Petersham, New South Wales

Petersham, New South Wales

Infobox Australian Place
type = suburb
name = Petersham
city = Sydney
state = nsw

caption = Petersham Town Hall, Crystal Street
lga = Marrickville Council
postcode = 2049
pop =
stategov = Marrickville
fedgov = Grayndler
near-nw = Leichhardt
near-n = Leichhardt
near-ne = Annandale
near-w = Lewisham
near-e = Stanmore
near-sw = Dulwich Hill
near-s = Marrickville
near-se = Enmore
dist1 = 6
dir1 = south-west
location1= Sydney CBD

Petersham is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Petersham is located 6 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Marrickville Council. [Gregory's Sydney Street Directory, Gregory's Publishing Company, 2007] Petersham is famous for its large Portuguese community which is reflected in the many Portuguese businesses and restaurants.

Petersham is bordered by the suburbs of Leichhardt to the north, Stanmore to the east, Marrickville to the south and Lewisham to the west. Taverner's Hill is a locality in the western part of the suburb.


European settlement

Major Francis Grose (Lieutenant-Governor) sent workmen to the area in 1793 to clear the bush and plant corn and wheat. He named the area Peters-Ham or Petersham after his native village in Surrey, England. Petersham remained an agricultural area, winning awards for some of the best crops and stock in the colony in 1803. Kangaroo hunting was also popular in the area. The name was also used for the surrounding parish.

Dr Robert Wardell (1793-1834) purchased land from many grantees in the district and in 1831 his estate eventually stretched convert|2000|acre|km2 from Petersham to the Cooks River. Following his murder by escaped convicts in 1834, the estate was subdivided. The train line from Sydney to Parramatta opened in 1855 and trains stopped here from 1857. A platform was built in 1863. The original Petersham post office became Annandale in 1855. Another post office opened as Norwood in May 1860 and was moved to Petersham station in 1870. The first public school opened in 1878.

Petersham municipality was incorporated in 1872. The local council merged with Marrickville and St Peters in 1948 to form the Municipality of Marrickville. In 1916, the Boys' section of Fort Street High School moved to Petersham from Observatory Hill, followed by the Girls' section in 1975. ["The Book of Sydney Suburbs", Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8 ]

Wartime plane crash

Mosquito HR576 RAF (UK) disintegrated over the inner western Sydney suburbs of Leichhardt and Petersham on 2 May 1945 during an air test flight. The crew of two were killed but fortunately no one on the ground was seriously injured by the falling debris of the Mosquito. The Daily Telegraph of 3 May 1945 stated that two civilians were injured and a total of 18 properties were damaged. Five houses were set on fire by the falling debris.

It was suspected that a violent pull out from a power dive, with its associated high 'g' forces may have led to the structural failure of the aircraft. The two crew members tried to eject from the aircraft but they were not high enough for their parachutes to open. Flight Lieutenant David Rochford of Oxford, England and LAC Charles Boydell from Mosman were both killed. F/Lt Rochford's body was found in the playground of Petersham Public School while LAC Boydell's body was found on the roof of a railway building about 100 metres away.

Commercial Area

A small row of shops lines New Canterbury Road and extends down Audley Street towards the railway sation. There are many Portuguese businesses here including several Portuguese restaurants, some of which sell traditional styled flame-grilled chicken and cod dishes. Local landmarks include the Petersham Town Hall, the water tower and Petersham Park.


Petersham railway station is on the Inner West line of the CityRail network. Travelling west, services run from the City Circle to Liverpool. The station includes an ornate iron pedestrian bridge over the train line. The old station building was built in 1886 in the Victorian Free Classical style. It has been described as "the largest and grandest of the surviving 19th century railway stations in the Sydney area," and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. [The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981]

The 428, 445 and 412 buses run through Petersham at different points. The 428 runs from Canterbury to Circular Quay, the 445 runs from Canterbury to Balmain, and the 412 runs from Campsie to King Street Wharf in the city.


Fort Street High School is the oldest public school in New South Wales. Petersham Public School, sits on the Petersham and Lewisham borders and has 170 students. The old public school building located in Gordon Street goes back to 1878. Along with the church in the grounds, it is listed on the Register of the National Estate. [The Heritage of Australia] Taverners Hill Public School situated on Elswick Street, is an infants only school with 60 students and recently published its own cook book [Taverners Hill Cookbook isbn 9780646483672] .


All Saints Anglican Church Petersham, Assembly of God on Audley Street, Petersham Masonic Temple on Fisher Street.


Petersham's houses are predominantly terrace houses, similar to those of Summer Hill and Stanmore on the north side of the railway station near Parramatta Road.


Local events include the annual Audley Street festival, which is a celebration of the suburb's Portuguese ties. Petersham is also home of one of the oldest bowling clubs in Australia the Petersham Bowling Culb []



According to the 2006 Census (Australian Bureau of Statistics), the population of Petersham was 6639, 50% male and 50% female. The suburb has a high number of persons born in Southern Europe, most particularly Portugal and also Italy and Greece. Petersham has long been the main centre of Portuguese population in New South Wales.


External links

* [ Marrickville Council - Petersham]
* [ Petersham Rugby Union Football Club] - Historic local sporting club. One of the oldest Rugby clubs in Australia
* [ Bilateral Petersham] - online project by Lucas Ihlein documenting an intensive artist in residence project in Petersham during April and May 2006.
* [ Crash of a Mosquito over suburbs of Sydney on 2 May 1945] Includes eyewitness accounts by children at the school.

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