Narrabeen street and the first fleet
A street on the Peninsula was named after a first fleet farmer who was unlucky not to be much, much more famous than he was.
Ramsay Street is a short street running off Pittwater Road between Collaroy and Narrabeen. While some residents may be aware of the source of its name, that certainly would not be the case for the general population. It could so easily have been different!
The street is named after John Ramsay a very early local farmer. In 1818, he was granted 410 acres, the land running along the coast from today's Collaroy to the mouth of Narrabeen Lagoon.
Prior to moving to Narrabeen, Ramsay had successfully farmed a smaller 50-acre plot at The Ponds, near today’s Rydalmere. He had been granted it in 1791 and his neighbours included Matthew Everingham and William Reid.
Ramsay and Everingham were ex-convicts who had been transported on the Scarborough in the first fleet so they conceivably met on the voyage. Reid had also come out with the first fleet, as a seaman on the Sirius.
In 1795 – 18 years prior to Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth – Everingham suggested to his two neighbours that they attempt to find a route over the Blue Mountains.
The small party set out from Parramatta on 30 October, 1795, heading up the Grose River. Although ridiculously underequipped they made amazing progress.
Their exact route is uncertain, but it appears that they crossed Bowen's Creek, managed to ascend Mount Irvine and then proceeded westward on the ridges, reaching Mount Wilson.
They had come very close to achieving the crossing. The worst was behind them and they could see clearer land to the west. However, they had run out of food and made it back to the Hawkesbury with great difficulty.
If the party had been just a little better prepared, John Ramsay would be known to every primary school child in NSW and he may have had a Blue Mountain’s town named after him rather than a small street in Collaroy.