Springfield & Surrounding Suburbs History

Placename origin

Yerin: Erina, according to the late researcher Eileen Pratt, is derived from the aboriginal term "Yerin" or "Gerrin". This is believed to mean " an object of fear" which was more specifically used in relation to an initiation ceremony. The meaning of Erina can be described as " a place where the initiation ceremony was held".
A common misconception: A plaque on the Barralong Road Bridge mistakenly gives the meaning of Erina as "where the fresh and salt water join". This plaque misquotes information given in Eileen Pratt's book "Placenames of the Central Coast", which specifically related to James Stewart's 1825 application for a land grant .

Aboriginal life

Guringai people: The Erina district was home to the Guringai tribe, whose country stretched from the north side of Sydney Harbour, north through Pittwater and Brisbane Water, to the southern end of Lake Macquarie. Signs of habitation in the local area include axe-grinding grooves and rock engravings on Kincumba Mountain. Ridgeline walking trails used by bushwalkers today were often part of a network of trails linking tribes, shelters, water and food sources and religious and cultural sites.
Food sources: The coastal Guringai people lived primarily on fish and shellfish, and occasionally caught possums, birds, reptiles and other small animals. Vegetable foods from fern roots and wild figs were used. Hunting implements included single-tipped spears, and multi-pronged fish spears tipped with fish teeth or fish bones. Spear throwers, boomerang, club, stone hatchets and net bags were found in tool kits.
Black Town A road survey from East Gosford to Wamberal Lagoon made in 1864 shows an area named "Black Town" on Erina Creek, in the vicinity of the Carlton Road roundabout today. This term was in general use for Aboriginal encampments (Blacktown in Western Sydney originated in this way), and it is possible that a camp was there in the 1820s. By the 1860s several huts are shown at "Black Town", although by this stage sawyers were more likely to be living there than Aboriginals. An 1828 census of local aborigines taken by the magistrate, Willoughby Bean recorded the "Erina" group in the area encompassing Erina, Wamberal and Terrigal.

Amboise - Willoughby Bean's Grant

The early history of Erina is extremely complex, and littered with financial disasters and dubious dealings.
Extent of Amboise: Amboise was a narrow 2,000-acre property that stretched from the coast between Wamberal and Terrigal Lagoons, all the way to Erina Creek, and lies between today's Terrigal Drive to the south, and The Entrance Road to the north.
Willoughby Bean: Willoughby Bean, was a native of Hampshire, England. His father had been captured by the French in the Napoleonic wars, and sat out the remainder of the war at Amboise in France. On Willoughby Bean's arrival in the colony, he was granted 2,000 acres at Brisbane Water. In August 1825 Bean was given a certificate of occupation for the land, and he travelled there with six assigned convict servants. He was appointed Magistrate at Brisbane Water in 1826. Finding it difficult to make a living fromAmboise during the recession of the late 1820s, Willoughby Bean sold to David Maziere in 1829. Bean lost his house, any improvements made to the property, and his status as a landed gentleman. Bean stayed in the district for a while after selling his property, managing other properties for wealthy landowners.
Leaving Erina: In 1837 he married Harriett Battley, sister of another local settler Thomas Cade Battley. The couple left the area in 1839, living in the Hunter Valley, then Cook's River areas. After another difficult financial period during the 1840s depression, Willoughby returned to England to study as a clergyman. On returning to Australia during the late 1840s, the Beans settled at Port Phillip in Victoria. In 1877 Willoughby Bean died in Melbourne.
Richard Jones & David Maziere: In 1834, a Sydney merchant, Richard Jones, was granted 2000-acres at Erina. This land was the same land that Willoughby Bean had sold to David Maziere in 1829. David Maziere had in turn sold the land to David Aspinall. When the 1834 Land Grant to Richard Jones was gazetted, no one objected, not even the supposed owner Richard Aspinall!
The land grants system in New South Wales was a mess. It is not sure whether Richard Jones ever truly held title to the land at Erina. Jones was in debt to John Terry Hughes, owner (although once again, land title was in question) of the adjoining 600-acre property Runnimede on Erina Creek. Jones was declared insolvent in 1843, after John Terry Hughes' company collapsed. In turn, this brought on the financial collapse of the Bank of Australia and precipitated the wider 1840s depression.
Meanwhile, in 1842, David Maziere had sold Amboise (remember, that this property stretched all the way from Erina to the coast) to Edward Cory for the incredibly low sum of 50 pounds. With all this confusion over ownership, and with no one living at or particularly interested in Amboise, the situation was right for a squatter to move in to the former Bean property.

Henry Donnison

Arrival at Brisbane Water: In 1832, Henry Donnison and his family moved to Brisbane Water. Donnison immediately occupied the old Bean house and property, and for over fifty years they held this large and increasingly valuable portion of land.
Timber industry: Henry Donnison had established himself as a merchant in Sydney in the late 1820s. Farming around Brisbane Water was in its infancy in the 1830s. The land was heavily forested, and deemed unsuitable for anything but cattle grazing and timber-felling. Donnison saw in the huge blue gum, turpentine and blackbutt trees the possibilities of large-scale timber getting. On Amboise, and other leased properties around the district, Donnison made a living from timber. Bullock teams would drag logs to Erina Creek. Logs were barged via Erina Creek and Brisbane Water to Sydney. Fine orchards were a feature of the property.
As many of Donnison's neighbours had been bankrupted and had little to do with their properties anyway, Erina was essentially theirs.
Donnison as master: Up to 50 assigned convict servants were employed on Donnison's lands, many as pit-sawyers. He was a hard master, who was unpopular with assigned servants owing to harsh punishments (he had a reputation for violence), and with district residents for a brusque manner and hard business dealings. He was class-conscious, and enjoyed entertaining people of a similar social status.
Brisbane Water Case: In 1837-38 Donnison was caught up in a war of words between local residents. This complicated saga in a complicated history of Erina is best told elsewhere, but the legal case involved Donnison, Willoughby Bean, George Meadows, John Moore of Avoca and a badly behaved cow named Blindberry. Ownership of the cow was at issue, and charges of cattle stealing were brought against Bean, Donnison and Moore. The gentlemen were clapped in irons, kept in the Gosford watch-house, and despatched to Sydney.
All were acquitted, and paid compensation for being poorly treated.
Henry Donnison was also a JP, and sat as a magistrate on the Bench at Brisbane Water. He died in July 1847, after a falling tree branch gave him a fractured skull. He was buried at Point Frederick Cemetery. His wife Margaret died in 1852.
Donnison's daughters: Eventually Hannah and Laura, the Donnison daughters who retained control over Amboise, claimed the property legally after over 30 years of undisturbed possession. At the height of their activities in the district, the Donnison family controlled either by occupation or lease most of today's Erina and Springfield, and parts of Terrigal and Wamberal.


John Terry Hughes: The first formal owner of the 600-acre Runnimede property was John Terry Hughes, whom we learnt about in relation to the collapse of the Bank of Australia and the 1840s depression. Like many properties in and around Erina, the ownership history was quite confused.
Extent of Runnimede: Runnimedestretched from the entrance to Erina Creek (Punt Bridge) in the west, across the mangrove swamp to the current business centre of Erina along The Entrance Road, then east along Terrigal Drive to the vicinity of Jessie Hurley Drive. This portion encompassed most of modern Erina, including the future site of Erina Fair.
Confusion over ownership: Although John Terry Hughes was granted Runnimede in 1839, the land had originally been granted to John Weaver in 1825. Confusingly, the property then seems to have been owned by Jeremiah Warlters. In 1832 Warlters tried to auction the property then known as Erinah Cottage. It featured a house with two-rooms with a kitchen and wash-house built of weather-boards and brick, outhouses, "American corn-house", pig-sties and gardens stocked with apple, pear, loquats, apricot, nectarine, peach, orange, quince and lemon trees. The auction was unsuccessful. Once again, Warlters' title to the land was uncertain, and the land grant system compounded this with the 1839 grant to Hughes.
Financial demise of Hughes: With the collapse of the Bank of Australia, John Terry Hughes became insolvent. The land at Erina was not highly valued, and title reverted to the Bank of Australia. For five shillings, Henry Ferris entered a "land lottery" conducted by the Bank of Australia. For this small fee, Ferris drew the Runnimede Estate. Ferris was an absentee landlord, and it appears that the Nunn family leased the property, living in what the Reverend Alfred Glennie described as a "low, miserable cottage".
Henry Ferris died in 1873.

Gosford Model Farms

Erina from the River, 1885

Boyd & King: As mentioned earlier, Amboise (the former Willoughby Bean grant) was in time legally claimed by the Donnison sisters. In 1883 William Joyce Hobbs purchased the property for 5,000 pounds. Hobbs in turn resold the property to land agents Boyd and King for 6,000 pounds.
Entrepreneurs: The entrepreneurial Boyd and King started the Gosford Times Newspaper to promote the subdivision. A beautifully illustrated and informative (if long-winded) prospectus was produced in 1885, with engravings based on photographs by noted photographer Charles Bayliss. The prospectus shows the wharf area, the building of the Punt Bridge, shipbuilding on Erina Creek and other local scenes. Unfortunately for the promoters, land sales were slow.
Land speculation: In the 1880s there was much land speculation in the Gosford District. Based on the economic advantages brought by the coming of the railway to Gosford, many similar schemes with attractive names, free lunches, band recitals etc. were tried. Very few succeeded.
The 1890s depression further hampered land sales, and many promoters went bust. In the ten years following the first promotion of the Gosford Model Farms subdivision, only 40 out of a projected 369 farms were sold.


Erina from the River, 1885

Erina Township

Projected village: Erina Township was a village planned for both sides of Erina Creek. Chetwynd Road (opposite McDonald's Restaurant) marks the easterly end of the village as originally surveyed. The 1885 map shows that Chilton Road (now written as Chiltern Road) marked the northern boundary of the village. The area around today's Clarence Street, Springfield was the Western boundary.
The Township was not successful, and no actual village eventuated. The subdivision was a combination of hills and swamp, was difficult to access, and road alignments paid no heed to terrain.
How to attract potential purchasers?: A Sydney Mail advertisement from 1885 unwittingly pointed out what Erina Township did not possess when it stated:
"WANTED, - General Store, Hotel, Butcher's, Baker's, Farrier's, Blacksmith's & c. "
Sales were slow. Groups of 1/4 acre lots were gradually sold to small farmers, orchardists, and market gardeners.
Ah Chong: A Chinese market gardener, named alternately Chong or Ah Chong, grew cabbages, beans and other produce on flood-prone land opposite Hubbard's Bridge. The Berecry family later purchased the land, and they named it "Wondabindi". In 1886 the Gosford Times reported that: "A Chinese at Erina has over 4000 plants in already, and there are many others following his example".
Stores: On the western side of The Entrance Road and Carlton Road intersection, George Henry Wilson ran a General Store. Wilson purchased 2 acres there in the mid 1890s. Shortly before WWI, the Wilsons moved to Terrigal, and Edward Daniel Cohen took over the Store. General Stores, in the times before supermarkets, sold groceries, newspapers and basic hardware and household needs.

Subdivision of the Runnimede Estate

1888 subdivision: In December 1888, during the period when Henry Ferris' widow Sarah held title to Runnimede, the Runnimede Estate subdivision on the Erina River was advertised for auction. The area was surveyed, and the streets forming today's business centre of Erina were laid out. James Legge, who later bought the land, was a principal in the promoters, the Fruit Farms Company.
Street names: The Entrance Road as we know it between Karalta Road and the Terrigal Drive roundabout was called Commerce Street. Today's Karalta Road was called Beach Street, and the subdivision map shows a proposed tramline along Beach Street to Terrigal Beach, which was never built. Bonnal Road was known as Wharf Street, and the wharf stood in the vicinity of the corner of Bonnal and The Entrance Roads. Terrigal Drive (which was formed around 1912) was called Tarragal Lake Road.
In June 1891, James Henry Legge purchased Runnimede from Sara Ferris.

Shipbuilding at Erina Creek


ErinaShipbuildingGeorge Howard: The exact location of the original George Howard shipyard on Erina Creek is unknown. It is believed that George, a former sawyer and labourer, commenced shipbuilding in the 1870s at a site on the northern bank of Erina Creek, on land known as Kemp's Grant. The Mystery was the first registered vessel built by Howard in 1877. Mystery was sold to various owners over the years, and finally foundered off Norah Head in 1892.

George Howard, sawmiller and shipbuilder

Erina Creek shipyard: The 1888 Runnimede Estate map shows a shipbuilding yard on Erina Creek, on a spit of land adjacent to the entrance to Nunn's Creek. It appears that the Howard shipbuilders were operating from this site at least in the mid 1880s. May Howard was the next registered vessel built at the yard and launched on 8 June 1886. Officially, few registered vessels appear to have been built on Erina Creek. It is believed that at least one unregistered ketch named Flirt was constructed by George Howard. In the 1890s, Howard established a sawmill near the Erina Creek wharf in Commerce Street (now The Entrance Road).
S. S. Erina: The beautiful steamship Erina was launched at Erina Creek in 1903. Charles Dunn built the vessel at the Howard yard for Captain Thomas Childs. The Erina was a common visitor to Brisbane Water, carrying passengers and cargo. The owners of Erinadeliberately fired the de-registered steamship, after it ceased its economic life had ended in Sydney Harbour sometime after 1949.
Gosford II: The last ship built at Howard's yard was the steamship Gosford II of 1911. This very popular and graceful vessel was well known in local waters. It appears to have been broken up in Iron Cove, Sydney, in the 1950s.
George Henry Howard died on 13 June 1919, at Erina. His wife Letitia (nee' Brennan) died on 21 June, 1931. Both are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Kincumber South.

Shipbuilding on Erina Creek, 1885





Timber town: Woodport reflects Erina's timber industry past. The term Woodport was only used for the part of Erina around the timber loading wharves on Erina Creek particularly towards where Avoca Drive meets The Entrance Road at what used to be known as "Moir's Corner". The Legge family also referred to their property as "Woodport".
Manual labour has always been a feature of timbergetting. In Henry Donnison's time, the sawyers lived in primitive local camps, such as "Scotchtown" or "Moscato Town".
Sawpits: Logs were felled and dragged by bullocks and chains to a sawpit close by. A sawpit required two logs running parallel along the top of a long and deep pit. Sometimes a dry creek bed was used for this purpose. Men worked in pairs, with team comprising a top man and a pit man. A long crosscut saw was used. The top man stood (obviously) on top of the log. The pit man (generally less skilled than the top man) stood below the log in the pit, and got covered in sawdust. The term "underdog" derives from the poor sawyer who stood under the log being sawn in less than ideal working conditions. Sawing logs in this way was a very hot, slow, dirty and dangerous process.
Early timber products: In early times Erina Creek provided weatherboards, laths (small strips of timber used in walls and ceilings, providing a base for plastering) and shingles for roofing.
Steam power revolutionised the milling of timber, but transporting the logs to the mills required bullock teams and log jinkers. Bullock teams were well suited to dragging logs out of forest, and were a common feature of the Erina timber industry until the demise of the major sawmills.
Pioneer Sawmill: The Howard family established the Pioneer Sawmill adjacent to the Erina Wharf in 1879 with two employees.
By 1925, the mill had a staff of 14. At this time the Howard mill boasted:
"several big, open-sided sheds covering a large area on the creek bank. On the main saw bench are mounted three big saws, while smaller units are set up elsewhere. There are planing and other special machines, while a big vertical saw, driven in a concrete pit by its own engine, cuts the big logs into manageable sizes for the other saws. Logs are drawn into position by a steam driven winch; or material can be transported from point to point on a tramway with wooden rails and an ingenious system of "points"'.
The complex also comprised an engine house, fruit case-making room, and the Howard's owned the vessel Lone Pine. The 53-ton wooden steamship "Lone Pine" was built in Sydney in 1916, and acquired by Howard's in 1925. She was used to transport logs from around Brisbane Water to Erina for milling, and also for transporting sawn timber to other destinations.


Howard's Pioneer Sawmill

Keeping time: According to Otto Huxley: "The whistle of the "Pioneer" sawmill acted as an audio timekeeper to the orchardists, timbergetter and roadworkers around Erina. The first whistle sounded at 7. 30 am, and the next whistle was at 12 noon, the final whistle on Monday to Friday was at 5pm. " The Howard's sawmill continued until the late 1920s, when it closed after being destroyed by bushfire.
Alfred Aldrick: Another operator of sawmills in the Erina area was Alfred (Dar) Aldrick, who operated the Kcirdla (Aldrick spelt backwards) mill on Terrigal Drive. In the 1920s Aldrick's advertised small weatherboard and fibro kit homes, which could be bought for 250 pounds. This type of building was commonly used for holiday homes throughout the Brisbane Water District, and variations on the same architectural theme were used for farmhouses, churches, community halls and even local lifesaving clubs. Aldrick's mill was destroyed by bushfire in the late 1920s. A later mill occupied the same site until the late 1990s.
Orchards: Citrus orchards were another feature of Erina. The Archibald family had a 7-acre orchard on "Archibald's Hill", the site of the former Telstra depot and Toys-R-Us. In the late 1950s the Archibald orchard site became a Drive-in theatre.
The Brown family had orchards along Terrigal Drive, and at one time owned most of the current site of Erina Fair. "Brown's Hill" was well known for its orchards. The Kirkby, Mobbs, Verden, Pengilley and Bromley families were well-known local orchardists. The Talarico family were early Erina settlers who established an orchard and possibly the only vineyard in the Gosford area. The vineyard, on the Gosford Model Farms Estate, was unsuccessful.
Some local names: Local placenames often commemorated early families. "Archibald's" and "Brown's" Hills have already been mentioned. "Ducher's Hill" was the name given to the portion of the Entrance Road between the roundabout and today's Karwin Avenue. The corner of The Entrance Road and Carlton Road is known locally as "Kirkby's Corner". Between Kirkby's Corner and Erina Heights Public School, the slow climb along the ridge is called "The Long Hill". "Marshall's Corner" was the name given to the intersection of The Entrance Road and Matcham Road. Matcham Road was formerly known as "Free Selection Road", a name that it retained until the 1960s.

Erina from Archibald's Hill

Education in the Erina area



Mrs Capper's school: The Serpentine Road end of Erina Valley Road shows on the original Gosford Model Farms 1885 map as Hastings Road.
Erina Valley Road today is a gravel track. On the northern side of the Road, near a place marked with a painted sign "end of the road", is the former site of "Mrs Capper's School". The Church of England had built the school, known as "Mrs Capper's School" on 4 acres of land "donated" by the Donnison sisters. This school operated for a few years in the 1860s, and served "Moscato Town" sawyer's camp. "Moscato (or Mosquito) Town" was centrally located on the Donnison Estate, and students came from Terrigal, Wamberal and Erina to this school. The building was of timber slab and weatherboard construction, and originally possessed a shingle roof and earth floors.

Mrs Cappers' School, Hastings Road, 1885

Provisional school: The old Church of England School building was again pressed into service in the 1870s. A Provisional school (where the local community provided a building, and the Council of Education provided the teacher, paid their salary, and furnished books and equipment) was established at Erina Heights. This school utilised the old slab building built at "Moscato Town". An illustration of this school can be seen in the 1885 Gosford Model farms prospectus. It shows that the old school building had gained a corrugated iron roof by 1885, and that at least 27 children were attending. Jane Coulter was first teacher of the Provisional School in 1873. A fresh water spring reportedly ran near the school site, supplying both school and timber workers.
Erina Heights Public School: The next development came when the Church of England School became overcrowded. The old slab building would have been cold and draughty in winter, and hot and dusty in summer. Local landholders agitated for better conditions for their children. Finally, in 1892 a new stone school building was erected on the corner of The Entrance and Serpentine Roads. Erina Heights Public School still occupies this site today, and the 1892 stone building is heritage listed.
Erina West: Erina West (Woodport) School was opened as Woodport School in 1893. James Legge was instrumental in pressing the government for a school to cater for the children of workers and farmers in and around Erina. Mrs Ada Legge eventually sold land to the education Department for the sum of 80 pounds. By 1919 the school had a population of 52 children. Woodport School changed its name to Erina West in 1927. In the 1970s it appeared that the school would close, owing to falling attendance. Since that time, the general population, and in turn school numbers have grown dramatically at Erina West.

Woodport (Erina West) school group, 1910

WoodportSchoolGroupErina High School: In 1964, Erina High School officially opened. At opening the enrolment was 220 students. By 1973, 946 students attended, and this jumped rapidly to 1200 in 1975.
Adventist School: Central Coast Adventist School had its' beginnings in 1969, on former farm land gifted to the school in what is today Penrose Avenue.
An old farmhouse was the first school building, and Kevin Chugg built two classrooms at a cost of $16,000. 18 students moved into the new building during the last week of the school year.
Central Coast Grammar School opened on Saturday, September 28th, 1985. At its opening the school had 185 students, and 16 teachers. This was the first school of its type on the Central Coast. In the mid-1990s, the school expanded, absorbing buildings from the Erina Hotel-Motel first opened in 1970.

Roads around Erina

PuntBridgePoor roads: Roads around Erina were dirt tracks. By 1859 a public road had been opened through Bean's Grant, along the ridge towards Wamberal Lagoon. The most infamous stretch of road locally was The Entrance Road near the Punt Bridge. The road crosses mangrove swamp on this stretch, and wagons were often bogged here in the early days. Abel Davis, of the shipbuilding clan, was contracted to lay a corduroy (log) road across the swamp around 1888, and this made transport through Erina a little easier, if not rougher on the backside. Old timers talked about large numbers of crabs crossing the road from Erina Creek to the Broadwater on occasion. Floods and king tides were also known to block the road from time to time. Prior to the building of the Punt Bridge in the 1880s, a punt operated across the mouth of Erina Creek.
Punt Bridge: The gradual growth in road traffic to and from Terrigal, Wamberal, Erina and East Brisbane Water in the 1880s, combined with the new land subdivisions at Erina, meant that the old Erina Creek Punt was rapidly becoming obsolete. Any solution in the form of a road bridge would need to allow timber ketches access along Erina Creek to the sawmills, where they could load.
In 1884 Tenders were invited for construction of a bridge. John Johnstone was the successful tenderer. Construction commenced in 1884, and was finished sometime in 1886. The three span plate girder-bridge crossing the creek entrance had two fixed spans, with the third span being retractable. In a paper by D. J. Fraser, of the Institution of Engineers Australia, he describes: "Sliding, traversing, draw or retractable bridges [where] the opening span has a counter-balance portion, projecting over the fixed part of the bridge, and the whole unit slides horizontally on a system of rollers and rails".

Punt Bridge, 1940

Labour intensive: The old Punt Bridge would take two men 15 minutes to open, with the sliding portion moving back towards the Gosford side. They used a windlass mechanism that was operated by hand. At the peak of Erina Creek timber traffic, the bridge was reportedly opened up to seven times a day. The last opening of the old bridge took place sometime around 1928, when the Lone Pine, under the captaincy of Harold "Knocker" Howard, left Erina Creek for the last time. The bridge became a fixed bridge in 1930, reflecting the gradual decline in the local timber industry, the growth in road transport, and the siltation of Erina Creek.
New bridge: By the early 1960s, it was recognised that the old narrow bridge was totally inadequate for current and future traffic needs. In 1962, Beattie & Frost constructed a new bridge. The old Punt Bridge was demolished in 1963. Stonework abutments and some iron fittings from the 1880s bridge survive to this day. The site is heritage listed.

Basic services at Erina


Electricity: Electricity came to the Erina area around 1930, though many outlying farms took many years to get connected.
Mail Services: A Post Office at Erina was in operation by 1914. Prior to this mail to Erina was picked up from Gosford by George Young. George would also take mail to Wamberal and Terrigal Post Offices. The first Post Office in Erina was a little weatherboard building, which stood in the vicinity of the IGA supermarket on The Entrance Road.

Commerce Street, Erina circa 1910

Telephone: In April 1916, E. D. Cohen, Storekeeper, was listed as the first telephone owner in Erina, with Gosford # 35. Erina Post Office received a phone shortly afterwards by October 1916. George Howard, Sawmill proprietor, was the next to get a telephone by April 1917.
Churches: St Philip the Deacon Church of England was erected above the junction of The Entrance Road and Terrigal Drive in 1916. This weatherboard Church still survives several kilometres from where it was built. In 1986 the old Church was relocated to Linton Gardens, Somersby, where it now serves as a wedding chapel.

Erina at War


Boer War: Five sons of Erina identities James and Ada Legge served in the military during the Boer War. Corporal Franklyn Harcourt Legge, the youngest son, died in action in May 1901 in South Africa. He is commemorated on the Boer War Memorial in Gosford Park.
First World War: In WWI many local men volunteered to fight. Among those from Erina to go to war were members of the Bromley, Archibald, Earl and Wilson families. Most came back, but others, like William Anderson, Victor McKenna and Clarence Wright, lie in unknown graves as far away as Ypres, Belgium, and Villers-Bretonneux, France.
War Memorial: In November 1923 the Erina War Memorial was unveiled. Originally the memorial stood beside the The Entrance Road and Terrigal Drive junctions, on the hill below St. Philip, the Deacon church. It recorded the names of local men who died during WWI, and was built using local labour. The reinforced concrete memorial was moved to the grounds of the Salvation Army Woodport Citadel on The Entrance Road in 1985. It was rededicated in August 1986. A feature of the original memorial, which vanished over time, was a captured German machine gun.

Erina War Memorial and Church of England

Second World War: Miles, Aldrick, Christensen, Howard, and Pengilley were Erina names represented, among many others, who went to WW2. Several Erina men were taken Prisoner of war and fortunately few fatalities were recorded. Victor Schmierer was born at Singleton, and his parents lived and worked at Erina. Victor was a Leading Stoker on the HMAS Parramatta, which was struck by a torpedo from German U-Boat U559 on 27th November, 1941. The HMAS Parramatta sank, with only 24 out of a total 160 crew surviving.

Erina Drive-In Theatre

Skyline: The only Drive-in theatre on the Central Coast, the Skyline or Gosford Drive-In as it was known held many fond memories for local residents, and holiday visitors. Construction of the complex, which had its entrance at today's Penrose Street, began in July 1957. Occupying much of the old Archibald orchard site, the opening feature in February 1958 was "Green Fire", a B-grade romance set in Columbia, and starring Stewart Granger and Grace Kelly. Entry prices were 5 shillings for adults, and 1 shilling for children.

Erina Skyline Drive-in

ErinaDriveInRelax! : For those too young to remember, Drive-ins were large outdoor cinema complexes, where you watched the movie from your car.
Bulky speakers were attached to partially wound-down windows, and refreshments could be either brought from home (boring!) or purchased at a central cafeteria. Advertisements for the Drive-in highlighted the "complete informality" and "casual dress" of the medium. Pony-rides, children's playground, and cafeteria and snack bar were all available.
Drive-in screenings could only be held at night, and this was something of a drawback to business. During the day the complex was empty. On wet or very cold nights Drive-ins were not very comfortable or practical. Despite a good start, attendances soon dwindled because of television. The seasonal nature of the Central Coast's tourism industry meant that for much of the year business was very quiet.
Closure: Wednesday, 27 March, 1985 saw the last screening at Erina. The final feature was the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "The Terminator", supported by Sylvester Stallone in "First Blood". On the final night of screening, a ticket booth was knocked over by a car. The Drive-in site was cleared in 1992 for the car park of Central Coast Fair (later known as Erina Fair).

Developments in the 1970s-90s

Army depot: On Sunday, 19 July, 1970, General Officer Commanding Eastern Command, Major-General M. F. Brogan, officially opened a new $180,000 Army training depot. The new centre became home to the 'B' Company, 17th Infantry Battalion, and comprises a mess hall, amenities room, Quartermaster's store, large drill hall, and administrative offices.
Erina Hotel-Motel: Later in the same year the Erina Hotel-Motel opened on The Entrance Road at Erina Heights. Built on former orchards, this was the first hotel in the area. Later, all buildings of the Hotel complex, excepting the bottle shop, were absorbed into the Central Coast Grammar School.
Woodport Village: In September 1990 the Salvation Army Woodport Village was officially opened at Erina, with facilities for 300 self-care residents, 80 nursing home residents, and 90 hostel residents.

Erina Fair Shopping Complex

Central Coast Fair: On Monday, 24 August 1987, what was promoted as "the largest single level shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere" was opened as "Central Coast Fair".
Around 1973, Grace Bros Ltd. commissioned a study to examine Erina's potential for development as a retail centre. Erina's commercial activity was centred on The Entrance Road, with wholesaling, service industries and warehouses along the main road. Remnants of the earlier sawmill days still remained, along with poultry farms and orchards.
Retail site? : Grace Bros surmised that Erina was an excellent location for a retail shopping centre. It was central to the existing and future population centres of the Central Coast. The Entrance Road, Terrigal and Avoca Drives funnelled traffic close to or through Erina. Land was relatively cheap at that time, and many former farming activities were in decline.
The retail giant Grace Bros owned a 30-acre site off Karalta Road, that they had purchased around 1967, which fulfilled retail requirements in that it was situated away from major traffic arteries, and had the potential to expand to the north and west to accommodate other urban functions. Additional land, in the form of the old Drive-in, was acquired for car parks and large retail stores much later.
Stage 1 opening specials! : At the time of opening, major tenants included Grace Bros, Big W. and Target department stores, Woolworth's and Franklin's supermarkets, and 95 specialty shops. The floor space of the Centre was roughly equivalent to six football fields. A second stage was on the drawing board at the time of opening. 51,000 shoppers took advantage of opening specials on the first Monday. A sale at Best & Less of 1c panty hose saw stock exhausted in 30 minutes. Angus & Coote Jewellers sold 10 $400 rings for $10 each, and sold within minutes.
Stage 2: During 1994 Erina Fair stage 2 opened. Estimated to cost $85 million, the extensions saw the shopping complex grow in size by at least 10%. The naturally lit Boardwalk, a new eatery and carpark extensions were features of the new development. During 1995 the bulky-goods retail precinct was added to the northwest corner of the site. In 1996 an eight-screen cinema complex was added, near the site of the old Drive-in that had closed in 1985.
Stage 3: In 2003 Stage 3 redevelopment of the new retail space "The Corner", with new Cole's supermarket, specialty retailers and a new Central Coast-history themed eatery The Atrium took place.
Following an extensive public consultation process, a new community civic square precinct, The Hive opened.
This area includes Gosford City Council's Erina Centre, with Library and Youth Recreation services, and a community hall. Other facilities include an ice rink, health and fitness clubs, restaurants and cinemas.

Erina today

Rural remnants: Erina has changed more in the last twenty years than in the whole of its history. Sections of the old Gosford Model Farms are still semi-rural, particularly along The Entrance Road towards Erina Heights, and in the Erina Valley Road area.
New subdivisions: The last sawmill on Terrigal Drive (the old Aldrick's site) disappeared in the late 1990s. The old orchard land between Erina Fair and Mobbs Road have been extensively developed for private housing subdivisions. Retirement villages and secure estates such as Tarragal Glen and Pine Needles stand in close proximity to portable home villages.
Business centre: The Entrance Road area is home to a mix of warehouses, retail shops and take-away restaurants. As recently as 2004 new bulky-goods retailers opened on the site of the 1958 built Erina Hall.
The Entrance Road at is now a four lane arterial road, with six lanes in the centre of Erina. The large and notorious roundabout at the junction of The Entrance Road and Terrigal Drive is currently being replaced by a traffic light system.
Recent changes: Erina Wharf, dating from the earliest days of Erina settlement, had seen many changes over time. Today only a few logs mark the location. In 1998 The Woodport Inn hotel was built near the old wharf site. On 21 December of the same year a long-standing thorn in the side of local transport and development history was finally overcome, with the opening of the "Yerin Bridge" which carries Barralong Road over Erina Creek.


This information was compiled from a large number of primary and secondary sources held in Gosford City Library Local Studies Reference Collection.
The research effort and assistance of local historians is also greatly appreciated. Resources consulted include:

  • Connolly, Brendan & Tod, Les. Paddocks, palaces and picture shows. Campbelltown, N. S. W. , Australian Cinema & Theatre Society Inc. , 1996.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs WW2 nominal roll website: http://www.ww2roll.gov.au
  • Dundon, Gwen. The shipbuilders of Brisbane Water NSW. East Gosford. , The author, 1997.
  • Electricity supply - History - Gosford Region [Local Studies Vertical File]
  • Erina - History [Local Studies Vertical File, various articles]
  • Erina Fair Shopping Complex [Local Studies Vertical File, various articles]
  • Gosford District Historical Research Association. Gosford Model Farms, 1885: a review. Gosford. , The Association, 1981.
  • Gosford District Local History Study Group. Historical Records of the Central Coast of New South Wales: Bench books & court cases: 1826-1874.
  • Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs (Firm). Erina study, prepared for Grace Bros. Pty Ltd. North Sydney: The authors, [1973?]
  • Hawkins, Ralph. The convict timbergetters of Pennant Hills. Hornsby. , Hornsby Shire Historical Society Inc. , 1994.
  • Historic sites - Punt Bridge Remains, East Gosford [Local Studies Vertical File]
  • Kincumber Parish maps, Land & Property information website: www.lpi.nsw.gov.au
  • National Archives of Australia online recordsearch catalogue:
  • http://naa12.naa.gov.au
  • Parkinson, Liz. Terrigal: a history of the area. Terrigal, N. S. W. , Lazy Lizard, 2003.
  • Plan of a road from East Gosford to Wamberal lagoon, with a branch road from the Long hill through Matcham's land to J. Anson's 10 (?) acres, C. P. [Map] circa 1864.
  • Pratt, Eileen. Placenames of the Central Coast: origins and meanings. Gosford. , B. W. H. S. , The author, 1978.
  • Rooksberry, Michael. Every mothers son. Gosford. , Gosford City Council, 1997.
  • Yerin Bridge, Erina (Barralong Road Bridge)[Local Studies Vertical File]