Gladesville


Location: Parramatta River
Gladesville is a residential suburb of Sydney, located on the north shore of the Parramatta River where it is joined by Tarban Creek. 9 km north west of the city centre, Gladesville prides itself on its riverside views and bush settings along the Parramatta River.

The Gladesville Bridge, a Sydney landmark that links the North Shore to the Inner West takes its name from the suburb.

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Looking Glass Bay


This tiny bay on the Parramatta River is a great spot to relax and take in a little of Sydney's colonial history. Classified as a bird sanctuary, the open bushland areas of Looking Glass Bay Park offer views to Parramatta and beyond from a sandstone lookout with directional wheel.

Bedlam Point, between Looking Glass Bay and Bedlam Bay, was chosen in the 1820s as the place where The Great North Road, which linked Sydney to the Hunter Valley, would cross the Parramatta River. A punt service which took travellers across the river at Bedlam Point was established in 1832. Remains of the convict built landing and the cutting through which the road climbed the river bank are still visible at the end of Punt Road along with grooves and initials cut into the rock by the convict road gang which built it.

A pleasant walkway alongside the river on Bedlam Bay from Bedlam Point leads past historic ruins relating to the Tarban Creek Mental Hospital. The ruins of a number of old asylum buildings and the terraces of the hospital's vineyard are still visible.

Rockend Cottage

Banjo Paterson Park, on the eastern shore of Looking Glass Bay, is home to Rockend cottage. Once thought to have been the puntman's cottage or an inn, it appears to have been built in the 1850s after the land around Looking Glass Bay was subdivided. In 1866 it was bought by the grandmother of poet Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson. He lived here as a boy while he attended a nearby school from 1874.

The site joins the Bedlam Bay walk, where remnants of the Great North Road exists and the walls of the Bedlam Bay Ferry. Banjo Paterson lived in the sandstone house (now a restaurant) whilst attending Sydney Grammar School. The house was owned by his Grandmother and was frequented by many artists and writers. Banjo Paterson recalled in his radio interview in 1935 the river had declined and was now lined with factories. However he could still remember when "the wood-boat and the fruit boats, something like 7 ton yachts in size and capacity, would hoist mainsail and jib in the early morning, and come howling down the river with the westerly wind behind them, hoping to get far enough down to meet the north-easter before the wind failed.

"If the wind died away and they were left in the doldrums  well, they didn t worry. They anchored and caught themselves feeds of fish which they cooked on their little galley fires, the scent of frying re-bream mixing not unhappily with the aroma of guavas, grapes, and the big hautboy strawberries which now seem to have gone out of fashion. Then, when the tide turned, they would up with the anchor and drift down till they opened up to the harbour where there was always some sort of breeze. They would strike Sydney some time or other, and would deliver their cargo into horse-drawn carts and then point the boat s nose up river again, back to the gardens and the spitting of fire wood with wedges and American axes."
Punt road, Gladesville. UBD Map 214 Ref E 14.
Public transport: ferry to Gladesville Wharf.

Glades Bay Native Gardens


A path along the eastern border of the reserve passes through one of a handful of estuarine fringes of mangroves which were once prolific along the shores of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers. The area covered by the reserve was once a campsite of the local Aborigines, the Cammeraigal. Remnants of shells can be seen along g the shoreline; axe grinding grooves can be found on rocks beside the cascades and creek which passes through the reserve.



The location also contains 11 carvings, the easiest to identify being two jumping kangaroos which are among the best preserved of the few remaining examples of Aboriginal rock art to the west of the Sydney central business district. A path along the eastern border of the reserve passes through one of a handful of estuarine fringes of mangroves which were once prolific along the shores of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers. No facilities. Location: York Street, Gladesville. UBD Map 214 Ref B 11
Public transport: Bus No. X00, 500, 510 from Circular Quay. Alight at Gladesville shopping area Victoria Road, walk to end of Linsley Street.

Location: York Street, Gladesville. UBD Map 214 Ref B 11. Public transport: bus No. X00, 500, 510 from Circular Quay. Alight at Gladesville shopping area Victoria Road, walk to end of Linsley Street.

Great North Road


The main thoroughfare through the Sydney suburb of Five Dock is called the Great North Road. It heads north from Parramatta Road for a short distance before abruptly stopping at the Parramatta River. To today's travellers, it is a great road to nowhere, but to the colonists of the 1830s it was the lifeline to the Hawkesbury and Hunter Valley regions which were being opened up to white settlement at that time.

Extending north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, the 240 km Great North Road was built between 1826 and 1836 by re-offending convicts stationed at Newcastle. In the early 1820s settlers began taking up land in the fertile Hunter Valley. They petitioned for a decent road and in 1825 Assistant Surveyor Heneage Finch was sent to survey a suitable route. By following a number of Aboriginal tracks along the ridge-tops he achieved success. Gov. Ralph Darling assigned convict road gangs to start building the road and it was progressively brought into use.


Convict graffiti, Bedlam Point

Bedlam Point was chosen as the place where The Great North Road would cross the Parramatta River. A punt service which took travellers across the river at Bedlam Point was established in 1832. Remains of the convict built landing and the cutting through which the road climbed the river bank are still visible at the end of Punt Road along with grooves made by convict axes as they shaped the rock to accommodate the road. Fossick around in the undergrowth and you will find initials cut into the rock by the convict road gang which built the road. A Latin phrase, De Mortious Nil Nisi Bonum which loosely translates as "Speak no ill of the Dead", is carved along the top of a slab of rock. As the work of a convict labourer it may give us a clue to the thoughts of those working in the road gangs, or at the very least point to a skilled and well educated stoenmason.

Nearby in Banjo Paterson Park is Rockend cottage. Once thought to have been the puntman's cottage or an inn, it appears to have been built in the 1850s after the land around Looking Glass Bay was subdivided. In 1866 it was bought by the grandmother of poet Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson.


In 1832, steamships began servicing the Hawkesbury and fifty years later, railways entered the area, leading to the road falling into further disuse and a poor state of repair. Most of this road at the Hawkesbury end remains today, offering an alternative, slower paced scenic route between Sydney and the Hunter and access to some of 19th century Australia's greatest engineering feats created by hundreds of convicts - many working in leg-irons. These include stone retaining walls, wharves, culverts, bridges and buttresses in Sydney suburbs like Epping and Gladesville, at Wisemans Ferry, Wollombi, Bucketty and Broke, and on walks in Dharug and Yengo National Parks.

Gladesville Bridge

Gladesville Bridge complex completed in 1964. Prior to that, Parramatta River was crossed a little west by an 1883 iron lattice bridge with a swing span near the southern shore which allowed colliers and other vessels to pass. Remnants of the earlier bridge's piers, along with the ramp for an early punt, can be seen on the river bank.




The bridge complex was a key element in a freeway system which was to have linked the city with Gladesville and the suburbs of Sydney's north west, but ended up being the only part of the system to be built. As you pass under Gladesville Bridge, you will see the bridge consists of four ribs side by side. Each rib was assembled from precast hollow concrete boxes on falsework right across the river. When a rib was made self-supporting it lifted off the falsework which was then moved sideways for the next rib and so on. The traffic deck is a series of prestressed concrete girders on slender reinforced concrete columns. At completion in 1964 Gladesville Bridge was the largest concrete arch in the world with a span of 305m. It contains 50,000 tonnes of concrete and has a clearance of 37m above high tide.

Huntleys Point

Huntleys Point, 9 km north west of the Sydney central business district and ajoining Gladesville, was named by Alfred Huntley who purchased the land here and built Point House in 1851. He had arrived in the colony with his family in 1836 and his father Dr Robert Huntley first occupied land in Braidwood that is known as Huntley s Flats. Alfred Huntley opened Turkish baths in Bligh Street, in the city on the present site of Adyar House and later he became the chief engineer for Australian Gas Light Company. His only child, a son also named Alfred became a brilliant scholar at The King s School, Parramatta and later was an architect and civil engineer, building some of the stone houses at Hunters Hill.

The Gladesville Bridge spans the Parramatta River and connects Huntleys Point to Drummoyne. Tarban Creek Bridge links Huntley s Point north to Hunters Hill. The bridges are part of a complex of three bridges that also includes Fig Tree Bridge and links traffic between Victoria Road, Sydney and Burns Bay Road. Huntleys Point ferry wharf provides access to the Parramatta River Rivercat ferry service.

The eastern section of Huntley Point Road, which leads to Gladesville, was the original road leading up to the first Gladsville Bridge. That bridge's abutment can be seen on the opposite bank of the river on Five Dock Point opposite the ferry wharf.

Gladesville Hospital


A major milestone in the development of the suburb was the establishment of the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum in 1838, on the banks of the Parramatta River.It was the first purpose-built mental asylum in New South Wales. Much of the architecture was designed by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis and built between 1836 and 1838. In 1869 it became the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane, and in 1915 the Gladesville Mental Hospital. In 1993, it was amalgamated with Macquarie Hospital to form the Gladesville Macquarie Hospital. In 1997, inpatient services were consolidated at Macquarie Hospital at North Ryde.

The Gladesville complex includes many buildings which are now listed on the Register of the National Estate. One of the hospital's acquisitions was a two-storey sandstone house called The Priory, in Salter Street. It was built in the late 1840s, possibly by the Stubbs family, and featured an east-looking face in the Georgian style, and a west face with a gable and painted sundial. In the 1850s it was sold to the Marist Fathers, a French group who had an influence on the early development of Hunters Hill. The hospital acquired it in 1888; it was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978.

Terraced Vineyards, Gladesville Hospital



The Asylum took what was then an enlightened approach to addressing mental illness by providing meaningful activities such as gardening and farming for patients. A zoo and a farm were established for this purpose. A large vineyard was planted on terraces overlooking the river in the 1880s. The terraces still exists alongside a flat area of ground where the zoo animals once roamed. The clearing and vineyard terraces, along with other remnants and ruins from buildings long since abandoned can be accessed via a bushland walk along the waterfront from the site of the historic roadworks at the end of Punt Road. These items are marked with explanatory signs.
Public transport: Bus Nos. 500, 501, 506, 508, 510 from Circular Quay. Alight cnr Victoria Rd and Punt Rd. Walk down Punt Rd to Banjo Paterson Park.

Tipperary Falls


The valley of Brickmakers Creek, which flows into the Lane Cove River at Boronia Park in Gladesville, was for centuries a campsite for the local Aborigine. Evidence of their camps abounds in the midden deposits and rock art throughout the park. The main attraction for the natives 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 to the white settlers. The now silted rock pool which once existed at the base of the falls was used extensively by the Aborigines not just as a watering place but to sharpen their stone tools. In early colonial days, the location became a popular picnic spot and swimming hole and remained that way well into the 20th century when urban development in the creek's catchment area caused its strong flow to be reduced considerably.

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" into the rock near the falls. UBD Map 214 Ref K 6

About Gladesville


The suburb's name commemorates the first settler, John Glade, who arrived as a convict in 1791 to serve a 7 year sentence. He died in 1848 and was buried in St Anne's Cemetery. Glade's farm was subdivided into smaller farms and sold in 1841, by which time the Great North Road had been constructed through the area.

The area was first called Doody's Bay when European settlement began with a land grant being made to convict artist, John Doody in 1795. Others to receive grants in the district were William House (1795), Ann Benson (1796) and Charles Raven (1799). By 1836, John Glade, an emancipist, was issued with the deeds to Doody s grant, which he had purchased in 1817. Glade expanded his property with the purchase of a number of adjoining holdings. After John Glade s death in 1848, his land was sold to a Sydney solicitor, Mr W. Billyard, who subsequently subdivided and sold the land in November 1855, naming it Gladesville.

Tarban Creek Asylum, now known as Gladesville Hospital, was completed at Bedlam Point in 1838, by which time its name had been corrupted to Bedlam Point which was deemed more appropriate for the site of a lunatic asylum. A bridge, which replaced the Bedlam Point punt service, was completed in 1881 and attracted many new residents to the area. The bridge was replaced by the present Gladesville Bridge in 1964.

Halmeg Linseed oil was manufactured on a 5 acre mill located at the end of Punt Road, overlooking Looking Glass Bay. The linseed oil was used in the manufacture of lead paint and varnish, as well as putties, caulking compounds, printing inks and linoleum. The production plant was established in 1923. The revolutionary extraction process did not work at first. Despite this, one hundred guests toured the new mill at its official opening. Harold Meggit, owner of the plant, increased employees wages, also advising that there would be no jobs, no wages if a new solution to distil the oil could not be found. The employees put forward hundreds of suggestions, and two were implemented, producing the finest linseed oil in the industry. In later years, Halmeg was the first to produce Safflower Oil in Australia. It also introduced a profit sharing scheme for its employees. The site closed in 1974.


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  • How to get there:
    Public transport: Bus Nos. 500, 501, 506, 508, 510 from Circular Quay.
    Huntleys Point ferry wharf (also known as Gladesville Ferry Wharf) is in the neighbouring suburb of Huntleys Point. The wharf is on the Parramatta River ferry route (Rivercat).

    The Name
    The suburb's name commemorates the first settler, John Glade, who arrived as a convict in 1791 to serve a 7 year sentence. He died in 1848 and was buried in St Anne's Cemetery.

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