The history of Illabunda
A brief history
Illabunda is located on land originally under the custodianship of the Toongagal clan, part of the Dharug indigenous people. The area was called Toongabbie, meaning “meeting of the waters”.
Upon European Settlement, Toongabbie was included in the Governor’s Domain as an agricultural penal stockade. The old-growth forest in the area cleared from 1791 but a tall tree was left on the crest of a hillside and a further large red gum remained at the foot of the same hill.
Legend has it that these two trees were used during floggings of errant convicts. The higher tree stood until the early 1960’s when its stump was finally destroyed by fire and it gave rise to the name One Tree Hill.
Illabunda is located on One Tree Hill and was named after the Aboriginal word meaning “place of swallows” because of the swallows which were nesting there in the 1950’s when Rod Cook purchased the property.
An Act of Parliament subdivided the Governor’s Domain in 1857 and George Oakes MP purchased much of Toongabbie in 1861 including the site of Illabunda. Later George Oakes’ holdings were sold and the site of Illabunda was included in the One Tree Hill Golf Course that was constructed around the hill slopes below Buckleys Road.
Although abandoned after World War II, several of the tees and greens from the golf course remain on Illabunda and the adjoining reserve to this day as remnants of this cultural landscape.
Cook family history
During the 1950’s the surrounding areas of Old Toongabbie and Model Farms were used for market gardening, citrus orchards, dairying and milling timber. Parts of Old Toongabbie and Model Farms were renamed Winston Hills during the mid 1960’s and largely redeveloped for residential housing featuring several estates of architect-designed project homes.