125 years of Lane Cove
Here are just a handful of highlights from the century and a quarter of Lane Cove’s lifespan so far.
Lane Cove’s first stepping stone to becoming an LGA was as the River Ward - one of two wards that formed North Willoughby Municipality in 1865. A mere 20 years later, the residents were already itching for independence and petitioned for their own municipal status, but it was denied. Persistent and determined, the feisty residents petitioned again a decade later, and in February 1895, the new Municipality of Lane Cove was finally declared.
With much of its perimeter being outlined by the Lane Cove River, it’s not surprising that early access and transport was mostly by watercraft. Ferries have been servicing the area in one form or another since the early 1800s. The Sydney Ferry service from Circular Quay to Greenwich Point is an iteration of a service that was established in 1850 with a route that travelled further along the Lane Cove River.
Fig Tree Bridge, built in 1885, was the first bridge to span Lane Cove River. With early versions of the Gladesville and Iron Cove bridges opening at around the same time, Lane Cove was connected (albeit circuitously) to Sydney town by land transport. Then, in 1932, a certain single span, iconic coat-hanger styled bridge joined the northern and southern shores of Sydney Harbour, and Lane Cove was suddenly not so far away from the big smoke. The opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge led to a huge uptick in residential and commercial growth in the Lane Cove LGA.
The Swan Family owned a large parcel of land which they had purchased in 1895. They had tried various commercial ventures including growing strawberries and watermelons but it wasn’t until around 1910 that they finally lighted upon a successful idea. Inspired by the popularity of other pleasure grounds in the area, the family landscaped their property, placed painted cut-outs and sculptures of fairytale characters all around, installed a kiosk, wooden pirate ship, slippery dip, upside-down house and other playground attractions and christened the location Fairyland Pleasure Ground. It was a huge success. A dance hall was added in 1930 along with a netted enclosure in the river so that people could swim. Fairyland lasted until 1969. The land was acquired by National Parks in the1970s, now forming part of Lane Cove National Park.