Henry Lawson wrote a poem about Chatswood  - published in 1919.



 Henry Lawson



“Twas an old respected settler, in the unrespected days,

Who had land along the North Shore and – we’ll say his name was Hayes;

And he came there as a young man, when great work was to do,

And his young wife’s name was “Chattie” (and, no doubt, she chatted, too).


‘Twas a “small place in the country”, where they went to be care free,

Out beyond the pleasant suburb that they now call Willoughby;

And a little wood was on it, and the trees were tall and good,

And his young wife used to dream there, so he called it “Chattie’s Wood”.


“Chattie’s Wood” has long since gone, and shops are standing in a row

Where the young wife went a-dreaming in the days of long ago;

How the pretty name was altered doesn’t matter anyhow;

But the wife is still remembered, as they call it Chatswood now.


(Appeared in Lone Hand 1st February 1919)



Charlotte Mackenzie of Melbourne married Richard Hayes Harnett Snr in 1869. The Harnett family owned Valetta House at Gore Hill. This was Harnett’s second marriage.


Richard Hayes Harnett (1819 – 1902)

He was born in Cork, Ireland and arrived in Australia in the 1840s. he moved to Willoughby with his family in the 1860s, the district then being a small community made up of farms and orchards of five to ten acres. The district gradually developed into two settlements, Willoughby and North Willoughby. Harnett became Mayor of Willoughby 1871- 72, previously holding the position of Council Auditor in 1867 – 68.

He acquired 1,200 acres of land (Willoughby Park Estate) which he subdivided and sold, initiating the first Saturday outdoor sales of land and providing a free horse bus service from Milsons Point for prospective buyers. 

Harnett purchased most of the Isaac Nicholls estate. In 1876 he opened up the area with a subdivision which he called Chatswood Estate. When the government purchased land at £25 an acre from Harnett for the building of the railway land, station and goods yard, the station was named Chatswood.

Harnett had some of the bad roads repaired at his own expense, laying corduroy tracks (?) He was a keen yachtsman and designed and owned the yacht Australian the design of which revolutionised yacht building and sailing on Sydney harbour.

He died in 1902 at “Cumeen”, the modest weatherboard cottage owned by his daughter in Orchard Rd Chatswood.