation. He governed the British penal colony at Sydney for the first vital five years of its life 1788~1792.

Generations of readers of the poem "My Country"2 know that a wonderful contrast exists between the English countryside and the Australian bush. Upper Middle Harbour had no "ordered woods and gardens" and men of the sea who were unused to land exploration could have baulked at its rigours, had they been led by a less optimistic and determined person than Arthur Phillip.

They were in "Triassic sandstone county with rough gorges and gullies, cliffs and rock shelters, the walls of the drowned valley rising steeply to the plateau at more than 400 feet above sea-level"3. Phillip found it traversable "only in particular places"4. Surgeon White, experiencing "much fatigue", considered the huge rock outcrops which they "were under the necessity of climbing", to be "heights nearly inaccessible"5.

Since the arrival of the eleven ships of the First Fleet three months earlier, the search for "good land, well watered" was a priority. Once Middle Harbour had been discovered, an overland journey was undertaken by Phillip from Manly to, what is now Roseville Bridge6, and on to Middle Harbour Creek at Bungaroo situated behind the modern suburb of St. Ives.

The party reached the Frenchs Forest area where a stop was made at Aboriginal carvings believed to be those of Bantry Bay Road7.

By the time the party reached "the narrows" (Roseville Bridge), they described as "flats, dry at low water"8, two sailors had had the shoes torn from their feet and were given Phillip's compassionate permission to return to Sydney Cove along the "Pacific Highway" ridge in the company of Lieutenant Ball.

The main party of six now progressed west to the tidal limit of Middle Harbour, climbed the next day to the high point where the distant Blue Mountains encouragingly indicated the existence of rivers9 and on 18 April 1788, spent the morning walking or more accurately, "bushbashing" back to what is now Roseville Bridge.

Either Echo Point East Roseville, or the Castle Cove peninsula near Headland Road, is indicated by the phrase "below the flats" where Lieutenant Bradley in charge of two boats sent on Ball's arrival back from the North Shore, met up with Phillip and his party10.

They were now freed from the exhausting physical effort of the morning and in perfect autumn conditions11 were given lunch in Australian style -as a picnic in a pleasant little cove". Flat Rock Beach on the Killarney side of the water suggests itself as a likely location. Journal entries tell of the "great satisfaction and comfort", when they "dined upon the welcome provisions... sent by the governor's steward"12.

Using the knowledge of what had been seen on 17 April 1788 from the North Shore vantage point, further explorations to the west of Sydney were immediately undertaken by Phillip. The fertile soil of Parramatta was fortuitously found to be suitable for the growing of crops and for the new settlement at Sydney Cove the spectre of starvation began to temporarily diminish.

Upper Middle Harbour was clearly useless for the basic needs of the first Europeans, and a period of forty years was to elapse before it would be disturbed by them again in the Roseville Bridge area.



1. Captain Arthur Phillip of the Royal Navy later became Admiral Arthur Phillip.

2. Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) published the poem in 1908.

3. Lands Department publication contained in Davidson Park document 65/9517, courtesy KLHRC.

4. Governor Phillip's despatch (of approximately 6000 handwritten words) to Lord Sydney on 15 May 1788 in Historical Records of Australia, Published by the Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1914.

5. John White. Journal of a voyage to New South Wales, J. Debrett, London: 1790.

6. Lieutenant William Bradley, A Voyage to New South Wales. The Journal of Lieutenant William Bradley of H.M.S. Sirius 1786-92 Sydney 1969 (facsimile edn.) p.101.

7. S. and G. Champion, Forest History, 1988 edn.

8. Bradley, op. cit.

9. Phillip, op.cit.

10.Bradley, op.cit.

11.ibid. Clear and 61deg Fahrenheit.

          12.White, op. cit. p.125.







Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore owned "Echo Farm" from the 1880s and was also the owner of land on the plateau of East Roseville. Some were in the names of other family members.  Thomas Moore probably used the access track now known as Griffith  Avenue  to reach the area  near   Roseville Bridge where he carried out boat building.  Moores Farm Cottage was on the present Roseville Golf Course.

Local History- as researched by M. Dearn

Moore’s Creek was named after Thomas Moore who had a farm where the Roseville Golf Course is now. It was the site of the only Army Engineers training camp in Australia during World War 1 and in 1919 was resumed by the water board for use as a sewerage farm. Roseville was however saved from this fate when sewer mains were built beneath the harbour at The Spit. Our bushcare site still bears the scars of digging and blasting of this sewerage works in the 1920’s.



The "Earl of Carnarvon Estate" Housing Project

Local History- as researched by M. Dearn

The Tomb of Tutankhamen was opened in Egypt by the Earl of Carnarvon in 1922. The ‘Earl of Carnarvon Estate’ was opened in Roseville in 1925 with Earl Street and Carnarvon Road marking its boundaries. Amarna and Luxor are close to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt where Tutankhamen’s tomb was found and have given their names to the two streets facing not quite the Nile River but Moores Creek!

















Eden Herschel Babbage

E. H. Babbage, built the second house in Roseville ("Rawhiti").

E.H. Babbage, 1843-1924, 

"an exemplary citizen, devoted to the public good". 

Photo: Amy Smith


In 1912 E. H. Babbage was a Ku-ring-gai Council alderman, constructed a system of tracks in Roseville Park. The Park consisted of 100 acres of natural bushland adjacent to the Middle Harbour foreshores from east of the Baths and apparently up as far as Moores Creek. Superlatives abound in a description of the Park, which was likened to the Blue Mountains.

"Overhanging trees multiply, waterfalls and mountain... streams appear half hidden, caves peep from ferns. The. . . exceptionally progressive head of the Roseville Park Trust . . . Mr. E.H.Babbage... has done wonders... paths... tree planting... seats... picnic spots...".

The son of the explorer who surveyed a section for the Overland Telegraph Line up through the middle of Australia, godson of the astronomer Herschel and grandson of the inventor of the computer, Charles Babbage, Eden Herschel Babbage's antecedents were impressive. However it was his "lofty character", his personal attributes of altruistic regard for his fellow citizens and his dedicated efforts for Roseville Park which caused a monument to be erected following his death at the age of 80 in the year 1924. Well deserved was the unofficial title The Father of Roseville 29

The memorial was moved for major road construction and now stands close to the historic Warrane Road connecting the district with Willoughby.

(Note: More research needs to be done on Babbage as he alone seems to have done more to further the bush trails of Moores Creek than any other)









Goblin's Glen 
Adventures in Fairyland 
ISBN 0 207 15755 3

In the library collection at Roseville Primary School is a book written and illustrated in the 1920's by Harold Gaze for the entertainment of his children.  The book is called Goblin's Glen published in 1924.   A second copy can be found in the Gordon Library.    

The book uses the old Moores Creek track and its surroundings as a setting for a surreal tale of the adventures of fairies and goblins enjoyed by Harold, his niece and nephew. The book was written in a common style of the times.   It took much from "Alice in Wonderland" and Gordon Lindsey's "Magic Pudding".  Using plays on words and conundrums, the book turns the Moores Creek setting into an European forest with high mountains, snow fields and underground caves.   Apparently the English language of the time was unable to describe the Australian native bush.   Just as with the early painters (pre Heidelberg school) the Australian landscape was distorted to liken it to familiar European scenery.  The audience of the day was told of "scrub" with the beauty reserved for the green glades and snowy peaks of home counties. 

It was clear Harold Gaze enjoyed and appreciated the Australian bushscape of Moores Creek but it is sad that the real beauty of the lush bush, waterfalls and caves were not recorded in his story.  May Gibbs and others were able to break this tradition and convey a truer appreciation of this country.

The pre-occupation of gardeners with exotic plants rather than the enormous variety and subtly of the Australian bush and its wildflowers is a legacy of these times.  It is the chosen role of Bushcarers to remove exotic garden escapees where they invade the natural landscape  and prevent destruction of the native habitats of indigenous flora and fauna.