Aborigines of the Dharug tribe inhabited Sydney' West until white settlement. The particular band of the tribe that lived in the Fairfield/Liverpool areas, were known as the Cabrogal tribe. The name of Cabramatta is Aboriginal in meaning, and some believe that it takes its name from this tribe.
The first land grants were made in 1791.With good soil and a network of creeks, pastoral properties, vineyards and orchards prospered for the early settlers. The first township was at Smithfield. The road between Liverpool and Parramatta passed through this township. The first railway line went through Fairfield in 1856.
The railway line would later support the timber industry, with several local sawmills. The subdivision called "Township of Fairfield" was sold in the early 1880's and commercial development was built upon this land. Fairfield would emerge as the main commercial centre, gradually replacing Smithfield.
The township of Cabramatta would become the other main centre, with the railway station opened in 1870, and the land subdivisions for the "Township of Cabramatta" auctioned in 1884.
The municipal council of Smithfield and Fairfield was formed in 1889, and the municipal council of Cabramatta and Canley Vale in 1892.
After WW1 land sales and subdivisions increased, as did building activity.
In 1948 the two municipalities of Fairfield and Cabramatta and Canley Vale were amalgamated.
Dramatic changes in the population and development of the area occurred post-WW11. Population increases and the expansion of the municipality resulted from the decentralisation of Sydney with the Cumberland Planning Scheme; The NSW Housing Commission purchasing large land areas; and migration.
The migrant camp at Cabramatta, acquired by the Commonwealth government in 1951, drew many migrants to the area of British and other European nationalities. Many of these people made their homes in Fairfield and established businesses. A number of clubs and places of worship for these nationalities would also develop.
In 1979 Fairfield became a city. By this time the arrival of refugees from Indochina had begun, and many were drawn to this area. In a relatively short period of time Cabramatta has become strongly identified with the Indochinese. The hard work and enterprise of many of these people, created in near to a decade a bustling commercial centre, likened for its shopping to Hong Kong.
Once known as a rural town, Fairfield is now mainly residential, commercial and industrial; though a lush rural area exists around the Horsley Park area.
Fairfield has played a significant part in our nation's history, as the new home for many of the country's migrants and refugees. Fairfield has been a canvas upon which cultural diversity has expressed itself in this country.
CONTACT: Marilyn Gallo (Local Studies Librarian)
ADDRESS: Fairfield City Library Service - The Whitlam Library
POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 21
TELEPHONE:(02) 9725 0366
FAX:(02) 9726 9687
Monday to Friday: 9:30am - 8:00pm
Saturday: 9:15am - 4:00pm
Sunday: 10am to 2pm
NB* International callers, add the +61 prefix for Australia and drop the 0 from the area code from phone and fax numbers.