Just as you cross over the railway bridge, driving away from the shops in Wahroonga village, there is a small garden on the left hand side. It has a large memorial to those local residents that have given their lives in various wars. It is a remarkably quiet and peaceful place, given that it is on the bustling intersection of Illoura Avenue and Millewa Avenue. What made me stop and take a look was the sign at the back of the small garden: Sir John Northcott Garden. I had heard of the Northcott School, but I didn’t know about this man.
Sir John Northcott was the first Australian born governor of New South Wales. A simple look on the internet showed his long and illustrious military career as an Australian Army general who served as Chief of the General Staff during World War II, and commanded the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in the Occupation of Japan.
Born in Creswick, Victoria and educated at the University of Melbourne, Northcott served in both World War I and II. He became the first Australian born governor of New South Wales on August 1st, 1946 and lived in Wahroonga until his death in 1966 when he was accorded a state funeral with military honours.
While governor of New South Wales he was also patron of The NSW Society for Crippled Children which was established by Rotary in 1929. It was renamed The Northcott Society in his honour. In 2004, it became Northcott Disability Services, providing help to people of all ages with disabilities.