At first named Eastern Farms, this area of what is now Ryde became known as Kissing Point by 1794. It was originally inhabited by the Wallumedegal people. The first land grants, each of 30 acres, were made to ten emancipated convicts in 1792. The area became an important source of produce for the colony, supplying Sydney with fruit, vegetables, poultry, maize and pigs.
Kissing Point was located east of Parramatta, hence its original name of Eastern Farms. However, the new name came into use, most likely because heavily loaded boats passing up the Parramatta River bumped or ‘kissed’ the shallow bottom as they rounded the point. More romantic theories were advanced from time to time. One story suggested Governor Hunter, finding his boat stranded on the shoal, carried the ladies of his party ashore and kissed the first of them upon setting her safely on dry land. Another story attributes its naming to Governor Macquarie.
One of the most renowned farmers in the area was James Squire. He was an emancipist who was granted 30 acres in 1795. Squire grew hops and went on to become a brewer and proprietor of the Malting Shovel inn. He also raised sheep and grain crops, had a bakery and supplied Sydney with meat.
By 1798 the district had the largest concentration of settlers in the colony. Produce was transported from Kissing Point to Sydney by boat and from 1803 the prices of goods landed at the wharf were reported in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. The first issue of this newspaper, in 1803, contained the following notice: