Famous for its elevated position and spectacular views over Sydney Harbour, Kirribilli was named after the Aboriginal word for ‘a good fishing spot’. The first European settler in the area was James Milson, who established a farm on the banks of Sydney Harbour in 1806. Milson and his family built some of the finest homes in the area and the adjoining suburb ‘Milsons Point’ was named in his honour.
Kirribilli is predominantly a residential suburb, where apartments have always been popular, the first being built on Waruda Street in 1908. Development mainly occurred along the waterfront closest to the ferry, as most residents were employed in the city and commuted. Apartment living also became very fashionable in the 1930s, which resulted in an apartment building boom in the area.
The Harbour Bridge opened in 1932, dramatically improving car access from Kirribilli to the city, and the introduction of the train line made city access by public transport faster than ever.
Today Kirribilli is a character-filled suburb combining convenient access to the city with some of Sydney’s best views. Some apartments on the top levels offer panoramic views from the Heads to the east and around to the Parramatta River.
Real estate and design
The closer a Kirribilli building is to the harbour, the older it is likely to be, as development began along the waterfront. The suburb has some fine examples of low-rise Art Deco apartments, mixed with a range of more recent styles right through to luxurious contemporary residences. Freestanding homes are rare in Kirribilli – there are only about 80 in the suburb.
The local Kirribilli shops are located on Broughton Street, with some on Fitzroy and Burton streets. There is a gift shop, a liquor store, a florist and a small supermarket. There are more shops around the Milsons Point railway station and nearby at North Sydney.
Sports and fitness centres
The neighbouring outdoor North Sydney Olympic Pool offers spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Luna Park, and is only a few minutes from Kirribilli.
Transport and distance from the CBD
Kirribilli is conveniently located 4km north of the CBD. The ferry from Kirribilli Wharf is the most spectacular way to reach Circular Quay; the journey takes only 6 minutes and ferries leave every 20–30 minutes. Trains run to the city from Milsons Point station every 5 minutes or less during peak hour and every 8-10 minutes outside peak hours.
Kirribilli House and the adjoining Admiralty House are Kirribilli’s best-known landmarks, located in prime positions overlooking Sydney Harbour and surrounded by stunning lawns and manicured gardens.
A striking example of the Gothic Revival style, Kirribilli House was built in 1854 by Adolph Feez. It was purchased by the Australian Government in 1920 and has since been the official Sydney residence of the Prime Minister.
On the tip of Kirribilli Point is one of Sydney’s most luxurious residences, Admiralty House. The original stone house, single storey with wide verandahs, was built in 1845 by J. G. Gibbes, Collector of Customs. It changed hands and was renovated a number of times until it was eventually acquired by the Royal Navy and used as an admiral’s residence. Its tales are told in the stained-glass windows of the house, bearing the coats of arms of the British admirals who lived here. In the 1930s it became the Governor-General’s Sydney residence.
Other well-known residences in Kirribilli include Elamang, built by the Milson family in 1851, which is now part of the Loreto Convent, and Carabella, which is occupied by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
Celebrity and famous residents
When in Sydney, Prime Minister John Howard resides in Kirribilli House and the Governor-General, Major General Jeffery, is based in Admiralty House.
Restaurants and cafés
There are some great cafés and restaurant strips on Broughton, Fitzroy and Burton streets, serving an assortment of contemporary Australian, Thai and Indian foods. There is also a pizza shop, a gourmet deli and a seafood shop.
Schools and education institutions
Many of Sydney’s prestigious private schools are located in close proximity to Kirribilli. The all-girls private school Loreto Kirribilli has junior and senior schools on Carabella Street. Boys’ schools St Aloysius College and Shore School are nearby at Milsons Point, while the all-girls school Monte Sant Angelo College is at North Sydney.
(Information from www.mcgrath.com.au)