Mortdale is a suburb in southern Sydney, located 20 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and is part of the St George area. Mortdale lies across the local government area of Georges River Council. The suburb extends south to Lime Kiln Bay, on the Georges River. Mortdale Heights is a locality in the western corner of the suburb.
Transport: Mortdale railway station is on the Illawarra Line of the Sydney Trains network. Mortdale is a 30min (approx) train journey from the city. Punchbowl Bus Company services 944, 945 and 955 run throughout the week, with limited services on weekends. Mortdale is accessed from the Sydney CBD by road by driving south through Newtown and along Princes Highway. At Arncliff, turn right into Forest Road. This road forms the northern border of Mortdale after passing through Penshurst.
From most streets it is a reasonably easy 5-15min walk to the train station, which is serviced every 10 - 15 minute in peak hours by trains that run through the city to Bondi Junction. A bus service connects to the train station, and there is a taxi rank outside the station. Mortdale is also a convenient distance to the airport.
Mortdale's main shopping strip has a village feel and is always buzzing with an interesting mix of people. The main strip on Morts Rd is located on the north-western side of the railway and has everything from butchers, bakers, delicatessens and a supermarket to hairdressers, restaurants, cafes, doctors, dentists, vets, banks, pub, etc. The residential buildings closest to the shopping strip are mostly apartments and units, then as you head north west the buildings tend to become townhouses and houses. The south eastern side (east of the railway) is mostly houses. The suburb generally feels safe, with people going about their everyday lives and traffic isn't really a problem.
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This short stream forms the south eastern border of the suburb of Mortdale. It flows first into Boggywell creek, and then Georges River, which eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean through Botany Bay. Like many of the smaller watercoureses in the Sydney metropolitan area, it has became badly polluted following the urbanisation of the areas around it and subsequent use as an amptying point for stormwater drains.
Georges River Environmental Alliance spokeswoman Sharyn Cullis said small polluted streams were a problem along the Georges River. She said many streams contained a "nasty cocktail" of grease, sediment, fertilisers, nutrients, chemicals and litter that washed off streets, into drains and the river. She said in addition to invisible pollutants in the water, the stream was often clogged with rubbish. "Small creeks such as Dairy Creek are important because the creek runs into the Georges River and Botany Bay, degrading several ecosystems [and] making it uninhabitable for the life that relies on the river," she said. "This urban runoff is recognised as a major threat to water quality in the river." Streamwatch, a voluntary organisation dedicated to cleaning up small watercourses like Dairy Creek, has called on local councils to empty pollutant traps and clean out settling ponds more regularly and launch an education campaign to educate residents to stop fertiliser, detergent, dog poo and other rubbish entering drains.
Mortdale has been known in the past as Mort's Road, Mort's Hill, Mort's Crossing, Mort's Township and Mort Dale. The suburb was named after Sydney industrialist Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816 1878) who was famous for pioneering the refrigeration of shipping meat and the construction of Mort's Dock, Balmain. Thomas Mort purchased the land from Robert Townson (1763 1827), who had been granted land in the Hurstville area with his brother John Townson. Townson's property had passed to John Connell in 1830, and was subdivided into 17 farms in 1869 as the "Connell's Bush" subdivision, the western part of which was purchased by Thomas Sutcliffe Mort.
The Hurstville Steam Brick Company (better known as Judds Brickworks) was established in 1884 by William George Judd near the small farming community on the site of what is now Georges River College, halfway between Mortdale and Oatley stations, just east of the line. The large brick-making chimneys were easily seen from around the district. The first residences were built opposite the Brickworks in 1885. The railway was extended through the district around the same time. The railway divided two of the main farms, Kemp's orange orchard and Parkes's farm near Victoria Avenue, and these were subdivided for housing by 1894. The official title for the suburb was set as Mortdale when the railway station opened with that name on 20 March 1897.
The school opened in January 1889, and the post office and grocery store opened in November. Mortdale became a popular residential suburb in 1920s for soldiers returning from World War I. In 1921, there was a movement for Mortdale to split from Hurstville and form a separate municipality. An official 1923 inquiry into the proposed Municipality of Mortdale decided against the change, despite the separation movement having the law behind them.
At the same time there was also a push to have the name of Mortdale changed due to its similarity with the suburb of Mortlake and the association with its literal translation from Latin ('Valley of the Dead'). Suggestions by various groups over several years included: Leyton, Montrose, Morella, Kingrose and Boronia. A final list approved by the Department of Lands were: Carruthers, Princemead, Wyargine, and Storrieville, but the matter was never resolved.
A number of streets near the commercial area are named after notable streets in the Sydney CBD; These include: George Street, Martin Place, Pitt Street, Macquarie Place and Oxford Street. This is the only group of Sydney-wide streets named as such.
The Illawarra Railway single line from Hurstville to Sutherland was opened in 1885 having been built by the contractors C. and E. Miller. The building of the Illawarra line cut the two main farms in the area in half. By 1894 the land of these two farms (Kemp's orange orchard and Parkes farm near Victoria Avenue) had been subdivided and sold for suburban development. Mortdale's population was approximately 40 in 1885, but rapidly increased after the construction of the railway line. The first school opened in 1889 and a post office and grocery store in November 1890.
In 1890 the line was duplicated from Hurstville to Oatley and on 20 March 1897 Mortdale Station was opened just southward of the present station site. Its construction was as two timber platforms and waiting sheds, and the line passed through the present site of the electric car sheds.
Mortdale became a popular residential suburb in the 1920s when housing was being built for returned soldiers from World War 1. In 1922 the two lines were deviated to the west with the gradient eased and the present brick standard island platform and platform building were built. The original station site was abandoned and the structures demolished. Oatley, the next station down the line, also had its original station buildings demolished and rebuilt further east with the implementation of the deviation. In 1926 the line was electrified to Oatley and in 1929 a power signal box was provided adjacent to the south end of the Mortdale Station platform building.
Mortdale Railway Station, including the 1922 platform and platform building, and 1922 Ellen Street underbridge, are considered to be of historical significance as these early 20th century structures demonstrate the development of the Illawarra Line in this period and also for its role as a transport hub for Mortdale since 1922. Mortdale Railway Station is of aesthetic significance for its early 20th century structures which are good examples of NSW Railways station architecture and bridge design of this period. The 1922 platform building is a representative example of Federation Queen Anne influenced railway station architecture.
The 1922 brick arched construction of the Ellen Street underbridge is a representative bridge structure which set the standard for railway bridge works in this period. The underbridge, which runs under the north-eastern end of the platform, is a single large span brick arch structure at 12.2 m clear span, for road access under the line. Its semi-circular arches 600 mm thick.
Originally access from one side of the line to the other was by a series of overbridges, but in some localities like Mortdale these were too far apart, hence the construction of brick arched underbridges begun around 1905. In keeping with other contemporary railway works in the Sydney region, construction was dominated by brickwork due to the extensive deposits of Wianamatta clays so ideal for making bricks. The Ellen Street underbridge is typical, and dates from 1922 when Mortdale Railway Station was relocated to its present site. The underbridge was designed by Perway Branch staff, New South Wales Government Railways and built by day labour.
Lifts, an overhead bridge concourse and stairs were built in 2005, replacing the 1928 timber overhead booking office. New metal canopies were also built over the stairs and along the platform to the station building.
Along the formation of the original line approximately half a kilometre south of the station, the Mortdale electric car sheds were built in 1925. These were the first electric car sheds to be used on the suburban system, part of a group built under the Bradfield electrification plan, including Hornsby, Flemington and Punchbowl (now closed). In their original form, the Mortdale electric car sheds had a distinctive saw-toothed roof. Just north-east of the car sheds there was a siding to access Judd's Hurstville Brick Works to the east. The Mortdale sheds have been extensively redeveloped over time, and the facility, now known as the Mortdale Maintenance Centre, is essentially a modern complex.
The depot features nine roads under the main shed (numbered 1-3 and 5-10), two elevated outdoor roads (numbered 11 and 12), a train washing facility and several short outdoor storage sidings. The depot is responsible for the stabling and maintenance of all the Tangara trains on the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line and South Coast Line local services. Following the opening of the Eastern Suburbs line in 1979, Mortdale became the first all double deck depot only having S sets allocated. The last S set was withdrawn from Mortdale in April 2013.
The land which now forms Mortdale Park was originally home to a small brick pit where hand-made bricks were produced. This operation ceased in 1884 when the Mortdale Brickworks was established near Mortdale Public School. Many different associations vied for their own piece of land in Mortdale for a park - the local Chamber of Commerce, the RSL, the local Parents & Citizens group and the Council - when it was first proposed. Debate started in September 1924 when residents asked for a park on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Cook Street. Within a year the Chamber of Commerce put forward an alternative at the corner of Morts and Forest Roads. Over the next few years both sites were advocated as a possible location. In July 1936, the Chamber of Commerce shifted its option to Lorraine Street, Peakhurst (now the golf course). Eventually, Council asked the State Government for land in Boundary Road, stating it was prepared to contribute 25%.
The Park become operational in 1942. In that year, Hurstville Council refused the local Presbyterian Church permission to construct air raid trenches in the Park for its children. The name was changed from Mortdale Park to Mortdale Memorial Park in 1997. The park hosts a Carols by Candlelight sing-along in December prior to Christmas each year.
The Mortdale Memorial Monument, originally erected in the Shopping Centre during 1922, was later moved to Mortdale Park. The current memorial was built in 1976. It commemorates Mortdale people who served in the First and Second world wars and the Korean War. The Memorial is a brick cenotaph to which is affixed a number of honour rolls, flag staffs, service commemorative objects, and a number of individual memorials. The flag staffs, service commemorative objects, and a number of individual memorials are all set within a well-kept tranquil grassed area with numerous shade trees. A yearly ANZAC Day Commemorative Service is held each Anzac Day in April, along with a street march form nearby Mortdale RSL Club.
Location: 67 Oxford Street, Mortdale.