In the early 1950s, the Housing Commission of NSW redeveloped the land of ‘Hillview’ into a residential area, renaming it Lurnea, believed to be an Aboriginal word for “resting place”.
Colonial Land Grants
The suburb of Lurnea includes land granted to early European settlers of the Liverpool area, Eber Bunker and Patrick Garney.
Eber Bunker was granted 360 hectares in 1803 and named his estate Collingwood. It covered the area from the Tucoreah-Georges River to Webster Road and from Hoxton Park Road to Kurrajong Road. Patrick Garney’s land was bounded by Wonga and Kurrajong Roads.
In 1920, the Commonwealth Government purchased 120 hectares in Lurnea to create Hillview Soldiers’ Settlement. The land was divided up into 40 small poultry farms. These farms were intended to rehabilitate and reward returned WWI servicemen.
Hillview Soldiers’ Settlement was quickly filled with 34 returned service men. Originally the poultry farmers had to market their produce through the Government, but in 1924 they established a co-op store in Phillips Park. This allowed them to collectively buy feed and market their produce together. However, only a year later the Hillview Co-operative Society went into liquidation.
Many of the new resident soldiers had little technical knowledge of poultry farming. By 1929, the inadequate size of the farms, lack of training and difficult loan repayment terms led many to walk off their farms.
A few original poultry farmers, such as Francis Parnell Doran and Herbert Walman, have streets named after them in Lurnea.
By the early 1950s, there were about 21 poultry farms left in Lurnea. Walter Horace ‘Wally’ Ingham, who would later become the owner of the poultry empire Inghams Enterprises, owned one of them.
“We lived at Hillview Soldier Settlement and my husband was reared amongst sheep and didn't know the first thing about chickens. They were in brooders where you used to have to stoke them up, coke and you'd either get them too hot, there was a thermometer there, but if you get the chickens too hot they'd die or they would be too cold. We didn't know anything about it and I was worried, we couldn't pay the feed bill, and all the chickens were dying…[we only had the farm] long enough to go broke and then we walked out.” - Linda for Looking Back At Liverpool, 1985.
Clarence William Philips’s poultry farm at Lurnea, circa 1936. Clarence had a poultry farm on West Street in Lurnea that was originally part of the Hillview Soldiers Settlement. Photograph by Clarence Philips. Image courtesy of Margaret James and Julia-Ann Cowan, Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
Clarence William Phillips and Elizabeth Phillips (nee Fudge) with their son Clarence Pearce Phillips on the front porch of their home at number 21 West Street, Lurnea, circa 1927. Image courtesy of Margaret James and Julia-Ann Cowan, Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
During the Great Depression, Hillview became a well-known shanty town. Make-shift huts were erected on the out-skirts of town by swaggies and families who had been left poverty-stricken and without a home. The huts were often made from white-washed corn bags coated with lime or tar and the living conditions in many were appalling.
“Out towards Hillview, during the depression years, when men were losing their jobs and their homes, to provide shelter for their families, they built these little humpies. They were made out of bags and mud and this section we used to always refer to, as "Poverty Hill" or "Bag Town" – Enid for Looking Back At Liverpool, 1985
“There were a lot of little huts out at Hillview. Just little bag humpies and tin huts and opened up kerosene tins, anything they could build a house out of. I did quite a lot of work among the people out there. And I remember one time it was very wet weather and there was one family the husband was lazy, and not a very good man. When I went in, the place was lined with hessian and it had fallen away-, you had to get down under this hessian, and I said "look can't you get that up" and he said "it falls down again", and I got up and held and tried to get him to take this hessian up, so that we could go backwards and forwards without creeping under it. At that time, I think he had two or three children and most of the people had dug trenches round the outside of their little tents or house whatever you'd like to call them, to keep the water out. He didn't, the water was coming in. He'd just dug a drain across the middle of the room and the water ran down it. And this woman was having a baby in just a little curtain division.” – Nurse Agnes for Looking Back At Liverpool, 1985.
From Hillview to Lurnea
Lurnea was originally called ‘Hillview’, and long associated with the Hillview Soldiers Settlement which was established in 1920 (presumably because of the excellent view from the hill). However, in October 1920 the Post Office was named Lurnea Post Office and in the mid-late 1950s, the Housing Commission of NSW redeveloped the land into a residential area, renaming it Lurnea.
By 1967 there were 946 new Housing Commission homes built, as well as new shops, schools, a larger community and improved bus services.
Lurnea Primary School opened in 1960 and Lurnea Public High School opened in 1965.
In 1962 the St Francis Xavier Catholic Church was built and in 1975 St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School opened.
Many residents during this period worked at the Cable Makers factory.
In the 1970s many Vietnamese War veterans and Vietnamese refugees moved into the area.
Lurnea Public School, circa 1966. Photographer unknown. Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
Parade day at Lurnea Public School, 1984. Gift of Jadwiga Krejza, Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
Lurnea Community Hub, Phillips Park
Philips Park has been the social centre of Lurnea since the 1920s. Originally, the James family owned a home on what is now Phillips Park. There was also a storehouse which supplied the local poultry farms on the site of Phillips Park. It was a familiar site to see Mrs. James driving her cows down to the paddock on the northern side of Reilly Street and Webster Road, after they had been milked.
The poultry store was later converted into a community hall used for social and religious activities. Residents recall American Soldiers who were staying at Hargraves Park during World War II attending Saturday night dances at the community hall. A tennis court was also built on the site.
In 1966, a purpose-built community hall was built. The hall was one of the first four council-built community halls in Liverpool. Rugby League groups, Scouts, dancing schools, and the City of Liverpool Camera Club are some of the community groups who used the space over the years.
In 2022, Lurnea Community Hub replaced the Hall.
Lurnea Community Hall, March 1966. Photographer unknown. Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
Hillview Hall, Reilly Street, Lurnea, circa 1950s. Photograph by Clarence Philips. Image courtesy of Margaret James and Julia-Ann Cowan, Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
Temporary St John’s Anglican Church set-up in the Hillview Community Hall on Reilly Street in the 1950s. Mass continued here until St John’s Anglican Church was built in Lions Road in about 1961.
Group portrait of the under-sevens soccer team at Phillips Park, Lurnea, 1988. Gift of Jadwiga Krejza, Liverpool City Library Heritage Collection.
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