Harris Creek's 'vital role' in our history

The Harris Creek Rail Bridge is now 104 years old since it was officially opened as part of the Liverpool to Holsworthy Military Railway. It is now on the NSW State Heritage List as a result of a submission by the Moorebank Heritage Group.

Harris Creek however had put itself on the history map many years earlier, 95 in fact, in 1822.

This was the year that a flour mill was built on land granted by Thomas Rowley to John Lucas, his son-in-law, whose father was the noted Liverpool identity, Nathaniel Lucas

Thomas Rowley was the eldest son of Lieutenant Thomas Rowley of the NSW Corps who arrived in 1792 and, in just over a decade, had ownership of 85 acres at Chipping Norton and 700 acres at Holdsworthy; land that later was the Liverpool Training Camp of World War I.

Thomas (Senior) was a Liverpool Magistrate and Commandant of the Volunteer Loyal Association. His eldest son, also named Thomas, was a Magistrate and another son, John, co-explored the Illawarra Region and found an alternative route to Bathurst.

Flour was essential for the developing Macquarie Town of Liverpool and John Lucas started building a flour mill in 1822. By October that year had obtained millstones to produce flour.

It was the first flour mill built after the arrival of Governor Brisbane (Governor Macquarie's replacement) and Brisbane gave permission for it to be called the Brisbane or Brisbane Water Mill.

The mill was also known as the Harris Creek Mill for a period as it was built on Harris Creek or on the west bank of Williams Creek. Clarity was not evident regarding the correct name as these two creeks had a common junction.

Lucas wanted to build a second mill but found the Harris Creek property unsuitable. In 1825 he applied for additional land but this not granted. However, a later application for land at the head of the tidal waters of an unnamed river was granted at a location now known as Engadine.

That river was later named the Woronora River and the new mill was highly successful and even catered for farmers from the Illawarra Region. The mill prospered but John Lucas didn't and he was declared bankrupt in 1828.

The mill was destroyed by fire sometime in the late 1830s. Little remains of the original facilities and it is believed that a three-storey house on the property was pulled down by the army in 1914. The sandstone was used to construct buildings at the nearby World War 1 German Internment Camp.

Thomas Rowley (Jnr) and his family are represented by two headstones in the Liverpool Pioneers Memorial Cemetery.

The Liverpool Regional Museum's exhibition (NOTABLES and NEW DISCOVERIES 1821-2021 and THE OLD CEMETERY 1821-1958) that focuses on the 200 years of the cemetery has been postponed till further notice as a result of the current COVID 19 lockdowns. It had been scheduled to open to the general public on July 27.