Camden, New South Wales

Camden is a historic town, south-west of Sydney, New South Wales, located 65 kilometres from the Sydney central business district. Camden was the administrative centre for the local government area of Camden Council until July/August 2016[2] and is a part of the Macarthur region.

Sydney, New South Wales
Argyle Street, Camden
Population3,230 (2016 census)[1]
Location65 km (40 mi) south-west of Sydney CBD
LGA(s)Camden Council
State electorate(s)Camden
Federal Division(s)Hume
Localities around Camden:
Ellis Lane Cobbitty Kirkham
Grasmere Camden Elderslie
Cawdor Camden South Spring Farm


Indigenous people

The area now known as Camden was originally at the northern edge of land belonging to the Gandangara people of the Southern Highlands who called it Benkennie meaning 'dry land'. North of the Nepean River were the Muringong, southernmost of the Darug people while to the east were the Tharawal people. They lived in extended family groups of 20–40 members, hunting kangaroos, possums and eels and gathering yams and other seasonal fruit and vegetables from the local area. They were described as 'short, stocky, strong and superbly built' and generally considered peaceful. However, as British settlers encroached on their land and reduced their food sources, they turned to armed resistance which ended in 1816 after many of their number were massacred.[3]

European settlement

Explorers first visited the area in 1795 and named it 'Cowpastures' after a herd of cattle that had disappeared was discovered there. In February 1805, Governor King instructed (apparently reluctantly) a surveyor to measure 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) for John Macarthur at Cowpastures, where Macarthur had been promised land by the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Camden. Macarthur named his property Camden Park in honour of his sponsor.[4]

As Macarthur's wool industry thrived, local citizens began pushing for the establishment of a town in the area to support the industry. Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell suggested Macarthur surrender 320 acres (130 ha) of his land for the purpose to which he refused. Following his death in 1834, his children decided to subdivide the land and the first lots in the new town of Camden went on sale in 1840. Camden Post Office opened on 1 May 1841, the day after the nearby Elderslie office (open from 1839) closed.[5] By 1883, the population had grown to over 300 and a movement began to establish a local council which held its first meeting in 1889.

Heritage listings

Commonwealth Heritage List places:

NSW State Heritage Register listed places:


Between 1882 and 1962 Camden was connected to Campbelltown and Sydney by the Camden railway line. Camden is served by Camden Airport, which is mostly used by trainee pilots for flying schools, the Australian Air League, and other forms of general aviation.


Camden has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa).

Climate data for Camden Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.4
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 23.3
Average low °C (°F) 16.9
Record low °C (°F) 7.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 79.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 10.3 11.0 10.6 9.4 8.5 9.0 8.1 7.6 7.9 9.6 10.3 9.2 111.5
Average afternoon relative humidity (%) 49 52 52 52 52 53 50 43 44 47 50 46 49
Source: [12]


Camden is the location of research facilities for the veterinary and agricultural schools of the University of Sydney. The local government area has three public high schools, Camden High School, Elderslie High School and Elizabeth Macarthur High School, as well as eight Catholic and three Anglican schools.


The Camden Show is an annual event which combines amusement park attractions with the elements of a state fair. Camden is served by three local radio stations, 2MCR, Vintage FM and C91.3FM. Local newspapers are the Camden Advertiser,[13] the District Reporter and the Macarthur Chronicle.



According to the 2016 census, there were 3,230 residents in Camden. In Camden, 80.0% of people were born in Australia. The most common other countries of birth were England 4.5%, New Zealand 1.6%, Scotland 0.9%, Ireland 0.8% and Germany 0.6%. 87.8% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Spanish 0.6%, German 0.5%, Croatian 0.5%, Mandarin 0.4% and Italian 0.4%. The most common responses for religion in Camden were Catholic 30.7%, Anglican 26.4% and No Religion 19.9%.[1]


Camden lies within the local government area of Camden Council. The council consists of nine councillors; three for each of the three wards; North Ward (Bringelly, Rossmore, Leppington, Cobbitty, Oran Park, Catherine Field, Harrington Park, Kirkham), Central Ward (Mount Annan, Currans Hill, Smeaton Grange, Narellan Vale) and South Ward (Ellis Lane, Narellan, Grasmere, Camden, Elderslie, Spring Farm, Bickley Vale, Cawdor, Camden South). Lara Symkowiak was elected mayor in 2012.

The southern part of the Camden LGA including Camden town centre is contained within the federal electorate of Hume while the northern end of the LGA (north of Narellan Road) is within the federal electorate of Macarthur. The state seat of Camden covers all of the Camden LGA, and parts of the City of Campbelltown and the City of Liverpool.

The state member for Camden is Peter Sidgreaves, first elected in 2019. The federal member for Macarthur is Mike Freelander, first elected in 2016 and the federal member for Hume is Angus Taylor, first elected in 2013. Both Angus Taylor and Peter Sidgreaves are members of the Liberal Party of Australia while Mike Freelander is a member of the Australian Labor Party.

Planning issues

On 27 May 2008 Camden Council rejected plans from the Quranic Society to build a 1,200-student Islamic school in the nearby suburb of Cawdor on planning grounds. The site was 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south of the centre of Camden adjacent to the Camden General Cemetery and 800 metres (2,600 ft) north of the then recently relocated Camden High School. The issue received national[14][15][16][17][18][19] and international media coverage.[20][21][22] The proposal was opposed from within the local community, many expressing fear and hatred about the presence of Muslims in an area where relatively few Muslims live.[23][24] There were angry comments by a number of residents in Camden that were viewed as racist and Islamophobic.[25] The Christian Democratic Party (CDP) opposed the proposal. Speaking at a public meeting in December 2007, CDP leader Fred Nile (present alongside Robert Balzola) said he opposed the school "because Islam opposed Christianity". A spokesman for the Quranic Society said it was "absurd" to claim that Muslims are anti-Christian.[26]

In making its decision several council members, including Mayor Chris Patterson, said the school was inappropriate for the semi-rural area of Camden and likely to cause parking, traffic and other problems.[27][28] Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd indicated before the council decision that he wouldn't support the school on planning grounds.[29] The Quranic Society said it will appeal the Council's decision in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales.

In September 2008, a proposal to build a private Catholic school received media attention for not provoking the same sort of outcry as the previous proposal. Some residents who were not supportive of the Islamic school now welcomed the Catholic school proposal.

On 2 June 2009, The Land and Environment Court passed down the decision to reject the appeal by the Quranic Society, with the court stating that the "development application was not suitable for the rural nature of the land."[30]

Notable residents


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Camden(State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  2. Robillard, Emma (27 July 2016). "History Made As Council Meets For Last Time At Civic Centre" (PDF) (Press release). Camden Council. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  3. "The History of Camden". Camden Historical Society. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  4. "The History of Camden". Camden Council. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  5. Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  6. "Camden Post Office (Place ID 106176)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment.
  7. "Camden Park". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00341.
  8. "Camden Park Estate and Belgenny Farm". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01697.
  9. "Macquarie Grove". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00493.
  10. "Nant Gwylan and Garden". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00243.
  11. "St Johns Anglican Church Precinct". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H02006.
  12. "Climate statistics for Camden Airport AWS". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  13. "". Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  14. "Camden locals oppose proposed Islamic school". The World Today. ABC Radio National. 7 June 2008. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008.
  15. "Politicians, locals oppose Islamic school". The Australian. 26 December 2007. Archived from the original on 26 December 2007.
  16. "Backlash over new Islamic school". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 November 2007. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008.
  17. "Cops block mass Muslim protest". Daily Telegraph. 23 December 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007.
  18. "Camden Council rejects Islamic school". The Age. 30 May 2008. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008.
  19. "Anti-Islamic school Camden 'not racist'". The Age. 29 May 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008.
  20. "Town moves against Islamic school". BBC News. 30 May 2008. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008.
  21. "Australia Muslim school rejected". BBC News. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008.
  22. "Australia Muslim school rejected". Tehran Times. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008.
  23. "Residents uneasy amid opposition to Muslim school". ABC News. Australia. 20 December 2007. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008.
  24. "Pigs heads staked at Islamic-school-site". Camden. 6 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 August 2008.
  25. "The Islamic school furore in Australia. Camden, Sydney". Archived from the original on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  26. "Nile party behind anti-Muslim school rally". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  27. Dart, Jonathon (28 May 2008). "Islamic school rejected". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  28. Lyons, John (28 May 2008). "Camden Council votes down Islamic school". The Australian. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  29. "Rudd opposed to Islamic school". 29 May 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
  30. "Court rejects Sydney Islamic school". ABC News. Australia. 2 June 2009. Archived from the original on 14 July 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  31. Stewart, Ken (1981). "Dwyer, James Francis (1874–1954)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Volume 8, (MUP). Canberra: Australian National University.
  32. Walsh, G. P. (1986). "Macarthur-Onslow, Francis Arthur (1875–1938)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 10, (MUP). Canberra: Australian National University.
  33. Walsh, G.P. (1986). "Macarthur-Onslow, James William (1867–1946)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Volume 10, (MUP). Canberra: Australian National University.


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