Hunters Hill

Hunters Hill, a suburb on Sydney s lower north shore, is situated on a small peninsula that separates the Lane Cove River and Parramatta River, 9 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district.

Hunters Hill is recognised as one of Sydney s most prestigious suburbs, with many of its homes having not only river views but also direct river access. It is markedly different from the closely developed terrace-house suburbs of the Victorian era, such as Sydney s Paddington and Glebe and Melbourne s Carlton. It has outlasted, in its essential character, a number of other early suburbs which also began as detached housing but which today retain only vestiges of their first selves. Although not comprehensively planned like the model garden suburbs, it evolved from the 1840s as an example of a garden suburb.

In the 1920s Maybanke Anderson, a pioneering feminist who lived in Hunters Hill, described the suburb as a kind of Arcadian retreat, and in 2008 it was still being described, by another resident, the actor Cate Blanchett, as 'a sanctuary within the city'.  Anyone with appreciation for fine colonial architecture will enjoy roaming the streets of Hunters Hill.

The suburb was subdivided and developed by two French brother Jules and Didier Joubert, who were responsible for setting the high class tone of the subdivision and creating the first of many sandstone homes which give this suburb its unique character. Other Frenchmen followed the Joubert's lead, bringing out stonemasons from Italy to build the homes they designed and sold. Charles Jeanneret, an Englishman of French Hugeonut extraction, bought eleven acres in the 1870s and over the next twenty years built sixteen homes on the peninsula.

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Walking Hunters Hill

Madeleine Street displays the charm of old Hunters Hill with strong French and Italian associations. The streets were mostly named by Jules Joubert after members of his family and offer a mix of old dairy, orchard, stable, stockyard, or workmen's cottages; with grander houses; and houses built for speculation. Alexander Street, the main street, has numerous important civic buildings including the Congregational Church, built by stonemason, Antonio Bondietti, and completed 1878. Further along is the Town Hall, with a local history museum attached, that was opened in 1866 and expanded over time. Postmistress Miss Twentyman, and her successors, conducted one of the earliest post and telegraph offices from No 23 until the 1890 Post Office came into use. No 33, The Old Bakery, is actually a replacement building for John Lagleyze's bakery destroyed by fire.

On the corner, The Garibaldi is a treasure within a treasure trove. Built to its present appearance by John Cuneo between 1862 and 1869, it was Hunters Hill's first hotel and a lodging place for Italian workmen. Cuneo himself came from Genoa in 1854 and named it after Giuseppi Garibaldi (1807-82), the popular hero of the Italian unification that was under way during those years. Its lovely statue of Hebe is a reproduction of the stolen original.

Fig Tree House

Nestled in the shadow of the bridge and freeway, the building of which almost led to its demolition, the charming, partly timber house had its origins with a stone cottage built by Mary Reiby (1777- 1855), a convict woman who became a highly successful and influential business person in colonial Sydney Town. She gave the cottage its name because it was built in 1836 in the shade of a giant fig tree .

The cottage was extensively expanded after it was bought in the 1840s by Frenchman, Didier Numa Joubert, whose fine houses characterise Hunters Hill today. Though the house managed to survive construction of the freeway which was carved through the suburb of Hunters Hill in the 1960s, several other historic houses didn t, including the Joubert family s beautiful St Malo, which the National Trust had leased as their first Australian property from 1955.

Great North Walk

The Great North Walk is a walking trail from Sydney to Newcastle, The Great North Walk passes through Boronia Park;, a large waterfront parkland reserve which contains Aboriginal drawings thought to date back to before the start of the colony. When John Hunter made his survey in 1788, this land was the eastern limit of the Aboriginal people of the Ryde district, the Wallumategal, who may have known the peninsula as Moco Boula, meaning two waters.  In his journal, Hunter took careful note of the Aboriginal shelters, made out of a soft crumbly sandy stone , and observed that some caves would lodge 40 or 50 people. 

By the 1830s, when the first white settlers came into the area, the Aboriginal people had died from smallpox or been driven from their land. To this day, however, archaeological sites remain in pockets of bushland and undeveloped stretches of foreshore in Hunters Hill. Axe-grinding grooves, rock engravings, hand stencils and middens are reminders of the area s indigenous Australians.
Kellys Bush

Kellys Bush is one of few remnant pieces of natural bushland located on the foreshores of the Parramatta River. There are numerous walking paths through the park.

Though Hunters Hill is today a residential suburb with no industry, it was not always that way. An early industrial undertaking in the Clarkes Point area was the Radium Hill Company s smelter which began operations in 1909 on the waterfront just below Kelly s Bush. It was a processing works for the extraction of radium from ore mined at Radium Hill in South Australia. The Company imported pitch blend (the main source of the radium) from Spain and used the Radium Hill ore (carnotite) as a flux. Luminescent paint was a by-product of the process and this was sold to a German watch making company.

The Radium Hill Company ceased its operations in 1916 but the clean-up of the radioactive waste did not take place until over a half a century later. In the same general area, a smelting works had been established in 1849. It was purchased in 1892 by the Sydney Smelting Company for a tin smelting works. Its operations began in 1895/6 and closed in 1967. Much of the local timber was cut and used as fuel for the smelting works. The Invincible Motor Construction Company and the Wallace Power Boat Company both set up near Kellys Bush around 1916-18 on leased land. The latter started reclamation works between Margaret Street and the point but went into receivership in 1923.

The Park was also the site of the first "Green Bans" of the 1970s when a group of local residents enlisted the assistance of unions to oppose development of the site. It has been preserved for everyone to enjoy.
Woolwich Dock

At the end of Woolwich Road where it turns into Gale Street, cross the road and enjoy a different view down the harbour towards the Harbour Bridge and city than is seen from other vantage points. A bonus is an overhead view of Woolwich Dock, a former dock cut deep into the rockface of Clarks Point that is earmarked for conversion into an historic reserve. Apart from the dock, there is little here now to suggest it was an industrial maritime village, and that from the 1880s to the 1980s there were a number of industries here an oil depot, ship-building, smelting, chemical plants, even a radium factory together with a significant working class community who were employed at the point or on Cockatoo Island a short distance across the water.

An iron foundry was built on Clarkes Point in 1883 because of its deep water frontage and proximity to shipbuilding works on Cockatoo Island. A floating dock was imported from England and areas of foreshore land were reclaimed and slipways were created on the southern side (now Clarke s Point Reserve). The site was purchased in 1898 by Morts Dock and Engineering Company who began work on the dry dock. The dock, used for the building and repair of ships, was cut 175 metres directly into the sandstone, some 30 metres wide. Opened on 4 December 1901, it was lengthened to 260 metres in 1918. Following the decline of new work after World War II the company ceased operations in 1958. The Woolwich dry dock was used during World War II as a military barracks and was later used by the Main Roads Department to make the pylons of the Gladesville Bridge. The Army used the site between 1963 and 1988 for the 35 Water Transport Division who have since been relocated to Townsville. UBD Map 213 Ref E 13 Public transport: ferry to Woolwich, either Bus No. 538, alight at end of Woolwich Rd or walk up Valentia Street, left into The Point Road.
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Clarkes Point Reserve

This reserve offers extensive harbour views. A former industrial site associated with shipbuilding facilities at Woolwich Dock and Cockatoo Island across the water, the reserve contains the remains of shipbuilding facilities which once existed here. A walkway leads from the park into the Woolwich Dock area. It is perfect for picnics, and the wide open spaces are ideal for flying kites, frisbees, and playing ball games. Merrington Place, Woolwich. Facilities: grassed area, picnic tables,barbecues. UBD Map 213 Ref E 13

On the Parramatta River side of Clarkes Point the slipways of the Clarkes Point Shipbuilding Company are still visible. Many Sydney Harbour ferries were built at the slipway during the 1920s. In 1940, construction began on two large cargo vessels, the MV Boonaroo and the MV Baralga. The latter was the last ship to be built and launched from the slipways, in 1954. In the 1960s, the Main Roads Board used the facility to manufacture the pre-cast and pre-stressed concrete box units used in the new Gladesville Bridge. These concrete box units were the building blocks for the new bridge which opened in 1964.

Hunters Hill Museum

Tells the story of the exclusive suburb of Hunters Hill. . Cnr Alexandria & D Aram Sts, Hunters Hill. Open 2nd & 4th Sunday of each month, 2.00  4.00pm. Entry fee applies.

UBD Map 214 Ref N 11 \. Public transport: ferry to Valentia St. Wharf, Hunters Hill, Bus No. 538 to museum.

Vienna Cottage

Vienna Cottage is a rare example of an artisan s home of the past century. Built in 1871, it was the home of John and Ann Hillman and their five children. They lived in what was a typical tradesman s cottage, with four rooms in the main building and a detached kitchen and laundry at the back. John Jacob Hillman was a cobbler and later also a village lamplighter. The home was originally run as a dairy, and also produced fruit and vegetables from the small orchard beside the house, which to this day is preserved as a small park called Hillman Orchard.

Although having undergone few renovations and repairs over the years, the house remained in the posession of the original family until 1984, and so retained much of its original character, fittings and furniture. The house was rented out from 1926 the last tenant leaving in 1991, having acted as caretaker from 1984. The cottage had little furniture when purchased and has been maintained as found . Consequently, no improvements have been made but the slate roof was restored, floor boards repaired and halls not painted but sealed to keep out the moisture.

In 1984 the house was purchased by the National Trust on behalf of the people of Hunters Hill, while the old orchard was bought by Hunters Hill Council. Both were opened to the public in 1988 as part of the bicentenary project.

Vienna Cottage is in the heart of the Hunters Hill peninsula, and within easy walking of many heritage buildings, including Hunters Hill Town Hall (26 Alexandra St), Hunters Hill Congregational Church (1 Ferdinand St.), All Saints Church (cnr Ferry and Ambrose St), Garibaldi Inn (cnr Alexandria and Ferry St), and many other private residences of historic interest.

Within easy driving distance are St Joseph s College, historic buildings at the old Gladesville Hospital, Kelly s Bush, the old ship-repair Dock at Clarke s Point, Hunters Hill High School and Hunters Hill Public School. Many other foreshore sites, such as Woolwich Wharf, from where the Great North Walk starts, Gladesville Reserve, and Boronia Park Reserve, are within the Hunters Hill precincts.

38 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW. 2110 Tel: (02) 9817 2235 Open: 2pm-4pm every second and fourth Sunday of the month.


The small suburb of Woolwich occupies the end of the Hunters Hill peninsula. Woolwich was originally named Onions Point, after Samuel Onions, an ironmonger. The current name follows a tradition of naming locations on the Parramatta River after towns on the River Thames, England. Woolwich on the Thames was the mooring place of the prison hulks from which the convicts who were transported to Botany Bay came. Maritime industry including shipbuilding and a dry dock grew alongside residential development around the turn of the 20th Century. Limited parking is available in Lavender Crescent and surrounding streets.
Boronia Park

The valley of Brickmakers Creek, which flows into the Lane Cove River at Boronia Park, was for centuries a campsite for the local Aborigines. Evidence of their camps abounds in the midden deposits and rock art throughout the park. The main attraction for them was the creek which provided a year round supply of fresh water. In what is now Boronia Park, the creek tumbled into a small valley over what was named Tipperary Falls by the white settlers.

The now silted rock pool at the base of the falls was used extensively by the local Aborigines not just as a watering place but to sharpen their stone tools. Axe grinding grooves can be seen on rocks near the water's edge. Then in early colonial days, the location became a popular picnic spot and swimming hole and remained that way well into the 20th century until urban development in the creek s catchment area caused its strong flow to be reduced considerably.

Like all falls in the Sydney area, the waterfall flows best after rain and this is the best time to visit. While there, take a walk to the river foreshore where there is a smoke-blackened cave and midden, both evidences of its use as an Aboriginal campsite. A surveyor has marked the letters BM 1831 3 into the rock near the falls.

History of Hunters Hill

Convict turned entrepeneur Mary Reiby was one of the first white settlers in the Hunters Hill area and was among the first to buy up land between 1835 and 1843 when the whole of the peninsula was sold. At this time, Hunters Hill was a haven for bushrangers and it wasn t until Frenchman Didier Numa Joubert (1816-81) and his brother bought land from Mrs. Reiby in 1847 and began developing a village for French settlers that they vacated the area and the suburb we know today started to take shape. Charles Edward Jeanneret (1834 98) settled in Hunters Hill in 1857 and began a speculative building program which continued until 1895. Like the Jouberts, he purchased land, made subdivisions, and financed the construction of stone houses. The Aboriginal name 'Wybalena' meaning 'resting place' is derived from Tasmania, where Jeanneret's father had worked as a doctor. It had a special significance for the family and today the 'Jeanneret precinct' is centred on Jeanneret's original Wybalena Estate and includes two of his own residences ' Wybalena at 3 Jeanneret Avenue, built in 1874 and the smaller Wybalena at 22 Woolwich Road, built in 1895, with the name on both front gates ' as well as Wybalena Road.

A second group of European settlers who contributed substantially to the creation of the early suburb were Italians. In 1855 56 hundreds of immigrants from the north of Italy and Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland came to Sydney, and some settled in Hunters Hill and worked as stonemasons. Hunters Hill became a showplace of magnificent sandstone houses set in bushland and offering panoramic river views. Hunters Hill was proclaimed as a municipality on 5 January 1861. The first Gladesville Bridge constructed in 1881 linked the area to Drummoyne and the southern side of the Parramatta River.

There is some disagreement as to the origin of the name of what is Sydney's smallest and one of its oldest municipalities. Many believe it to have originated from the property of Thomas Muir (1765-99), one of the five Scottish Martyrs who were transported to NSW in 1792 as traitors of the British Crown for advocating democracy and parliamentary reform. Not convicts in the true sense, they were given relative freedom in Sydney. Muir bought land and built a house 'two miles distant, and across the water', which it has been assumed is somewhere along the lower north shore. He is said to have called his property Huntershill, after his father's house in Glasgow, but this claim remains unsubstantiated. Despite his privileged life style, he absconded as soon as an opportunity arose. Sixteen months after his arrival, he escaped on 18 February 1796 by the American ship, The Otter.

Stately Homes of Hunters Hill

Lyndcote (Windemere)

Lyndcote: The elegant stonework, decorated white bargeboards and shutters of Lyndcote are typical of the fine sandstone homes built in Hunters Hill during the Federation era by French stonemasons. Lyncote, also known by the name Windermere, was built by Charles Jeanneret, an Englishman of French Hugeonut extraction who bought eleven acres in the 1870s and over the next twenty years built sixteen homes on the peninsula, one of which was Windermere.
Lyndcote (1878), Stanley Street, Hunters Hill


Wybalena: A huge mansion in Jeanneret Avenue, Hunters Hill, Wybalena was built by Jeanneret in 1874 as the family home. The sixteen room house, with a separate summer house attached, was this size because Jeanneret had eleven children. One of his daughters wrote her name on the wall in pencil. This inscription still exists. As a boy, Charles Jeanneret had lived on Flinders Island, Tasmania, where his father, Dr Henry Jeanneret, had responsibility for the Aboriginal settlement on the island. The name of the settlement was Wybalena. The well-known Aboriginal woman truganini told Dr Jearnneret that he name means 'blackfellow sits down here by campfire'. The Jeanneret family retained a strong affection for the name, so that there are two Jeanneret houses of that name in Hunters Hill, one at 3 Jeanneret Avenue (1895), and the other at 22 Woolwich Road.


Passy: The most notable of the Joubert houses is Passy, it became a symbol of the French origins of Hunters Hill. A stone villa, Passy was built by the Jouberts between 1855 and 1857 for Monsieur Louis Sentis, the French Consul at the time and named for the precinct of Passy in Paris. Sentis was the first foreign consul in Australia, as the French pursued commercial and missionary activities in the Pacific. Its mansard roof extension seemingly stems from the 1970s, adopting the style which actually dates back to 1734, and named after the architect Nicholas Francois Mansart. 1 Passy Avenue, Hunters Hill.

St Claire

St Claire: One of an imposing pair of attached houses built by Charles Jeanneret in 1878-9, it was first occupied by the Superintendent of the Insane at Gladesville Hospital. The home has many interesting architectural features. 9 Woolwich Rd, Hunters Hill.


Kyarra: A fine example of Hunter's Hill domestic architecture of 1880s, Kyarra was built without florid architectural ornament generally found at this time and with a good feeling for its site. Built from stone quarried from what is now the front garden, it is a two storey sandstone house with hipped slate roof, two storey cast iron and timber verandah to three sides, overlooking Lane Cove River. The house is built into hillside, with the rear (east) balcony ground level. 1 Madeline St, Hunters Hill.

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