HISTORY - PEOPLE

The First Engineer-in-chief of the Sydney Harbour Trust.

Walsh migrated to New South Wales in 1877, and joined the Department of Public Works in January 1878 as a surveyor for the Sydney water supply scheme.

As resident engineer in Newcastle in 1879, he was responsible for the construction of the Walka pumping station and reservoir, and flood protection works on the Hunter River at Maitland.

At Newcastle, Walsh developed a new harbour basin and Walsh Island (site of the State dockyards), built mid-stream in the Hunter River from dredged silt.

Dawes was an engineer and surveyor in Australia from March 1788. Dawes built his observatory on what is now Dawes Point, under the southern approach to Sydney Harbour Bridge. Dawes was the first to make astronomical observations in Australia, he constructed the first battery on the points at the entrance to Sydney Cove, and laid out the government farm and first streets. Dawes took part in several explorations to the mountains west of Sydney, including the first attempt to cross the Blue Mountains.

Dawes was interested in studying the local Aboriginal Eora people and developed a close relationship with a fifteen-year-old native girl, Patyegarang (Grey Kangaroo). Dawes became an authority on Aboriginal language.

Captain Robert Towns was a merchant and an entrepreneur who had little formal education. He arrived in Sydney on 9 March 1843 aboard the ‘Seahorse’ and soon established himself as a mercantile agent. In 1844 Towns began investing in small ships with the acquisition of the ‘Elizabeth’ and moved to Walsh Bay.

Captain Robert Towms established a Whaling and trading empire for the site now known as Towns Place in Walsh Bay during the 1850’s and 60’s.

Robert Hickson was a civil engineer and the first President of the Sydney Harbour Trust established in 1901.

After the bubonic plague broke out on the Sydney waterfront Hickson was appointed chairman of an advisory board on harbour-foreshore resumption in 1900. In 1901 he became first president of the Sydney Harbour Trust and began a programme of improvements which among other things provided a vast wharfage, diverted sewers discharging into the harbour bays and instituted measures for preventing pollution of port waters. He sat on royal commissions on improvements to Sydney and suburbs in 1908-09 and on railway decentralization in 1910-11.

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