Bangalla, Scotland Island and the Pittwater region have a long and fascinating history, dating back to the earliest days of European settlement. Shortly after Governor Phillip declared Sydney Harbour in 1788 to be ‘one of the finest harbours in the world’, settlers were fanning out too explore the surrounds, and they ventured north to Pittwater and the Hawksbury River in search off more fertile ground and resources. Early surveys off nearby McCarrs Creek date back to 1789, and by the early 1800s, men are recorded attending salt works on Scotland Island, quite possibly the first permanent European settlement in the Pittwater area.
In 1809 a Mr Andrew Thompson was granted the 120 acre island for a rent of 3 shillings per year, commencing after 5 years. The grant entitled the Crown to make a public road through the island, the first being the now Thompson Street which runs past the back of Bangalla. Thompson built a house and slipway on the island, and his influence in the area grew as he soon counted Governor Macquarie as a valued friend, with Macquarie describing him as a man of ‘sober habits and good character’.
Thompson died on 22 October, 1810, from pneumonia associated with his apparently strenuous efforts to save property and people in the Hawkesbury floods of 1809. His estate was valued at between £20,000 and £25,000 (well over $2m in today’s money), and he bequeathed a quarter of his estate to Governor Macquarie. Following his death, the island changed hands a number of times. In 1812 is was marketed for sale with references to a good dwelling house and stores, together with a partly built 90 tonne vessel on slipway, possibly near the current Tennis Wharf on the north side of the island.