The indigenous population used the resources on the basis of "take only what you need". They used shells, bark, plant fibre and gums for hunting and fishing. From early in the British settlement the face of the land was altered. From 1793 the earliest settlers, who had arrived in the colony on the "Bellona" cleared the forest to plant crops. They prospered for a few years until the soil was exhausted when some of them moved out to the Hawkesbury, some died and others went elsewhere. (see, Settlers & Convicts of the Bellona 1793 : a biographical dictionary / compiled by Megan Martin, for the Bellona Muster Committee. 1992)

In 1807 John Blaxland established himself at Silverwater on a large grant of land. This and other grants to himself and his brother Gregory were made because they had brought cash from England after selling their business in Newington, England. John named his estate Newington. He began to develop this estate economically. The Parramatta River banks were changed as he developed large salt pans for making salt. The forest was cut to boil up the salt. John and Gregory were butchers and had surplus skins and hides. In 1817 John began making worsted on his estate. They also brought sheep and cattle to rest on the property before slaughter. In 1871 the Sydney Meat Preserving Co was authorised as a joint stock Co at Lidcombe between the Railway and Parramatta Road. Over the years the land was reduced and the ownership changed but it only closed in 1965.

By January 1840, Louisa Ann Meredith describes desolation of Homebush with trees cleared. In the 1830s some of the trees were cut for charcoal burning. The resting or agistment of cattle and sheep continued through the 1800s until becoming localised at Flemington & Homebush in the 1900s. Brick making was important; Auburn Brick, Tile and Pottery Co, Princes Rd Auburn 12 September 1905; Clyde Brick Company, Beaconsfield, Newton & Carnarvon Streets 12 January 1911; State Brick Works at Homebush Bay 1912.

From 1880s land and house sale developments were often advertised as being close to close to factories. This quote is from the 19th Annual Report of the Rookwood Benevolent Society 1912 gives some character of the area until the 1970s "Now, however, the increased income will enable them [the committee] to act on a more liberal scale. It is clear that with a population of over 6000, mostly of the working classes, the state of affairs must be very exceptional if the poverty does not require more relief than has hitherto been accorded."

In 1884 Auburn, with Granville and Clyde, became part of the heavy industry, called at the time the Southern Birmingham, with Henry Vale & Co and Ritchie Brothers being established at Auburn. Other names in heavy industry are Purcell Engineering Co Ltd 1916; Hamilton & Co 1922; Babcock and Wilcox 1922-1989 (boilers, structural steel, electrical generation); Waygood-Otis 1923 (elevators) Michael Nairn & Co (Aust.) 1927 (linoleum); merger of Metropolitan Vickers Australia, AGE Company, Ferguson Pailin at Lidcombe 1930; Ford Motor Company 1935-1994. All these factories have closed. Fabric and clothes manufacture was also prominent 1920s-1970s. Jantzen (Australia) Ltd. July 1928.

With the development of the world economy and the reduction in tariffs the pattern of industry experienced major changes during the 1980s from manufacturing to storage and retail.