History of Bowen Mountain

The hamlet of Bowen Mountain is named after Lieutenant George Meares Countess Bowen, who was born on 14 January 1803 at Wells in Somerset, England. He went to school at Richmond, England and in 1816 entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

In 1826 he was put in command of a convict guard detachment of the 39th Regiment going to Botany Bay, on the ship “Midas”, leaving Portsmouth on 16 October 1826 with about 300 prisoners, arriving in Sydney on 13 February, 1827.

For his services in His Majesty’s Army for upwards of ten years, Lt Bowen was granted 2,560 acres near Mount Tomah. The land was called “Bulgamatta”, aboriginal for “mountain and water”. He planned to make his fortune by cultivating this land, but as it was too expensive to run, he sold the property in 1836 for 600 pounds. Around 1848 he started to purchase land in the Bowen Mount area, where he built a house for his second wife Letitia and their children Susan, George and William. A substantial house was built on the highest ridge with ornate gardens and orange orchards. On 10 January 1914 the homestead was destroyed by fire. During the late 1870s Lt Bowen spent less time on the mountain, and more time at his home “Keston” at Kirribilli. He died on 1 September 1889 in his 87th year and is buried at St. Thomas’ Cemetery, North Sydney. Most of his Bowen Mount property went to his son George Bartley Bowen, with smaller interests to his other children.

The Park and surrounding areas were planted in the 1840’s and 50’s as entrance avenues and gardens about the substantial timber house of Lieutenant George Meers Countess Bowen (1803-89) retired.

After Bowen Mount passed from the hands of the Bowen family, the area remained relatively undeveloped until 1960 when it was bought by developers Alfred and Milton Grant and subdivided into small building blocks. Belvedere Estate in the centre of the mountain was developed from 1981 after “Kurrawen Stud” was sold.

The original subdivision of 650 residential allotments ranging in size from 550 square metres to 2000 square metres with a few larger blocks of up to 4,000 square metres, had many problems, especially with sewerage dispersal and drainage. Colo Shire Council were slow to respond and in 1964 the Minister for Local Government issued IDO2, which effectively banned development on the estate.

It took a further eight years for Colo Council to decide that the answer to the problems was to provide reticulated sewerage and water to the estate. Rates were doubled and a $50.00 feasibility study levy imposed.

All existing residents had, by this time, installed adequate storage and disposal systems and so they called a public meeting on 16 February 1975 to discuss the issues and form a community action group.

After many months of consultation and confrontation, the scheme for the mountain was deemed unacceptable in terms of cost and environmental impact. This Community Action Group became known as the Bowen Mountain Association. In 1987 as well as the Executive and General Committee, several sub-committees were created, including Social, Newsletter, Community Care and Road Safety. The Association has produced a Cookbook, a Bushwalking book, (regularly revised and still in production) and T-shirts, and sloppy-joes. The Association was officially incorporated on 3 January 1989 and remains active to this day.

The BMA was instrumental in forcing Colo Council to modify the Belvedere Estate development proposals. Block sizes were increased to 2,000 square metres and the present park site preserved.