The Oatlands' History


               Golf ...


           IT is a science, the study of a lifetime, in which you may exhaust yourself, but never your subject. It is a contest, a duel, or a melee, calling for courage, skill, strategy and self-control. It is a test of temper, a trial of honour, a revealer of character. It affords a chance to play the man and act the gentleman. It means going into God's out-of-doors, getting close to nature, fresh air, exercise and sweeping away the mental cobwebs, a genuine recreation of the tired tissues. It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry. It includes companionship with friends, social intercourse, opportunities for courtesy, kindliness and generosity to an opponent. It promotes not only physical health, but moral force".


                                                                                                                              D. R. Forgan


In the beginning


On 4th of July, 1931, the Governor of N.S.W. Sir Philip Game, officially opened Oatlands Golf Course.


The history of Australia begins with the history of the Parramatta area. This is fully documented. It is fitting that a history of that part of the area known as Oatlands be released when the Club is celebrating its Golden Anniversary.


The bricks and mortar of the clubhouse and the trees and grass of the course are the inheritance of the present membership from the members and associates who have contributed to the Club over the past seventy two years.

The spirit of the Club lies in the interaction of the personalities of the present and future members and associates. This spirit will continue the Oatlands' story into the future.





Oatlands Golf Club is a unique and well established Group 1 Club - being founded in 1931 - and the site of its fairways, greens and clubhouse is rich in historical background.  It is situated within the City of Parramatta, one of the oldest settlements in Australia, which was established by Governor Phillip in November, 1788.



Oatlands House, one of the oldest homes in the Parramatta district, was built by Percy Simpson in the 1830's on a grant of ninety acres, made on 25th July, 1833.  Simpson was well-known in his time.  Born in 1787, he entered the Army, was a Lieutenant in the Royal Corsican Rangers, and for some years prior to 1817 was Governor of Paxos, one of the Ionian Islands off the coast of Greece.  His regiment was reduced in 1817. He decided to migrate to Australia, and in November, 1822, reached Sydney with his wife and children.


Simpson was appointed Commandant of a convict settlement at Wellington in 1823 and remained in charge until July, 1826.  He then appears to have settled in the Hunter Valley where he obtained a grant of 2,000 acres.


In 1828 Simpson was appointed Superintendent of the Great North Road beyond the Hawkesbury River, and in 1833 became a Crown Lands Commissioner.  He was appointed Police Magistrate at Singleton in 1839, an office held until January, 1843.


He appears to have built Oatlands soon after purchasing the 90 acre grant and was living there in 1837 and 1838.  In Sydney Gazette of 27th May, 1837, it was announced that a son had been born to Mrs P. Simpson at Oatlands.  The Monitor of 17th December, 1838 reported the death of Torquil Adolphus at Oatlands, the eldest son of Percy Simpson.  One of Simpson’s sons, George Bowen, who became a judge, was born at Oatlands.


In 1840 the property was sold to James Brindley Bettington, who reached Sydney on the ship ”Iona” in December, 1827.  In July of that year the London firm of John Bettington, Sons and Co., Merchants, had sent a “Memorial” to Viscount Godrich informing him that one of the partners was to reside in the Colony. “He was to be provided with funds to make cash advancements to the Colonists on the security of the wool intended for England, and to assist the infant settlement promote the growth of wool in New South Wales.”


The “Memorial” was transmitted to Governor Darling, together with a request for a grant of lands.

In 1828 J.B. Bettington was in business in George Street, Sydney.  He had a wharf and house at Darling Harbour in 1831 and continued in business until about 1841.  He held a Directorate in the Bank of N.S.W.

Soon after his arrival he became interested in sheep breeding with William Lawson, the explorer, whose daughter, Rebecca, he married.  He acquired land in the Hunter Valley and started a Merino Stud with high class Saxon stock, later improved with Silesian Rams.  This stud was one of the foundation studs of the Australian Wool Industry.



By 1850 he also held 90,000 acres of leasehold land in the Bligh district, and in 1851-53 represented the Pastoral District of Wellington and Bligh in the Legislative Council. He was an original subscriber to, and a trustee of All Saints Church of England, Parramatta, and in 1852 was District Warden of Parramatta.

On his death in 1857, Oatlands passed to his eldest son, also names James Brindley Bettington.  He married his cousin, Caroline Hallen, in 1864. He built Brindley Park Homestead, where he lived after his father’s death, continuing the successful production of fine quality wool.  He retired to Oatlands and died in December, 1915, age 78, survived by six of his 14 children.  He was buried in the private cemetery on the property.


Oatlands House and property remained in the hands of the Bettington family until the property was acquired in December, 1926, by A.C.Berk and his son-in-law, Victor Audette, who were involved in distribution of Packard motor cars.  More land was afterwards acquired from the Benson Estate (park of “Rock Farm”) at the north-eastern end of the golf course.


When the property for the golf course was purchased in 1958, Oatlands House was purchased by the Donoghues.  The home was made available for wedding receptions, conventions and other social engagements.  Mrs Donoghue continued this business and the house has been restored and maintained with due sense of its part in the country’s beginning.


Oatlands appears to have been named after Oatlands Park in England, close to the lands of Lord Dundas for whom the area was named.


Theories that the name was derived from the first sowing of oats grown in Australia was not confirmed, but the Mitchell Library does record that wines from Oatlands vineyards won a prize in France in the 1860's


The foundations and cellars of the winery were removed from the northern side of the course in front of the ladies tee on the 13th.


The spot on which the Club House stands was used in the early days of the Parramatta settlement as a signalling point between Sydney and Parramatta.


The cemetery of the Bettington family was located immediately in front of the fifth green.

The remains of the deceased were removed by the family but the removal of many of the fixtures was carried out in 1947 during the rehabilitation of the course.


The property was used by the Berk and Audette families as a country dwelling. They were involved in the training of show horses, including fine sulky horses.



The stables of Oatlands House, in which the present Professional’s shop is housed, were equipped in a grand manner. Angora rabbits were bred and grown for wool used for spinning and weaving on the property.  When the first fairway was opened in 1933 the rabbit hutches were located along the present out-of-bounds fence, there was also a large patch of Lucerne.  For some years, players were not allowed to recover balls hit out of bounds, and the Lucerne patch was a gold mine for caddies who were prepared to run the gauntlet of a Alsatian dog and a stern head gardener.


The Camellias on the southern side of Oatlands House were planted by Victor Audette to mark the birth of each of his children.  His first daughter was Camelia.


Berk and Audette were imbued with the possibility of turning the grounds into a golf course and it was their driving force, encouragement and generous financial support that “Oatlands Country Golf Club” came into being.  The early construction of the course was in the hands of Rupert S. Black, one of Australia’s foremost authorities on greens and fairways.


The major portion or the property was heavily timbered with large Blackbutt trees, suitable for milling, and a contract was let to C.B. Bake, a local saw miller, who removed a great number of trees and recovered many thousands of feet of good hardwood.


In 1930 the first six holes were open for play, and a small clubhouse was constructed around the pool which was then an underground water storage tank, with brick or stone sides which had fallen into disuse.  The building was a small part of the present structure and was constructed of cement slabs which were quite satisfactory and have withstood the test of time.


The proprietors controlled the course and charged 5/- for 18 holes and 2/6 for nine holes. Tickets were obtainable in a small office where players could purchase golf balls, cigarettes and soft drinks.



The Story Deepens


Oatlands Country Golf Club

Extracts from The Sydney Mail, Wednesday May 15, 1935








Adey, A. V

Archer, Percy G.

Arnold, Arthur S.

Ashley, Frederick W.

Allan Harry F.

Arthur, George

Askew, Earnest P.

Archer, Herald A.

Barren, Arthur G.

Barrels, Daniel J.

Bate, Frank

Bates, Geoffrey E.

Beardsmore, Garden C.

Bell, Walter W.

Barn, John W.

Berry, John S.

Blinkhorn, Cecil R.

Began, Samuel

Briggs, Argent I.

Brownie, Frederick A.

Buchanan, Rollers S.

Bull, Arthur G.

Bertinshaw, Thomas G.

Burnett, Kenneth J.

Besemeres, Basil

Baglin, Gordon L.

Brown, Stanley L.

Calov, Leopold E.

Canning, William L.

Carter, James W.

Chapman, Percy H.

CharIton, Noel B.

Clark, Noel J.

Clarke, John

Cliff, Rupert H.

Cole, Charles R.

Conley, Richard G.

Cosgrove, William

Cryer, Cecil S.

Cawood, James D.

Chidgey, Sidney T.

Craig, John J.

Callow, Thomas L.

Carroll, Edward G.

Coleman, Ralph E.

Carrad, K.

Darroch, David G.

DehIson, Anthony E.

Dellow, V J.

Dickin, Frederick J.

Doutty, Geoffrey B.

Dudgeon, William

Doyle, Archibald G. K.

Eaton, Ronald

Elston, George W.

Evans, Harold P.

Elston, George E.

Forde, James H.

Fuller, Alan D.

Fleeting, Claude S.

Fraser, John

Gillies, Ronald
Gilmore, Arthur J.
Goble, Harry
Godfrey, Sidney G.
Godhard, Charles P.
Grant, James M.
Green, Curil W.
Greenaway, Alexander J.
Gunn, Keith W.
Gollan, Charles G.
Gossip, Harold D.
Glasgow, Roy W. R.
Gyngell, Lewis 0.
Garrett, Arthur E.
Gough, William P.
Gilbert, Norman

Hauslaib, William R.
Hawton, Herbert V
Hear, Frank R.
Henderson, Robert M.
Herborn, Richard H.
Higgs, Edward S.
Hobson, George E.
Homewood, Walter B.
Higgins, Roland
Hoelscher, Cecil G.
Heron, Gilbert S.
Hack, Colin J.
Hulls, Alan

Innes, Charles R. W.

Innes, Collin J.

Jenkins, Edward J.
Johnson, Brian H.
Johnson, Francis W.
Jones, I. P.
Jorgensen, Norman
Jefferson, Horace G.
James, Allan
Judge, Robin W.
Jefferson, Claude

Kelly, Arthur W.

Kemp, Victor W.

Kennedy, Geoffrey E.

Kennedy, James

King, Alan F.

King, James

Kingsmill, Henry L.

Kirby, James N.

Kohler, Geoffrey M.

Kilgour, Raymond H.

Kennedy, Sidney D. C.

Lane, Harry J. S.

Lee, Leshe W.

Lemm, Charles F.

Lewis, William K.

Madson, Alfred R.

Marshall, John

Matthews, Thomas J.

Miller, Charles D.

McCulloch, John E.

MeDonald, Alexander H. E.

Mackintosh, Kenneth H.

McManamey, John

MacNab, Glendon L.

Manson, Magnus B.

MacNab, James R.

Marnoch, George R.

Nettheirn, Eric L.

Nettheirn, Keith S.

Norrie, Frederick J.

Norrie, Joseph P.


O'Donnell, Patrick J.

Orr, Basil R.

Owen, Stanley P.

Oakley, Douglas D.

Peace, John L.
Parish, Hayward C.
Paterson, Kenneth J.
Paul, Patrick J.
Paul, George L.
Pearson, Victor H. W.
Platt, Cecil


Randall, Harry

Ridley, Harold J.

Roseby, Saywell

Rudolph, Frederick W.

Ryall, Walter G.

Ryan, Alan G.

Rowe, Alick R.

Roseby, J.


Sandon, F. W.

Scholley, Charles M.

Shayler, Henry W.

Small, John L.

Small, Norman D.

Smith, James A.

Shepherd, M.
Smith, James F.

Smollett, John

South, Frank

Stanton, Arthur M.

Steain, John A.

Stockwell, William D.

Sutton, Walter S.

Spurway, Reginald V.

Stapleton, John T.

Stockley, Erie J.


Taylor, Walter
Thomson, Henry
Thomson, John L.
Tuckerman, Alfred C.
Tunks, William E.
Tilly, W.


Vial, Victor W.

Virtue, William. 0.

Wait, Edric J. V

Walsh, Patrick

Webber, Arthur V.

Wilson, Erie S.

Woodfield, William F.

Wordsworth, R. W.

Williams, E.

Total: 179


Barrett, Joseph H.

Cooke, George S.

Gates, George A. E.
Gentle, Cyril L.

Hall, John T.
Hulls, Arthur W,


Johns, Douglas

Lackey, Alan F.

Lawson, James A.

Stafford, Norman E.

Wright, Barclay T.

Whiddon, Horace G.

Total: 12



Bedford, Charles

Holmes, Colin J.

Luscombe, Herbert

Pidding, Louis S.

Sutton, Walter G.
Total: 5










In March, 1942, Eastern Command Headquarters moved from Victoria Barracks to the Burnside Homes outside Parramatta and in April the Headquarters 2 Australian Corps was raised to replace operationally the old Eastern Command.

The Corps was under command of First Australian Army (then at Toowoomba) and the General-Officer Commanding was Lieutenant General Wynter.

Headquarters Eastern Command became Headquarters N.S.W L. of C. Area and its previous signals formation "Eastern Command Signals became Signals, 2 Australian Corps.

In keeping with these changes of parent body, the Signals Unit previously ensconced in the Canterbury Racecourse - midst morning track gallops - handy to rail and tram services was moved to its new location near the Burnside Homes - the Oatlands Golf Course.

The first impression of this scene was idyllic. We came here in April, 1942 and the weather was warm. We entered through the old wire gate which leads up to the Oatlands' House and the fairways around the course looked beautiful.

The officers, of course, and the Administration Offices, were located in the pretentious private residence of Ira Berk. The N.C.O.'s mess and the other ranks' mess were in the Golf Club House. The O.R.S. mess being the present Dining Room, the hazardous route to which was still via the swimming pool.

The Section lines were placed in the trees on the sides of the timbered gullies fringing the Course, as it was in play each Sunday. Special locations were marked at strategic points where crossovers of fairways could be made which would cause least damage to the course. These little details were respected and observed and it was later with horror that we watched our replacements barge across the fairways willy-nilly and did not even have the decency to remove their boots before entering the Dining Room, as we had done to preserve the dance floor.

Until such time as the gullies next to Telopea Station and Dundas Station were cleared of undergrowth, our vehicles were parked in the open on the now 6th fairway. With the battle in New Guinea getting ever closer to Moresby and the prospect of air raids in Sydney looming closer, they were soon moved in under trees in the Telopea gully and one would say that the amount of natural camouflage offered by the terrain and foliage hid completely from ground or air a unit of considerable size.

The weather became exceptionally cold and the tent lines were quickly re-named "Pheumonia Gulch!". The unit had always been made up of individual lines and operating wireless and despatch/rider sections each capable of being transferred to other units as an operational entity at a moment's notice and in addition gave training to Brigade and regimental signal sections as they were formed. The number of signals' personnel who would have been at Oatlands Golf Course in early 1942 could well be in the vicinity of 1,000.

Near the outer building (pro-shop) there was a large hedge at least 12 feet high and quite thick and this was overlooked by a water tank tower - 20-25 feet high - from which the night guard was supposed to maintain.





The Journey of Discovery