Castle Hill Coffee

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Did you know that coffee was grown in Castle Hill in the early days of the 19th century by a Frenchman?

BW Slab timber house chimney
BW Slab timber house chimney

Chevalier Verincourt de Clambe, a French colonel, arrived in Sydney on the Minorca in 1801 as a free settler. He received a land grant of 100 acres (40 hectares) from Governor King on 1 February 1802 in the District of Dundas, now part of Baulkham Hills Shire around Rogans Hill at the corner of Castle Hill and Old Northern Roads. With the assistance of convicts, De Clambe planted cotton, grapes and coffee trees and he supplied vegetables to a shop in the village of Castle Hill. His original home now forms the core of The Hermitage which is still standing at 342 Old Northern Road. It was restored in 2005.

De Clambe’s property stretched north to present-day Oakhill College and the Governor King lookout with its view of the Castle Hill Heritage Park, the site of the original Castle Hill Government Farm. De Clambe died suddenly in June 1804 when he was attending a dance at Government House. The Sydney Gazette of 10 June reported ‘an inquest was held at which the medical gentlemen who attended the deceased at the approach of death gave it as their opinion that the event was occasioned by an apoplexy’. [Apoplexy: a haemorrhage of the brain]

Governor Arthur Phillip created different districts in the fledgling colony such as the District of the Field of Mars, Eastern Farms, The Ponds and Northern Boundary. The District of Dundas, which encompassed Rogans Hill and West Pennant Hills, was named after the Colonial Secretary, Henry Dundas. With an increasing population more suburbs were created and some district names disappeared. The District of Dundas was abolished in 1889 although the name still survives in the suburb of Dundas.

Trevor Patrick is a local historian of the north-west of Sydney, Australia. His latest book, In Search of the Pennant Hills, recounts some of these stories (and others) in more detail.