History: Looking Back

Looking Back: The Lost Village


Ferndale – The home of the Brown family at Sherbrooke. The picture shows members of the Brown and Knight family.

A FEW rusted corrugated water tanks scattered amongst the leftovers of English ornamental gardens, stone walls and twisted barbed wire are all that remain of the pretty little village of Sherbrooke on Bulli Mountain.

The settlement, a couple of kilometres west of the summit of Bulli Pass, is no more – given a death sentence by the government at the dawn of the 20th century to provide the water needs of Wollongong.

“The government resumed our property, our orchards and all the other peaceful homes in Sherbrooke, and began to build the Cataract Dam,” one time resident Lily Drinkal recalled in 1981.

“There were railway lines through our beautiful orchards; engines and trucks clattered all day; about 80 canvas tents were erected near our back fence. There was constant noise of blasting as the men blew out sandstone in Dad’s quarry to make the reservoir. To a child’s mind the workers seemed orderly and quiet people, but all our free happy times were ended.”

Today Sherbrooke is part of Sydney Water’s catchment area for the Cataract Dam, a forbidden zone, off limits, except with permits.

Walking along the dirt track that constituted the main street of Sherbrooke, a feeling of paradise lost is felt – where as many as 16 families carved out an existence.

Read the full story at the Looking Back website.

About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


4 thoughts on “Looking Back: The Lost Village

  1. Would love to know the names of the Knights in the photo at Sherbrooke. My Pop was a Knight born at Sherbrooke in 1897.


    Posted by Susan Williams | August 18, 2013, 10:44 pm
  2. The Sherbrooke Sisters have set up a web page – http://shadowlanduncoveringsherbrooke.wordpress.com/ – please have a look


    Posted by Kerrie Anne Christian | March 13, 2014, 9:46 am
  3. The Sherbrooke Sisters have set up a Facebook page about Sherbrooke – please have a look – https://www.facebook.com/groups/200081520150347/


    Posted by Kerrie Anne Christian | March 13, 2014, 9:47 am
  4. The Black Diamond Heritage Centre is organising a Sherbrooke exhibition on April 13 and May 4 – more information here – http://blackdiamondheritagecentrebulli.wordpress.com/sherbrooke/


    Posted by Kerrie Anne Christian | March 13, 2014, 9:49 am

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