Birchgrove, just 5 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, seems like worlds away. Situated on the Balmain Peninsula, the suburb overlooks Sydney Harbour and boasts a long waterfront. This makes it a popular spot for numerous celebrities and other famous people to call home.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about Birchgrove.

1. Birchgrove was named by original landowner John Birch

Lieutenant John Birch built Birchgrove House around 1812. He named the home Birchgrove House because of the grove of orange trees that was growing on the original site.

Unfortunately, the grand old stone house was demolished in 1967 to make way for unit development.

2. Birchgrove was the home of Australia’s deepest coal mine

Balmain Colliery was established in 1897 and continued to produce coal until 1931. After that, it produced natural gas from 1937 to 1950.

To this day, it’s the deepest coal mine that has ever been sunk in Australia, reaching a depth of around 800 metres. There is no evidence now of the mine; the site is now occupied by a residential development just north of Birchgrove school.

3. Birchgrove marks the start of the first railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour

The tunnel, designed to get electricity from the Pyrmont Power Station to the north shore tram network, began construction in 1913. It was excavated by hand and not completed until 1924. The tunnel was finally abandoned in 1969 because it had to be constantly pumped to remove the water and silt from the bottom of the river.

4. Many famous people call Birchgrove home

Birchgrove is a haven for celebrities and other famous people who own or have owned homes in the suburb. These include Bryan Brown, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, David Williamson, Georgie Parker, Rebel Wilson (who sold recently), Bruce Beresford, Peter Carey, John Collee, John Singleton, Peter Tonagh and Damian Eales.

Musicians James Morrison and Glenn Shorrock also lived in the suburb and even former prime minister Bob Hawke and his first wife Hazel stayed in David Williamson’s home after they were evicted from the prime minister’s official residence, The Lodge in Canberra.

In the 1980s, it was also the home of the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang. This was the same gang that instigated a gunfight with a rival gang, the Comancheros in 1984.

5. Birchgrove was the birthplace of Rugby League

You may not be aware but the first-ever rugby league premiership matches were played at Birchgrove Oval in April 1908. The two games ‒ Balmain versus Wests, and Souths versus Norths ‒ drew a spectator crowd of around 3,000 people. The local team, known in 1908 as the Balmain Tigers, was one of the first rugby league teams in Australia.

Almost every home in Birchgrove has an interesting history

It’s not surprising that almost every home in Birchgrove will have some sort of interesting history. You’ll also find that homes don’t sell too often in the suburb as their owners tend to hang onto them. And, it’s no wonder with everything the suburb has to offer such as numerous waterfront parks and the popular Riverview Hotel in nearby Balmain.

We recently sold 4 Wharf Road for $3.9 million.

We had a lovely chat with the owners who were selling the property and they filled us in on some of the reasons they loved their home and its history.

Built in the mid-late 1880s as a community centre, 4 Wharf Road provided support facilities to the workers involved in the street’s boat-building industry. The home is a double-fronted Victorian terrace built using Sydney’s traditional bricks and sandstone that are still evident in the current internal and external appearance.

Fortunately for heritage lovers, the building retains many original features including high ceilings, marble fireplaces, and original woodwork and timber floors.

The owners extended the rear of the home but were keen on retaining the integrity of the original property. Three sets of rescued Georgian-style French doors ensure the connection to the courtyard seems seamless.

The north-facing front rooms and balcony offer plenty of light and the bonus of a 180-degree skyline and harbour view, so owners are in a prime position to view each and every celebration on Sydney Harbour.

Can we help with your Inner West home?

Whether you’re ready to sell or need help to rent your investment property, we have the experience and local knowledge to make your property journey easier.

Looking for help selling your home or renting your investment property? Our team at Belle Property Balmain support homeowners across Balmain, Balmain East, Birchgrove, Rozelle and Lilyfield. Feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation discussion or property appraisal.

Reach out for real estate advice

Specific to Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle, Lilyfield and surrounds.

  • Hidden

Subscribe for property news and insights for Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle, Lilyfield and surrounds.

You have Successfully Subscribed!