Australia For Visitors > Rushcutters Bay, NSW

Rushcutters Bay
New South Wales

Share this page:

Rushcutters Bay is a Sydney suburb, located on Sydney Harbour about 3 km from the CBD.

The suburb is located on a bay of the same name. A stream originally flowed from where South Head Road now is and down to the bay. Stepping stones across the stream allowed people to cross to Darling Point at low tide.

The suburb
was originally named Rush Cutting Bay due to the thick rushes that were growing in the swampy land around the creek. These rushes were used by early settlers for thatching huts and for bedding in stables.

In later years market gardens were established. In 1878 six acres were set aside for recreation area and reclamation work was carried out. The swamp area disappeared, the small stream remained. The recreation area, which we still enjoy, contained harborside parklands, a sports oval and grandstand, and tennis courts.

On one side of the bay is the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's clubhouse and marina (which, sadly, seems to be steadily filling the bay with ever more yachts -- to the extent that the once beautiful bay now looks just like a yacht parking station).

A few hundred meters inland from the bay is White City, the home of the Tennis NSW (previously the NSW Lawn Tennis Association). The land, once used for Chinese market gardens, was acquired in 1919 and has been used for tennis ever since then. Many famous Davis Cup finals have taken place at White City. In recent years White City has been facing the threat of redevelopment -- especially after Tennis NSW built a new tennis facility at Olympic Park, Homebush, in preparation for the tennis events of the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sydney.

Sydney Stadium, Fight of the Century, Jack Johnson, 1908 (image)

Sydney Stadium, Rushcutters Bay, during the Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns boxing match on December 26, 1908

Rushcutters Bay was long the site of the famous Sydney Stadium, where matches by local and international boxers were held. Built on former Chinese market gardens land in 1908, the Stadium saw many famous bouts. These included:

• the world title fight between heavyweight Tommy Burns and Bill Squires in 1908 (Burns won by a knockout in the 13th round); and

• the so-called "Fight of the Century" before over 20,000 spectators December 26, 1908 in which heavyweight Jack Johnson beat Canadian Tommy Burns and became the first world black world heavyweight boxing champion.

Other famous boxers who fought at the Sydney Stadium included the bantam-weight Jimmy Carruthers and the flyweight Joe Symonds.

The Stadium was originally unroofed. It had a capacity of 10,000 (though 20,000 had packed in to see the Jack Johnson fight. From the 1950s onwards, it was also used for concerts by visiting overseas acts. The Beatles held concerts there during their 1964 Australian tours.

The Stadium was pulled down in 1973 to make way for the construction of Eastern Suburbs Railway.

A video in memory of the struggle against Sydney Council's 2010-11 redevelopment in the Rushcutters Bay Park

Rushcutters Bay Park has long been an area of quiet enjoyment and passive uses, such as having a picnic, reading a book, looking at the trees and wildlife, or having a lowkey game of cricket, tennis or footy with friends. The Park is under the jurisdiction of two local councils (east of the creek, it is under the Woollahra Council and west of the creek it is under the Sydney City Council).

In 2010-11 part of the Park amid great controversy. The section under the control of Sydney City Council -- which includes the Reg Bartley Oval, grandstand, tennis courts, caretaker's cottage, and a greatly-loved old "bohemian" gazebo-style tennis cafe located in an adjacent garden -- was "made over" with large swathes of grass being concreted over and the caretaker's cottage and old tennis cafe being demolished.

In addition, the respected tennis coach Rory Miles was ousted by the Council after 27 years' service.

In 2013-14 Sydney City Council announced plans to install mega light towers (twice as high and with lighting ten times as strong as the lighting towers being replaced) around the perimeter of the Reg Bartley Oval in Rushcutters Bay Park and replace the oval's timber picket fence with a metal one (even though Council's own heritage plan required the replacement to be with another timber picket fence).

Council promised to apply for a DA (development application) but in early 2014 quietly announced that a DA would not be required.

Further Reading

2010-11 Park Redevelopment
Tennis court stoush stalled at match point
Clover's Concrete Jungle

2013-14 Park Revelopment

Share this page:

Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

About UsContact UsPrivacyTerms of Use

© 2005-23 Australia For Visitors. All Rights Reserved.