PHOTOS

A first for the shire with official opening of Como Heritage and Environment Trail

The Como Heritage and Environment Trail was not just a walk through the streets of the suburb, Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce said at the official opening.

"This is a first for the shire, a self-guided walking track, backed up with up-to-date technology that allows walkers to take a tour of Como and learn about the gems it has to offer.

"It is a journey through time and a celebration of local history and the beautiful natural environment here in Como."

About 30 people attended the launch of the 4.2 kilometre trail in the Como Pleasure Grounds on Friday.

They included residents, councillors, Como Public School principal Nicole Gilmore and school captains Amie Morton and Oliver O'Mahony, Jenny Watson from the Henry Lawson Appreciation Group, council local studies librarian Helen McDonald and other staff who brought the project to fruition.

Cr Pesce said the idea of a heritage trail was identified in the Conservation Management Plan the council commissioned almost 20 years ago, prior to stage one of the Pleasure Grounds upgrade.

"We have just completed stage five, and this area has been transformed into the amazing destination park it is today," he said.

"The trail starts here at the pleasure grounds at sign 1 and travels through the streets of Como and Paruna Bushland Reserve, which has some of the most stunning views of the Woronora River.

"The beauty of the trail is you can do it all in one go, or walk smaller sections over several trips.

"The signage along the trail will educate and inform our community through local stories."

Cr Pesce thanked the Hetherington family, who had provided many of the historical photos on the heritage trail website.

"These images depict what life was like when Como was an emerging suburb of Sutherland Shire and I know everyone will enjoy this unique form of storytelling," he said.

Cr Pesce some of the eight interpretive panels along the trails highlighted ancient stories told by the Gandangara people, who first occupied the land.

"I'm sure walkers will also enjoy reading about the building of the rail bridge, Como Hotel, Pleasure Grounds, relocation of the rail station and Henry Lawson's time here - when he would visit Como Hotel and sell or recite his poetry in exchange for beers.

"As well as the signs, walkers can download a map from council's website.

"The beauty of the virtual tour is that people can look at it from home or school, or on their phones while they are exploring along the trail."

Cr Pesce said the trail also provided a great opportunity to learn about the local environment, with several local flora and fauna species highlighted in the virtual tour.

Early days at Como

A special guest at the event was Helen Hetherington, 84, who features in some of the photos donated by her family for use on the heritage trail website.

Ms Hetherington's daughter Julie Baker is a project support officer at the council.

Ms Hetherington's mother and her three brothers and their families, moved to Como from Pitt Street, Waterloo in the mid 1930s.

The three brothers all lived on Wolger Street, (numbers 19, 38 and 43) and commuted to work daily from the old train station.

Ms Hetherington was three years old when her parents could finally afford lumber to build a modest four room dwelling at 43 Wolger Street.

The modest construction forms only half of what can be seen today from the street.

Ms Hetherington grew up at a time when there was plenty of natural bush to explore and would often meet her father at the station to accompany him on the walk home to the top of the hill.

The shop, located nearby at what is now the Como Pleasure Grounds, was the nearest convenience in those pioneering days.