Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport Group | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

About us

Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport Group

Item details

Name of item: Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport Group
Other name/s: Sydney International Airport
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Air
Category: Other - Transport - Air
Primary address: , Mascot, NSW 2020
Local govt. area: Bayside
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 MascotBayside  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Kingsford Smith Airport Group at Mascot is a complex cultural landscape that demonstrates strong historical, historic association, social, aesthetic and technological significance. It includes both the values associated with contemporary airport and the heritage values associated with the layers of use of the area. The site is owned by the Commonwealth Government so for more information about the national heritage values of the airport refer to the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Heritage List. The northernmost part of the airport is located within Marrickville LGA. This Heritage Inventory Form focuses on the local heritage values of the airport to the former Botany Bay LGA.

The airport is also historically significant for its association with pioneers of the professional aviation industry, including Charles Kingsford-Smith from 1920 and after whom the airport is named; and one of his best-known pupils at his Mascot flying school, aviatrix Nancy Bird Walton in the 1930s.

Mascot is historically significant as the location of some of the earliest experiments in powered flight in Australia, the earliest of which appear to have used the turf of the Ascot Racecourse (at the eastern end of the current east-west runway) rather than the more commonly described ‘paddocks’ and areas of market gardens to the west where the formal Mascot Aerodrome was established in 1920. The interface with the local area was at first tentative, with a level crossing at the intersection of the main runway and the Botany Goods Rail Line, but the airport soon started to dominate the cultural landscape of both Mascot and Botany.

The airport is a complex cultural landscape that includes not only the runways and terminals but also the large area of supporting infrastructure and areas that contribute to the Item's particular environmental and historic significance. It extends over the whole of the four original grants made in the Botany Bay area, being Edward Redmond’s 135 acres; Mary Lewin’s 50 acres, Andrew Byrne’s 50 acres, and Thomas Walker’s 50 acres, which together formed the locality known as Mudbank. The curtilage extends over the whole of the airport site and includes evidence and historically significant evidence of the earlier land uses in the area, including Simeon Lord’s residence, dams, mills and factory; the Sydney Waterworks and the South Western Sydney Ocean Outfall Sewer (no.1) (SWSOOS1). Evidence of many of these has survived and can still be interpreted, although some, such as Lord's house and factories, has been demolished or covered by later development. Refer to the individual State Heritage Inventory forms for each of these items for details of their intrinsic heritage significance to the former Botany Bay area.

The airport is significant for the degree to which it has been the catalyst for, and provides evidence of, the significant changes it has brought to the wider Mascot and Botany areas since it was officially recognised as Mascot Aerodrome in 1920. The rapid expansion of the site was achieved by overwriting earlier uses in the area, including the suburb of Lauriston Park and the small industries to the west of the residential area such as F.T Wimble’s Ink and Varnish Factory. Wimble was a major producer of printing inks in the early 20th century who had established his factory complex in 1916 on the northern side of Vickers Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. These buildings have survived, and, along with one building on the northern side of Ross Smith Avenue, are historically significant as the only pre-1943 structures visible on the aerial photos to have survived apart from the SWSOOS1 pipeline and the remains of the Sydney Waterworks Pumping Station. The essential road pattern of these earlier uses has also survived as the skeleton of the current T2-T3 loop road system.

The physical environment of the airport has considerable aesthetic presence as a ‘big sky’ landscape which, with the added aesthetic impacts of the plane movements, dominates the local area. The runway areas include the prominent landmarks of the control tower (no.5), clearly visible from General Holmes Drive, and included on the Commonwealth Heritage List for its technological heritage values. The most aesthetically distinctive part of the airport, the runways, have undergone considerable evolution since the original grass strip with level crossing. By 1943 three intersecting strips were in place and notably the pattern of extensive reclamation of waterways to allow for the extension of the runways had begun, with the 1943 aerial photographs revealing the south-western edge to the Cooks River, and the eastern side of its mouth to Botany Bay, walled and back-filling with silt. The configuration and length of the runways have undergone ongoing adaptation since this time including the diversion of the Alexandra Canal and Cooks Rivers, and infilling of a considerable proportion of Botany Bay through successive reclamations.

The Airport also demonstrates significant local heritage values that relate more directly to its influence on the course of Botany's physical, economic and social development; most notably as the catalyst for the transformation of the area from a cultural landscape dominated by noxious industries to acting as the hub for Sydney's transportation industry, specifically the aviation industry and businesses associated with the movement of people and cargo. Secondary businesses associated with the airport now dominate the industrial and commercial landscape of the area.

Its physical presence dominates the landscape of the area, being the largest single land use with a notable aesthetic prominence due to its expanses of largely undeveloped, flat grass, distinctive elements such as the control towers, and the impact of the aircraft, both visual and acoustic, on the wider area. The need to ameliorate noise associated with aircraft operations has also impacted on the fabric of many of the historic buildings in the surrounding area through loss of original timber windows and insertion of double glazing in prefabricated frames.

The reclamation of the foreshore of the Bay, originally as part of the realignment of the mouth of the Cooks River to extend the main north-south runway, and more recently to build a road along the foreshore between the airport and Port Botany, have together had a significant impact on the aesthetic qualities of Botany’s setting and its historic relationship with the waters of Botany Bay.

The social heritage values of the Airport are notable, being a place of arrival and departure for millions of passengers annually, and as the primary portal for international migration since the 1960s. It is also of social heritage value to members of the plane-spotting community, with areas known as Shep’s Mound and The Beach providing particular vantage points on each side of the main runway and interpretative signs have been provided. This social heritage value extends beyond the boundaries of the former LGA.

The terminal buildings are visually prominent elements within this landscape and are representative examples of contemporary airport design. Ancillary buildings are generally nondescript, although their functions and fitouts may have technological or historic heritage values (not investigated).

Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the component heritage items including the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
Refer also to the individual listing (Listed Place) for the Control Tower No.5 – designed by Ancher Mortlock & Woolley Pty Ltd (design architect Ken Woolley) and described in the listing documentation as a flamboyant, ‘statement’ example of a control tower. (Listed Place ID 106116)
Date significance updated: 23 Jul 18
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1910-
Physical description: The airport is a complex site covering over 900 hectares, with buildings, structures, features and elements that contribute to its heritage values.
The following details are provided in the Indicative Place (Commonwealth Heritage List) Place ID 105542 listing for the airport group:
1. Botany Water Pumping Station Ruins and Chimney Ruins.
The Botany Water Pumping Station ruins and Chimney ruins consist of the engine room foundations, ruined walls, the supposed well of the boiler room and the shortened chimney stack. Associated outbuildings may also survive nearby. The Engine and Mill Ponds and Mill Stream are located near the Pumping Station ruins. The Mill Stream and Mill Pond are remnants of the original waterways.
2. Engine and Mill Ponds and Mill Stream from Botany Road to the point where it enters Botany Bay.
There are potential sub surface archaeological remains of Simeon Lord's Mills, Dams and House present. The site is considered to be the location of the first manufacturing industry in Australia. No physical remains of this archaeological site are visible.

3. Sewage Pumping Station No. 38.
Sewage Pumping Station No. 38, consists of a main single storey brick Federation Free style industrial building. The original slate cladding and terracotta hip and ridge capping to the roof has been recently replaced with terracotta Marseilles pattern tiles. It has timber framed double hung sash windows with brick heads and rubbed sandstone sills along each facade. A sandstone lintel above the entrance is inscribed with "MWS & DB 1915". Adjacent is an inspection hall and substation of a similar design except smaller. The building retains its original slate cladding and gambrel roof with vents.

4. Main North-South Runway and East-West Runway.
The main north-south and east-west runways form a cruciform over the full extent of the airport site. Both were originally constructed during the first phase of the post war redevelopment from 1947 to 1955. The main north-south runway has been extended twice onto reclaimed land in Botany Bay. Each runway and its existing alignment is a visual demonstration of the operational requirements of a busy civilian airport.

5. The left bank of Alexandra Canal extending from its confluence with Cooks River to the railway bridge (approximate AMG point 31104450).

The Alexandra Canal, 1880/1890s, was constructed by the unemployed to serve the growing industries along its course. It was renamed from Shea's Creek in 1901 in honour of the Queen. Original sections remaining contain sandstone pitched banks. It was used by shallow barges up until WWII.

6. The left bank of Cooks River extending from its confluence with Alexandra Canal to the point where it enters Botany Bay.

7. Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer (SWSOOS) No. 1 & 2, comprising that section extending from Cooks River to General Holmes Drive.
The Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer (SWSOOS) No. 1 was constructed by the Department of Public Works and opened in 1916 to divert sewage from Botany and Rockdale Sewage Farms to discharge into the ocean near Long Bay. Essentially a gravitational design, with a slight gradient to aid transportation in some areas. The SWSOOS No. 2 was opened in 1941, constructed by the MWS&DB. The sewer is a system of reinforced concrete drains above and below ground, silt pit outlets controlled by iron weirs, a remnant disconnected ventilation stack, and siphon pipes underneath the former Cooks River.

8. Former ANA Terminal and Control Tower (Building 60).
The Civil Aviation Terminal and Control Tower (Building 60) was constructed 1939-40 in Streamlined Modern with Art Deco features. It is a three storey rendered masonry structure with a glazed observation room on the top of a central circular tower section, which projects in front of the side wings facing the airport tarmac. The ground floor was originally a curved glazed section, with steel framed windows and French doors on the tarmac. A clock, originally mounted at the first floor level of the tower section facing the tarmac, has been removed but a circular rendered disk remains. Beneath the clock there was originally an insignia comprising outstretched eagles wings and a central DCA monogram. This has been removed but a similar insignia remains on the road side of the building with outstretched eagles wings and a central monogram with the letters DCA overwritten. The roof top control tower has been removed and its functions relocated one level below. Internally, the upper level and stair are mostly intact. The original form of the upper levels, and its original function, are still evident from the tarmac and the approach to the Qantas terminal. It is very similar in design to the Archerfield Airport Terminal in Queensland (RNE 17475).

9. Third Control Tower & Fire Station (Building 119).
Third Control Tower & Fire Station (Building 119) was completed in 1954. When constructed it was a significant innovation to locate the control tower at the intersection of two major runways, rather than the more traditional placement near the main terminal. It controlled and monitored the aircraft within the airport, and linked Mascot to the Bankstown Aerodrome, the flying boat base at Rose Bay, the fire brigade, and the sea-air rescue headquarters.

The building is generally single storey, in brick, with a flat roof and conventional folding glass front doors to the fire station, with a three storey central tower (the glazed control room has been demolished). The building is influenced by the Dutch Modern style, reminiscent of the work of architect W M Dudok. It features rectangular and square forms and volumes for its aesthetic quality. The tower windows are square and set within projecting masonry frames which, being white, contrast with the brickwork behind. Otherwise the elevations are punctuated with various metal framed windows and plain door openings. The tower is not in use, however, other sections of the building are used.

10. The Fourth Control Tower (Building 239).
Fourth Control Tower, Operations Centre and Services Building form a complex erected between 1968-1972 as part of the second phase of works extending the main north-south runway into reclaimed land in Botany Bay. Located in a key position in the south-west corner of the airport to ensure a 360 degree view of all approaches of the airport.

The Control Tower (Building 239), completed in 1969, is a six storey orange brick tower, on a polygonal plan. The tower is almost 20 metres high. The frame of the building is of prestressed concrete. The shaft of the tower, which has a row of six square windows to one face, is surmounted by the actual control room serviced by a lift. The tower has fixed sash windows to each side, which slope outward, with a flat roof over. The control room is encircled by a cantilevered concrete balcony with a metal handrail. It is linked to the operations centre by a glass link building.

11. Sydney Airport Control Tower (Fifth Control Tower) Building 496.
Sydney Airport Control Tower (Fifth Control Tower) (Building 496), is a unique sculptural structure. Completed 1994 for the Civil Aviation Authority by Ken Woolley of Ancher Mortlock & Woolley. It is constructed of precast prefabricated concrete, post tensioned steel, and aluminium sheeting and glass. The tower 45 metres high, consists of a top cabin with all round visibility achieved by angled frameless glass. The cabin cantilevers on one central column, with stainless steel rods in the glass joints supporting it. Below the cabin is the main deck containing electronic equipment and plant rooms, a duty staff rest are, toilets and a management office. The deck consists of six pods arranged like a cloverleaf. At the base of the tower is a circular building with plant room, stand by generator, uninterrupted power supply, equipment rooms, staff amenities and management offices.

12. Buildings 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, & 114, 128 & 143 between Sixth and Seventh Streets.
Buildings 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, & 114, 128 & 143 date from the 1930s and 1940s. They all appear in a 1951 aerial photograph. They are examples of simple utilitarian light industrial buildings erected at Mascot in proximity to the airport.
Building 108 is a large face red brick building comprising a central double storey section with a flat roof, flanked by single storey skillion roofed wings. The principal elevation has four large rectangular windows at the upper storey, with a continuous concrete lintel. The ground floor has alternating window and vehicular door openings, all with concrete lintels.
Building 109 is a single storey face brown brick building on an elongated rectangular plan, with a longitudinal gabled roof clad in corrugated galvanised steel with plain timber bargeboards. The slope of the roof extends down to form an awning, supported on timber struts, over the slightly off centre entrance along the side elevation. This is flanked by two pairs of windows. Projecting from the end wall is a skillion roofed brick addition, with small rectangular openings containing metal louvred grilles.
Buildings 110 and 111 are of a very similar design in their form and detailing. Both are single storey, painted brick, with broad gabled roofs concealed by raked parapets with squared corbels. Building 110 has a wide central doorway, now altered with a modern aluminium framed shopfront entrance and curved awning with recessed panel in the gable end above. Building 111 has an off centre entrance with a steel roller shutter and a large window with multi-paned steel framed sashes and a narrow vent in the gable end with louvred grille.
Building 112 is a double storey structure of bagged and painted white Sydney sandstock bricks, comprising a double storey structure with a longitudinal gabled roof, with skillion roofed wing to one side. The side elevations are articulated by brick piers, forming bays which contain large rectangular windows at each level, with multi-paned steel framed sashes. The front elevation has a large vehicular doorway at ground level, recessed within a face brick porch, with a narrow horizontal strip window above.
Buildings 113 and 114 are similar in plan, form and detailing. They are single storey of bagged and painted Sydney sandstock brickwork, with a longitudinal gabled roof clad in steel tray deck. Both have rectangular plans, building 114 being considerably longer. Building 114 has a central door in the end elevation, and tripartite bays of timber framed double hung sash windows along the side. The roof extends down to form an awning over a side entrance, supported on timber struts. The side walls of Building 113 are windowless, divided into bays by plain brick piers. There is timber detailing to eaves and roof vents.
Building 128 is a single storey red face brick building on an elongated rectangular plan with a shallow gable roof. The end wall has a wide off centre doorway with a pair of timber doors. The side elevation contains four bays of windows, with timber framed fixed and awning sashes and sloping brick sills. One of the window bays has been partly bricked up, and two doorways have been formed.
Building 143 is a small single storey timber framed shed, raised on brick piers. External walls are clad in fibro cement sheet, and the shallow gabled roof is clad with corrugated galvanised steel. The front elevation has a central window, with timber framed sliding sashes, flanked on one side by a doorway which is accessed via a concrete ramp with a steel pipe handrail.

13. Electricity Substation (Building 325) Ninth Street.
Building 325 is the Electricity Substation. The exact date of construction of the Substation is not known. Its design suggests the late 1930s, it is likely to date from 1936-1938 when new electric lighting facilities were installed, including boundary and obstruction lights along the runway, a flashing beacon for morse transmissions and a revolving searchlight. It is a small single storey double height brown Sydney sandstock brick building on a squat rectangular plan, its roof concealed by a corbelled parapet. The front elevation has a tall rectangular doorway with bullnosed reveals and a rendered lintel, supported on corbelled brackets. Over the lintel is a half rounded blind arch, also rendered. The doorway is a steel roller shutter with a smaller timber doorway to one side, both are raised above ground level, and open onto a raised face brick platform with concrete slab floor, metal pipe handrail and a small flight of steps at one end.

14. Building 92 Mechanical/Maintenance Workshop.
Building 92 Mechanical/Maintenance Workshop is located at the rear of Hangar 83. It is a Mainhill Hangar erected for the RAF Transport Command and intended for use by RAF aircraft, stores and personnel. Constructed in 1945, it was used for a few years by RAF then handed to the Department of Civil Aviation who leased it to the Royal Aero Club of NSW temporarily for the accommodation of their fleet. When constructed it was described as 60 feet by 80 feet, 25 feet high with a concrete floor, and steel trusses covered with galvanised iron. It had a large door to the south. In the early 1950s Hangar 83 was constructed on the east side of Hangar 92 and a brick wall erected between them, resulted in the removal of some of the side steel frame of Building 93. Hangar 83 was later extended at the rear of Hangar 92 removing its original large hangar door. Appears to be the only remaining evidence of World War Two.

The following buildings have been identified as of potential heritage interest. They require further investigation to determine significance: Building 210, Thrifty Maintenance Building; Hangar 20, 58, 84 & 85 Qantas domestic area, originally built in the 1940s; Building 173, Impulse hanger "Big Sky"; Hanger 13 (part of early Hangar 13 moved when Hangar 96 was built); and Hangar 1 constructed in the 1940s.

15. Fifteen figs (FICUS RUBIGNOSA and FICUS MACROPHYLLA), associated with the former Ascot Racecourse, located near the helicopter facilities. Other trees including Norfolk Island Pines, Canary Island Palms and a Chinese Redwood (METASEQUOIA GLYPTISROBOIDES) located between the helicopter facilities and the SWSOOS.
Fifteen figs (FICUS RUBIGNOSA and FICUS MACROPHYLLA) associated with the entrance to the former Ascot Racecourse are located near the helicopter facilities. Other trees including Norfolk Island Pines (ARAUCARIA HETEROPHYLLA), Canary Island Palms (PHEONIX CANARIENSIS), and a Chinese Redwood (METASEQUOIA GLYPTISROBOIDES) located between the helicopter facilities and the SWSOOS.
16. Keith Smith Avenue layout, comprising the horse shoe shaped access road to the domestic terminals west of 5th Street.
17. Lauriston park sub-division layout comprising:
- Ross Smith Avenue between 7th and 11th Streets.
- Vickers Avenue between Gates 4 and 6.
- 9th Street between Ross Smith and Keith Smith Avenues.
- 11th Street between Ross Smith Avenue and the southern continuation of Keith Smith Avenue.

The former Lauriston Park sub division is represented by Ross Smith Avenue, Eleventh and the remains of Roslin, Melrose, Government (now Eleventh) and Lords (now Vickers) Streets. The horse-shoe shaped access road (Keith Smith Avenue) provides access to the domestic terminals and Building 60 as an extension of Reg Ansett Drive, which overlies Melrose Street.

[Note that this list does not include the site and potential relics associated with the Managers Residence for the Botany Water Pumping Station (located to the north-east of the ruin of the Pumping Station) and the former Wimble Ink Factory at the north-eastern corner of the intersection of Sixth Street and Vickers Avenue. ]
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Condition comments are based on elements visible from the street. No detailed investigation of fabric was made. Not all elements are visible from the public domain unless from an aircraft.
Modifications and dates: Modifications, alterations and expansion to the airport site has been continual and ongoing. Refer to historical notes.

The natural environments within the airport grounds are highly modified. Major changes have included the redirection of the Cooks River, clearing of native vegetation and the development of the parallel runways as landfill within Botany Bay. The majority of the airport grounds are paved, grassed or built upon. The environmental condition of the wetlands is generally poor. They form the lower section of a large urbanised catchment and as such have high levels of siltation and other pollutants. The invasive weed water primrose LUDWIGIA PERUVIANA dominates a large proportion of the wetlands and other aquatic and terrestrial weeds are abundant.
Current use: Airport
Former use: Various, including industry, agricultural, racecourse, residential


Historical notes: The following historical notes were sourced from the Historical overview included in the Commonwealth Listing information (Interim List) and research by Elizabeth Conroy.
In 1809 three tracts of flat swampy land covered by low scrub and trees fronting onto the banks of the Cooks River were granted to Andrew Byrne, Mary Lewin and Edward Redmond. Byrne and Redmond were both ex-convicts. They farmed the land, Byrne also burnt oyster shells to extract lime for sale.

In 1812 Simeon Lord, a former convict, acquired land in the area. In 1815 he commenced activities in the textile and flour milling industries, damming the Mill Stream to create the Mill Pond. He established Australia's first worsted woollen mill, driven by two water wheels on the stream and a wool scouring and wool manufacturing industry. A flour mill, with an undershot wheel, was later erected nearer the edge of Botany Bay. The flour mill operated until 1847 and the fulling mill until 1855.

Lord built a residence "Banks House", close to the factory and lived there in his later years. His land grant which grew to 600 acres, was one of the largest in the district. The house remained there until the 1930s. Lord's ventures declined in the late 1840s.

From the early 1840s local land sales of the mudbank area (on the norther side of the Cooks River) began, but moved slowly. The land was used principally by European and Chinese market gardeners whose trade had begun to flourish as the city of Sydney grew. Lord’s 600 acre grant remained free of development, the land reserved by him to protect the quality of the water supply.

The inadequacy of Busby's Bore in supplying water to Sydney in the late 1840s, led to a government decision to use the wetlands, swamps and the ponds created by Lord for that purpose. After extensive land resumptions, (75 acres in 1855 from Simeon Lord), a steam pumping station was installed and operated from 1859 supplying water to Sydney. A chain of dams was built upstream in 1866-68 and the Long Swamp was dammed in 1877. This was Sydney's principal source until 1886 when it began to be replaced by the Nepean Scheme initially augmenting the Botany Lakes via Hudson Bros. Temporary Scheme and after 1888 a direct pipeline from the Nepean system into the Crown Street Reservoir. The Pumping Station machinery was dismantled and auctioned in 1896, although the building was not totally demolished. In 1945, the upper portion of its chimney stack was removed because it was a risk to air traffic.

From 1888 the new Water Board took control of the water reserve from the city council, extending its holdings northwards. It began to lease land along the Mill Pond and in adjacent areas to industry. During the late 1880s and early 1890s the Government widened Shea's Creek to form the Alexandra Canal, resuming the adjoining land in the process.

Lauriston Park was a small village located at the mouth of the Cooks River on the northern shores of Botany Bay. Although Europeans lived there from the early days of settlement, the area was not surveyed by E H Cowdry for an estate until 1902. The estate catered for working class people and was centred on a few streets including Lords Road, Roslin Street, Channel Street and Government Road. The site is now included within the boundaries of Sydney Airport. Most houses were simply constructed, weatherboard or fibro cottages. Nearby was the Wimbles Inks Factory, established 1914, and in the 1920s, stone masons yards, tanneries and wool scouring factories.

The most significant development to occur in Mascot was the establishment of Kingsford Smith Airport. Originally an amateur private operation out of a fattening paddock between Alexandra Canal and Ascot Racecourse, the airport expanded several times over the 20th century which caused the re-alignment of Cooks River and led to major land reclamations.
By 1911, exponents of the newly invented aircraft were eager to demonstrate aviation, and the search for a suitable landing field led Joseph Hammond, one of Australia's earliest aviators, to select Ascot Racecourse, where the end of the east-west runway is today. Hammond, a New Zealander, made the first aeroplane flight over Sydney from Ascot Racecourse on 5 May 1911 in a Bristol Box Kite. He made several flights from Ascot Racecourse in a successful bid to interest the Australian Government in the defence potential of his aircraft. Ascot Racecourse opened in 1904, had its last meeting in 1941 and was resumed in 1947.
The area on which Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is located was once a flat and grassy paddock on the banks of the Cooks River. Although the land was owned by Kensington Race Club, it was used as a fattening paddock by a local abattoir. Being relatively close to the Sydney city centre, and, according to aviator Nigel Love, had just the right qualities needed for an aerodrome…. “The surface was perfectly flat…It was covered by a pasture of buffalo grass which had been grazed so evenly by the sheep and cattle running on it that it simply left nothing to be desired…Its approaches on four sides had virtually no obstruction. On the southern side were the…banks of the Cooks River, beyond which lay the Bonnie Doon Golf Links. On the eastern border was the Ascot Racecourse, and the northern area was bounded by Chinamen’s Gardens.” (N. B. Love, The Autobiography of Nigel B. Love, pt 7, Aviation in Australia, cited in Georgina Keep and Genie Wilson, Lauriston Park The Forgotten Village. Botany Historical Trust, Monograph Series Number 1. 1996. p.46)
What is not mentioned in the above description is Lauriston Park; a small settled village located next to the paddock. Pilot Nigel Love, together with Harry Broadsmith, an engineer and aviation designer, and Jack Warneford, also a pilot, leased 200 acres from the Race Club for three years. In 1916 they established a private aerodrome on the property, plus a small aircraft factory on Botany Road known as the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company Botany Road where they assembled the Avro aircraft under licence from A.V.Roe. At first the trio used a lightweight canvas hangar at the aerodrome however this was destroyed in a storm and was replaced by a sturdier imported ‘Richards’ hangar.

In 1919, Nigel Love, Harry Broadsmith and Jack Warneford were the founding partners in the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company, they procured the rights from aircraft manufacturers A V Roe to establish an agency for the company in Australia. To enable clients to see the planes fly, they needed an aerodrome. They settled on a flat, grassy bullock paddock on the banks of the Cooks River, near Mascot, close to the centre of Sydney and with all the qualities required for an aerodrome. They leased 161 acres from the Kensington Recreation Ground Company. Manufacturing soon shifted to new premises on Botany Road.

The first flight at the aerodrome was taken on 19 November 1919 when Love carried freelance movie photographer Billy Marshall up and circled the aerodrome in the Avro, however the first official opening flight took place on 9 January 1920. Unfortunately the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company was already struggling financially, and enthusiasm and ability were not enough to keep the company afloat.
They worked to recoup money spent on the business establishment, by offering joy flights. A small canvas hangar was the first structure erected on the site and it was officially declared an aerodrome on 20 January 1920. The Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company is best remembered for the Avro 504K aeroplane. This model was manufactured at the company's factory at Mascot (9 Botany Road) and became the first plane purchased for the Qantas fleet.

In 1919, the Royal Australian Aero Club was established (NSW branch) with Harry Broadsmith as a founding member. A significant early arrival was the Vickers Vimy on 14 February 1920, winner of the England to Australia air race piloted by Ross and Keith Smith, with their mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers. Large crowds gathered and it marked a milestone in the development of Australian aviation.

On 16 December 1920, the Civil Aviation Branch of Defence was formed to develop Australian aviation. A report was prepared by Captain Edgar Johnston, recently appointed Superintendent of Aerodromes within the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence, who recommended the suitability of Mascot as an aerodrome site. The Commonwealth Government's Controller of Civil Aviation, Colonel Horace Brinsmead, arranged the purchase of 161 acres of land at Mascot for the development of the airport from the Kensington Recreation Ground Company in October 1921 for £15,000.The land was cleared, and in 1924 the canvas hangar was replaced with a more permanent government hangar.

In its early years of operation the aerodrome was used almost exclusively by flying enthusiasts from WWI and by Aero Club trained pilots. In 1924 a regular service between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide began. By 1927, other structures had been erected including three additional hangars, a workshop and clubhouse, offices for the Department of Civil Aviation and a residence for the
Teething problems continued, including eith straying cattle (as the surrounding land was still mostly market gardens and paddocks), however after securing the site many young pilots showed great keenness in putting the Mascot Aerodrome to good use. Pilots such as Captain Shaw, Captain Edgar, Ross and Keith Smith, Amy Johnson and Charles Kingsford Smith all expressed enthusiasm for the site. After gaining broad attention from various pioneering flights, the site was finally made the official permanent location of Sydney’s primary airport.
By the end of the 1920s the aerodrome’s air traffic had become crowded. Reporting on the current conditions at Mascot Aerodrome, a Parliamentary Committee noted that “although [the site had] certain disadvantages, an extensive search had failed to discover any equally suitable area within a reasonable distance of Sydney.” It was decided to remain at the Mascot site and to expand it in order to meet higher air traffic demands. In the 1930s air travel had begun to be an increasingly popular option for passenger flights. Australian National Airways (ANA) was founded by Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm. The company flew between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but went into liquidation in 1931.

On 4 June 1930 Amy Johnson arrived at Mascot from the United Kingdom. Those watching would run onto the runway to meet the aviator. Air pageants, organised at Mascot by the New South Wales Aero Club took place.

All three runways had been gravelled by 1933 (previously it had just been grass in the remnants of the paddock) and in 1934 Qantas began their overseas flight schedule, combined with a joint initiative with British Imperial Airways which established an airmail service with London. There were three small strips for runways, the longest of which was 900 meters long.
By 1930, official investigations determined the suitability of the Mascot site as a permanent location for Sydney's main international airport.
At this time the aerodrome was serviced by just eleven staff members and handled 120 flights per week. Its complex was intimate and had only a few permanent buildings which included several hangars, a refreshment kiosk, an administrative building and a control tower.
Several private airlines established their presence at the aerodrome including the General Aircraft Company (1930), Butler Air Transport (1934) and Eastern Air Services (1935). By 1931 the present access road to the domestic terminals, including the horseshoe shaped section, had been extended from the Lauriston Park sub division.

In 1931 it was known as the Mascot Aerodrome (Mascot Civil Aviation Aerodrome). By 1936 the Aerodrome had become an Airport and was officially renamed Kingsford Smith Airport in honour of Charles Kingsford Smith's contribution to world aviation. Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935) was a pioneer aviator. In 1928 he flew with Charles Ulm, Harry Lyon and James Warner from San Fransico to Brisbane's Eagle Farm airfield in the plane, the Southern Cross. He was knighted in 1932 for services to aviation. In 1953 the airport was renamed Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport.

Nancy Bird Walton was one of the first pupils of the Kingsford Smith Flying School at Mascot in 1935. Nancy became a household name in Australia as a barnstormer, outback pilot and founder of the Australian Women Pilots' Association.

In 1937, a modest, timber framed control tower was erected on the roof of the existing Aero Club building. Three runways were commenced and extended prior to WWII to accommodate a large increase in both the number and size of aircraft.


The end of the 1930s also saw the lead up and eventual outbreak of World War Two. The importance of air power was paramount – a fact that the Australian Government had realised in the First World War and was a leading reason for securing the land at Mascot in the first instance. Kingsford Smith Airport took on a new role as a central location for building combat aircraft and training pilots for battle.
A local branch of the College of Civil Aviation was established at the airport intended to train the vast numbers of ground staff such as aircraftsmen, riggers, flight mechanics and fitters which were required with the development of aviation as due to the war. The school was housed in a purpose-built building which opened in 1939 and servicemen lived in temporary buildings in the paddock of the Wimble Ink Factory. In early 1940 the existing runways at the airport were extended to provide increased length of 3000 feet, and a new brick administration building was erected to house executive staff and the meteorological and wireless sections. Towards the end of the war, Mascot became one of the assembly points for the construction of the British Beaufort bomber. Production commenced in August 1944 and continued until 1946.

A Terminal and Control Tower was completed in 1940, under the Minister for Civil Aviation, at the head of the horseshoe shaped access road. It remains on the site today within the domestic terminal area. Increased traffic at the airport led to a decision in 1940 to develop a second airport for Sydney at Bankstown.

After WWII the airport's expansion focussed on the need for longer runways and calls for Mascot to modernise and keep pace with other international airports.

The Department of Civil Aviation had banned pilots who did not hold a commercial licence by 1948. And in 1949 the Royal Aero Club of NSW was ordered to transfer to Bankstown Airport. Its clubhouse was taken over by the Aerodrome Control and Communication Centre.

The airport expanded to incorporate much of the former waterworks and sewerage land, the Wimbles Ink Factory, the Mascot Granite Works, and included extensive land reclamation.

In July 1945 there was a tragic plane crash when a plane from the British Pacific Fleet crashed into the southern side of Kingsford Smith Airport near the Kyeemagh Polo Ground. Eleven servicemen were killed. The President of the Air Force Association at this time was Nigel Love, the same who originally set up the aerodrome on the site in 1919. His response called for an urgent need for longer runways at Mascot in the name of safety…
“It’s a pity we have to wait for such a horrible fatality to occur…Our airports must be of adequate dimensions if we are to cope with the overseas air traffic which must inevitably come after the war. If Cooks River was diverted, an immediate extension of the N.E-S.W. strip at Mascot could be effected.” (Monday 23 July 1945, The Sydney Morning Herald, p.3)
Nigel Love’s warning was taken seriously. In 1947 Dr K.N.E Bradfield designed extensive alterations to the airport to update its suitability for the ‘jet age’ era of aircraft from the United States and the Pacific. In the following year Cooks River was indeed diverted away from the area to provide more land for the expansion. Over a period of seven years more than seven million cubic yards of sand was pumped from Botany Bay to fill the old river channel. A large stone protection wall and six-lane road tunnel under the end of the runway were also constructed, as well as a reconstruction of the outfall sewers. Despite the development and upgrading, pilots still commented on what “a headache” landing was at Mascot, “because a pilot had to watch not only the ground but the control tower for a possible red light”. Traffic, both on land and in the air, was again becoming crowded. Four runways were included in the original 1947 master plan, but construction costs caused this to be reconsidered and only two were built. This necessitated large land resumptions of property owned by the New South Wales Gun Club (situated on Lords Road) and the Kyeemagh Polo Grounds. The Wimbles Ink Factory on Lords Road and the nearby Mascot Granite Works were also sited on land that would eventually be resumed. (Saturday 9 February 1946, The Sydney Morning Herald, p.3)
It is hard to believe that at this time, the Botany section of the Sydenham railway/Goods line actually ran through the middle of what is now the Qantas Jet Base, crossing the old Runway 22. As one could imagine, this ended in disaster when on one occasion in June 1950 an air traffic controller accidentally authorised an Ansett Airways DC3 aircraft to taxi across the train line at the same time as they released a train loaded with coal to cross the runway. The two collided and were badly damaged, however fortunately no one was killed. To avoid such a mishap happening again, two new bridges were constructed at Robey Street and at O’Riordan Street and the line was substantially deviated around the Airport, resulting in tight curves between Sheas Creek and O’Riordan Street (but ultimately a much safer journey for all modes of transport involved).

The airport's expansion during and after WWII was inevitably rapid, as its position as Sydney's major airport was unchallenged. In 1945 the government's plans for the airport were made public. The scheme was devised by Dr Keith N E (Bill) Bradfield, son of J J C Bradfield, involved in the design and construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Keith Bradfield (1910-) was an engineer with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in Melbourne and went on to become the Assistant Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation 1957-1968.

The new layout of the airport called for the removal of the three existing runways and the construction of a 1675 metre north-south runway parallel to the existing 168 degree runway and a 2400 metre east-west runway with associated taxiways, aprons and improvements to buildings.

Phase 1, 1947-1955: Two thirds of the proposed east-west runway was constructed along the centre of the existing Cook's River requiring the river's diversion. A decision was made to place the diverted river on the western boundary of the airport making the river course shorter. The diversion works were designed by the NSW Public Works Department who also carried out the construction of all the river embankments. The Department of Works and Housing dredges carried out excavation work. The excavated material and sand, went to the aerodrome to raise the level of the runways. Dredging was also required to fill the old Cooks River alignment.

The diversion also required the diversion of the Water Board two main sewers, the diversion of General Holmes Drive and the construction of the Endeavour Bridge across the diverted river by the Department of Main Roads.

The east-west runway was completed in 1952 at a final length of 2515 metres. The two runways, associated taxiways and aprons were handed over to the Department of Civil Aviation in March 1957.

Phase 2, 1963-1972: The north-south runway was always intended to be the main runway. By 1963 aircraft requirements were such that it had to be longer than the east-west runway. The north-south runway was only 5900 feet long, a proposed extension to take it to 9300 feet required the reclaiming of land in Botany Bay, necessitating a vehicular tunnel for General Holmes Drive. The north-south runway extension into Botany Bay was opened in 1968. It was further extended to 3960 metres to allow Concorde, DC10 and Boeing 747s to operate from the airport. The extension was completed in 1972. The construction of both extensions was undertaken by Theiss Bros Pty Ltd.

An important feature of the planning and design of this further extension was the need to assess the impact on the whole of Botany Bay. A physical model of the whole bay, from the Heads to the Georges River was constructed at a scale of 1:120. The model occupied a large area and was housed in a special column free shed near the Port Botany Road junction with General Holmes Drive. It was removed with the construction of the third runway.

From 1947-1972 the airport was developed into a major commercial airport of international standard. The project was enormous with many engineering disciplines and firms from around the world involved.

In 1981 the roads of Lauriston Park, the early 20th century village that was now nearly literally on the airport’s doorstep after successive expansions and land reclamations, were also resumed by the government. In 1989 the Federal Airports Corporation announced that the remaining land which had once formed part of the Lauriston Park estate had been set aside for additional domestic facilities for the airport. In December 1990 John Goold became the very last resident to finally succumb to the acquisition of Lauriston Park. Upon his departure the ninety-year old village ceased to exist.

A third runway was constructed on land reclaimed from Botany Bay and completed in 1994, when it was officially opened by Prime Minister Paul Keating. In 1996 a new control tower was opened and in 2000 the new Airport Rail Link was completed.

Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is Australia's busiest commercial airport, catering for over 22 million passengers per year. It is often the first stop in Australia for visitors and has seen the arrival of Royalty, celebrities and dignitaries.

The old International Terminal complex was a temporary structure assembled from wartime timber buildings. Initial work started on the terminal in 1947, and Pan Am began flights to Sydney, the first of the international airlines to do so. Further alterations to the terminal occurred 1958-60. A new terminal was approved for the north-western area of the airport consisting of three buildings, the Terminal Building, the Concourse Building and the Services Building. It was officially opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on 3 May 1970. Major internal alterations and apron development were carried out in the late 1980s and in 1992, another nine aircraft gates were added. Further major expansion works occurred to handle the Sydney 2000 Olympic traffic.

The domestic terminal has undergone changes since its beginnings. Extensive redevelopment of the Qantas and Ansett domestic terminals was undertaken in the late 1990s. The Qantas terminal is located on the site of the pre 1970 international terminal. Historically, the domestic area is accessed by the horseshoe-shaped road associated with the earlier Aero Club. The road is still used today (2001).

Background historical notes (extracted from City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History (2017) by Elizabeth Conroy. Please refer to this document, in particular Section 10.7 ‘The suburb of Mascot’, for more information.)
The Traditional Owners of Botany Bay
At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1770, the Australian continent was owned by over 400 different Aboriginal nations. For tens of thousands of years Aboriginal people had lived in the Sydney Basin, with cultural and archaeological evidence of occupation of the Botany Bay area for at least 5,000 years. The traditional owners of Botany Bay are understood to have been the Kameygal, also spelt Gameygal, people and further south, the Bidjigal people. The Botany Bay area also hosted two major language groups; the Dharug (or more specifically, “Darug coastal”) to the north between Port Jackson (or even as far as Broken Bay) down to Botany Bay, and Dharawal from the southern shore of Botany Bay down to the Shoalhaven River. The period between the first European occupation of land in the Botany District, around 1815, and 1850 was a time of mass disruption to traditional movement patterns and the cultural and spiritual practices of Aboriginal peoples. Netting of fish in Botany Bay by the colonists had depleted the fish stocks and lime burning had taken a massive toll on the availability of shellfish. The food supply and natural use of the land by Aboriginal people was also severely impacted by the demands of colonial settlement such as fencing and the rigorous cultivation that had begun to take place.
Early land grants
The first recorded grants of land to Europeans in the Botany Bay area was on 16 September 1809 to three ex-convicts; Edward Redmond (135 acres), Andrew Byrne (30 acres) and Mary Lewin (30 acres) (situated in the vicinity of today’s Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport). Tom White Melville Winder (1789-1853), was surveyed 700 acres in 1822, 417 acres of which were in the Botany District. The recipient of the largest and best-known grant in the Botany District was Simeon Lord (1770-1841). Lord was granted 600 acres in 1823 which encompassed the whole of the lower portion of the Lachlan watershed, and later made further purchases that brought his total land holding to over 735 acres. The other major land holder in the area was the Crown which held 4,195 acres of land in a reserve known as the ‘Church and School Estate’. It was intended to provide the Crown with money through the subdivision and sale of the land to fund the Anglican clergy and parochial schools, but by 1833 the scheme had been abolished. Much of the land in the Botany District was not released for sale until the late 19th century.
The development of Mascot
In its infancy Mascot was first known as simply ‘Botany’, followed by ‘North Botany’ from 1888 (at the time of the municipality’s incorporation) following the residential development that took place further south in Botany in the mid-19th century. The suburb was not known as Mascot until 1911. For the first half of the 19th century North Botany remained scattered with small scale farms and market gardens. Small parcels of between 20 and 30 acres were at first granted in a grid pattern bounded by what are now O’Riordan Street, Gardeners Road and Botany Road today. Other subdivisions soon followed. Landholders saw the value in Mascot’s good soil and many either grew produce for market themselves or leased their land to Chinese gardeners (many of whom migrated to New South Wales on the back of the gold rush of the 1850s to 1880s). Most of the noxious trade industries that dominated the Botany District from the 1830s onwards were located further south in Botany and Banksmeadow, however there was one major tannery, Birdsall Tannery, which was established in 1883 in Beresford Street, Mascot. The economy and population provided by the influx of market gardeners (and to some extent, tanners and woolscours) in North Botany led to the development of a small village in the area by the 1880s. It included businesses which were small in scale and targeted to the needs of the local community. The village soon turned into a thriving community, attracting two major pubs, a post office, a fire brigade service and a public school. In 1906 Ascot Racecourse was established near the Mascot aerodrome (now land occupied by Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport), followed by Ascot Theatre which opened along Botany Road in 1912 (destroyed by fire in 1966). Residential development grew steadily in the eastern part of Mascot in the late 19th and early 20th centuries following re-subdivision of the sites originally used for market gardening, however residential occupation of the suburb was gradually replaced by more industrial uses by the mid-20th century. Today, Mascot suburb is dominated by the airport and an industrial precinct which houses many businesses related to the Port Botany and airport freight industry. Residential occupation in Mascot has grown in recent years with the increase of high-density apartments in and around the airport.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Kingsford Smith Airport group at Mascot is historically significant as an evolving cultural landscape that has played an important role in the development of the aviation industry in Australia and as one of the oldest continually operating airports in the world. It is also historically significant at the local level for the manner in which it has shaped the course and pattern of development in Mascot and Botany for over 100 years, most strikingly as the catalyst for the transformation of the area from a place of noxious industry to one based on the freight industry. It has also had a significant impact on the historical development of the area as it has grown rapidly and consumed a wide range of earlier land uses, including residential suburbs, industrial areas, a racecourse, waterways, rivers, dams and a considerable proportion of Botany Bay. The airport is now the area’s largest and most dominant land use; and includes some of the area’s oldest and most important historic and industrial sites. Together these values have established a highly significant and complex historic cultural landscape at local, and likely wider, levels of heritage significance.

The area now covered by the airport included the site of some of the earliest experiments with powered flight in Sydney in the second decade of the 20th century. The site of these early attempts was the Ascot Racecourse, which was located near the eastern end of the current east-west runway.
The descriptions in the contemporary media are full of hyperbole but somewhat vague with regard to details, but it appears that the first recognised successful attempt at sustained powered flight was made by a P. Woodward in 1910, who flew his hand-built plane (with imported engine) for eight minutes before crashing into Botany Bay ( In 1911 Joseph Joel Hammond flew a Bristol Boxkite Biplane at the Ascot Racecourse. Mascot was also the field used by the first flying enthusiast to qualify as a pilot in Australia, dentist William Ewart Hart, in December 1911, also in a Bristol Boxkite Biplane. (Issacs, Keith, "Hart, William Ewart (Bill) (1885–1943)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1983. In the following year, 1912, over 50,000 people travelled to the racecourse to watch “the first international air race”. This race appears to have been a inter-cultural, not inter-continental event, billed as between the Australian Hart and “American Daredevil, Wizard Stone” (Arthur Burr). The crowd was most disappointed when the event was postphoned due to the wind.

The formalisation of a dedicated space for an airport did not occur until 1920, when ex-WWI pilots Nigel Love and Jack Warneford and embryonic aircraft engineer Harry Broadsmith leased 200 acres of land to the west of Lauriston Park and established the Mascot Aerodrome with a single runway and shed which was used to build and sell A.V.Roe planes, the potential for joy rides being an important part of the trio’s marketing strategy to promote sales of their aircraft. The area had previously been used as a fattening paddock for a local abattoir and for market gardens, and the evidence of these uses can still be seen in aerial photographs taken as recently as 1943 when the airport was well-established. Runways were grass until 1933 with grazing cattle, and, following early extensions to the length of the north/south runway, included a level crossing at the Botany Goods Line. Love’s manufacturing plant moved to premises on Botany Road, but other firms were attracted to the edges of the aerodrome and by 1930 the facility was considered to be overloaded, necessitating an additional runway and better facilities for patrons, a pattern that was to establish a pattern of development for the site that has continued to the present day.

The airport is a complex cultural landscape that includes not only the runways and terminals but also the large area of supporting infrastructure and areas of particular environmental and historic significance. It extends over the whole of the four original grants made in the Botany Bay area, being Edward Redmond’s 135 acres; Mary Lewin’s 50 acres, Andrew Byrne’s 50 acres, and T. Walker’s 50 acres, which together formed the locality known as Mudbank. The main landowner in the area by 1830 was Simeon Lord, who bought Redmond’s grant and established his family home near the stream that formed the edge of the Botany Wetlands, on the site now occupied by the heliport. Lord was by this time a prominent merchant and industrialist and essentially instructed Governor Macquarie to grant him an additional 600 acres over the southern half of the wetlands to guarantee him unlimited access to the waters in perpetuity so that he could manufacture woollen cloth for sale to the Crown.

By 1816 Lord had also re-routed the natural stream at the base of the aquifer and formed a bar across the outlet to the Bay over which he built a water-powered flour mill, later the site of the Botany Pumping Station Waterworks, the ruin of which is clearly visible within the curtilage of the airport. Lord then formed a series of ponds and weirs to capture the water and re-route it to power first a fulling (wool processing) mill, and as soon as he was granted the 600 acres, the factory to make woollen cloth and garments. This mill and the factory were located on a weir located to the east of his house, close to where General Holmes Drive now divides the Engine Pond. No identifiable evidence remains above ground/water of these earliest uses, but the site of Lord’s Banks House has archaeological potential.

By the time of Simeon Lord’s death in 1850 the whole of the site that was to become the Mascot Aerodrome was owned by members of the Lord family. Some was let to tenant farmers and market gardeners, but most was low-lying, swampy and remained substantially vacant until the 20th century. Redmond’s original grant, and the site of Banks House, the Lord’ family home, was finally sold in 1904 and the Ascot Racecourse established. Part of the balance was subdivided into large lots and one lot then re-subdivided to form the residential village of Lauriston Park. The main industry in the area was F.T. Wimble’s Ink and Varnish Factory, a significant producer of quality commercial printing inks and varnishes including the first lithographic ink to be manufactured in Australia. The group of buildings associated with this factory have survived north of Vickers Avenue and between Fifth and Sixth Streets within the airport precinct and, with a single building on the northern side of Ross Smith Avenue, are the only pre-1943 buildings to have survived in the main airport precinct. The whole of the village of Lauriston Park was gradually acquired and demolished between 1950 and 1990, although can still be interpreted through the road layout. The road loop between the two main domestic terminals, T2 and T3, is also part of the early road network of the airport, and its ongoing usefulness has ensured that it has contributed to the patterns of development in this area, including the location of the terminals, since its construction in 1930.

The racecourse was incorporated into the airport in 1947, the only surviving identifiable physical evidence of this use being the row of fifteen Ficus trees which formerly lined the racecourse entrance, and plantings associated with Banks House including Norfolk Island Pines, Canary Island Date Palms and a Chinese Redwood.

The most historically significant impact of the evolution of the airport however has been caused by the pattern of continual upgrade and improvement of facilities including buildings and structures, and particularly the runways. The program of extensive reclamation to allow for the extension of the runways had begun by 1943, with both the river to the south-west of the airport and the mouth to the Cooks River including sea walls and back-filling with silt. The 1950s diversion of the Cooks River was a significant project that allowed for the runways to be extended into Botany Bay, first in 1968 to cater for the new, large long-haul jets and boom in both migration and mass-tourism travel by air. This main north-south runway was further extended in 1972, and the third runway, set parallel to the main north-south and also extending into Botany Bay, was completed in 1994. The alignment of the east-west runway has remained consistent since it was first laid out, but the potential hazard to aircraft operation led to the partial demolition of the chimney stack to the Botany Waterworks Pumping House, also within the airport’s curtilage.

The Botany Waterworks is historically significant as the core infrastructure for Sydney’s third water supply and provides important evidence of the infrastructure required to support the growth of Sydney town in the second half of the 19th century. This system consisted of pumping water from the aquifer of the Botany Swamps to reservoirs at Surry Hills and Paddington for reticulation to the Sydney town and adjacent suburbs (but not to Botany). The remains of the pumping station, power house and chimney have survived at the south-western corner of the Engine Pond within the curtilage of the airport group and although difficult to access, remain interpretable, including the critical relationship to the adjacent Engine Pond. The Waterworks is also next to the Sewage Pumping Station associated with another major infrastructure work, the SWSOOS 1 system (Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer no.1). The sewage pumping station, built in 1916, is one of only four required on this gravity-fed network which continues to provide sewerage from the western suburbs to Malabar on the coast. The system, and the pumping station, remain in operation.

The development of the airport has also had a significant impact on the course of the development in the parts of both Mascot and Botany beyond its curtilage. At over 900 ha in area, it is the largest single land use and acts as a significant physical barrier between the south-west of the former LGA and the adjacent areas of Marrickville and Rockdale (the latter now part of the same Bayside LGA). Its development and expansion into the busiest airport in Australia is also historically significant for its role as the catalyst for the Botany and Mascots’ transformation from areas dominated by noxious industries to suburbs with commercial activity dominated by the freight industry, a change of such import that Sydney’s major maritime cargo port was established in 1971 in close proximity to the airport, linked by the purpose-built Foreshore Drive that was built on additional reclaimed land along the former eastern waterfront of Botany Bay.

The intensification and expansion of the airport, and in particular the construction of the third runway in 1994, has also impacted the patterns of development in the Botany/Mascot area through government-funded noise amelioration measures such as the removal of original windows and replacement with acoustic frames and glazing.

Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the historic heritage values of the component heritage items including the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The airport is also historically significant for its association with pioneers of the professional aviation industry, including Charles Kingsford-Smith from 1920 and after whom the airport is named; and one of his best-known pupils at his Mascot flying school, aviatrix Nancy Bird Walton in the 1930s.

The site of the Pumping Station is historically significant for its association with Simeon Lord. Lord was an important Colonial merchant and industrialist who had requested the grant of 600 acres of the Botany Wetlands expressly in order to guarantee exclusive access to the water supply in perpetuity for his industries without interference by Government, this aim being documented in Lord’s memorandum to Government Macquarie requesting the grant.
Lord built two mills (one fulling, one flour) and a woollen cloth manufacturing factory on the edges of these dams, with the flour mill built in 1825 on, or in very close proximity to, the same site as the Pumping Station, attracted by the stable rock sub-stratum in this area which was in contrast to the deep sand beds of most of the aquifer. Lord also formed a dam across the mouth of the stream leading from the aquifer to redirect the flow past the flour mill. This altered channel has survived as the south-western edge of the Engine Pond.
The Lord family remained closely associated with the wetlands, with their family home Banks House being located on the western edge of the ponds near the dam on which the fulling mill and factory were built. 19th century understandings of the laws relating to compulsory resumption of land for public infrastructure, and in particular Simeon’s assumed guarantee of access to land and water, was to be tested by his widow Mary Lord, son and heir George Lord, and tanner J.M. Darvall who occupied part of Lord’s land, during the compulsory resumption of most of the grant by the Sydney City Commissioners to allow the construction of the pumping house, reservoirs and other infrastructure for the waterworks system in the 1850s. The Lords and Darvall appealed successfully to the NSW Supreme Court for damages arising from the loss of this access to water; and were awarded a total of £13,000 in addition to the land value, in a case that established legal precedent for future compensation cases in the state.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Most of the airport site is dominated by the runway system, formed by successive reclamation projects that have extended the site to its current size and resulted in the major diversion of the Alexandra Canal and Cooks Rivers, and infilled a considerable proportion of Botany Bay. The physical environment of the airport has considerable aesthetic presence which, with the added visual and aural impacts of the plane movements, dominates the local area. The runway areas include the prominent landmarks of the control tower (no.5), clearly visible from General Holmes Drive. The terminal buildings are also aesthetically prominent elements representative of contemporary airport design. Ancillary buildings are generally aesthetically nondescript.

The survival of landscaping associated with the historic uses on the eastern edge of the airport’s curtilage, including Lord’s house and the racecourse (fifteen Moreton Bay figs in avenue planting; plus Norfolk Island Pines, Canary Island Date Palms and Chinese redwood); and the Botany Waterworks Pumping Station and adjacent SWSSOS 1 Sewage Pumping Station (also Moreton Bay Figs and Canary Island Date Palms) and the aesthetically ‘natural’ qualities of the ponds of the lower dams within the site of the airport (although modified by human interaction) have very high aesthetic heritage values and make a significant contribution to the setting of the airport and the aesthetic qualities of its interface with the Botany area in particular.

The airport demonstrates strong aesthetic heritage values that are distinctively different to most urban cultural landscapes. It is notable for its scale and flatness, which result in an open 'big sky' aesthetic quality characteristic of this type of cultural landscape. These aesthetic values are four-dimensional in character through the movements of aircraft on the ground and when landing/taking off. These values are readily appreciated from within the airport precinct, but also from the surrounding road network, including from General Holmes Drive and from the two ‘plane spotting’ areas within the curtilage on each side of the runway. These locations also include simple interpretation signage that provides an overview of the site. The scale of the airport is also readily appreciated when a plane is taxiing above the portal to the tunnel under General Holmes Drive, and through the experiencing the length of time it takes to pass from one side of the runway to the other via this tunnel.

The sculptural elements of the airport are also aesthetically notable, particulary architect Ken Woolley’s (of Ancher Mortlock & Woolley Pty Ltd) Control Tower No.5 which has been described in its Commonwealth Heritage Listing as “an innovative and highly creative interpretation of the standard brief for control towers, adapting conventional control tower forms to explore the potential presented by its prominent site. An assured and resolved design by a prominent award-winning architect, Sydney 5 ATC tower stands as the first (and to date, the only) control tower in Australia consciously designed as a landmark, and displaying such distinctive and flamboyant architectural qualities”.

Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the aesthetic heritage values of the component heritage items including the Control Tower No.5; (on the Commonwealth Heritage List); the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The social heritage values of the Airport are broad in their scope and are not limited to the local community of the former Botany Bay LGA. It is likely to be highly significant for tourists, migrants and other visitors as a place of arrival and departure for millions of passengers annually, and as the primary portal for international migration since the 1960s.

It is also likely to be of significance for historians and researchers into cultural practices and the history of the aviation industry. It is a major employer and also likely to be of significance to the past and present workforces.

The airport is also personally valued by members of the “plane-spotting” community, with areas known as Shep’s Mound and The Beach providing particular vantage points on each side of the main runway and simple interpretation of the history of the airport for visitors. This value is not limited to the community of the former Botany Bay LGA.

The airport is also likely to be socially significant to members of the community as a focus for community protest, including in particular protests about the expansion of infrastructure such as the construction of the third runway.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The airport represents a complex cultural landscape with considerable archaeological potential.
Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the potential research values of the component heritage items including the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
SHR Criteria f)
The airport group is unique in NSW. Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the rarity heritage values of the component heritage items including the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
SHR Criteria g)
The airport is a very good and representative example of a major international airport.
Note: refer to separate SHI forms for the representative heritage values of the component heritage items including the Botany Wetlands; the former Botany Pumping Station Ruin and the SWSOOS1 Sewage Pumping Station no.38.
Integrity/Intactness: The item is significant as an evolving cultural landscape with the current layer demonstrating a high level of integrity, but earlier layers largely demolished (in most instances (and with the exception of Lauriston Park), in the years prior to the airport being established).
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Manage in accordance with the Heritage Management Plan adopted by the Commonwealth Government. Update regularly.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanBotany Bay Local Environmental Plan 2013I17021 Jun 13 2013/133 

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Botany Bay Heritage Review2018 E. & R. ConroyR. Conroy Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
ElectronicAustralian Heritage Database Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport View detail
WrittenElizabeth Conroy2017City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History
WrittenJohn Sands and Co. Sands Directory
PhotographLand and Property NSW Aerial Photographs 1943-2017
WrittenSydney Airport Sydney Airport Environment Strategy 2013-2018 View detail
GraphicSydney Water Water Board Detail Sheets
GraphicVarious Historic subdivision plans
WrittenVarious Historic Newspapers

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 5063218

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.