Before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 the local area was home to the Gammeraygal people. Archaeological evidence found at an aboriginal site in Cammeray shows people were living in the area for at least 6,000 years (Attenbrow, V., Second Edition (2010) Sydney’s Aboriginal Past: Investigating the Archaeological and Historical Records, UNSW Press, p.68) Archaeological evidence from further afield indicates that humans were been living on the East coast of Australia for over 30,000 years. Aboriginal sites, shelters, rock engravings and middens are all found in the local Willoughby/Lane Cove area.

The arrival of the first fleet in 1788 had an immediate and devastating effect upon the aboriginal people. “As early as 1789 a disease that was possibly small pox, galla galla in the local language, had halved Sydney’s Aboriginal population.” “Between 1792 and 1795, 21,225 acres [8590 hectares] of Crown land were ‘granted’ to individual Europeans around Sydney.” (Hoskins, I., (2007) Aboriginal North Sydney: An outline of Indigenous History, p.14, 17 North Sydney Council)

By the 1820’s it is believed that no people of the Gammeraygal Clan were practicing their tradition lifestyle in the area.

The earliest land grants in the Artarmon area were made in 1794-1796, by Major Francis Grose of the NSW Corps. In 1810, Governor Macquarie granted 150 acres to the Provost Marshall for NSW, William Gore. Gore bought out his neighbours and by 1815 owned most of the land as far west as the Pacific Highway. Gore named his farm after “Ardtermon Castle” in County Sligo, Ireland. However, by 1818, Gore had lost all but a small portion of land on which he built Artarmon House (the site of the Northern Sydney Institute/Crows Nest College).

Artarmon railway station was opened in 1898 and residential subdivision followed immediately after. The major streets (e.g. Artarmon Road and Muttama Road) were partially developed prior to World War I. Consequently, they are characterised by development from the Federation era. There are also some villas and houses of this period along early transport routes, such as Sydney Road.

The bulk of the area was developed in the 1920’s and 1930’s and is predominantly bungalow development with a few semi-detached cottages on the eastern edge. Some two storey flat buildings, dating from the 1930’s, are located closer to the station. The opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 was a major catalyst to development in Willoughby and the North Shore generally.

From the 1980’s to the present there has been another generational change in Artarmon, resulting in a wave of renovations. The opening of the express way in 1982 has made the city much more accessible from Artarmon.

There are now three main parts to Artarmon: the east (characterised by wide leafy streets and free standing houses), the west (with a combination of units, townhouses, semi-detached and free-standing houses) and the light industrial area.

Conservation policy

In 1989, the Urban Conservation Committee of the National Trust recommended that East Artarmon be placed on its register in recognition of the intactness of its Federation and Californian bungalow style houses. Willoughby City Council followed the National Trust’s decision by listing the Artarmon Conservation Area under its Local Environment Plan 1995 and specifically under Development Control Plan No.19. This gave it statutory control over the type of development in the area. For more information on the Conservation Area controls, see the Willoughby DCP.

A map of the Conservation Area can be seen HERE

(Information has been drawn from Willoughby City Council. The APA acknowledges and thanks these sources but does not warrant this information.)

The Willoughby City Library historical resources and publications can be found HERE

Historical photos of Artarmon can be seen in the Gallery HERE.