St Ives is located in Sydney’s northern suburbs. It is part of the Ku-ring-gai local government area.
St Ives distinguishes itself from other suburbs of Ku-ring-gai as it remained rural until the 1960’s, and it is not built around a railway line.
The garden suburb with its leafy canopy, essentially low-rise homes, many excellent schools, the Village Green, open space and sporting facilities has always been attractive to young families.
Historically, St Ives retains a few original wooden cottages typical of rural times. Regrettably, many of its inter-war homes have been lost due to recent building development.
Environmentally, there are three endangered or critically endangered ecological communities in St Ives: Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest, Blue Gum High Forest and Duffy’s Forest.
St Ives adjoins the Garigal National Park and Ku-ring-gai National Park.
17 April 1788. The first Europeans to pass through the area were Captain Arthur Phillip and party on his first inland exploration.
February 1805. George Caley, botanist and collector for Sir Joseph Banks passed through St Ives on a four day exploration from West Pennant Hills to Narrabeen Lakes. Records mention the “good forest land”.
The first timber getters applied for grants in the north of Sydney where some of the best wood was available. Daniel Dering Mathew received the Rosedale Grant of land that included a large area in St Ives. He became an important timber merchant in the area setting up his own sawmill in the Cowan Road area. Remnants of these forests remain in St Ives: Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve, Browns Forest, Sydney Water (18 hectares in all) being the largest surviving remnant of Blue Gum High Forest classified as “critically endangered ecological community”. Other “endangered ecological communities” are the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and Duffy’s Forest vegetation.
Around the 1850’s once the land was cleared, the timber getters moved to the forests up the coast. The settlers that moved in set up market gardens, orchards and dairy farms.
In 1885 residents petitioned for the establishment of a school. The original 1888 School House and Headmaster’s Cottage still stand on the site known as “the Old School Site” at the corner of Rosedale Road and Porter’s Land.
In 1885, Isaac Ellis Ives MP, the local member for St Leonards, successfully presented a petition on behalf of local residents to the Postmaster General requesting a post office. The name St Ives was suggested for the locality. It is believed that the name either honours Isaac Ellis Ives MP, or St Ives in Cornwall UK.
By the mid 1940s the population of St Ives was only about 350 residents served by a small village of four shops while the area comprised orchards, and market gardens growing vegetables and flowers, dairies and pig farms.
Until the mid-1950’s, St Ives remained sparsely populated then it started to develop rapidly. Much of the area retained a semi-rural zoning until the 1960’s. A number of wooden cottages are evidence of those times.
Until the 1990’s when the government introduced plans for urban consolidation, the area consisted uniquely of individual dwellings with gardens and canopy trees characterizing the suburb.