If you’re a long-time resident of Caringbah, you’ll have seen many changes to our area. Read on to see if we provoke some happy memories for you.
Orchards, market gardens and poultry farms
Known in its early days as Bindarra and Highfield, Caringbah got its name when the Post Office opened in 1912. (Did you know that an early name suggestion was ‘Surprise’?) Fortunately, a Shire Clerk proposed that the area be named after a local road – ‘Caringabah’ (later ‘Caringbah’) Road.
Although the district was proclaimed as Caringbah in 1917, it wasn’t until 1973 that the name was endorsed by the Geographical Names Board of NSW.
From the 1880s, much of the area was given to market gardens, orchards and livestock farming. Older Caringbah homeowners will recall that Caringbah boasted orchards and farms until after World War II. In fact, one of the last of the farms was still in existence until 1980 when the land was resumed for a new road.
Caringbah Skyline Drive-in
Opened in 1956, the drive-in theatre provided much-needed family entertainment for young families. Parents could pack the children into the car and enjoy a night out without the need for babysitters (or the need to get dressed up). Sadly, the drive-in closed in 1988, putting an end not only to the delights of movie nights but also to the popular markets that were held on weekdays throughout the 1980s.
McDowells Department Store
Older residents of Caringbah might remember ‘The McDowell Way’ from the many catalogues produced by McDowells Department Store in Caringbah. Opened in 1961, McDowells was one of the first of the major retailers to place their retail footprint in the suburbs. According to Sydney Living Museums, McDowells was relatively small compared with Anthony Hordern & sons, Grace Bros and Marcus Clark, relying rather on value for money and a good reputation.
As the company grew, it opened additional stores in Hornsby and Dee Why, key areas of population growth in the Sydney region during the 1950s and the 1960s. McDowells was family owned until 1972 when it was taken over by Waltons, itself becoming a victim of changing shopper needs.
Caringbah Sports Cricket Club
If you’ve been in the district for a few decades, you might well have been around for the inception of Caringbah Sports. Opened in 1956, the club covered cricket, rugby league and baseball before concentrating on cricket only. You might even have played in the inaugural cricket season of 1958/59, the season in which the first cricket teams were entered in the Sutherland Shire Cricket Association boys competition.
Formed in 1945, the Caringbah RSL Sub-Branch provided a welcome home away from home, particularly for veterans from World War II. Since the amalgamation with Tradies Caringbah in 2009, the club provides better facilities for Tradies and Australian Defence Force veterans. On Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other key anniversaries, the club becomes the hub for commemoration activities.
Now a major metropolitan medical facility, Sutherland Hospital was conceived in 1942, when residents of Sutherland Shire began lobbying for a hospital to serve the needs of Shire residents.
However, it wasn’t until 1955 that the Foundation Stone was laid, and another three years before the hospital opened officially, with the first patient admitted on 21 April and the first baby born on 22 April. Sadly, we know only that the baby was a boy. We do, however, know the first girl born in the hospital. Gai Forest was born on 3 May 1958 and returned to the hospital last year to celebrate its 60-year anniversary.
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