Ku-ring-gai's history

The Darramuragal or Darug people have been in this area for thousands of years, long before the arrival of European settlers. They lived from Newcastle down to Sydney, mostly along the foreshores of the harbour.

Click here to learn more about our Aboriginal heritage.


European settlement

One of the first white settlers to live in Ku-ring-gai was William Henry, who farmed the land next to the Lane Cove River from 1814. The early population consisted of workers and farmers who lived in small, isolated communities.

Early population growth

The population grew as major transport routes by land and water were built in the mid-1800s. The construction of the railway in 1890 and introduction of local government transformed the region from a series of isolated farming communities into a collection of sought-after suburbs.


Formation of local government

The Shire of Ku-ring-gai was formed with six councillors in March 1906, and a small council building was constructed in 1911 on the main road in Gordon.

The inter-war period saw vast improvements in infrastructure and a period of urban consolidation. With an increase in building applications, the council needed to expand and in 1928 the shire became a municipality with four wards, each represented by three aldermen.

Almost all of Ku-ring-gai was designated for residential development as opposed to commercial and industrial development, and very few blocks of flats were permitted before 1940.

World War II

During World War II, Ku-ring-gai hosted major Australian defence agencies and bases, and a number of community organisations formed to help the war effort. Among them were the Ku-ring-gai Women War Workers, who supplied knitted goods to soldiers fighting abroad, and the Ku-ring-gai Voluntary Aid Detachments, who cared for sick and wounded soldiers upon their return to Australia.

Population growth

Ku-ring-gai’s population doubled between 1950 and 1980, growing to roughly 100,000 people. Over the years, Council has built new facilities to service the growing population, including four libraries, two public golf courses, an arts centreyouth centres and a swimming pool.


Centenary of Ku-ring-gai Council 

We commissioned an official history book, Under the Canopy, to mark our 100th anniversary in 2006. The book takes a detailed and colourful look at life in Ku-ring-gai and how it has changed over the past century.

Under the Canopy is written by Pauline Curby and Virginia Macleod, with illustrations by Grace Cossington-Smith.

You can find Under the Canopy at your local library or purchase a copy from Customer Service.

Present day

Today, Ku-ring-gai is a culturally diverse society that still retains much of its unique natural and built heritage.

To find out more about Ku-ring-gai’s history visit your local library.