Friday, March 8, 2019

Concorde arrives in Sydney, June 1972

Just a quick post to prove I'm still alive and kicking. Well, alive, anyway.

I think this was June 20, 1972, or thereabouts. I used a Kodak Instamatic back then, and Kodachrome transparency film.

It's Concorde 002, I think. First visit to Australia. Sydney Airport International Terminal, next to a Pan Am 707 and framed by a Qantas 707 in "V-Jet" colours.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Canals and all that - Hawthorne and Alexandra

I've written about the Alexandra canal before, but perhaps haven't mentioned the Hawthorne canal. I should.

To firstly recap, Sydney's canals were essentially redeveloped creeks, dredged and widened. They were often efforts firstly to solve a stormwater or pollution problem, such as sewage in the case of the Hawthorne canal and tannery and other light industry by-products in the case of Alexandra canal. They often drained swamps and managed flooding - from a 19th Century perspective, anyway - but were put to other uses when they could.

Engineer H B Henson had much to do with the big picture canal planning of the late 19th Century. Or at least in inspiring some of it.

Henson proposed to flush the Cooks River and Botany Bay by removing the dam and weir that held back the Cooks near Tempe. Those obstacles prevented tidal flushing from the bay and encouraged silt deposition. (Henson may have been related to a later Mayor of Marrickville, William Henson, after whom Henson Park is named. Or perhaps to a number of other Hensons, also prominent Sydney Council aldermen at the time or just after.) 

After removing the blockages, something that indeed mostly happened, Henson proposed the construction of a canal and tunnel from the Parramatta River south via Long Cove Creek (which partly became the Hawthorne canal), Ashfield, Dulwich Hill (parallel to Garnet Street) and into Cooks River.

Ultimately Henson's plan called for the Long Cove canal to join with the river that emptied into Homebush Bay via a canal through Strathfield to somewhere near Chullora (where there were significant railway yards), but this was only partly built. Checkout the course of the Duck River to see how far that idea got. 

Somewhat luckily all of this work was not completed and no connection made between the Cooks and Parramatta rivers

The Alexandra canal follows the former course of Shea's Creek in south-eastern Sydney. It starts today to the north-west of Botany Bay near Sydney Airport's international terminal, at the intersection with the Cooks River, and ends 200 metres south of Huntley Street in Alexandria.You can read about it in detail at Sydney Water's heritage page. Wikipedia is another useful source.

Of course Sydney Airport's growth interfered with its course, as swamps were drained and the Cooks River literally moved. The canal originally started south-west of the existing Sydenham to Botany Railway Bridge and extended to the Canal Road Bridge. With some walking and map-reading you can see the odd remnant or piece it together with some imagination.It was meant to be part of a larger scheme to link with Sydney Harbour. But the late 19th Century civic planners were trying many ideas, and only some of them proved useful.  

Anyway, the canal builders were inspired by successful canals in the UK and other parts, and pressed on with construction, partly as an unemployment relief scheme. In 1894 the canal was to be extended to Buckland Street, Redfern but only got a short distance along that planned route. It was roughly at that point that the archaeologists were called in to consider the stone tools, dugong bones and other Aboriginal artefacts. This mattered, as it indicated where the Aboriginal peoples of Sydney lived, what they ate and something about where water levels once were. Plus the dugong is no longer found so far south, so the bones were a surprise.

Along the canal were wharves, and although local industry made use of them, canal use never really took off and road transport proved too competitive. Given the cost of removing the buildup of silt, it was never even at break-even point. And it gradually fell into disuse.

The Hawthorne or Long Cove canal was another late 19th Century canal built in the Ashfield/Haberfield area, running along the course of Long Cove creek, with the navigable section terminating at a wharf at Marion Street. Wikipedia is again a useful source. Although ferry services were run along the then navigable canal for a brief period, siltation was again a problem. Coupled with the increasingly competitive tramway network, the ferry service stopped in 1904.

From the Marion Street terminus down to Long Cove the canal is visible to the public and often lined with parkland. It is a wide stretch of canal and the navigability can be easily imagined. Upstream, particularly west of Parramatta Road the canal becomes more obviously a storm-water channel, often becoming somewhat hidden or even underground. It is visible again at another of Sydney's hidden historical landmarks, the Lewisham viaduct. The route is accessible by light rail or car.

Another recent article on this subject may be found at the ABC site.           

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Birthplace of Harold Holt, the lost PM

Remember the story of Harold Holt's disappearance? It was pretty dramatic at the time and a remarkable way to lose a Prime Minister. Either swept out to sea, or maybe to a foreign submarine? Eh?

Anyway, 58 Cavendish, Stanmore, is reputedly his birthplace. Which is pretty close to where I grew up in Marrickville. The parallels end there, I suspect. 

And yes, Holt St intersects with Cavendish. There's a clue there, surely.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Apologies for the short break, my domain was pinched, and Henson Park, reprised

Sorry about that. Well, sorry for myself, mostly. I had to take a 'health break', so the blogging had to  slow to a stop. But I'm on the mend.

Anyway, whilst I was off-colour, shall we say, someone pinched my domain name. Basically the renewal came around, the auto function failed and the domain went to the dark side. Apologies for that as well.

But I'm back, anyway.

With this quote:

"March 1933 - A Gypsy Moth aeroplane made a forced landing.. Both pilot and passenger escape injury. The pilot, Sidney Cheesewright, proprietor of the Stanmore Garage, Stanmore Road, commented that the Gypsy Moth had stalled at 1500 feet above Newington College and he chose Henson Park for an emergency landing. Mr Cheesewright, who was accompanied by John Makinen of Holmesdale Street, said that he circled around into the wind. The park looked small and I decided to make a stall landing. The airplane was severely damaged."

Ah, Marrickville, how I miss thee.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Australia Day 1975 PM Gough Whitlam opens "Old Sydney Town"

It's sadly very closed now, but on Australia Day 1975, PM Gough Whitlam (with wife Margaret on his right, holding a hat) opened "Old Sydney Town" at Somersby, north of Sydney. Well I was there, and I took a few pictures. This one survives. Amazing how close you could get to the Prime Minister back then, eh? 

(Somersby was then in contention as a site for Sydney's "2nd" airport, of course.) Whitlam later joked with some irony (whilst opening the Lachlan Vintage Village at Forbes) that "somehow people have got the idea that I like history and ruins", or words to that effect.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A brief look at Melbourne's airports (for comparison?)

Melbourne. It's a city somewhere south-ish of Sydney. And it bears comparison with Sydney, in an instructive sense, because it's like a sister-city, just smaller and somewhat quainter. I like it.

Apparently they - both the Victorian State and some private interests - are thinking ahead and looking at another major airport option for Melbourne. This would be to the south and east. Now this could be a realistic and earnest attempt to reserve some appropriate land and prepare for the future, or equally it could be a political effort driven by other agendas - like making a buck out of hemmed-in Essendon by closing it down and selling off the land. (Mind you it's already privately leased and partly developed.)

Or it could be a bit of both.   

Melbourne is blessed with airports, to be honest. Sydney has managed to close off many of its options, like Schofields and Hoxton Park, and has tended to build up Mascot and Bankstown instead. (The RAAF has Richmond, of course.)

(Sydney once had a plethora of post-war, sizeable airstrips scattered all around the Sydney Basin. Check out the list. Only a choice few remain in use.)

I've flown in and out of Melbourne's Tullamarine a few times, and have seen it grow from almost nothing to quite something. But it's still nothing like Sydney's Mascot. Well, it's smaller and more pleasant with a lot less history. For history try Essendon instead.

There's room for growth at Tullamrine and also a case to close - or keep - Essendon, too. Even Tullamarine is getting surrounded. It's what happens - successful airports attract people and businesses. They can be closed and redeveloped but you lose the transport utility, which gets pushed further out. Currently Essendon is a mixed-use zone which retains that utility close to the CBD.

Speaking of 'further out', Sydney struggled to get Badgery's up and running - if indeed it is running. Ambling, perhaps. I remember grabbing a hard-copy of the MANS report back in the 1970s, when it looked like Peat's Ridge would get the nod. And the to-ing and fro-ing that has happened ever since was fascinating to observe. Badgery's is a better site in many ways, a lot flatter and whilst slap-bang in the west of Sydney where lots of people live, still rural enough to put a buffer around the noise. It balances Mascot's extreme easterly location, certainly. Some train links would help, but buses will do for starters. And it will probably spend a few decades handling freight before pax, anyway.

It's far more complicated than that, of course.

Sydney also has Bankstown, just as Melbourne has Moorabbin. Both have a lot of history, although Bankstown probably wins on that score, in case you are keeping score. Both are hemmed in by housing and light industry plus some open space.

Bankstown is almost Sydney's Essendon, but more closely parallels Moorabbin as a GA facility. The scheduled flights that have operated out of Bankstown always fell short by some measure or other and were largely abandoned, despite many efforts over the decades. WWII saw a lot of use fro Bankstown, including aircraft assembly or manufacture. Post-war has seen a gradual loss of such activity but considerable GA traffic. Being too close to Mascot and surrounded by too many vocal voters in their ever-so-local houses makes it an unlikely prospect for growth. If anything it has shrunk.  

So back to Melbourne. They also have Avalon, a domestic and sometime international airport with plenty of land for expansion and existing heavy-aircraft maintenance facilities situated close to Geelong.

Plus a host of GA fields dotted around, like Moorabbin but also Lilydale, Bacchus Marsh and Melton. 

Do they really need another airport? Traffic-wise, probably not, or at least not yet. For convenience, maybe. For growth, possibly. The south-east makes some sense as the somewhat inconvenient Avalon is to the south and west and Tullamarine is to the north. But it's hardly a pressing need. It's more of a strategic planning initiative, to get the idea out there and to reserve the land now. Which is what Badgery's was, too. Reserve the land ahead of time so that the option is kept open. (Although that was more luck than good planning.)

Conclusions? It's probably too early to say with any certainty, but it looks like a cross between good planning and a bit of 'I wish'. It's certainly a better situation than that of (arguably) under-resourced and ill-planned Sydney. Badgery's may change that, of course.

More reading on Melbourne's "3rd" airport. And a possibly serious proposal, or some self-promotion.

An historical note on aviation at Fishermen's Bend and Monomeith Park.

And a mixture of historical, military and sometime civilian operations from Laverton, Point Cook and Werribee which we'll list under RAAF Williams

Checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sydney's water supply over time

A big topic with much to cover. By necessity - at this stage - I'll simply scratch the surface.

Early Sydney's water supply was largely dependent upon the Tank Stream, so called for the grooves or "tanks" cut into its bed (reputedly an Indian sub-continental loan word as well as a fortuitously imported water storage technique). The stream is now largely buried under Sydney's concreted CBD.

Busby's bore, more or less what we would now call a tunnel, was located in the western corner of today's Centennial Park and ran to Hyde Park. See also the Lachlan Swamps.

Later water supplies were drawn from Botany, near Sydney Airport. Remains of a steam-driven pumping station can still be seen near the eastern boundary of the airport. See also Ascot Racecourse

With Sydney's growth over time, water was drawn from further afield and major, increasingly elaborate constructions, including reservoirs, tunnels and channels were undertaken.  Much of this remains in place, either in use as intended, re-purposed or as a heritage site.

The Prospect reservoir is one such early attempt to capture a larger area of rainfall and move it eastwards. 

Another significant part of Sydney's water supply history is the Nepean Dam, the last and the smallest of the four dams finished early in the 20th Century to collect water from the rising lands of the Illawarra Plateau, the major, southern source of the oddly north-westerly flowing Nepean River (which later makes a curving right turn to flow east - as the Hawkesbury River - into the Pacific Ocean north of Sydney). 

See also the Cataract, Avon and Cordeaux dams. These and the Nepean Dam were part of the Upper Nepean Scheme, which fed into an earlier set of weirs and other infrastructure, including the 1880's vintage Potts Hill and Prospect reservoirs. A good explanation of how the system expanded and operated may be found here.

The Nepean Dam may possibly also have been a WWII-era emergency alighting area for seaplanes. Checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports.

Another dam was constructed south of Sydney after the Nepean system, at Woronora, largely serving southern Sydney.

Also worth looking into is Parramatta's water supply.

The far larger Warragamba dam was built largely post WWII on a western tributary of the Nepean River and largely replaces or vastly enhances this earlier system, although all remain important, and in operation.

More can be found at the Dictionary of Sydney

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The tramway and the railway from Parramatta to Castle Hill

Sydney once had an extensive tram network, as did Newcastle and even Broken Hill. It seems odd that we (as a community) closed it all down, only to have regrets later. But there are always reasons.

The main reasons are cars, trucks and buses, of course. Oil got cheap and plentiful and vehicles got cheaper and more numerous. And then investment in railways and tramways was diverted to roadways. And so on, until we get to today, our world of regret.

Of course some people protested at the time, but governments mostly do what gets them votes. And if unsure what voters want then they just use a proxy, like patronage. What are people actually doing? Well they are effectively voting with their feet. Or if you don't use it, you lose it.

And that's essentially why the railways to Camden, Kurrajong and Castle Hill (or Rogan's Hill) were closed, coupled with escalating operating costs, ongoing repairs (especially after floods) and the mounting opportunity costs. But the reasons underneath the big picture of "costs" - the specifics - were also interwoven and interesting.

The background to closing the Rogan's Hill line that went up via Castle Hill is like that. The demand for freight transport from orchardists to market in Sydney drove the initial tramway development but unsuitable track (and some pesky laws about what trams could do) restricted it to passenger traffic. The fruit growers were unhappy. Despite the immense success of the passenger line the fruit growers pressed their case and a heavier rail line was laid with a connection to the mainline at Westmead. And whilst that pleased the growers it resulted in a less attractive passenger service. Patronage fell just as alternative bus companies sprung up. And patronage kept falling.

Still, there was freight traffic. But the demand for particular types of citrus fruit changed and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area met that need better than north west Sydney could. So freight declined, too.

When the crunch came the costs were high but the patronage was low. What else could be done? Keep it running at great loss for a few decades on a 'wait and see' basis? Or close it?

There's a detailed article here and a broad outline of Western Sydney's rail history here.     

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Luddenham: just full of runways, tracks and circuits

The more I look, the more I find. As you'd expect.

I started with airstrips. First I went looking for Fleurs at Kemps Creek. And then Kennetts, at Luddenham. And then Doonside. And finally back to Badgery's.

In the course of which I found this Society of model engineers (that would be engineers into models, although they may well be the very model of an engineer, who knows?). I'd heard of them but never visited. I think I should, though. The facilities (from trains to boats) look amazing.

It appears to include this quarter-scale speedway, too. And RC aircraft. Here's a screenshot from Google Maps:

And then there's this track, apparently nearby and new (Google Maps hasn't caught up yet) but possibly/probably unrelated...? It looks small, yes, but certainly full-sized...

In any event it's worth checking out Luddenham.

Checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports.

That airstrip at Luddenham - Kennett's Field

Interestingly there's a private airstrip at Luddenham, just 6km or so from Fleurs. (If you check it out today on Google Maps you'll find what looks like a Cessna 337 parked outside a small hangar.)  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Is this the ultimate Badgery's Creek runway configuration? Well, yeah, probably!

I'm not sure if the grass can handle the strain, but I like the design (image via Google Maps).

No, it's not the actual layout, of course.

But the final EIS does tells us a lot more. Brave, committed and motivated people with plenty of spare time can read that at their leisure. It's worth it. Below is a little detail, condensed from those documents.

When I write "Badgery's Creek" I mean "Western Sydney Airport". When I write "SAP" I mean the existing international and domestic airport at Mascot. You know the one I mean.

Stage one is underway, with preliminary road closures and the like, but operations are unlikely within 10 years. It's just one runway, aligned 05/23 with a length of 3,700m. That's to say it points roughly north-east to south-west and is long enough to handle heavily-laden international operations. It's slightly shorter than what we have today (at SAP), but more modern aircraft tend to need less runway.

All images from the EIS linked above, by the way. And they are "indicative". Get used to that word.

Aircraft will turn and dodge around the most obvious population centres, and there is a commitment of sorts that no one convergence point over any one residential area will be used, and especially not Blaxland.

So there is some fairness in sharing the noise around, in principle.

It is planned to be a 24 hour operation but with a noise abatement preference for arrival and departure operation over the south west at night, when possible. Weather permitting.

 The above shows indicative flight paths with runway heading 05.

And this shows indicative flight paths with runway heading 23.

Stage two would add another wide-spaced runway (almost 2km away, or a lot more than the current squeezy Sydney Airport spacing). It would be parallel with the stage 1 runway, but is probably 30 to 40 years away, if it happens at all.

The original runway becomes 05L/23R, which is to say the second runway is built to the south and east of the first one, with the terminal infrastructure sited in-between.

Everything else, or actually just about everything until the point when runway concrete is poured, is still up for grabs or "indicative". The shape of terminal areas and hard-standing is not fixed, for example.

Approach and departure routes will inevitably evolve, as will noise footprints. Technology will change, too, allowing for more precise control over aircraft movements, and who knows what will be flying in the mid-2020s, let alone by 2050.

Beam me up, Scotty.

It is also hard to be certain about demand over time. It looks like a go-er, sure, but many airlines will be reluctant to move away from Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport (or SYD or SAP or even YSSY if you prefer to call it).

Whilst western-Sydney travelers will naturally be eager to avoid the slow trip to SAP, it will possibly take some persuasion to shift even a representative selection of flights to the new airport. Regionals will be reluctant to move first, especially without an express rail or even a direct motorway back to SAP.

Cargo (or freight, if you prefer) may be a more likely early adopter. General aviation, corporate and helicopters are not in scope - yet. To make it work, however, would suggest opening it up to as many options as possible.

Transport links are thus critical, especially if an integrated operation with the current SAP is desired. Imagine landing at SAP after a long-haul international flight, only to face a painful and expensive drive to connect with a domestic flight to wherever out of Badgery's Creek. It's possible rather than desirable.  

But much of the current infrastructure planning for Sydney is focused on better connecting the city's CBD with the north-west and east, mostly using metro and light rail. At best the metro rail wraps around to Bankstown via Sydenham. Much of that is underway now, but extending westward beyond Bankstown is moot. 

Making anything like a seamless rail link to Badgery's Creek is currently just talk, however the term "rail ready" has been bandied around. That currently means heavy rail, but not a direct link, unless you start from, say Liverpool and go via Leppington. More a loop or a spur, at least initially, although cobbling together a heavy rail link from SAP via Arncliffe, East Hills and Leppinton is probably most likely, if that means anything.

Other heavy rail links are also possible, linking to the north. 

How that meshes with the currently fashionable metro concept is another matter again. It basically doesn't.

In the south and western area of Sydney we do see some roads being widened, and more planned, with an eye to increased access to what will be a new airport and adjacent industrial area. But in other respects the most likely western-Sydney projects (both metro and light rail) are still in development, and will end in or around Parramatta. And then a bus after that, I guess.

At this point we can't really say that a Badgery's Creek airport would have anything faster or more effective than bus and car access at this stage. Even the aircraft fuel will be trucked in.  

Will this change? Possibly. What part will any proposed fast rail line play in this? We don't know.

There are so many variables, so many questions.

It's a sign!


Checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports.

Not the past - the future, That "new" airport site at Badgery's Creek - Sydney's "2nd" airport

Badgery's Creek. Western Sydney Airport. Or whatever it will be called. Well it's not "new" at all, it's not the first nor the only airport (or perhaps "airstrip") in the immediate area. But if built it will be the biggest. And it is another regular public transport (RPT) airport for Sydney with full allowance for both international and domestic services as well as future capacity increases. 

Badgery's (let's call it WSA) in a nutshell:
  • It's big, bigger than Sydney (let's call it KSA for "Kingsford-Smith Airport")
  • It won't start as big as you probably imagine
  • It won't open until at least 2025
  • It isn't guaranteed to succeed, or grow, but probably will
  • Runway alignment, operational "mode" and noise footprints aren't a done deal and...
  • The last EIS we have (courtesy Blacktown City Council) is huge, impressive, and out of date.
Basically, all we can do is read what we have, interpret it as it stands and update it in our own heads - at least until we get told some more. This post is a stab in the dark based on what I have found. It's long, too. If it helps someone piece this together, great.

A "Western Sydney Airport"? It's not a new idea, being one of several seemingly endless options explored since the end of WWII. It is the one that has been chosen, though. Not that being chosen means much. Badgery's Creek was first "chosen" in 1986. Given the politics played out already, it conceivably may still not go ahead at all. It's not planned to be open for business until 2025, after all.
Badgery's Creek - or Western Sydney Airport (WSA) - is on the lower-centre-left of this Google Map image, Sydney (KSA) on the lower-right. Depending on how you measure it, you are looking at 40 to 50kms between them. Fancy paying for a taxi cab?

Do we need it? The existing Sydney Airport can arguably handle more passengers and aircraft movements, by some accounts to 2025, by others (notably SACL, the airport owners) to 2045. Indeed aircraft movements are constrained more by legislation than by actual capacity. Whilst the legislation is there to protect residents from excessive noise, cold-hearted rationalists could observe that the cost of these restrictions to our community overall is too great. By allowing more flights in a greater spread of the day and night, or by shifting regional and/or freight traffic to existing alternatives such as Bankstown, Richmond and Camden, the "need" for a 2nd major RPT airport in Sydney is removed or at worst pushed further into the future.   

Could the money - some $2.4 billion for the airport infrastructure and perhaps $4 billion more for land transport - be better spent elsewhere? Investment of any sort has a varying multiplier effect on the economy and finding the investment sweet spot - the best return - matters. You don't just throw cash away and hope for the best, after all. Mind you, the stakes are high. It is a big investment that impacts the region - and the nation - socially and politically. It will create local jobs - airports do that - and maybe pull some jobs away from the existing Sydney Airport. It opens up regional development more broadly, increases land value and creates opportunity. Of course such opportunities divert us from other possibilites, too. Perhaps better ones. And when land use changes the door opens to the speculators and developers. All well and good, as long as it's transparent and fair, especially to the current owners and residents.  

Will it get built, and will it get used? Will the airlines use it? Only if they have to, I suspect. Do existing airline operators really want an alternative Sydney operation, another terminal, more staff on the ground and the extra complication of airport transfers? If you thought it was a hassle getting from the "domestic" side of KSA to the "international", imagine what it will be like if your connecting flight is at another airport some 40 or 50 kilometres away. Hail that taxi!

Existing airline operators may well hesitate; but some - perhaps those without an existing foothold at  KSA - may actually want to claim Western Sydney as their own. Perhaps entirely new airlines will want "in". But which ones? Freight? Regional? Low-cost domestic inter-city? International?

Will the existing Sydney airport operators, SACL accept the competition without fuss, or indeed take up their first refusal rights? As far as I know they are still in "discussion". I'm sure they'd like to lock up the whole Sydney market, if only to protect their key asset - KSA.

What about the politics? Frankly, I don't think the political will is strong enough - or the election cycle long enough - to get this one off the ground as intended. With every change of government the policy shifts. In brief we have swayed from "let's do it" to "hang on, let's invest further at KSA" to "let's start small with a GA airport" and back to "no, let's do it"... peppered with the odd "how about we choose a new site?". 

Yes, something will get built - if real spade work actually starts in 2016. It may only be a hole in the ground, though, if even that hole gets approved. Badgery's looks and sounds too good, especially when the media spin amps up the positives for the economy of Sydney's west, to just vanish completely. It's dangling there with a lot of other investment: new roads (big orbital ones, too); new rail (well maybe, if all comes to pass); new jobs (certainly in the construction phase and probably later as well). And so on. A lot of people want a slice of this "action".

But who knows exactly when or even if? What about upcoming State and Federal elections? Will the commitment remain, irrespective of result? What if the roads are built but no airport? What if the airport is scaled back in scope? What if it is built but just isn't used? What if it's just a sly way to shift some noise and aviation fuel from the east out west?

Still, let's not be negative. On paper it looks attractive. If it helps build value and jobs in western Sydney, good. If it takes some noise burden away from the current KSA footprint, great. So let's assume that somehow, something good will eventuate.

So what's next? OK, we have a site decision. Sure. We had that exact same decision perhaps 28-odd years ago (Hawke/Keating), except for the subsequent reversal (Howard/Costello), procrastination (everyone) and political second-guessing ever since. But now PM Abbott says "yes". Whilst a split Labor Party says "no", probably, most likely. 

Assuming PM Abbott doesn't pull the pin, from here we have further planning and design work to be done. Negotiations with all affected parties. Plus renewed noise and other environmental impact assessments to be done. There's an endangered environment on the site and threatened species to be protected, too. Both the known and the as-yet unknown problems will need to be resolved in order to get traction. Perhaps more land will be required as well. It all takes time. Delays abound. Keep 2025 in mind. It may slip. Probably will.
Location map from the Draft 1997 EIS.

What does experience tell us? As a personal learning note here, let me say that I grew up under the 16 approach at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. It wasn't the main runway for most of my early years but it was extended and extended and even duplicated until it became the focus for most of Sydney Airport's air traffic. Interestingly whilst the noise levels and frequency of movements increased substantially over many years, they also fell at times. It wasn't a given that things just got worse.

I won't say that it wasn't unsufferably noisy at times, it was, but I have to admit that 3 things in particular happened: firstly, aircraft engines became measurably quieter; secondly, those engines grew more powerful; and thirdly, on average, aircraft grew much, much larger.

Another thought here is that the flight paths changed over time. Especially so for inbound traffic. Different aircraft with different performance characteristics, coupled with evolving air trafic control procedures and technology meant changes to the areas affected by aircraft noise.  

Having said that, what I would suggest now is that aircraft will probably not grow much larger than they are currently. I could be wrong of course but a triple decker seems unlikely. Still, it's possible. There may even be demand for such an unwieldy beast. It's also conceivable that airliners could grow further in length; but you get into all sorts of engineering limits as such elongated designs must rotate to lift off, without tail strike. And loading weights per tyre and wheel combination are a factor, too, both in engineering the aircraft and the concrete it lands or stands upon. New configurations, even twin-fuselage designs, can't be ruled out, of course. But whilst we must consider all of this in our airport design, it remains highly speculative. The problem is, should we guess wrongly with placement and design it's expensive to fix.

Whatever else happens with aircraft engineering, I would expect the noise to continue to fall, if only slightly, and for aircraft engine performance to continue to improve. In this way the noise footprint will continue to shrink, particularly for departures (which require full throttle and "max noise", generally). And with better design and a bigger performance envelope comes the possibility of "sharing" the impact more widely. In theory.

However the other lesson here is that successful airports attract people. If successful, it will get hemmed in by developments. But we all know this. So land will be reserved for "noise mitigation" reasons. And land will be reserved for runway duplication, too. Duplication that will inevitably widen the noise footprint. Just watch as history repeats itself.

At this stage, though, all we can do is "trust" that the currently empowered authorities will do as they say. So what are the plans, as we know them? (Knowing also that they will be changed: what we don't know is by how much.)

Runway alignment. A big question mark here. Given the orientation of the land already purchased, plus the prevailing winds and topography, a north-east by south-west alignment is probably what's on offer. Whilst an additional crosswind runway would aid smaller aircraft operations, particularly in the strong westerly to nor-westerly winds likely from August through to the end of summer, there's no hint as yet of extra land resumption. A shorter crosswnd runway would fit, just. Nevertheless unless it downscales to a GA airport (to ease Bankstown's load, for example) I think a crosswind runway is unlikely, at least at the possible 2025 opening date.
Generic master plan, from the Draft EIS again. Take it with a grain of salt, of course. Tilt it towards the north-east and it's your guess which parallel runway gets built first. Toss a coin with the shorter crosswind strip, too. If more length is added to the cross-strip (or a parallel one built) or more noise abatement required then more land will need to be acquired.  

Noise Footprint. Yes, people do live in the area, but far fewer than live around Sydney's current major airport. And the denser population centres are much more distant from the proposed runways than the existing high density population that surrounds all but the Botany Bay-facing runways. WSA is surrounded by paddocks, mostly. Yes, Sydney does have the benefit of Botany Bay, true. But not all traffic can come and go over the water.

That's the good news: "It's not as bad as KSA". Catchy slogan, yes?

Once runway alignment is agreed, which looks decidely NE-SW at this stage, integration with existing flightpaths and other airspace restrictions will have a bearing on which areas are directly under the footprint.

Bear in mind (a) most likely just one runway will be built in the first phase; (b) upon reaching a safe altitude aircraft will most likely turn either left or right after takeoff, depending upon destination and designated standard departure procedures; and (c) approaches will similarly include standard corridors to the left or right of the field as well as to the north and south, allowing safe traffic separation. Altitude and throttle settings are important factors in noise mitigation of course and it is likely that specific noise-limiting procedures would be implemented over residential or other sensitive areas.
The indicative Cox Richardson graphic above shows the standard ANEF noise footprint of the assumed runway alignment overlaid on land use. Most of the affected area has already been rezoned industrial or contains low-density residential, however the underlying assumption is for sound-proofing of affected residences as well. The areas of highest impact are relatively distant from the twin parallel runways shown, certainly so in comparison with existing impact at KSA. Nevertheless when the final alignment and flightpaths are agreed and real-world noise measurement testing is undertaken it's likely that noise-related resumptions would be considered.

So, again, get out your grain of salt and ponder the following... 
Above, that's the indicative flight path for option A, airport operation mode 1 from the '97 EIS. Don't get scared. Nothing's decided and the assumptions are both many and largely out of date. Read the full EIS or just take my word for it: it will change. Nevertheless it gives you an idea what approaches from the south west and departures to the north east may look like. But the final runway alignment? Who knows.
Again, to be taken with a grain of salt: from the '97 EIS showing approaches from the north east and departures to the south west.

Note that the airspace over Warragamba will be overflown only at considerable altitude, as will other water catchment areas towards the Illawarra. The '97 EIS certainly assumes that Warragamba airpsace will be used; and I do agree that it makes sense from a noise abatement perspective; however it may raise public debate over water quality and world heritage issues. It shouldn't be an issue as jet aircraft exhaust is "relatively" hot and clean, especially in comparison with internal combustion engines, and modern aircraft climb quickly. Yes, jet fuel - essentially kerosene - differs chemically from unleaded petrol, but studies have shown that aircraft exhaust "mixes" readily and disperses quickly over a wide area, whereas land-borne transportation typically disperses more slowly and creates more readily identifiable particulate deposit zones. Or to put it more clearly, you'd be far worse off beside a main road.    

It's unavoidable that areas to the immediate north-east and south-west of the runway(s) will be "in" the affected zones, unless of course in the passage of time the runways are turned 180 degrees. OK, that seems unlikely, but let's not forget that runway alignment is not locked in. The '97 EIS dealt with 3 primary options plus different airport operational modes, and it's worth remembering that anything could change. Nevertheless here is another pretty illustration for you...
Harking back to that Cox-Richardson landuse overlay, this image (above) is the suggested N70 noise contour for Option A, mode 1, from the '97 EIS (N70 being a different methodology from the ANEF standard). The underlying assumptions include runway heading (not locked in), 30 million passengers a year (not really likely, at least from day 1) and a fully loaded 747-300 (not going to happen so much in 2025, it'll hopefully be a mix of newer aircraft).

You need to read and interpret the full EIS in context but if I dared summarise this, if you were living inside the red line you'd have a real problem; if you lived within the orange loop you'd still be upset about it; and the further out you go the less of a nuisance the noise may be. You may still be interrupted in conversation, and you may get disturbed at night. It will be an individual response. It will still matter to you, depending upon the situation. Schools and hospitals are individual cases where it may matter more. It all depends.
And here (above, same source) is option C, similar assumptions (but with the crosswind runway, used sparingly). Look what happens when you rotate the runways towards north. All of what I have written already applies here - don't panic, don't assume the worst. If a runway points directly at you then yes, it's likely that you'll get some aircraft noise. But departing aircraft gain altitude, may throttle back and generally turn towards their destination; which all means that the noise diminishes from point of take off. And arriving aircraft are of course throttled back, join the approach at different points, and are at a greater altitude when at a greater distance from touch down.

They do, however, make a lot of noise and vibration when using reverse thrust, but even this is mitigated by long runways and taxiways designed for faster exits. All of that aside, it's not precise, and it's full of out of date assumptions; but it does give you a rough idea, though.

World Heritage areas will likely also be "out", as will the rising land to the west, except, again, at altitude, and in a designated corridor.

Military airspace too will be "out"; so dodging around Richmond and Holsworthy will be a given, although again the airspace restrictions are governed by altitude (ie there is an upper cap to the restricted military airspace, allowing overflights).  

But - like I've said - we don't know for sure about any of this - yet.

Bear in mind too that whilst aviation noise is unique in character it is not alone in affecting quality of life. Road and rail noise impact is real as well. And I haven't even touched on that. And I haven't mentioned air pollution either (it'll probably improve to the east of the field and worsen to the west); or even "odour". Yes, people complain about KSA's smell, although how they can tell it's an airport smell from 10km or more away is beyond me. Personally I can recognise that 'aviation kerosene' smell only up to about 5km away... anyway, it's all in the '97 EIS.

It gets complicated. It's not just noise mitigation that needs to be catered for. Of course you need to separate air traffic safely, too; so the airspace around Sydney, Bankstown and Camden airports will need to be accommodated; as will Albion Park, Wedderburn, Wilton, Warnervale and The Oaks airfields, too. Mixed air traffic would approach and depart these airports via defined corridors, in some cases by special exemption from otherwise strictly controlled airspace, or by curtailed control zones for individual airports. This is done now to separate Bankstown's general aviation traffic from Sydney's control whilst allowing such mixed traffic to flow freely. Of course "layers" of traffic will be separated by altitude, too, as they are now.

It can be done, it's not rocket science - especially when you realise that the aviation world operates in an environment based on airspace stacks, separated not just horizontally but vertically as well.

And in the end all things are possible if enough money is thrown at the problem. If the preferred solution is closure of one or more airports (or conflicting runways) then - presumably - compensation would be required.     

Transport integration. A big one. Improved roads and (perhaps) heavy rail are planned but it's roads first (for now). Whilst roads are important, it's worth noting that over-encouragement of private motor vehicle use increases demand for car parking, including "drop off" zones, and may lead to road congestion and capacity "pinch points". Sydney Airport's Domestic terminals are, for example, constrained by the capacity of the loop road that feeds the terminals. Whilst suitable shuttle buses on appropriate routes will ease those problems, light or heavy rail options appear preferable to many. Shuttle buses, after all, are also "traffic".  

If the Very Fast Train (VFT - or High Speed Rail) is a goer (and not a white elephant in disguise) then will it run via Sydney Airport or via Badgery's Creek? Neither? Or both? What about compensation for the "losers" in each scenario? Indeed the VFT represents competition for commercial aviation and may seek to navigate between the airports, even if the public good appears to favour connectivity rather than separation. There are huge arguments yet to come.

At least there's the semblance of a NSW Government plan with heavy rail extensions and reservations to service Badgery's. All drawn on a nice chart.
Of course this is all very orbital and north-south, although clearly both the SW and NW rail links eventually head into Sydney or Parramatta or both; and the SW link will get you to the current Sydney Airport if all of the planned connections are put in place. But until that's all done it's the road network that will ferry passengers between the airports, if that's what they want to do. (And if your connection is at the other airport, that's what you'll need to do.)

But with a "roads first" policy in action currently the likelihood is for multiple shuttle bus routes from Badgery's Creek to nearby heavy rail stations, to Parramatta CBD and on to Sydney Airport itself. For now, anyway. Or catch a taxi, of course.

Further land acquisition? The Ernst and Young Economic and Social Impact report (2012) suggested that "the latest footprint of the site will still require additional property (30 lots) to be compulsorily acquired at the southern end of the site. In line with Australian health and safety standards for noise pollution, properties located within Australian Noise Exposure Concept (ANEC) contours 40, 35 and 30 should be acquired by the Commonwealth Government. The analysis undertaken by WorleyParsons found that there could be up to a further 62 allotments that should be considered for compulsory acquisition as a result of noise impacts from the airport".

I doubt that a crosswind runway would eventuate, however if it did it would be constrained within the current site to well under 3000m. If proceeded with, further land acquisitions to the east and/or west may have to be considered. It would be for regional or smaller aircraft, generally, or larger aircraft landings. 

Other risk factors. Much (if not all) of the reasoning behind a Western Sydney Airport is predicated on continuing - and expanding - demand for air travel. Underpinning that demand is the rate of world and local economic growth, which is currently subdued by many factors. One big factor is predicted global climate change. If current climate trends continue (as seems likely) then an increasing amount of world economic activity will focus on renewable energy provision and alternative, low-energy transport systems. How aviation - as a high-energy activity, especially on take-off - fits into that scenario is moot. It is likely that commercial aviation will face stiffer competition from alternatives such as high speed rail (HSR) over time. Whilst there are currently no HSR projects underway in Australia there is a groundswell of opinion in favour of it. Such projects would have obvious impact on both major regular public transport (RPT) airports, Sydney and Western Sydney. It is also worth noting that Sydney Airport faces the allied and perhaps more pressing impact of rising sea levels, which ultimately could strongly favour Western Sydney Airport's cost competitiveness.

If world action on climate change continues to grow then the possibility exists for commercial aviation to be  identified more negatively and government action taken to dampen demand. This could be by direct-cost imposition of levies or taxes. The least impactful (whilst still effective) method would be via an emissions trading scheme (ETS). Many countries are indeed taking the latter approach. Ironically, of course, Australia has reversed its tactics in this regard, repealing the carbon tax, the  precursor to an intended ETS.        

So what is likely to change? Everything. The expense is huge and variable, both in dollar terms and the human and environmental cost. The pay-off is big but less certain; but to not act - after decades of indecision - risks hitting some sort of capacity limit with current aviation infrastructure. It's a gamble either way. More to come, I'm sure!

Oh, and someone seems to have their own airport design already in place on the Badgery's site (via Google).

At the end of the day you may weigh it all up - the noise, the traffic, the polution - and think it's a good idea overall. It saves driving to KSA when you need to get to the airport. And you may even get a better paid job out of it. Or maybe you'd just prefer a High Speed Train instead. It's your vote, and I suspect the whole issue will crop up at elections, State and Federal, more than a few times before we reach 2025.  

More reading (some key sources):
Blacktown City Council - Draft EIS from 1997
Aboriginal heritage study - Draft EIS
Infrastructure and Transport - Joint Study on Aviation Capacity Sydney Region 2012
Infrastructure and Transport - Ernst and Young report on Economic and Social impact of airports 2012
Transport for NSW - consultation, SW Rail link extension
Bob Meyer, Cox Richardson presentation (including transport, land use and ANEF charts)
Sydney Airport's long term operating plan, including noise mitigation
Infrastructure and Regional development - High Speed Rail Studies
International Transport Forum on expanding airport capacity
An interesting timeline on Sydney's airport planning.
NSW Business Chamber - economic impact of a Western Sydney Airport
James Badgery - was into the ponies.

And for your amusement and edification, how about this impressively obsessive Condell Park site seemingly dedicated to defending the Bankstown community against any expansion of their local General Aviation airport. The detail is amazing (although sometimes colourful, incomplete, out of date and always biased) and they have done a lot of research, especially on runway length. Bankstown, of course, was once paddocks and no-one really complained about its wartime use by a variety of forces (who would dare, of course). But post-war many people (including an aunt and uncle of mine) moved in and hemmed the airport in from several sides - but especially from the eastern, runway-facing Condell Park side - and to the north. It's no one person's fault but it's a classic tale of airports attracting jobs, people and their houses. 

Or check out my ever-growing list of Sydney's past and present airfields and airports

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Erskine Park Quarry airstrip - it was definitely there (somewhere)

Pin the tail on the airstrip. I can't find it. Developed? (Yes! See postscript and comments, below)
 The general area in 2014, via Google Maps.
And a crash report from 1970. It existed then, at least.

PS: As per the comments below, it's found (with many thanks)! The strip ran roughly SW to NE, bisecting what is now Templar Road. It's an industrial park on the maps today. Lenore Drive is to the north, the water supply line into Prospect to the south.  

Checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme - including the "Square Dam" reservoir

Ah, the Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme. I'm not kidding. The Orchard Hills area and the York Estate (to the north of Mulgoa) were within scope of this ultimately unsuccessful irrigation scheme.

The promoter was George Chaffey, the Canadian irrigator who had arguably failed, despite considerable effort, expense and no little amount of political struggle to make a success of the irrigation scheme at Mildura, in company with Sydney local Henry Gorman (of Hardie and Gorman, estate agent and property speculators) and Arthur Winbourn Stephen of Mulgoa.

Chaffey was joined by his brothers in his efforts to make the Mildura scheme work and, to be fair, as a family they finally managed to demonstrate some progress. Ultimately, though, it was left to Mildura locals and the state government to grow the scheme into its later, broader success. 

The Mulgoa Valley scheme however was buoyed more by the Chaffey's North American successes and was duly authorised by the Mulgoa Irrigation Act, as passed in December 1890. The Act permitted the promoters to acquire land, erect plant, and use and distribute the waters of the Warragamba River through to South Creek and as far north as St. Marys. The proposal was contemporary with the Wentworth irrigation scheme.

It wasn't the first time that irrigation was used in Mulgoa but it was the most ambitious attempt. A more successful - if short-lived - example was in evidence just a year earlier at George Cox’s Winbourn(e) estate.  The irrigation engineering included a 16 h.p. steam-driven pump and a 75,000 gallon capacity cement-lined reservoir set atop the hill above the house. There is a photograph of the pump site and remains (as they were) here. More photographs may be found in the Penrith City heritage database.

Some Cox family history, perhaps? William Cox was born at Wimbourne Minster, Dorset, England in 1764, eventually becoming a Lieutenant in the New South Wales Corps. He arrived in Sydney on 11th January 1800, accompanied by his wife and four sons: James (aged 10); Charles (7); George (5); and Henry (4).  After an unsuccessful start at “Brush Farm” (Pennant Hills), William and his family settled in 1804 at Windsor, on his Clarendon property. 1815 William was - famously - in charge of constructing a road over the Blue Mountains. The Coxes became interested in land in the Mulgoa district, and Edward - at the age of 4 years - received the first grant of 300 acres in 1810.

Edward's property is known as “Fernhill”.  George’s grant of 600 acres was made in 1816, being the future “Winbourne”. George, his father and brothers also took up land in the Mudgee district. George's obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald may be found at Trove.

In contrast to Winbourn(e), the more ambitious Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme required the sinking of a 47 ft deep brick-lined shaft complete with connecting tunnel. Water would be drawn from the Nepean River and then stored in a 4 million gallon earthen dam. At the wellhead a steam driven suction pump was apparently erected.

From the reservoir at Mulgoa Rd a canal (only partially completed) went due south before turning east and then north-east including tunnels under Littlefields Road and The Northern Road (then Bringelly Rd), wending its way north to the St. Marys district. Integral to the scheme were the town and farm subdivisions of  Littlefields, formerly part of Cox's earlier attempt at Winbourn(e).
Two new towns were also planned, being Sovereign Town and the Mulgoa Irrigation settlement. The company was listed on the stock exchange in April 1892. Having completed the engine house the company went into liquidation in May 1893, with the works being sold at auction in 1898.

All screenshots via Google Maps. 

Mulgoa is Darug people's country.

More detail is available at this Penrith City website.

Orchard Hills - lovely name for No. 1 Central Ammunition Depot

By the way, I'm not obsessed with the history of military establishments in Sydney, it just happens that many of the locations that interest me have military links. And one thing just leads to another, doesn't it? 

Anyway, to get back to the subject in hand, No. 1 Central Ammunition Depot (1 CAMD) was originally formed as 1 Central Reserve at Marrangaroo, New South Wales on 1 April 1942. Sub-depots were also formed at Moorebank and Glenbrook. The primary role was storage and supply of munitions for the RAAF. In August 1942 Picton (Redbank Range) railway tunnel became a storage area and given the title 4 Sub-Depot. Further sub-depots created included Glenbrook (Lapstone) tunnel, Clarence Tunnel, Kowguren (Qld), Hume Camp (Albury), Mt. Druitt and Kingswood (probably St Marys).

And of course Ropes Crossing was a nearby munitions factory with its own railway branchline and extensive internal tramway.

But let's describe what was once Marrangaroo Army Camp in a bit more detail. It's near Lithgow, NSW, situated at the end of Reserve Road. It was a major ammunition depot from 1941 to the late 1980s. It is now used for demolitions and training by all three Australian Defence Force services. But it's not Orchard Hills, is it? 
If you look closely and zoom in on the Google Map you'll see traces of the old spur line branching from the main railway line, entering the defence lands on the northern side of the existing buildings. 

It's worth noting that during World War II Marrangaroo housed then-secret wartime chemical warfare facilities; Marrangaroo was the administration headquarters for all of the Royal Australian Air Force chemical weapons Stores, kept in tunnels and sidings at Marrangaroo and the various (otherwise disused) railway tunnels previously mentioned.

In September 1943 a War Dog Training School was established at Marrangaroo, transferring to the dispersal airstrip at Mt.Druitt in 1944.

Which (finally) brings us to Orchard Hills. The 1 Central Reserve headquarters were transferred to Kingswood (Orchard Hills) on 12 November 1956. Marrangaroo closed in 1958 (to reopen as a joint services training facility at a later date).

The RAAF first began using the Kingswood site in early 1945 for local explosive storage. This avoided double-handling of explosives on consignment to and from Sydney. The Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy also used the area to store wartime munitions (see below). After the transfer in 1956, Kingswood was developed further to encompass guided weapons as well as the disposal of obsolete munitions. From January 1963, 1 Central Reserve's responsibility included explosive inspection of all RAAF units. On 1 October 1967, 1 Central Reserve was renamed 1 Central Ammunition Depot, its role evolving over time into a centre of expertise for the handling and storage of explosive ordnance as well as training. In April 1993 the Bogan Gate depot (2 Base Ammunition Depot Bogan Gate approx 40kms west of Parkes) was reactivated as Detachment A to 1 CAMD, with excess ordnance from Kingswood being relocated from July 1993 for long term storage.

A more extensive history (from which much of the above was derived) is available at Robert Curran's RAN Armament website.

Further detailed work including original land grants may be found at this Penrith City website. That resource includes details on Frogmore, Regentville and the Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme. I'm not kidding. The Orchard Hills area and the York Estate (to the north) were within scope of this proposed and ultimately unsuccessful irrigation scheme. The promoter was George Chaffey, the Canadian irrigator who had arguably failed, despite considerable effort, expense and no little amount of political struggle to make a success of the irrigation scheme at Mildura, in company with Henry Gorman (of Hardie and Gorman, estate agent and property speculators) and Arthur Winbourn Stephen of Mulgoa. The scheme was authorised by the Mulgoa Irrigation Act, as passed in December 1890, which permitted the promoters to acquire land, erect plant, and use and distribute the waters of the Warragamba River through to South Creek and as far north as St. Marys. The proposal was contemporary with the Wentworth irrigation scheme.

It wasn't the first time that irrigation was used in Mulgoa but it was the most ambitious attempt. A more successful - if short-lived - example was in evidence just a year earlier at George Cox’s Winbourn estate.  The irrigation engineering included a 16 h.p. steam-driven pump and a 75,000 gallon capacity cement-lined reservoir set atop the hill above the house. 

In contrast the more ambitious Mulgoa Irrigation Scheme required the sinking of a 47 ft deep brick-lined shaft complete with connecting tunnel. Water would be drawn from the Nepean River and then stored in a 4 million gallon earthen dam. At the wellhead a steam driven suction pump was apparently erected. From the reservoir a canal (only partially completed) including tunnels under Littlefields Road and The Northern Road, wended its way north-east to the St. Marys district. Integral to the scheme were the town and farm subdivisions of  Littlefields, formerly part of Cox's earlier attempt at Winbourne. Two new towns were also planned, being Sovereign Town and the Mulgoa Irrigation settlement. The company was listed on the stock exchange in April 1892. Having completed the engine house the company went into liquidation in May 1893, with the works being sold at auction in 1898. More detail is available at this Penrith City website.

But I digress. Other sources have suggested that naval armoury needs also drove development of Orchard Hills. In 1944 the Royal Navy (RN) took over operations of the Schofields airfield (well to the north of Orchard Hills) in preparation for the planned assault on Japan; Schofields thus became the support base for the RN Fleet Air Arm; by April 1945 some 1,600 personnel were stationed at the Schofields base. Presumably they needed to house some ammunition, too, preferably well away from civilians (and themselves). So the establishment of an ordnance storage facility at Orchard Hills, circa 1945, for both the RN and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was a justifiable outcome.

Later the RN/RAN facility became No. 1 Central Ammunition Depot for the RAAF and RAN, and more recently "Defence Establishment Orchard Hills". I believe it's on the market if you are looking for a sizable block of land in the area.
Image via Google Maps, by the way. The Orchard Hills establishment fills the centre of the screenshot. In the southwest corner of the defence land is the "old" or "ANZAC" area, occupied by the US Army for munitions purposes from 1942 until war's end. The old road layout can still be seen. Again Robert Curran's website provides more detail.   

Penrith is to the north and slightly west, out of view in this image. Richmond is further north again and Schofields a little closer and slightly east.  You can see Sydney's water supply running left to right in pipes at the bottom of the image. The airstrip on private land south of those pipes is Kennett's airfield ("Kennett G C & H L Pastoral & Aviation" in the Yellowpages) at Luddenham (near the old RAAF Fleurs strip). You can see a couple of hangars and a parked C337 by the looks of it if you zoom in close enough. 

or checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports.