Geographical Features: Sydney Harbour Southern Shore

South Head: descriptive. Aboriginal name: (inner head) Burra-warra; (outer head) Tar-ral-be.


Lady Bay

Lady Bay: The bay was used for bathing by the ladies resident at Macquarie Lighthouse, hence it was called Ladies Bay. In recent years it has erroneously been referred to as Lady Jane Bay.

Camp Cove: Gov. Phillip and a party of soldiers from the First Fleet camped here on the night of 25th January, 1788 during their expedition to find a more appropriate settlement site than Botany Bay.

Laings Point: recalls Edward Laing, the first landowner in the area who was granted 20 acres in the Watsons Bay area in 1793. Laing was a surgeon in the NSW Corps which overthrew Gov. Bligh in the Rum Rebellion. Aboriginal name: Mit-ta-la or Ku-bung-harra.

Watsons Bay: recalls Robert Watson (1756-1819), who was appointed Sydney's harbour pilot and harbourmaster by Gov. Macquarie in 1811 and superintendent of the Macquarie Lighthouse on South Head in 1816. Watson was granted land here in 1801 and built his home on the bay's foreshore. Aboriginal name: Kutti

Sow & Pigs Reef: its shape. Aboriginal name: Birrur Birah.

Gibsons Beach: commemorates the name of a family of standing in the area, long involved in maritime pursuits. The first Henry Gibson was a pilot for some 50 years and lived here from the late 1830's. Kutti Beach: Aboriginal name for Watsons Bay. Village Point: recalls the fishing village which grew up around the harbourmaster's cottage on Watsons Bay during Gov. Macquarie's term of office.


Parsley Bay

Parsley Bay: believed to have been name thus because of vegetation first found here which resembled parsley.

Vaucluse Bay / Point: recalls nearby Vaucluse House, a colonial villa built by Sir Henry Brown and enlarged by William Charles Wentworth in 1830s.

Shark Bay / Beach: named because of the large number of sharks seen and caught here in the 1800s.

Steel Point: honours Thomas Steele, Joint Secretary to the Treasury in England during the time of Arthur Phillip's governorship. Its former names of Shark Point and Burroway were discontinued on 3 September 1976 and on the same date Steele Point was assigned in their place. Aboriginal name: Burrow-way.

Bottle and Glass Rocks: named thus because the rock formations resemble a bottle and glass. The rocks are in fact a small island. Legend has it that their appearance was somewhat altered by the use of the island as a target for gunnery practice. The island is readily accessible at low tide. The peninsular follows the line of a volcanic dyke. Aboriginal name: Moring.

Hermit Bay: so named because hermits lived here in the 1800s.


Milk Beach

Milk Beach: named thus because milk deliveries to nearby Strickland House were first made by boat via this beach.

Hermitage Foreshore: named because of its proximity to Hermit Bay.

Lady Martin's Beach: honours Lady Isabella Martin, the widow of Sir James Martin, three times Attorney-General (Premier) of NSW in the 1860s and 70s. Martin Place is named after him. When Mrs. Martin was widowed with 15 children, she leased nearby Woollahra House for some time after its original owner, merchant William Cooper left for England in 1888. The Martins resided at Clarens at Rushcutters Bay from 1853 to the mid 1870's. Known as Woollahra Beach until 1899 when the present name was adopted.


Rose Bay

Rose Bay: the bay after which the suburb was later to be named honours George (later Sir George) Rose. It was named by Gov. Arthur Phillip after his friend and mentor who was the one responsible for recommending him to lead the First Fleet and become the first Governor of NSW. Aboriginal name: Pannerong.

Woollahra Point: Aboriginal name for a meeting place in the area. The name was adopted by Sir Daniel Cooper (1821-1902), a speaker in the NSW Legislative Assembly, for his property in the area.

Felix Bay: just who Felix was cannot be determined with certainty. There is a good chance it is named after Felix Beecroft, a Third Fleet convict who was sentence to seven years transportation in Somerset in 1790, and arrived in Sydney aboard Salamander on 18th October 1791. The name appears on early maps of Sydney and he was the only Felix in the colony for a number of years.

Point Piper: recalls Scottish born Captain John Piper (1773-1851), a military officer who arrived in Sydney in 1792 and built a mansion here. He was Commissioner of Customs under Macquarie's governorship. Originally it was known as Eliza Point after Captain Piper's wife, then renamed Elizabeth Henrietta Point after Governor Macquarie's wife, then finally as Point Piper. Aboriginal name: Woo-la-ra.

Blackburn Cove: recalls David Blackburn, master of First Fleet vessel HMS Supply.


Seven Shillings Beach

Seven Shillings Beach: thus named after an incident in which a Mrs. Busby gave an Aboriginal seven shillings compensation for his fishing rights to the bay. Another explanation states a nurse employed by Captain Piper lost a purse containing 'seven shillings' on the beach.

Double Bay / Double Bay Creek: the bay was recorded in 1796 as Keltie Bay, a name which honoured James Keltie, who sailed as mate on the First Fleet transport ship Fishburn. Between 1796 and the 1820s it was changed to Double Bay, a name which refers to the two small coves which form the one larger bay.


Darling Point

Darling Point: originally Mrs. Darling's Point, honours the wife of Governor Ralph Darling (Gov. between 1825 and 1831). Aboriginal name: Yarranabbee.

Rushcutters Bay: originally named Blackburn Cove honouring the Master of HMS Supply, David Blackburn. The bay was used by convicts to cut the 'rushes' used as roofing material in the early days of the colony. Aboriginal name: Kogerah.

Macleay Point: honours Alexander Macleay (1767-1848), Colonial Secretary during Gov. Darling's term of office. The Macleay family home, Elizabeth Bay House, was built at this location in the 1830s. Aboriginal name: Jerrewon. Aboriginal name: Yarradabby.

Potts Point: known originally by its Aboriginal name, Caragheen, it was then called Paddy's Point. After a dispute over land ownership, it was re-named Potts Point in 1829 after Joseph Potts, a land owner who was an official of the Bank of New South Wales. Aboriginal name: Derawun.


Elizabeth Bay

Elizabeth Bay/ Elizabeth Point: honours Governor Lachlan Macquarie's wife, Elizabeth. Aboriginal name: Jerrowan.

Mrs. Macquarie's Point: honours Governor Macquarie's wife, Elizabeth, who had a chair carved out of rock in 1815. She often came here to sit and watch ships enter and leave the harbour. It was earlier known as Anson's Point after John Anson, a carpenter, who held the lease to the farmlet in this area. The farm was stocked with grafted fruit trees, and advertised for sale in the Sydney Gazette of 5th May 1805. Aboriginal name Yarrandabby (bay); Yurong (point).


Woolloomooloo Bay

Woolloomooloo Bay: derived from the Aboriginal term 'walla-mulla', meaning a young kangaroo. The area was given this name by the first settlers as it was the haunt of the rare black kangaroo. The bay was originally known as Garden Island Cove then Palmer's Cove.

Farm Cove: thus named as land on the banks of a stream which empties into the bay was the site of a vegetable farm established by the First Fleet in 1788. Aboriginal name: Woggan-ma-gule; Farm Cove Beach: Cockaroo.


Bennelong Point

Bennelong Point: the site of the Sydney Opera House. When the First Fleet arrived, cattle were brought ashore and allowed to graze here which gave rise to it being known as Cattle Point. Within a year of the colony's founding, the middens or piles of discarded oysters left by generations of aborigines feasting on the shellfish of the harbour began to be burnt and ground down by groups of convicts to make the lime needed for mortar in brick construction. The first midden to be used was the one on Cattle Point, which led to it becoming known as Limeburner's Point.
It was on Limeburner's Point that Gov. Phillip built a hut for Bennelong, an aborigine whom he befriended and was used as a guide and interpreter by the colonists. In the 19th century, when limeburning activities ceased, the location became known as Bennelong Point. During his tenure as Governor, Macquarie built a fort on the point as part of his harbour defence system. This was replaced by a tram depot, which was demolished in the 1950s to make way for the Opera House. Aboriginal name: Tubow-gule.

Sydney Cove: named by Gov. Arthur Phillip in honour of Lord Sydney, Secretary of State for the Home Department, the person who chose him for the task of establishing a penal settlement in New South Wales. Aboriginal name: War-ran.

Campbells Cove: Robert Campbell, a Scottish merchant who arrived in Sydney in the late 1790s and established a highly successful import/export business operated out of storehouses on the shores of the cove which bears his name. Aboriginal name: Melia-Wool.


Dawes Point

Dawes Point: William Dawes (1762-1836), an Officer of Engineers and Artillery with the Sirius in the First Fleet. A budding astronomer, Dawes had been commissioned by Dr. Maskeleyne, the Astronomer Royal, to observe a comet that had last been seen in 1661 and which, according to his calculations, would appear again towards the end of 1788 but only in the southern hemisphere. He built an observatory on the point now bearing his name, to complete his mission. Gov. Phillip named the point after Dr. Maskeleyne but it was later changed to its present name. Dawes supervised the construction of an earthen redoubt alongside the rude hut that was his observatory. It housed 8 guns from Sirius. Later, a more permanent structure was built with five mortars, thirteen 42 pounder cannon, a magazine, and quarters for a garrison of soldiers and their commanding officer. Five cannon mounted on carriages today mark the spot. Aboriginal name: Tarra.
Dawes had a considerable experience in surveying, being the son of the Clerk of Works in the Ordnance Office, Portsmouth, and was employed by Gov. Phillip to lay out the streets of both Sydney and Parramatta. His plan for Parramatta was followed but his grid pattern for Sydney's streets was never used. Dawes also showed exceptional skills as a mathematician, draughtsman and botanist, and was an important member of the early exploratory expeditions.


Walsh Bay. 1960s

Walsh Bay: named after Henry Dean Walsh, Engineer-in-Chief of the Sydney Harbour Trust 1901 to 1919, the time the bay was redeveloped. Walsh supervised the redevelopment of the Walsh Bay/Millers Point area at the time, which included the construction of the bay's historic finger wharves.

Millers Point: there is no written record of exactly why the point was thus named. Early in the 19th century, it was known as Jack the Miller's Point, after Jack Leighton who was transported to Sydney in 1804. He bought several acres of land here in 1814 and therefore it is widely believed this is how the point received its name. However, since the name has appeared on maps drawn before 1795, it is more likely named after Andrew Miller, the first colonial Commissary and Governor's Phillip's secretary. Alternatively, its name could refer to Sydney's first windmill, the harbour landing from which grain was unloaded was at Millers Point.
Early in 1796, the first windmill in New South Wales was built on what became known as Windmill Hill which is adjacent to Millers Point. It was used to grind grain into flour and was one of the colony's first steps towards self sufficiency. The mill tower was built of stone and the machinery and grindstone were imported from England. But they did not work for long. The canvas sails were stolen, the machinery was damaged in a storm, and by 1800 the foundations were giving way. Before it was ten years old, the mill was useless.


Darling Island

Darling Harbour / Point / Island: recalls Gov. Ralph Darling. Its Aboriginal name is commonly believed to have been Tumbalong, which identified it as a place where seafood was regularly caught. The name is remembered today in Tumbalong Park, which is part of the Darling Harbour precinct. Like so many other Aboriginal names, however, it appears to have not been the Aboriginal name for the location, but rather an expletive or obscenity, which is how Aborigines often answered questions of the early white settlers about the names of locations. The newcomers often believed they were being given a locality name whereas they were really being told to go away and leave them alone. To the early white settlers, Darling Harbour was known as Long Cove, with the head of the cove given the name Cockle Bay. In 1825 Gov. Darling re-named the bay after himself.

Cockle Bay: cockles found in plentiful supply here.

Pyrmont Bay: the land grant of merino sheep breeder John Macarthur on the peninsula was named Pyrmont. The name was suggested by a lady guest of Macarthur during a picnic when she discovered a spring here. Its name is taken from a German spa near Hanover. The name was subsequently used for the suburb which developed here and the nearby bay.


Elizabeth Macarthur Bay

Elizabeth Macarthur Bay: named for John Macarthur's wife. Also known as Elizabeth Bay. The bay once had a sandy beach where the Macarthurs used to swim and hold picnics.

Jones Bay: recalls pioneer settler John Jones, whose estate named Stanmore gave its name to the suburb.

Johnstons Bay / Johnstons Creek: named in honour of Major George Johnston (1764-1823) who was granted land in the Annandale/ Stanmore area in 1793. It was Johnston who led the troops which marched on Government House and arrested Gov. William Bligh in the infamous Rum Rebellion.

Blackwattle Bay: the present day Wentworth Park is on reclaimed land once consisting of swamps said to have contained numerous black wattle trees. The name Blackwattle Swamp was noted in an early survey by Grimes.

Rozelle Bay: named because of the large number of Rosellas seen here. These bird were originally named Rose Hillers as they were first seen around the settlement of Rose Hill (now Parramatta).

Orphan School Creek: named because it flowed through land in the locality of Forest Lodge allocated for use by an orphan school. In 1800 Governor King established a Female Orphan School to provide shelter for orphaned and abandoned children. He secured William Kent's house in Sydney as accommodation; established a regular income for it by way of port duties and provided for its long-term needs with a secular equivalent of the glebe &endash; land reserves to support livestock from which the institution could earn an income. The largest land holding was in Western Sydney &endash; I2,000 acres between Eastern Creek and Ropes Creek at modem Bonnyrigg. Smaller allocations were at Grose Farm (hence the name Orphan School Creek at Camperdown) and at Parramatta.

Whites Creek / White Bay: honours First Fleeter and Surgeon-General John White who was granted land here in 1789.


Glebe Island Bridge

Glebe Island / Point: named after the Glebe, a neighbouring stretch of land set aside by Gov. Phillip in 1789 for church use. The island was contained within its boundaries.

Camerons Cove: believed to honour colonial shipwright William Cameron, who operated from the cove.

Peacock Point: earlier known as Peacocks Point. It is believed to have been named after a waterman or ferryman named John Peacock. It was the site of the first settlement on the Balmain peninsula.

Simmons Point: named after Robert Simmons who was a wharf builder. Simmons Point was originally known as the home of the shipwright.


Mort Bay

Mort Bay: honours Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-78), a prominent Sydney businessman who established a shipbuilding yard and dry dock facilities here in 1854. This involved excavating into the sandstone near the end of Mort Bay. The new dock opened in 1855 and the first ship to enter the dock was the coastal steamer, SS Hunter. Mort's Dock finally closed in 1957 and the dock was filled in. Remnants of Mort's Dock can be found in the park situated where the dock and engineering works were once located. Previously known as Waterview Bay because of the views east towards the Heads.

Ballast Point: rock was quarried here for use as ballast for ships returning to England.

Snails Bay: probably given that name because of the large quantities of molluscs (genus Aplysia) or sea sail that were found here by early exploring parties.

Spring Cove: from a fresh water spring in the north-eastern corner of the beach.

Yurulbin Point: Aboriginal name for the location meaning 'swift running water'. Also known as Long Nose Point, which describes its shape. It is here that the Parramatta River converges with the waters of Sydney Harbour.

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