Fringed by Blackwattle and Rozelle Bays, Glebe was first settled in the late 1820s, making it one of Sydney's oldest suburbs.
Modern Glebe has retained many of its grand Victorian homes, Federation houses and modest workers cottages. These contribute to the unique character of the suburb. Because of its proximity to the city, the harbour and the University of Sydney, there has been a considerable revival of interest in the area. As a peninsula community, Glebe has a village environment with which residents very strongly identify.
Glebe is an exciting place for residents and visitors alike. With its long history of bohemian lifestyle, activism and intellectual pursuits, Glebe s reputation as an alternative suburb is well-founded. Glebe has managed to maintain its village atmosphere despite the hum drum of city life just minutes away. Glebe Point Road is the main road through Glebe, featuring a huge range of quirky shops and cafes, well known for its variety of ethnic cuisine, possibly one of the most diverse in Sydney.
The popular Glebe Markets is held every Saturday and is known as an alternative markets for the alternative lifestyle goods that are offered. There is a strong cafe culture in Glebe as well as a large range of budget eats to hidden bars and old-world pubs, there is something to make everybody happy here.
In addition to its many restaurants and coffee shops, Glebe Point Road offers a range of Lifestyle practitioners, shops and bookshops which reflect a wide variety of products such as candles, essential oils, herbal remedies and a full homeopathic dispensary. Saturdays are particularly colourful, with the Glebe Markets stall-holders offering shoppers an eclectic range of alternative products, ethnic clothing and entertainment.
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Glebe was originally inhabited by the Cadigal clan which occupied a territory that embraced Sydney Cove and stretched along the southern side of Port Jackson from South Head to about Petersham. As Sydney Town expanded, Glebe s aboriginal population dwindled and no evidence of the Cadigal s presence is found in modern Glebe.
The places and people of the relatively more recent Glebe are inextricably linked and this is reflected in its distinctive character. In the early struggling years of the first settlement at Sydney Cove (1788), Governor Phillip first surveyed, in 1790, the penal colony at Sydney town and made a grant of 400 acres of land to the Church of England, in the person of the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet. This land became known as The Glebe (or St Phillips Glebe) from the Latin word glaeba (a clod of earth) and, through its ecclesiastical use, signified church land.
Financial difficulty forced the church to sell some of its land by 1856 and a two strata society began to develop: the homes of the gentry were built on Glebe Point while many workers lived at The Glebe. Gradually the big estates on the point were subdivided and the professional and middle income groups changed The Glebe from a quiet peninsula into a fashionable suburb.
Old Glebe Fire Station
Many of Glebe's heritage buildings date from this period. According to the Australian Council of National Trusts, Glebe possesses probably the largest stock of Victorian cottages and terraces, grouped in the same townscape, to be found in Australia. On recognition of its value the National Trust has declared Glebe to be an essential component of the nation s architectural and historic heritage.
During the early 20th century and especially during the Depression years, The Glebe deteriorated and became shabby and overcrowded. Despite this decline, the area retained a close and distinctive community. Many of the lovely houses that were an important part of The Glebe were demolished this destruction led to the formation in 1969 of The Glebe Society, which sought (and still seeks) to restore and retain what is left of the suburb s historical past.
Callan Point occupies less than 1 ha of land off Manning Street, Lilyfield and was formerly part of the grounds at Rozelle Hospital. It has some of the last remaining foreshore vegetation in the inner west of Sydney and not only boasts evidence of aboriginal occupation, it has significant examples of early European rock engravings. The recreational area on Callen Point is King George Park.
Before western colonisation the area was an abundant food source for the Eora people. Although there is no physical remaining evidence of aboriginal cultural production at Callan Point, shell middens found in the area suggest the Eora people had found an ideal site in Callan Point. Carvings are rare in this area due to the scarcity of suitable rock faces, and those here have been all but obliterated by more recent carvings placed there in colonial times. Landfill and roadworks may be covering other engravings, and eventually these surface covers may be removed to reveal further engravings.and from Judge Wylde on the ridge to the east of Woollooloomoo Bay and built a home there on a property he called Potts Point.
The European rock engravings appear to have Masonic connections, though suggestions have been made that they may have been placed there in pre-colonial times by Spanish sailors.
Wishing Well, Callan Park
In the early days of Sydney, a punt operated across the entrance to Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays. This was replaced in March 1857 by a timber bridge which had a hand cranked lift span on the south side. In the 1880s, major development of the wharves of Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays was planned, resulting in the need for a new bridge which gave access to larger vessels than the existing bridge allowed. The second bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1901, had an electrically operated swingspan which gave simultaneous inward and outward access to two ships. Like the ground-breaking Pyrmont Bridge being built at the same time, the second Glebe Island Bridge was a swing bridge swivelling on a massive central stone pivot-pier with timber-trussed side spans. The two bridges are among the structures standing as monuments to Allan s skill.
Though plans to replace it with a tunnel were proposed in 1924, this project never eventuated and the bridge remained in service until the 1995 when the new Anzac Bridge was opened. The bridge remains in a permanently open position, allowing more than 200 boats a day to move from Rozelle and Blackwattle bays to the harbour.
Anzac Bridge, spanning Johnstons Bay, was built to replace a century old swing bridge and provides a key link between Sydney City and the suburbs to the west via Victoria Rd and an east-west route from the city to the M4 motorway at Concord. Opened in December 1995, it is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Australia and amongst the longest concrete cable-stayed bridges in the world. The main span of the bridge is 345m long and 32.2m wide. A pre-stressed open grillage, it has two 1.85m deep longitudinal edge beams, cross girders at 5.17m spacing and a 250 mm thick slab. The concrete deck is supported by two planes of stay cables attached to the 120m high reinforced delta-shaped reinforced concrete towers which make the bridge a landmark visible from many of the city's inner metropolitan suburbs.
Anzacs Memorial, Anzac Bridge
Jubilee Park is a large recreational area on either side of Johnstons Creek where it enters Blackwattle Bay. Here you can watch the boats chug in and out of one of the last remaing working parts of the harbour. The Inner West light rail runs along an aquaduct on the edge of the park so train spotting kids will keep the kids occupied. Lots of people bring their dogs for walks in the huge grassed area so it is ideal for family to share some time together in the outdoors. On the Annandale side of Johnston's Creek is Bicentennial Park, which has a large children's play area containing a slippery dip, sand pits with a castle and a bridge over the sand. Right next to the playground there is a large covered picnic area with gas fired barbeques and toilets.
The park includes the Glebe Foreshore Walk, which meanders along Blackwattle Bay. Jubilee Park s historic cricket pavilion provides clean and modern changing facilities for players. The sports field is also ideal for a game of AFL or hockey.
Location: Chapman Road, Glebe.
A corner of Jubilee Park behind the oval which gives access to the arches of a railway viaduct has developed quite an evil reputation. Dubbed The Street With No Name, locals claim there is something inexplicably evil about the viaduct and surrounding park, particularly at night. Some say an eerie presence can be felt, others tell tales of bizarre behaviour displayed by small children and dogs that visiting the area.
In the late 1960 2s, the body of an elderly man was found the day after he had been seen walking around the railway viaduct. A railway worker named Jock who had gone to the rescue of an injured possum was killed by a train in the foggy darkness the day before the line was closed permanently to rail traffic in January 1966 (it has since been re-opened for light rail). Locals report that on some nights they can still hear Jock walking along the railway tracks searching for animals in need of help. Two years after the incident, the mutilated body of a three-year-old boy was found dumped not far from the railway viaduct. This murder remains unsolved.
The body of a twelve-year-old boy was found along the railway embankment in 1974. The boy had died of extensive head injuries inflicted with a large rock. Seven months later and only 50 metres away, the body of another boy the same age was found. He had suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest, stomach and leg. In 1977, a man was arrested, tried and found guilty of the murders of the latter two boys. A girl s body is reported to have been dumped in the car park in late 1976. Police investigations indicate she may have been the victim of Sydney s first Satanic murder. In 2000, a homeless man, Reg Malvin, ignored warnings not to sleep there and was found bludgeoned to death in the grandstand of nearby Jubilee Park. Two years later the body of an Asian man was found floating in nearby Rozelle Bay. Both murders remain unsolved.
The storage rooms that have been created by bricking in the arches have been dubbed The Tomb by one of the people who leases one. Night visitors to them have reported feeling anxious and queasy and sudden temperature changes and the smell of fresh paint when at times when no painting has been done. Ghostly footsteps have been heard coming from the exact spot that the body of the first murdered twelve-year-old boy was found.
Jubilee Park viaduct
The two brick and stone viaducts on the Western Goods Line, both elegant structures built on a curve with well detailed arches, were built across Wentworth Park, Ultimo and Jubilee Park in 1919. The 21-span curved Wentworth Park viaduct is the longest section of brick arch viaduct on the NSW system and the largest viaduct structure to survive in Australia. It is a major engineering work, having been built on reclaimed land with the brickwork sitting on timber piles. The Jubilee Park viaduct has 28 spans.
The Metropolitan goods line ran from Wardell Rd Junction to Darling Harbour passing through the suburbs of Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill, Lewisham, Haberfield, Leichhardt, Annandale, Glebe, Pyrmont as well as Darling Island, then under Pyrmont Bridge Road at Pyrmont Bridge to enter Darling Harbour and continue through to rejoin the Main lines near Mortuary Station. In its heyday it was the main route for coal, wheat and other goods into and from Rozelle Goods Yard as well.
Wentworth Park viaduct
The Long Cove siding provided entry to and from the Australian Army Ordinance Stores located between the rail line and the Hawthorne Canal. During World War II the line was extremely busy with Troop and Ordinance trains making up the majority of the traffic. Troop trains headed towards Darling Island and the freight being carried was not always on display although aircraft (with wings elsewhere) were often seen on wagons.
In the 1980s the Goods line from Balmain Rd Signal box to Darling Harbour, which was no longer in regular use, was closed to allow the building of the Casino at Darling Harbour. The line lay dormant for a time, used only by the Light rail as far as Wentworth Park. It was reopened as far as Catherine St Lilyfield on 13th August, 2000 for use by the Light Rail Network.
During the 2000s the section between Dulwich Hill and Rozelle also saw a considerable decline in traffic. Rozelle goods yard became overgrown but was used intermittently for the storage of disused railway wagons and passenger cars. Eventually, the sole traffic was a service to deliver cereals to a flour mill at Summer Hill. In 2009 the mill relocated to Maldon in the Southern Highlands and all traffic on the line ceased.
To adequately service the remaining handling requirements of the Ports of White Bay and Glebe Island, a new connecting line runs along a corridor on the eastern boundary of the site, next to City West Link Road.
The Glebe and Pyrmont tunnels, now used by Sydney's Light Rail, are important relics of the inner city rail freight system, having remained virtually intact as the line was never electrified. The double track tunnels and associated cuttings were created in 1919 as part of the Western Goods Line between Darling Island and Balmain Road Jctn.
The 4.1 km long section of track which passes through them was opened on 23rd January 1922 and closed to goods rail traffic 74 years later to the day. The brick-lined Glebe Road tunnel is 744.8 m long and runs from Pyrmont Bridge Road to Jubilee Park, passing below Glebe Point Road. The western portal is adjacent to the former Rozelle Tram Depot. Both portals now frame Metro Light Rail's Glebe and Jubilee Park Stations.
The John Street Tunnel in Pyrmont was built, opened and closed to traffic simultaneous to the Glebe Road tunnel. A curved brick-lined 123.8 metre long tunnel, its takes the line under the sandstone heart of the Pyrmont Peninsula. The line's corridor lay dormant until it was brought back into use by Metro Light Rail which operates a service to Lilyfield using the goods line's tracks, bridges and tunnels. John Street Station was created within the cutting beyond the eastern portal of the John Street Tunnel.
The original Presbyterian church built on the corner of Parramatta and Glebe Point Roads, Broadway in 1879, was designed by the American-born architect Thomas Rowe. Among his best known buildings are the Presbyterian Church, Bathurst (1871), the Jewish Synagogue in Elizabeth Street, Sydney (1874), Sydney Hospital in Macquarie Street (1879, completed by John Kirkpatrick after 1891), Newington College, Stanmore (1878), Sydney Arcade and Vickery's Building, Pitt Street, Sydney (1874) and warehouses for Hoffnung and Co. in Charlotte Street, Brisbane (1879) and Pitt Street, Sydney (1881).
By the turn of the century, the vibration and noise from traffic had done so much damage to the building that in 1920 it was dismantled stone by stone and re-assembled at 158 Bridge Road. The church is now the Abbey Restaurant.
One would never know today that there once existed an island to the north of Rozelle Bay were it not for the existence of the Glebe Island Bridge. The area to the north of the western approach to the bridge is what used to be Glebe Island before being joined to the mainland when the grain handling facilities were first installed there in the 1920s.
Prior to that, the island was part of land granted to First Fleet chaplain Reverend Richard Johnson as church land where it remained as a 12 hectare island covered in thick tea trees, scrub, gum and oak trees until 1842 when it was subdivided and sold. In 1852, a stock yard and abattoir were developed on part of the island and remained in operation until the construction of the grain terminal. Glebe Island and White Bay have been a key facility in the NSW transport and logistics network until recent times. They were Sydney's principal centre for receiving, storing and distributing imported motor vehicles and dry bulk goods and had a total of 9 berths.
History of Glebe Island
The rocky outcrop known as Glebe Island was originally accessible from the Balmain shoreline only at low tide, until a causeway was laid in the 1840s. Surveyor William Wells created a subdivision for the Balmain end of the island in 1841, with four intended streets and six sections containing a total of 86 lots. The subdivision did not eventuate.
In 1850 1854, Colonial Architect Edmund Blacket designed stone buildings for a public abattoir on the island. According to Joan Kerr, Blacket's chosen architecture was Norman in inspiration round-headed openings and simple decoration. Kerr states that the abattoir was almost certainly based on an American design.
On 7th September 1860, Balmain Council resolved to approach the owners of the unsold parts of the Balmain Estate for a grant of land to build a road to the island. The Pyrmont Bridge Company built a low-level timber-framed bridge that connected the island to Pyrmont, and thus to the city, in 1862. The abattoirs featured prominently in the 1882 Royal Commission into noxious and offensive trades, instigated by complaints from Balmain and Glebe Point residents. The commission found that in 1882, 524,415 sheep, 69,991 cattle, 31,269 pigs and 8,348 calves were slaughtered there.
On 28th June 1903 the new bridge to Pyrmont, designed by Percy Allan, Assistant Engineer for Bridges in the NSW Department of Public Works, opened. Like the ground-breaking Pyrmont Bridge being built at the same time, the second Glebe Island Bridge was a swing bridge swivelling on a massive central stone pivot-pier with timber-trussed side spans. The two bridges "are among the structures standing as monuments" to Allan's skill.
From 1912, the Sydney Harbour Trust (later Maritime Services Board) planned broadside wharfage at Balmain East and along the southern shore of Balmain, including Glebe Island. Also in 1912 the Metropolitan Meat Industry Board resolved to abolish the abattoirs and build a new facility at Homebush. By 1915 Robert Saunders, the Pyrmont quarry master, had been commissioned to level the island to make it suitable for wharves. Saunders' firm dumped a great quantity of excavated ballast at the eastern end of the island for wharfage. Many cubic feet of quality dimension stone, however, were carefully cut away and almost certainly used for construction projects. Some 250 of Saunders' men were still working on the island in 1920.
Glebe Island was an early success for the Harbour trust. Wharves were built on three sides of the levelled rocky outcrop from 1912. The reconstructed fourth side was attached to the Rozelle shoreline as part of the extensive reclamation of Rozelle Bay and White Bay which had begun in the 1890s.
Glebe Island became the site of a grain elevator and tall concrete silos, operated from 1921 by the Grain Elevators Board of NSW. The 1958 Australian Encyclopaedia records that the bulk wheat terminal had a capacity of 7,500,000 bushels (202,500 tonnes). During World War II much of the island was commandeered for the main United States army depot in Sydney. Bulk handling of grain continued until 1990 when the wheat terminal was transferred to Port Kembla and the wharfage remodelled for containerised cargo. Some silos were demolished, while from 1991 Australian Cement (now Cement Australia) used 16 of them as a bulk cement terminal. These are now heritage-listed.
Wentworth Park, linking the suburbs of Glebe and Ultimo, is a popular park providing a wide range of recreational opportunity for people of all ages. Four floodlit sports fields suitable for soccer and football and a set of practice cricket nets located within the northern section of the park are available for hire throughout the year.
The southern section of the park contains a shaded playground with adventure climbing apparatus suitable for older children. A series of fitness stations including pull up, dip, sit up, push-up bars and rings are distributed around the park perimeter. Picnic tables, ample seating and water bubblers are located conveniently close by. A footbridge with elevator provides convenient pedestrian access to the park across Wattle Street from Ultimo and the Wentworth Park Light Rail station is located further along Wattle Street towards the neighbouring Sydney Fish Markets.
The central area of the park, controlled by the Wentworth Park Sporting Complex Trust hosts weekly greyhound racing and a monthly antiques fair.