Location: Lower North Shore
One of the city's most established and affluent neighbourhoods, Kirrinilli is located three kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. Kirribilli is a harbourside suburb on the Lower North Shore of Sydney Harbour. The suburb contains Kirribilli House (the official Sydney residence of the Prime Minister of Australia), Admiralty House (the official Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia), and the headquarters and marina of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron located on the former Carabella mansion. The Sydney headquarters of ASIO was formerly at 31 Carabella Street. The Sydney Flying Squadron is located adjoining Milson Park, formerly Kirribilli Park.

Kirribilli has a small shopping strip opposite Milsons Point railway station. The 'Kirribilli Markets' are held on the fourth Saturday of each month, on the lawns of the former Kirribilli Bowling Club. The markets contain a mixture of new and second-hand clothing, bric-a-brac, jewellery, and food stalls.

The tip of Kirribilli Point marks the entrance to Neutral Bay, and Careening Cove on its eastern side. Kurraba Point - the next peninsula - separates Neutral Bay and Shell Cove. Kirribilli supports the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Kirribilli House

In 1854, merchant Adolphus Frederic Feez purchased a 1-acre (0.40 ha) parcel of land at the tip of Kirribilli Point for £200. (The land had been sliced off the grounds of adjacent Wotonga House, which now forms part of Admiralty House, but was then in private ownership.) Feez built the picturesque Gothic-style structure now known as Kirribilli House  a twin-gabled dwelling or cottage ornee  on the land's highest spot. The house features steeply pitched roofs, fretwork, bargeboards and bay windows.

It passed through many private hands until it was purchased in 1919 for £10,000 by Arthur Wigram Allen. Allen planned to subdivide the land but after much public agitation the then Prime Minister of Australia, Billy Hughes, resumed the property for government purposes in 1920.

The property was used by the staff of the Governor-General of Australia (who occupied neighbouring Admiralty House) until 1930, when it was leased to tenants. In 1956 Kirribilli House was set aside as a residence for the use of Australia's Prime Ministers, when they need to perform public duties and extend official hospitality on behalf of the government during stays in Sydney. The official Prime Ministerial residence is The Lodge, Canberra. Kirribilli House is situated on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour, in the suburb of Kirribilli. It commands impressive views across to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House and has been visited over the years by many important international dignitaries.

Admiralty House

Because of its strategic location opposite the entrance to Sydney Cove, the Government of 1856 decided to take temporary control of a house built in 1842 by Sir George Gipps to take advantage of the sweeping views of Sydney Harbour. Cannons were mounted in the grounds though they were never used. Built on the site of the fort, Admiralty House is the larger of the two gracious houses which occupy the prominent north shore headland opposite Sydney Cove, the other being Kirribilli House.

The original building on the site was completed, as a private dwelling, in mid-to-late 1843, by John George Nathaniel Gibbes, the then Collector of Customs for New South Wales and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. A portrait of Gibbes, painted in 1808, hangs in the house. Gibbes used the Custom Department's cutter to commute to and from the building site. Once completed, Gibbes' L-shaped residence featured a plain, yet stylish, double fa�ade to maximise the building's magnificent, sweeping views across Sydney Harbour. These views enabled Gibbes to monitor shipping traffic in and out of Darling Harbour and, more importantly, Circular Quay, where the Sydney Customs House was situated.

A small portion of the Kirribilli Point land, a little over 1-acre (4,000 m2) was sold by Travers in 1854 to a merchant, Adolph Frederic Feez. On this land, Kirribilli House was built in neo-Gothic style . Kirribilli House, situated next door to Admiralty House, serves today as the official Sydney residence of the Prime Minister of Australia.

The single storey sandstone residence known today as Admiralty House was built by merchant Robert Campbell in 1874 it was known as Wotonga. The house was extended and renovated in 1885 in order for it to serve as the residence of the commanding officer of the British Royal Navy's Pacific Squadron. The fancy upper floor lacework was added at this time. Believed by many Sydneysiders to be the city's finest address, Admiralty House is today the Sydney home of Australia's Governor General.

The house is furnished extensively with colonial furniture, porcelain, ornaments and numerous historical artworks such as portraits of British explorer James Cook and some former Governors-General, including Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson. Many of these items were acquired for the nation by The Australiana Fund.

Dr Mary Booth Lookout

Whoever had the foresight to reserve this million dollar piece of real estate for public use deserves a medal. Located on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour directly opposite The Sydney Opera House, the classic picture postcard panorama has everything - the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Cove, The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove. Top that if you can! Nearby Stanton Lookout (near Cnr Broughton St. and Kirribilli Ave) almost does - it offers similar views. Dr Mary Booth was founder of the Memorial College of Household Arts & Science at 63 Kirribilli Avenue. She was awarded an OBE in 1918, She died in 1958. Dr Mary Booth Lookout, Warunda Street, Kirribilli.
Public transport: train to Milsons Point, walk down Broughton St towards harbour, left into Kirribilli Ave, right into Waruda Ave, right into Waruda St; or ferry to Kirribilli Wharf (Holbrook St), walk up Holbrook St, left into Carabella St, right into Kirribilli Ave, left into Waruda Ave, right into Waruda St.

Lady Gowrie Lookout

Garden Island from Lady Gowrie Lookout

Take a stroll past Killibilli House and Admiralty House to this delightful lookout which affords views east across Port Jackson towards Neutral Bay, Cremorne and Mosman. Alongside the lookout is a small park with steps leading down to the water's edge. No facilities. Kirribilli Avenue, Kirribilli. Public transport: ferry to Kirribilli Wharf (Holbrook St), walk up Holbrook St, left into Carabella St, left into Kirribilli Ave.

The lookout's name honours Zara Eileen Hore-Ruthven, Countess of Gowrie (1879-1965),the Irish-born wife of the 1st Earl of Gowrie, Governor of South Australia 1928-34, Governor of New South Wales 1935-36 and the longest serving Governor-General of Australia 1936-44. She was renowned for her work in promoting the welfare of children in Australia, and the Lady Gowrie Child Centres were named in her honour. Lady Gowrie was also a keen horticulturist, and the "Zara Hore-Ruthven" rose was named after her.

Brief history

Kirribilli was settled early in the history of the Colony. One of the first records of land being granted on the North Shore was of 30 acres (120,000 m2) on the North side of the Harbour of Port Jackson opposite Sydney Cove on 20 February 1794 to an expired convict, Samuel Lightfoot. Lightfoot was a former convict, born in about 1763 and transported to Australia for seven years for stealing clothing. He arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 on the Charlotte.

In 1794 Thomas Muir, a Scottish constitutional reformer, was sentenced to transportation for sedition. Thomas Muir purchased Lightfoot's farm; it is likely that the farm was located at the Jeffrey Street end of Kirribilli (not near Admiralty house) and was named "Huntershill" by Thomas Muir, after his father's home in Scotland. Thomas Muir escaped from the colony in 1796 aboard an American brig, the Otter.

By 1801, the property had passed into the hands of Robert Campbell, a wealthy Sydney merchant. Campbell built Australia's first shipbuilding yards in 1807, at the site that is now occupied by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Kirribilli. Part of the land in Kirribilli was also briefly used for quarantine purposes in 1814 for the convict ship Surry. Over 46 persons had died during the voyage of typhoid including 36 convicts. Campbell's property in Kirribilli was used for grazing under lease to Campbell's friend James Milson (1785-1872), hence the name "Milson's Point". Milson's Point is the next point along from Kirribilli point, where the Sydney Harbour Bridge crosses the harbour. A plan of sub-division was drawn up in the 1840s by Robert Campbell.

A scattering of Georgian and Gothic-revival houses and mansions were built iafter subdivision, most of which have since been razed. Originally, Kirribilli formed part of the Parish of St Leonard's and was served by a private ferry service. In a process which began in the 1860s, the area's old estates were subdivided. New residential streets were laid out and terrace houses, Victorian villas and, later, blocks of apartments erected.

From 1897, a standard gauge line carried bogie frozen meat wagons from a wharf located near the present day site of Luna Park to the Pastoral Finance Association cold store at Kirribilli. The line was abandoned after the cold store was destroyed by fire in 1921.

During the early decades of the 20th century, Kirribilli's shoreline was dominated by a large, multi-storey brick warehouse which was eventually torn down to make way for housing. The Kirribilli area opened up further for development with the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, which linked the municipality of North Sydney directly by road and rail with the CBD of the City of Sydney.

The name 'Kirribilli' is believed to be an Anglicised version of an aboriginal word of unknown meaning, though some say it identifies the locality as a good place for fishing. Kirribilli Point and the suburb are thought to take their names from the name of settler James Milson's house, which he called Carabella. The latter may well have been a mispronunciation of the Aboriginal word which we now spell as Kirribilli. The suburb initially formed in the vicinity of Jeffrey Street and was subsequently part of a grant to James Milson (1785-1872), after whom Milsons Point was named. The area was largely covered in native bush. As the decades passed, the land was cleared bit by bit and sub-divided, first for the construction of large family residences during the 1840s, secondly for the erection of Victorian terrace houses from the 1860s onwards, and finally for 20th-Century flats.

  • Get Directions

  • How tro get there: The Warringah Freeway provides a link south to the Sydney CBD and north to Chatswood. Kirribilli is serviced by rail, bus and ferry services.
    Milsons Point railway station is the closest train station. It forms part of the North Shore, Northern & Western Line of the Sydney Trains network. It is located next to the main shopping streets, and has frequent services to the Sydney CBD and the North Shore.
    Sydney Buses operate regular services from Kirribilli to many parts of northern Sydney. The 269 bus service runs a loop within the Kirribilli - Milsons Point - McMahons Point - North Sydney railway station area on weekdays.
    There are four operating ferry wharves near Kirribilli, serviced by both public and private ferries.

    Beulah wharf, Kirribilli

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