Golfers at Bexley Golf Club might hit the occasional eagle, perhaps even an albatross. But if a golfer had been in the area in the early 1880s, he might have had the chance to hit an ostrich! Just off Croydon Road, Hurstville, near what is now the vicinity of Iliffe Street, Captain John W James established an ostrich farm, which he called Kimberley Park, after Kimberley in South Africa where he had formerly worked as a civil engineer. His South African experiences would have made him well aware that there was great demand in Britain for ostrich feathers, used by Victorian ladies for interior decoration, for fans, and for trimming hats. The farm he operated was located between Iliffe’s Nursery, on the corner of Croydon Road and Stoney Creek Road, and the grand residence of Mr Gannon, Gannon’s Grove (pictured). It’s odd to think of flocks of the birds strutting up and down. However, despite early success, ostrich-farming was a risky proposition. Ostrich feathers flooded the British market and the price fell. In October 1885, Captain James sold up, and the contents of his ostrich farm, including horse, buggy and farming implements were offered for sale.
A few years later, Captain James later built the mansion Tanasari, overlooking the water at Blakehurst.