Birchgrove, New South Wales

Coordinates: 33°51′10″S 151°10′49″E / 33.85275°S 151.18024°E / -33.85275; 151.18024
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SydneyNew South Wales
Birchgrove, New South Wales
Population3,228 (SAL 2021)[1]
Area0.6 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
Location5 km (3 mi) west of Sydney CBD
LGA(s)Inner West Council
State electorate(s)Balmain
Federal division(s)Grayndler
Suburbs around Birchgrove:
Parramatta River Parramatta River Port Jackson
Parramatta River Birchgrove Balmain East
Rozelle Balmain Balmain
Dwellings in Birchgrove

Birchgrove is a suburb in the Inner West[2] of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Birchgrove is located five kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the Inner West Council.

Birchgrove is located on the north-west slope of the Balmain peninsula, overlooking Sydney Harbour, and includes Yurulbin and Ballast Points. Balmain is the only adjacent suburb. The long waterfront provides views of the Parramatta River with Cockatoo Island dominating the foreground. It is one of the wealthier suburbs of Sydney thanks to its harbour frontages.

Until former Leichhardt Council extended its boundaries in the first decade of the twenty first century, Birchgrove was a much smaller suburb bounded by Grove and Cove Streets.


Birchgrove was named after Birchgrove House, built by Lieutenant John Birch, paymaster of the 73rd regiment, around 1812.[3] He added 'grove' to his surname when naming the house because of the large number of orange trees growing on the original site. The house was constructed of stone believed to have been quarried on site.

In March 1814, the estate was purchased by merchant trader Roland Warpole Loane. By 1818, Loane had returned to land holdings in Tasmania and the estate was leased for many years. Loane unsuccessfully attempted to sub-divide the lot into four parcels in 1833. In 1838, the estate was purchased along with land in the Balmain estate by Captain John McLean. Financial difficulties forced McLean to mortgage the estate and additional land, but the Supreme Court finally foreclosed on loans in April 1844. In 1850, the estate was briefly owned by Henry Watson Parker, who would later become the third premier of New South Wales. Later the same year, the estate was purchased by Didier Numa Joubert. Jourbert leased the property to William Salmon Deliotte until 1856.

former Balmain Colliery in Birchgrove

Between 1856 and 1860, Joubert instructed William Brownrigg to survey the first subdivision of ten lots. Streets were named after the Joubert family. Birchgrove House was sold to Jacob Levi Montefiore during the subdivision. Sale of the allotments fell well short of expectations with three lots remaining unsold by 1866. By December 1862, Joubert was forced to surrender his remaining interest to the Bank of New South Wales.

From the 1860s, a number of waterfront businesses appeared in the area including coopers, boat builders and the Morrison & Sinclair shipyard.

By 1878, due to market pressure from prices in nearby Balmain estate, 82 lots of the original subdivision remained unsold. Additional land was carved from the Birchgrove House when it was sold to John Lowry Adams in 1878. A syndicate of businessmen purchased the remaining lots of the estate and commissioned architect Ferdinand Reuss to draw up a new plan for subdivision. This second subdivision was much more successful with all lots sold within several years.

The local heritage item is Clifton Villa, a three-storey sandstone house in the Gothic style. The house was built in the late 1860s and is surrounded by a covered verandah. In the mid-1870s a ballroom was added. The house's interior features a marble fireplace and cedar woodwork, while the exterior includes a caretaker's cottage that was originally a carriage house. Clifton Villa is now listed on the Register of the National Estate.[4]

In 1900 Adams subdivided the Birchgrove House grounds into 12 lots. In 1911 Mary Scot further subdivided Birchgrove House into 5 lots. The house was eventually demolished in 1967 to make way for units.

The suburb was the location of the Balmain Colliery, Australia's deepest coal mine.

In August 2010, apartments in Louisa Road were engulfed by fire. No residents were hurt, but the cause of the fire was considered suspicious.[5]

Former tram line to Birchgrove[edit]

Tram services branched off from the main line on Darling Street, Balmain, turning left into Rowntree Street, left into Cameron Street and right into Grove Street, before terminating at Wharf Road in Birchgrove. A Transit Systems bus service now follows the former tram route.[6]

Railway electricity tunnel[edit]

Birchgrove was the southern portal of the first tunnel under Sydney Harbour. The tunnel was dug by the New South Wales Government Railways from Greenwich to provide a reliable way to get electricity from the Pyrmont Power Station to the tram network on the north shore. Cables had previously been laid on the floor of the harbour, but damaged by ships dragging their anchors. The tunnel was commenced in 1913 and excavated by hand, completed in 1924. Part of the tunnel is through the silt at the bottom of the river, so required constant pumping until it was allowed to flood in 1930 and abandoned from 1969.[7] The tunnel was excavated almost entirely from the northern side, as the residents on Long Nose Point at Balmain (now Birchgrove) successfully objected to the noise of the compressor powering pneumatic drills.[8] The tunnel passes between the floor of the harbour and the Balmain coal mine further below the harbour.[9] The tunnel is excavated entirely through Hawkesbury sandstone which lies below the silt and sediment which form the floor of the harbour. At its lowest point, it is 236 feet (72 m) below sea level.[10] The tunnel is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.[11][12]

Heritage listings[edit]

Birchgrove has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Mort Bay park, Mort Bay Birchgrove
  • Ballast Point Park is a 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) former industrial site located at the tip of the Balmain Peninsula now redeveloped as a public open space.
  • Yurulbin Park is a former shipbuilding site located at the end of Yurulbin Point (Long Nose Point) which has been transformed into an award-winning public space.
  • Pubs – Birchgrove and Balmain are home to many famous drinking establishments, including the Sir William Wallace Hotel, named after the Scottish hero who was the subject of the film Braveheart.


Birchgrove ferry wharf provides access to the Cockatoo Island ferry services which run services between Circular Quay and Cockatoo Island.

Transit Systems operates a service from Birchgrove Park to the Art Gallery of New South Wales via the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). During peak hours and in the evening, this service terminates at QVB.


Birchgrove is home to the Balmain Sailing Club, which hosts the annual Balmain Regatta, claimed to be the oldest regatta in Australia, run for the first time in 1849.[16]



Sir William Wallace Hotel, Cameron Street
Houses overlooking Snails Bay, Birchgrove (Wharf Road)

In the 2016 census of Population and Housing, there were 3,303 people in Birchgrove. Of these 46.9% were male and 53.1% were female, with a median age of 43 years. 64.3% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 10.3% and New Zealand 3.4%. 83.4% of people only spoke English at home. The most common responses for religion in Birchgrove were No Religion 44.9%, Catholic 21.1% and Anglican 12.7%.[17]

Birchgrove's population is typically wealthy, with a median weekly household income of $3,225, compared with $1,438 in Australia. The most common types of occupation for employed persons were Professionals 45.1%, Managers 26.6%, Clerical and Administrative Workers 10.3% and Sales Workers 5.8%. Of all households, 69.4% were family households and 26.9% were single person households.[17]

Birchgrove has the highest proportion (17%) of citizens holding a postgraduate degree of any Sydney suburb.[18]

Notable residents[edit]




  1. ^ Postcode 2041 covers the suburbs of Balmain, Balmain East and Birchgrove.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Birchgrove (suburb and locality)". Australian Census 2021 QuickStats. Retrieved 28 June 2022. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Australian Suburb Guide: Sydney Inner West Archived 26 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  3. ^ NSW Geographical Names Register Extract
  4. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/37
  5. ^ Deeks, Steve. "Inferno engulfs luxury waterfront homes". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  6. ^ Gregory's Street Directory, 1955, Map 26, 26A, 1, and 13
  7. ^ Daniel, Sue (21 December 2017). "How Sydney's 'first' harbour tunnel has been forgotten in the century since it was built". Curious Sydney. ABC News. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Tunnel Under The Harbour". Sydney Architecture. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Lost and Abandoned Tunnels". Australia For Everyone - Sydney. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  10. ^ I.P. Forster. "Sydney's First Harbour Tunnel" (PDF). Australian Geomechanics. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Sydney Harbour (Balmain to Greenwich) Railway Electricity Tunnel". NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage. 4 December 2014. 5062542. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour". NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage. 2 April 1999. 5012228. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Raywell". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00093. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  14. ^ "Wyoming". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00772. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  15. ^ "Railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01231. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  16. ^ Balmain Regatta Archived 3 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Birchgrove (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 14 March 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ It's all about location, location, education, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2012.
  19. ^ Villa Wyoming, Birchgrove, Sydney
  • Solling, M; Reynolds, P; Leichhardt: On the margins of the city, Allen & Unwin, 1997, ISBN 1-86448-408-X.
  • Lawrence, J; Warne, C; A Pictorial History of Balmain to Glebe, Kingsclear Books, 1995, ISBN 0-908272-40-5.
  • Gadigal Information Service; Yurulbin Park, [1]. Retrieved June 2006.
  • Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority; Ballast Point, [2]. Retrieved June 2006.
  • Leichhardt Municipal Council; Leichhardt Development Control Plan Part-A, [3], 2000.

External links[edit]

33°51′10″S 151°10′49″E / 33.85275°S 151.18024°E / -33.85275; 151.18024