Randwick & DIstrict Historical Society: FLASHBACK


BUNNERONG: Woolwashing is a polite term for wool scouring and fellmongering, an industry to obtain maximum product from dead sheep which was carried on at four locations in Randwick. Two were on the Lachlan Stream in what is now Kensington near Bowral St/Anzac Parade; one at Maroubra Beach and the fourth on Bunnerong Creek between the intersection of Bunnerong and Botany Rds and the bay.

It is possible that activity at the site commenced at least from the time when all of Bunnerong Estate and adjoining lands came into the ownership of John Walsh in 1880, although it wasn’t until 1892 that specific reference was made to a “woolshed”. In 1894 the land relating to the woolshed was recorded as 40 acres, a small part of the Estate. In 1920 there were 26 wool scourers in Sydney, including Peter McWilliam into whose hands the Bunnerong wash had passed in 1904. He is the first sure connection with the site for woolwashing. By then a small community was flourishing, in part as an outcome of the wash.

Bunnerong Woolwash

Bubonic plague attended Sydney for the last time in 1922 with outbreaks at various locations, including five at Bunnerong. The infected people lived in a small isolated group of four dwellings surrounding the woolwashing premises with a stable attached. The outbreak may have played a role in the establishment’s demise and whilst the precise date of its closure is not known, by 1932 all recorded woolwashing in Sydney had ceased.

Robert Booth

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