Henry Lawson’s ‘Chatties Wood’

“There is a popular belief that the name is derived from the wife of an early Chatswood identity – Richard Hayes Harnett Snr. Harnett’s second wife was called Charlotte (Chattie for short). It is reported that Chattie used to walk and paint in the woods near where she lived (near current Chatswood Railway Station). Henry Lawson, a ‘friend’ of Harnett penned a poem he called “Chatswood” where he suggests that Harnett named the area Chatswood after his wife”

“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 there was great work to do And his young wife’s name was “Chattie” (and no doubt, she chatted, too). ‘Twas a “small place in the country” – where he went to be carefree – 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 a 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.

- Henry Lawson, 1919”


Historical Willoughby, ‘Chatswood’, Willoughby District Historical Society & Museum Inc | willoughbydhs.org.au