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Tallong Park History

This short history of the Tallong Park Estate and the subsequent establishment of the Tallong Park Association was compiled from early documents held by Lot owners and discussions with early occupants of the park, as well as the writer’s own experiences as a resident.  It seeks not to be a definitive document but to record for future generations the manner, and the time line in which the park was established.

Ken Parkinson:

The 1980’s:

After a trip overseas to the United States and noticing the emergence of gated Estates in that country, Ken Parkinson, co-owner and developer of Tallong Park, bought the land just north of the railway line and adjacent to the Tallong Village in the late 1980’s with the intention of seeking to establish something similar in this region. Ken was a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Valuers, and a Director in the Company registered as Taneli Pty Limited through which the land was acquired. The development progressed under that Company's umbrella.

The land he chose comprised around 892 acres (361 Hectares) and was within walking distance from the Railway Station and just over one hour’s drive to the cities of Sydney, Canberra and also the NSW South Coastal regions. It seemed the ideal location for people who wanted a rural lifestyle, but wished to be within reach of a city.

To safeguard its interests in December 1985 Taneli Pty Limited obtained approval from the Council to subdivide the property into 3 smaller allotments of about 10 Hectares (25 acres) and 8 larger allotments of about 40 Hectares (100 acres) each. However the Directors of the Company considered the development in accordance with that consent would spoil certain natural features of the land that were of considerable aesthetic quality and thus not achieve the true potential of the land.

In line with Ken’s developing vision, the then Mulwaree Shire Council was approached with a proposed concept plan and negotiations commenced, which, in 1987, resulted in the Council’s approving the rezoning of the area from Agricultural to Rural Residential. It took a further 2 years of extensive surveys, planning and consultants’ reports on soil, water runoff, native flora, fauna, and Aboriginal site locations before the Government gave final approval in March 1989 for it to be rezoned as a Rural Residential Estate, which is how we know it today.

A Master Plan was then prepared for the 892 acres that allocated 275 acres to wild life reserves and common areas. Initial plans were for 175 home sites, each of some 2.5 acres. This was later amended to 169 sites that varied in size from the original 2.5 acres up to approximately 10 acres. Included were plans for around 18 km of walking trails around and throughout the Estate. Streets were designed to ensure that adjoining neighbours had adequate privacy, and all buildings were to be built to a certain high standard. Covenants were put in place (including our Section 88B Document, which was reviewed and finalised on the 28.11.1995) to make sure this happened.

The plans included a Security Gate to give a sense of protection, and keep out unwanted traffic. It was decided a Caretaker would be employed to ensure that maintenance was carried out on the Estate. Recreational facilities such as a Swimming Pool, Tennis courts, Golfing Fairways and Greens and two lakes would be developed after each of the four stages of development work achieved completion and the Lots subsequently sold. It was envisaged that “water of a quality and quantity sufficient for bathing, washing and gardening requirement… will be reticulated to all Lots while drinking water will be from individual Lot owners roof catchment areas”. Two holding tanks were proposed, one (near Lot 101), filled via a pump from Barbers Creek and the second (near Lot 124), with a pump from a spring fed creek near one of the nearby lakes. These would both be connected to gravity feed a common distribution line to service the estate. Electricity would also be made available for each allotment.

It should be noted that the then Mulwaree Shire Council modified some of these items during the approval process of the subsequent Development Application.

1989:

A “Stellar Year” for our Estate.

On the 29th March of that year, through the offices of R J Kell & Co Pty Limited of Goulburn, advice was given to Taneli Pty Limited that the Development Application No: 1403 “Proposed Tallong Park Development” “Sub-division of Lands” had been placed before the Mulwaree Shire Council at its special meeting held on the 21st March 1989.  It stated that the “Council noted that the necessary rezoning had been carried out to permit the proposal and resolved that the Development Application be approved, subject to the following conditions”.  Some 21 conditions were then listed which the developer had to comply with. Some of these conditions are included in our current Constitution and the Associations Local Rules.

As part of this process of approval the then Council adopted the “Development Control Plan No 2” which details how the development was to proceed, and be in accord with Section 72 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act of 1979. This changed some of the proposals of the original Development Application.

(The Mulwaree Shire Council was amalgamated into the current Goulburn Mulwaree Council in 2004. The amalgamated Council then, on the 20th September 2005 did by Minute No: 05/501, adopt the Goulburn Mulwaree Development Control Plan No. 14 “Tallong Park Estate”. That Plan was derived from the original Development Application No: 1403 and the Development Control Plan No 2, detailed above.)

The first Constitution governing the Estate was drawn up by the offices of Hunt and Hunt Solicitors in 50 Bridge Street Sydney in early 1989 and submitted as annexure “F” attached to the Documents applying for Incorporation of the Association. The constitution has subsequently undergone some changes to reflect changing requirements of the Association over the years.

On the 4th day of August 1989, our Association officially came into being with the Certificate of Incorporation being signed under the seal of the Corporate Affairs Commission under the Association Incorporations Act of 1984.

In autumn of 1989, Lots 1 to 32, in Stage 1, were presented for sale and even though there were only dirt roads and no electricity or reticulated water on the Estate, there were plenty of keen buyers in search of the peace and quiet of the district.

1990:

The first constitution of the Association provided for a management committee made up of four members of the development company (Taneli) consisting of the office bearers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer) plus one ordinary member elected by the landowners. The first AGM was held on the 26th July 1990.

It was held in Sydney in the offices of Hunt and Hunt Solicitors. There were 12 Lot owners present. Anecdotal evidence from one of the Lot owners present indicates that at that AGM there was a Committee of 7 appointed, with Peter Warren as President, Ken Parkinson as Secretary/Treasurer, (both representing Taneli) and 5 Lot owners. This seems not to be in accord with the Constitution of 1989, which states otherwise. Also, anecdotally, it has been suggested that the Taneli office bearers were given overriding voting rights at meetings, to ensure the Estate would develop without interference, and in accordance with the special conditions set down in the purchase contracts for prospective buyers. However, the other Committee member/members were able to make suggestions to facilitate the development.

The Balance Sheet presented at that first AGM shows a Balance of $50,018, being land valued at $50,000 plus interest from the Associations Trust Fund of $18.00. The maintenance levy on Lot owners was set at $102.00

As land was sold, Taneli placed a portion of the sale price into a Trust Account in the name of the Association and the facilities were to be progressively provided as each stage was sold. This policy continued through until December of 2003 by which time all the Lots had been sold.  Money in the Trust Account earned interest, which was transferred into the “Working Account” and those funds were supplemented by an annual levy to finance the running of the estate on completion of all of the development. Ken and his wife Margaret moved into the then Caretaker's cottage on the Estate and Ken did all the Caretaker’s work, plus he ran his own Taneli business.

1991& following:

By the middle of 1991 several homes were under construction and the first few residents were moving in. Power was available in July / August of that year but prior to that at least two families were using gas for cooking and lamps for lighting and had to keep perishable food in the only refrigerator on the Estate, which was in the office complex.

Upon the sale of Stage 1, work commenced on the development of the facilities with three Golf Fairways constructed, two on the Office side of the roadway and one on the opposite side. Ken Parkinson maintained these. These were followed by one Tennis Court. Volunteer labour built a Bar-B-Que down next to the Creek near the current Pump House. A “get together” social Bar–B-Que was held once a month which allowed residents to get to know fellow Members and gain a knowledge on what plants were likely to grow and survive the sometimes harsh winter weather conditions of frost with the occasional dusting of snow, and the sometimes hot dry and dusty summers with the strong winds. 

Native animals resident in the area apparently also took a liking to the new gardens planted and proved to be quite destructive. The monthly “get together” with its Bar-B-Que survives to this day and proves to continue to be popular with both old and new members of the Association. Back then residents also held fund raising events, such as Christmas in July functions and progressive dinners with the money raised put aside to supply such things as seating for the Swimming Pool area when it was built.

Which brings us to the next major infrastructure item to be started: the Swimming Pool.  At a cost not exceeding $45,000 (included in that costing was the provision of power to the pool site at a cost of some $9,000, leaving just $36,000 for the pool itself) the pool, which was to be provided at the completion of the sale of Lots in Stage 2, originally was intended to only be half the size of the current pool. It was not to be either heated or enclosed. The Committee of the day met with Taneli and suggested that the pool would be useless if built to Taneli’s design. This was a good point considering the windblown leaves, pine needles and the resident ducks and wildlife, which would quickly make it their home. However, the sale of Lots in Stage 2 was very slow, and in one period of two years only one allotment was sold. This held up the development of the facilities due to lack of funding, and to keep the project going Taneli decided to open up Lots for sale in Stage 3, that were on more level ground and somewhat more attractive to prospective purchasers. However, this meant that under the conditions of providing the infrastructure, Taneli was not under any obligation to begin construction of the pool complex until all of the Lots in Stage 2 were sold.

After discussion it was resolved that changes to the design of the pool would be made. It was further agreed with Taneli and subsequently passed at a Special Meeting that due to the slow sales of Lots in Stage 2, money would be borrowed from the Capital Fund (known then as the Trust Fund) to put towards making the pool what it is today.  It was suggested that this would provide infrastructure that would boost sales considerably. This money was to be replaced by increasing the levy to pay back the Capital Fund over a period of time. It is to the credit of the Management Committees that all that borrowed money has now been repaid, and the pool, which was completed in 1999, has proven to be a great asset to the Park and a most enjoyable place for all to use.

Much of the work in constructing the pool and the enclosure building was done by volunteer labour, which helped to contain costs, while the monies raised by the members allowed for chairs and tables to be purchased and placed inside the pool enclosure. Unfortunately, damage sustained to these items caused them to be removed from inside the building and surveillance cameras installed to record any vandalism or anti-social behaviour activity inside the area.

Taneli was then “persuaded” by the members to make a special contribution of $5,000 for materials, which allowed the outside deck to be built by volunteers, once again keeping the costs down.

In the original plans for the infrastructure it was proposed that several practice golf fairways and a second tennis court would be located at the other end of the Park, close to the area now known as the North Lake. However, after the incidents at the pool, the residents, the Committee, and indeed Taneli could see that it would be much more sensible, convenient, and cost effective if all further development of facilities were located in one place at the front of the Estate, where security would be better. Taneli then drew up plans for a further six golf fairways and a second tennis court with the plans circulated to all Lot owners. A Special Meeting was then held and the new plans passed in May of 1999.  The (now well accepted) tradition of members volunteering their labour enabled the construction of the watering system for the Golf Course.

The use of volunteer labour has been so successful that over the years it has largely produced the magnificent Course as it now stands, with nine greens, and 18 Tees in place. It is the most significant – and most valuable – asset on the books of the Estate. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the golf course, the heated swimming pool and the installation of lighting on the tennis courts have all been completed to add considerable value to the investment of each Lot holder. A wonderful effort by all involved.

Ken Parkinson stood down from the Caretaker’s duties and a Caretaker was employed in 1993, moving into the now vacated old Caretaker’s cottage. Ken Parkinson and his wife then commenced to build their own home in Stringy Bark Avenue.  About that time an Office Assistant was also employed to deal with the Association business that had previously been taken care of by Ken. The Caretaker’s hours were later increased to full time employment with the office then opening three days a week. This was due to the Estate growing quite rapidly with the subsequent extra maintenance as well as the considerable administrative work in the office required to keep the Park running smoothly.

Ken Parkinson’s vision was to develop a community where the residents could enjoy a rural lifestyle with private space, enjoying the clean air, in a secure natural environment, and all this on an Estate where residents would be within easy travelling distance from cities and the coast.  A place where all residents could work and live together in harmony with a lifestyle catered for by all the leisure activities and facilities that we have today. Most would agree that his dream has been largely fulfilled.

Ken resigned from Taneli in 1998 but continued to be employed as consultant and project manager. He collapsed while working on the Estate and sadly later passed away in Goulburn District Hospital on the 22nd of October 2001.  He was buried in the Tallong cemetery (Row 3 Plot 1) and a plaque erected in the front Reserve area as a memorial to Ken and his efforts.

Working with the developer:

It must be said that the spirit of cooperation in bringing this project to a satisfactory conclusion was helped to a large degree by the level of voluntary labour provided by members of the Association. This effort was much appreciated by Taneli and resulted in Taneli investing a considerable amount of additional funding into the Park, which they had no actual contractual obligation to do.

To illustrate let me quote from a memo from Taneli dated 13 March 2002 with respect to their relationship with the residents, the Committee of the day, and Taneli:

The success of this relationship can be evidenced by the results the committee has been able to achieve with the developer over and above that which the developer was contractually obliged to deliver.

Specific examples of outcomes in excess of the contractual obligations are:

     We brought forward the construction of the pool even though Stage 2 had not been completely sold.

     The total cost of the pool was approximately $55,000 against a contractual commitment of $45,000. We note that since the completion of the pool in early 1999 the developer has continued to pay the electricity account for the pool facility. In addition the developer continues to pay the electricity account for the office building. We note that these accounts for the quarter ending 8 February 2002 were in excess of $1,000.

     Provision of road access to the two Lakes. At no stage was there a contractual commitment to provide vehicle access to the Lakes.

     Provision of lighting to the tennis courts at a cost of $17,500 to improve the overall functionality of the tennis facility.

     Provision of new front fences

     $5,000 contribution to the cost of the timber deck near the pool. This project was a good example of all parties making a contribution to a project which was never a contractual commitment. Several residents were actively involved in the completion of the work and gave of their time freely for the benefit of all residents.

     $15,000 contribution to the cost of a new mower. This contribution was in recognition in advance of the support the developer was offered by the committee and several residents to help complete the front area facilities after the death of the developers project manager.

     Tar sealing of the contractor’s road. The developers view was that this road would not exist at the end of the project. Committee members believed it would be practical to maintain it.

     Provision of an additional water storage tank – cost in excess of $20,000.”

In December 2003, Taneli had completed all of their contractual agreements and the Tallong Park Estate was handed over to the members as owners of the common areas and facilities. A new Constitution was presented to the members removing all reference to Tanelli and its authority, and placing the election of office bearers and members of the management committee completely in the hands of the members of the Association. The new Constitution was approved at the December 2003 AGM.

 Since those early days, many other improvements have been made in the Estate. Some of those improvements include:

     The demolishing of the old Caretaker's residence with a new home built to replace it

     The demolishing of the old “shearing shed” which served as a workshop at the rear of the Office complex and the building of a new workshop and compound in its place

     Internally upgrading the Office building with new carpet in the office section

       with floor covering and air-conditioning installed in the meeting room area

     The replacing of the decking adjacent to the tennis courts

     The two lakes have been stocked with fish

     The development of picnic areas with Bar-B-Ques and picnic tables at the two lakes

     Security cameras have been installed at the front entry gates

     Solar Electricity panels installed to reduce the costs of power to run the Estate

     The developing of good corporate governance to ensure continued improvement

The writer would like to pay tribute to those who have volunteered their labour to assist in bringing the accomplishments listed above to fruition, and to those individuals who have volunteered over the years to serve on the Committees, spending many hours attending to the administration of the Estate. Tallong Park is a credit to you all.

The Larger Picture:

The Tallong district was first surveyed in March 1818 by an expedition led by a pardoned Irish convict named James Meehan, who, under orders from Governor Lachlan Macquarie was trying to find a route for wheeled vehicles from Parramatta to Jervis Bay. Others in Meehan’s expedition included Dr Charles Throsby, Hamilton Hume, two aboriginal guides and seven other men.  In the 19th Century the village was known as Barber's Creek. The area was once a thriving agricultural community, known particularly for its fruit orchards, especially apples and pears.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the area had shops, pubs, hotels and a post office. It was an important refuelling stop along the railway line which passes through the village. Annual exhibits of tall pyramids of fruit were entered in the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where our local apples and pears took top honours several times through the mid-century.

The greater area, then renamed as Tallong, was once the hub of activity described above, and was known to be an orchard district that supplied considerable quantities of fruit to the Sydney region, and it also has been noted that apples were exported as far as England.

A timber industry was established with Cedar destined for furniture manufacture, mining props milled from Stringy Bark and Mountain Ash, and hardwood railway sleepers being transported out by rail. Volunteer labour after the First World War built the Memorial Hall as a tribute to those who served and died in that great conflict. A vibrant community spirit would see all available hands jump on the fire truck should the bell be rung in an emergency, and large holdings a little further out of the village proved to be quite prosperous.

However, in the year of 1965, Tallong was destroyed in the so-called Chatsbury bushfires. Its economy did not recover and the award-winning fruit industry folded. Many residents moved after the fire destroyed orchard after orchard and home after home. The Post Office and small businesses closed. It was a disaster. Nearly everything was destroyed. The Memorial Hall was saved along with the small St Stephen’s Anglican wooden Church, which was built in 1893 and just a few other buildings were spared.

Tallong never recovered to its former vibrant self, but, in spite of this tragic episode in its history, it is today a thriving expanding village with a population of about 500. There is a strong community that supports a Rural Fire Brigade, a General Store and the Railway Station that services the village with train services daily to Sydney and Goulburn and points beyond. Many other improvements in the district have been introduced by the activities of members of the Tallong Community Focus Group volunteers who do much to promote the area.

Modern Tallong also celebrates its individuality with several unique features:

            It is the home of the Tallong Midge Orchid (Genoplesium plumosum), a tiny flower that grows nowhere else on earth, that has brought the village to the attention of botanists and conservationists. This orchid is now a protected species.

                  It is the habitat of the Glossy Black Cockatoo.

                 The original Tallong Public School house is the oldest surviving single-teacher schoolhouse in Australia.

                  There are two splendid viewing points, Badgerys Lookout and Longpoint Lookout, both of which attract day-trippers. From these, visitors can observe the Morton National Park and the Shoalhaven Gorge, the latter with its spectacular views overlooks a 1,500-foot drop to the Shoalhaven River.

                  Tallong’s Apple Day Festival is now past its 10th year and continues to thrive bringing more than 1,000 people into the village for its annual day of celebration of Tallongs apple heritage. 

Tallong today has developed as a permanent home for many and as an area of 'weekend retreats' for others. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery and within an easy drive from Sydney, it also offers an attractive venue for cyclists, backpackers, bushwalkers and day trippers.

Situated on the boundary between four major biological zones, Tallong has a remarkable natural diversity of wildlife and plant species. It is here that travellers pass north out of the ancient folded rocks of the Lachlan Fold Belt into the puddingstones and sandstones of the Sydney Basin. Rare plants such as the Tallong Midge Orchid mentioned above, are found here, various Gums and Stringy Barks change from the inland species to the coastal types and tall forest gums nestle at the base of strange rock formations topped with stunted heath. Barbers Creek runs through the little valley where the weir was constructed with pumping equipment installed to supply water for the old steam trains. This has formed a wetland rich in wildlife including waterfowl, platypus and tortoises.

The 21st Century boom in the real estate market in Sydney brought affordable land in the Southern Villages to the attention of home buyers, retirees, investors and speculators. Property value has almost tripled in some areas. Recent development of the Tallong Park Estate can be given credit in part for the rejuvenation of the Tallong village and the surrounding countryside. Over its relatively brief life so far, it has brought people back into the area. Young families moving here have contributed to the once single teacher public school, which was about to close, expanding into a three teacher public school with additional classrooms. Retirees escaping the “rat race” of the cities have moved into the Estate and provide much needed volunteer work in the district. Middle aged people have moved to the area in search of their own “tree change” experience, while those with the deep roots of their family trees buried solidly into the ground of the area have stayed to continue on with the heritage of their forebears.

Footnote:

 In putting this small history record together the writer would like to take the time here to acknowledge the input from various sources, and to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read these notes and learn a little more about our unique Estate.

 Those who helped were:

Mr R Eyers – deceased:

 Russel, through his record keeping provided much of this historical content

Mr G Thatcher – deceased:

 George, who anecdotally loved to discuss the early years of the Estate

Mr D Tipping:       

            Doug, who provided anecdotal comments and hard copy history from his own files

   Compiled by Cliff Danckwardt  2015


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