One of Sydney's smallest suburbs, is 3 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, next to North Sydney. It is named after the geographical feature that juts into Sydney Harbour from the northern side, directly opposite Sydney Cove, which supports the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The suburb of Kirribilli is on the opposite side of the Sydney Harbour approaches to Milsons Point.
Milsons Point is named after James Milson (1783-1872), a free settler originally from Lincolnshire who settled in the area near Milsons Point. Milson settled in the vicinity of Jeffrey Street, Kirribilli, on 120 acres of land he leased from Robert Campbell (1769 - 1846) in the early 1820s and established a profitable business supplying ships with stone ballast, fresh water, and the produce of his dairy, orchard, and vegetable gardens.
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Sited at what must be the most superb location of any public swimming pool in the world, the Pool complex allows everyone to combine swimming with other leisure pursuits in the one spectacular location overlooking Sydney Harbour, next door to Luna Park and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. North Sydney Olympic Pool has a rich heritage.
The pool was built in 1936 and became known as the 'wonder pool' due to both its technical innovation and it being the site of over 86 world records being broken by such swimming greats as, for example, Jon and Ilsa Konrads, Lorraine Crapp, Frank O'Neill, Judy Joy Davies, John Devitt, Shane Gould and Michelle Ford. In 1938 it played host to the Empire Games during which time the bleachers were extended and the pool was excavated to facilitate the diving tower set up at the western end under the smile of Luna Park.
On the southern side of the pool is a series of arches with a plaster relief of frogs, dolphins and eagles, referencing the Roman Baths. In the 1980s the white plaster reliefs were painted in the vibrant colours we see today. In addition, the Roman arches were extended into little perspex sun pods giving the occupant a view into the Art Deco precinct which includes the Pool, Luna Park and the Harbour Bridge. The pool is uniquely salt water, has palm trees lining the column-arched promenade along the water and glass detail makes this historical pool a stunning location. 4 Alfred Street South, Milsons Point. Ph: (02) 9955 2309.
Sydney's famous harbourside icon had its origins in Adelaide. Its owner began to search for a location to establish a new Luna Park, due to difficulties with Glenelg Council and local residents, at the same time the site formerly occupied by a series of workshops, cranes, and railway sidings used to provide for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge became available. The park was transferred to the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and remained open until mid-1979, immediately following the Ghost Train fire, which killed six children and one adult. Most of the park was demolished, and a new amusement park was constructed. Entry to Luna Park is free so you only need to pay for rides and games.
Features of the Park include Coney Island - Australia's only authentic 1930s fun house; Wild Mouse - originally built on site in 1962; Dodgem City - Take on your friends in a crazed race of fun and excitement; Ferris Wheel - takes you 40 metres into the sky to enjoy a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
Lavender Bay is a harbourside suburb on Syedney's lower North Shore. It sites between Milsons Point and McMahons Point. Lavender Bay was named after the Boatswain (bosun), George Lavender, from the prison hulk Phoenix, which was moored there for many years. The bay was originally called Hulk Bay and sometimes Phoenix Bay. George Lavender lived on 14 acres (57,000 m2) adjacent to the property of Billy Blue. On 30 May 1915 Lavender Bay railway station was opened to take the place of Milsons Point railway station, which was a little further around the bay.
The station, at the foot of the Walker Street steps, only lasted for seven weeks, as passengers refused to alight here and demanded that trains stop at Milsons Point. During the harbour bridge's construction, Lavender Bay Station was resurrected and became the terminus for the North Shore Line (some of the the construction sheds for the bridge were built on the original station site). The area is now railway storage sidings.
A wharf is located in the bay which provides access to private vessels. The Lavender Bay Baths (1910) were once popular with swimmers, located in the area beside the ferry wharf. Lavender Bay has had its fair share of notable residents. Sir Donald Bradman lived in the harbourfront Bay View Street, and was one of the first few Australians to get a private telephone number while living in Bay View Street. Artist Norman Lindsay lived at Heidelberg at 9 Bay View Street; another artist, John Firth-Smith, occupied this same house many decades later. Sydney-born artist Brett Whiteley also lived in Lavender Bay for a while.
Lavender Bay is a 10 minute walk from North Sydney railway station or a 5 minute walk from Milsons Point ferry wharf. Limited parking is available in Lavender Crescent and surrounding streets.
The parklands comprise Clark Park, Watt Park, Quibaree Park, the Lavender Bay Foreshore and a number of smaller green spaces dotted throughout the area. You can spend a couple of hours exploring them all in one day, or take your time to visit each spot one by one. Watt Park is a little bit quieter and more secluded than the rest; it has a nautical-themed childrens' playground.
Watt and Quibaree Parks are separated by a viaduct which carries a section of the original North Shore railway line to Milsons Point. The line was opened in 1890 from Hornsby to St Leonards. Three years later the line was extended to a terminus at the southern tip of Milsons Point where it was met by a ferry on Lavender Bay (see below). Quibaree Park, on the harbour side of the railway tracks, is reached by a series of underpasses. Here you will find an historic slipway which is now Sydney's smallest beach, a small boat ramp and a jetty with stairs. Bring you camera, the views across Lavender Bay to the city are excellent. Wendy's Secret Garden (see below) is part of the Parklands.
A tiny strip of sand on Lavender Bay is the smallest beach in the Sydney metropolitan area. The beach once extend the full length of the bay's foreshore, but industry and then the development of wharves, boat moorings and seawalls has seen it shrink to its present minuscule size. The nemnant beach is contained within the remnants of the Neptune Slipway on the site of the last active boat building yard in Lavender Bay. Boat building was an important activity here in the nineteenth century.
Neptune Slipway and Engineering Company was prominent in the introduction of marine diesels into Australia and designed and built the first all-Australian examples of these. This company, prominent in marine diesel engineering, with associated boat construction activities, closed in the late 1970s and the site was sold for redevelopment. The slipway contains a three-rail patent slip and double cradle of timber and an electric motor coupled to a winch exists in the north-west corner of the site. A timber jetty in poor condition remains on the eastern side of the site. No buildings remain.
Acclaimed as one of the most remarkable feats of bridge construction in the world at the time it was built, until recently the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the longest single span steel arch bridge in the world and is still in a general sense the largest. Since its completion in 1932, it has been an icon and an internationally recognised symbol of the the city of Sydney.< br>
The first sod was ceremoniously turned on the site of the North Sydney Railway Station on 28th July 1923. The acquisition and demolition of buildings in the path of the new bridge and its approaches on both the northern and southern shores commenced on 28th July 1924.
The bridge was opened to roadway, railway and pedestrian traffic by the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr JT Lang, on Saturday 19th March 1932. The time taken to complete the whole work, including bridge and approaches was eight years. The contract for the bridge construction provided for six months' maintenance by the contractors from the date of opening, after which maintenance became the responsibility of the State.
Built at a cost of $20 million, it was only paid off in 1988, much of the cost being raised by tolls placed on vehicular traffic using the bridge. Tolls collected after the bridge was paid for has gone towards the cost of the construction of the harbour tunnel.
After returning to Australia after a long period overseas, artist Brett Whiteley moved to Lavender Bay in November 1969, with his then wife Wendy, and painted in a studio downstairs in the house from 1975 to 1981. The ambience of the house and its views of the harbour offered a perfect vehicle for Whiteley's gift at composing works with large, empty spaces, and evoked strong feelings that at last he had come home. Today, the public area at the foot of the house, between Clark Park on Lavender Street and the Lavender Bay railway lines is known as Wendy's Secret Garden. .
After the death of her husband in 1992, Wendy channelled her grief and sorrow by transforming a neglected space below their property into a beautiful garden at her own expense. In 2001, she was devastated over the death of her only child, Arkie from cancer. The ashes of Brett and Arkie are buried in the garden at a location that was never disclosed by Wendy.
She continued her work in beautifying the garden as a tribute to her greatest loves in life, Brett and Arkie, as well as her new life of recovering from drug addict. Wendy has also placed some tables and benches for visitors who wish to have picnic with friends or maybe to do some work there like drawing and writing. There are many interesting sculptures in the garden. Some a little artistic and some made of recycled materials. Wendy's garden is filled with a variety of plants, flowers, and trees which are of different shapes, colours and sizes.
From North Sydney railway station, walk down Walker Street towards the Harbour. The stone stairways opposite the end of Walker Street on Lavender Street lead down to the garden.
Lavender Bay entered popular culture when Hugh Atkinson wrote a book called The Jumping Jeweller of Lavender Bay A short film based on a book inspired Glenn Shorrock, lead singer of the Litttle River Band, to write a song about it. The band recorded the song, which is featured on their 1976 album, 'After Hours'.
Listen to the Song
Atkinson's book tells the story of a little man, living his humdrum life, who works as a jeweler in the Sydney CBD. To get to work he takes the ferry from - you guessed it - Lavender Bay. One day, lost in thought, he almost misses his ferry. On an impulse he runs and jumps the gap to land on the deck, to the acclaim of his fellow passengers. Pleased by their reaction but more by the feeling he got while jumping, he makes this a regular thing, and lets the ferry get a little further away from the wharf before he does his leap every day. And every day the passengers wonder and bet on if this will be the day he does not make it.
Then he starts to notice something. As he jumps, while he is in the air, he glimpses a paradise and a beautiful woman, somewhere above the ferry's roof. And as he jumps longer and higher, he sees more of the paradise and the woman, who is beckoning him. And soon he is jumping for the woman, not for the ferry. The jump gets longer and longer, he gets higher and higher and one day, inexplicably for his fellow passengers, he disappears: no thud on the deck, no splash in the water. The Jumping Jeweler of Lavender Bay is never seen again.
The North Shore railway line opened in 1890 from Hornsby to St Leonards. Three years later the line was extended to a terminus at the southern tip of Milsons Point where it was met by a ferry on Lavender Bay. When the Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932, the section from Waverton onwards was redesignated as the North Sydney Car Sidings, and used to store suburban trains during the off-peak period. This section of single line track passes through a tunnel and over the Lavender Bay viaduct on its way to the sidings near Luna Park. The Lavender Bay tunnel, some 310 metres in length, was opened with the original line in May 1893.
Lavender Bay viaduct
Photograph taken from the grassy slope at the head of Lavender Bay, 9 November, 1929. Source: Parables of the Sydney Harbour Bridge by Frank Cash, 1930, p 213.
Milsons Point was named after James Milson (1783-1872), a free settler originally from Lincolnshire who settled in the area near Milsons Point. Milson settled in the vicinity of Jeffrey Street, Kirribilli, on 120 acres of land he leased from Robert Campbell (1769 - 1846) in the early 1820s and established a profitable business supplying ships with stone ballast, fresh water, and the produce of his dairy, orchard, and vegetable gardens. It is hard for us to picture it today, but in 1826, Milson's home, orchard, dairy and farm were ravaged by a bushfire and Milson had to totally rebuild them. Milson built a new home, Brisbane House , in 1831 on his 50 acres facing Lavender Bay. The next home he built, also on his 50 acres, was called Grantham. In 1872 Milsom died at home at Gratham in the modern suburb of Milsons Point in what was then called the Municipality of East St Leonards. The last of the family's holdings in the lower North Shore area were resumed in the early 1920s for the construction of the Harbour Bridge and associated roadways.
By the return of the 20th Century, the farms in the area we now call the Lower North Shore, which includes Milsons Point, had mostly been subdivided into residential lots and houses built.
The original 17.0km North Shore Line, between St Leonards to Hornsby, opened 1st January 1890. To this was added a 2.5km extension to the harbour, Waverton to Milsons Point, which was opened 1st May 1893. The original station was located on site of Luna Park alongside the Milson Point wharf, from which ferries crossed the harbour to Dawes Point. This section of line was used until the new Milsons Point station was opened and connected to Wynyard via the Harbour Bridge in February 1932. This section is now the North Sydney car sidings line.
The face of Milsons Point was destined the change forever when the government committed to building the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1922. The path of the bridges's northern approaches disected Milsons Point and cut a swathe through North Sydney. An estimated 469 buildings on the north shore, both private homes and commercial operations, were demolished in order to allow construction to proceed, with little or no compensation being paid.
The opening of the bridge in 1932 not only connected the Lower North Shore to the city of Sydney by road, but also by rail. An existing north shore railway line, which terminated at a ferry wharf on Milson Point where Luna Park now stands, was re-routed near Waverton station to join up with the railway tracks on the western side of the bridge, thus linking the North Shore line to Sydney's suburban rail network for the first time. On the Kirribilli side of the bridge, tram lines connected the North Shore tramway network to tram platforms at Wynyard station in the Sydney CBD. In 1958 tram services across the bridge were withdrawn and the tracks replaced by two extra road lanes; these lanes are now the leftmost southbound lanes on the bridge and are still clearly distinguishable from the other six road lanes.