1901 - 1945 Western Sydney - an outline history

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Following Australia's Federation in 1901, all of the states reviewed their local government systems. New South Wales passed a Shires Act in 1905 and council boundaries were altered to include rural areas consequently shires were established. The Local Government Act reformed the local government systems and shires provided an additional unit to municipalities. Shires were essentially rural areas whilst municipalities covered metropolitan suburbs and country towns. In Western Sydney Colo, Blacktown and Baulkham Hills Councils were incorporated in 1906.

During the 20th Century wars had a major impact on society. The Boer War 1899-1902 conflict took place in South Africa. Australian troops were sent to assist the British. Many men from Western Sydney enlisted and participated. In 1914, the Great War now known as World War I, commenced in Europe and Australian troops are sent to support Britain. Internment camps for migrants were set up during the war at places such Scheyville and Holsworthy. Holsworthy was later established as a permanent military camp. Australia contributed more volunteers than any other of Britain's allies. Injuries and loss of life, particularly in the male age bracket of 18 to 45 years had tremendous and long lasting impact. Following the end of the war an influenza epidemic, known as the "Spanish Flu" swept throughout the world. Soldiers were returning home and the first death took place in Sydney in February 1919. Approximately 6000 deaths occurred in NSW and in the west, the Blue Mountains and Liverpool were hard hit. Public places and events were cancelled and travel restricted.

In September 1939 as a result of Germany invading Poland, Britain declared war. Australia joined Britain and troops were sent off to Europe. Following conflict in the Pacific in 1941 America and Australia declared war on Japan. Australian troops fought all over Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia and thousands of Australians were wounded or killed and many were taken as Prisoners of War. Women also participated in the war in many areas and also on the homefront with maunfacturing and on the land. The war ended in 1945. War memorials throughout Western Sydney commemorate local communities participation.

Rapid advances in technology, transport and communications took place after the war. Electricty and the telephone was used extensively in both business and in the home. Although the first powered flight took place in 1910, however after the war aircraft were used to transport goods and passengers all over the country. The first Broadcasting station was established and radio entered the family home as a form of news and entertainment. Moving films were shown in Australia from 1896 and within twenty years or so, theatres were set up all over Western Sydney, including the Local Venture Picture Palace, Windsor in 1911 and the Butterfly Theatre, Fairfield in 1914.

As the population in Western Sydney grew, the transport system was improved. A tramway was constructed from Parramatta to Baulkham Hills in 1902 and extended to Castle Hill in 1910 and Rogans Hill in 1924, closing in 1932. In 1924 the railway was extended from Liverpool via Regents Park and Lidcombe to Cabramatta line opened. Roads also improved as motor cars became a more popular form of transport. The line from Richmond to Kurrajong was opened in 1926, closing in 1952. Electrification commenced on some of the rail services.

Except for the Main Roads, the development and upkeep of roads were the responsibility of local government bodies. In 1926 the Great Western Highway from Emu Plains to Blaxland opened along the original rail route.

From 1927 until the mid 1930s Australia experienced the "Great Depression". Unfortunately this economic disaster resulted with the collapse of businesses, bankruptcy and large scale unemployment. The dole was provided by the Government to those out of work but life was very hard.