Ten Mile Hill
Detail from Bark Huts Estate 1859 map showing the Tenth Milestone. Parish of Liberty Plains. Courtesy State Library of NSW
Cooks River bridge, Enfield, 1939 showing Liverpool Road beginning to climb Ten Mile Hill. Courtesy NSW State Archives
A recent enquiry led to some research on Ten Mile Hill, which was once a well-known local landmark. But where was it? And why the name?
The hill is a gradual one sloping up from near Cosgrove Road on Liverpool Road, past Strathfield South High School, past the junctions of Roberts Road and Centenary Drive and back down towards Waterloo Road. The name is easily explained by the fact that a milestone marked 10 miles – the half way point – between Sydney and Liverpool, as measured from the obelisk in Macquarie Place in the city. The original obelisk, designed by Francis Greenway, was built in 1818 by convict labour and still stands.
Macquarie Place obelisk, 1946. Courtesy NSW State Archives
Liverpool Road – The Great South Road – was commissioned by Governor Macquarie in 1813 and built by former convict, William Roberts. Roberts Road marks the western boundary of his later land grant. Sandstone milestones marked each mile passed by travellers, along the main road towards Liverpool. Milestones I to IV were actually constructed along Parramatta Road before it branches off to Liverpool Road at Ashfield. In 1846 tenders were called for ‘such number of Milestones as may be required for erection on the Parramatta and Liverpool Roads, and according to a design and specification to be seen at the Surveyor General’s Office …’ These would have been to replace milestones already damaged or removed during their first 30 years of service.
The following year tenders were sought for the repair of the road between the eighth and twelfth milestones.
The Tenth Milestone can be found on the above map from 1859, shown marked on the road outside the property of James Rielly (sometimes spelled Reilly or Riley). Both Roberts and Waterloo Roads are clearly visible. Robert and Sandra Crofts in their 2013 book Discovering Australia’s Historical Milemarkers and Boundary Stones place the missing milestone as near Glover Street, Greenacre.
Liverpool Road, Chullora, 1940. Courtesy NSW State Archives
Ten Mile Hill was mentioned in the press in 1844 when James Sheppard, district constable of Liverpool, apprehended a fugitive, George Vigors near the Tenth milestone after two hours spent chasing him through the bush. Vigors was wanted for the murder of James Noble in the city. On the run he had stopped a man named Fowler near the Thirteenth milestone before being chased through the bush for three miles to the Tenth milestone.
The district at this time was sparsely settled and quite bushy. Carts and travellers traversed the poor road between Sydney and Liverpool to conduct their business.
A writer to the Empire newspaper complained bitterly about the road in a letter dated 30 December 1859.
‘The roads in this part are in such a sad state at present, that it is almost impossible for a horse with loading of any sort to travel on them. I can assure you that I have known a very good horse to stop for rest several times, on coming from Ashfield to the Ten Mile Hill on the Liverpool road with an empty vehicle, from ploughing through what might be safely termed a quagmire, which has always been the case after rain.’
In 1863 Lewis Alexander also wrote to the Empire complaining about the ‘dangerous and impassable state of Liverpool road, from the Bark Huts to Bankstown, and beyond it. The large holes, particularly at the Ten mile Hill, are really fearful to attempt to travel over.’
Just a few months later James Rielly (or Reilly) advertised for the return of five of his cattle that had strayed from his paddock at Ten Mile Hill.
At the turn of the century cycling became a popular sport. Burwood Bicycle Club held a five-mile race from Ireland’s Hotel, Burwood to the top of the Ten Mile Hill and return.
A man was held up on Ten Mile Hill while driving his cart in 1923. He was assaulted and robbed of £50 after wrestling with his assailant resulted in them both falling onto the road.
Cycling races, of various distances, began to be held regularly along Liverpool Road and continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s. At the 10th annual Dunlop Individual Road Championship of NSW in 1923, organised by the NSW Cyclists’ Union, A.C. Flood beat previous champion, Cecil Burness ‘by a wheel in a sprinting finish.’ The race had been 40 miles long, ‘the strip of five miles from the 10th to the 15th milestones on the Liverpool Road being covered eight times.’
The increase in car ownership meant that some races also included vehicles. These consisted of ‘rolling tests’ from the ten-mile post. ‘Cars or cycles will draw up to line, engines shut off, gears in neutral, brakes on. At the order to start the brakes are taken off, and the car or cycle travelling over the longest distance wins.’ Although unstated, this must surely have been in the direction of Bankstown.
On other occasions the start and/or finish of a race would be in The Broadway (now Coronation Parade) in Enfield. On Saturday 20 June 1931 several of the 41 riders came to grief on Ten Mile Hill just two miles into the race. ‘Several strong riders made the pace, and there was a general scramble to join in. A desperate rush at the hill ended in disaster, and men and machines became tangled up all over the track. When the wreckage was sorted out it was discovered that no one was seriously hurt, but several were shocked sufficiently to cause them to retire, scratched and bruised, from the contest.’
Long distance cycling races, including the Dunlop Road Race, also finished in The Boulevarde (now Coronation Parade) Enfield during the 1920s and 1930s. Courtesy Sam Hood. State Library of NSW
Frank Walker, President of the Historical Society of New South Wales wrote for the Sydney Mail in 1913 noting that the old milestones were still in existence although some of the inscriptions were becoming difficult to read but were still ‘of great service to travellers.’
A writer from the NRMA in 1936 noted that there was still an original milestone at the junction of Parramatta and Liverpool Roads but also declared that ‘Very few of these milestones are left now; many that we see are only substitutes.’ Smaller concrete markers replaced some of the original sandstone markers during the 1930s.
By the late 1930s the name Ten Mile Hill seems to have faded from use. Liverpool Road would have been much busier by this time and the advent of World War II meant the world was a very different place. The cycling races ceased and settlement in the district increased dramatically. The hill remains but few people would remember it today as ‘Ten Mile Hill.’
By J.J. MacRitchie
Local Studies Advisor
 New South Wales Government Gazette 16 October 1846 p.1229 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/230144101
 New South Wales Government Gazette 30 July 1847 p.802 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/230421861/12498682
 Crofts, Robert and Crofts, Sandra (2013) Discovering Australia’s Historical Milemarkers and Boundary Stones. p35
 The Dispatch 15 June 1844 p.2 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/228250073/22331518
 Empire 3 January 1860 p.5 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/64095403
 Empire 10 June 1863 p.5 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/63132884
 New South Wales Government Gazette 27 November 1863 p.2613 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/225837576
 Sydney Morning Herald 19 September 1900 p.10 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/14353685
 Evening News 6 June 1923 p.10 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/119166831
 Sydney Morning Herald 13 August 1923 p.12 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16087151
 The Sun 17 February 1928 p.18 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/245424117
 Referee 24 June 1931 p.22 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/136745518
 Sydney Mail 5 February 1913 p.19 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/158477276
 Truth (Sydney) 13 September 1936 p.11 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/169592222