The penal colony of New South Wales was only seven years old when naval surgeon George Bass and navigator Matthew Flinders sailed into Sydney Cove aboard HMS Reliance. Within a few weeks of their arrival, Bass and Flinders were exploring Botany Bay in Tom Thumb. That first of what was to become a series of historic voyages took them up the Georges River.
In 1797, Captain John Hunter named one of the areas they’d surveyed Banks’ Town in honour of Captain James Cook’s botanist, Sir Joseph Banks. A year later, Hunter signed the first land grants in the area and, fittingly, the first two property deeds bore the names of Bass and Flinders.
Today, Bankstown is a cosmopolitan, densely residential suburb 40 minutes' drive from the centre of Sydney. Covering 77sq km, the city supports a population of about 165,000, 48 per cent of whom can speak a language other than English.
Birthplace of the colourful and abrasive Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating and the incomparable cricketing Waugh twins Steve and Mark, and home to the doughty Bulldogs of rugby league fame, Bankstown has left an indelible stamp on sporting history.
Most recently, Bankstown surged into the international sporting spotlight in 2000 when the cycling gold medals were decided at the city velodrome in the Sydney Olympic Games. Many of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams also prepared for their events here.
Mark Waugh, one of the most elegant batsmen to play cricket for Australia, left no doubts about his allegiances when he declared, "I still live in the area, I still follow the Bulldogs and am proud to be a Bankstonian".
The city of Bankstown is also one of parks and many of the plants lending colour to the 293 gardens and reserves are raised in the council’s Barnsgrove Road nursery. The reserved parkland includes 525 ha of bushland - about half of which is preserved in council parks, while most of the rest is locked into the Georges River National Park. Major roads and two separate rail lines link Bankstown directly to the heart of Sydney.
It is remarkable that Australia’s two busiest airports should be separated by a mere 25 km of Sydney suburbia. While we all recognise Sydney International Airport on Botany Bay as the gateway to the nation, we tend to overlook the fact that Bankstown Airport rates as Australia’s busiest in terms of annual aircraft movements. Indeed, Bankstown currently ranks as the fifth busiest in the world and is the unchallenged centre of Australia’s general aviation industry.
The constant flow of Bankstown landings and takeoffs is maintained by private planes, passenger and work charters, helicopters, corporate and business jets and the fleets of 28 flying training schools. As the use of private and commuter aircraft increases, more and more Sydney visitors choose to arrive through Bankstown Airport.