Annandale today is part of a broad sweep of Victorian townscape lying to the west of the City of Sydney. It is bounded by Glebe and Forest Lodge on the east, Leichhardt on the west, and Stanmore on the south. The waters of Rozelle Bay separate it from Rozelle and Balmain to the north.
It has formed part of the Municipality of Leichhardt since 1949. Annandale began as farmland granted to Captain George Johnston of the New South Wales Corps in stages between 1793 and 1799, and originally extended more than three kilometers from the harbor and into Stanmore, south of Parramatta Road.
The first three grants, made in 1793 and 1794 and totaling 140 acres, lay in Stanmore and were the center of Annandale Farm. It was elevated and had the best soil, derived from Wianamatta shale.
The Johnston family home was built there in 1799. The north side, of around 330 acres, was granted in 1799. It was more eroded, especially towards the harbor, and was not envisaged for agricultural use. It is this northern part of the estate that has become the present-day suburb of Annandale. Over the years, Robert Johnston built three substantial houses in north Annandale and several workers’ cottages.
The growth of Sydney town began to impinge on Annandale from the 1830s, when surrounding areas began to be subdivided, including Leichhardt, Camperdown, Glebe, East Balmain, Pyrmont, and Petersham. This process was accelerated by the depression of the 1840s.
The location of the abattoir on Blackwattle Bay, and the expedient of boiling down sheep and other stock that could not be sold, encouraged the similar use of the northern tip of Annandale. Messrs Cowan & Israel’s soap and the candle factory was built on the foreshore in 1843.
Around 1850, north Annandale divided into four roughly equal quadrants, with a track commencing at the Parramatta Road at the top of the hill (near present-day Annandale Street) meandering down to the waterfront on the eastern side of Johnston’s Point.
Near the Parramatta Road, Robert Johnston had cattle yards which would have been useful for his own stock coming to market from distant pastoral runs owned by him and close relatives, chiefly centered on Jeir in the Yass district.
Robert was keen to maximize the earning potential of Annandale, even to the extent of preparing to grow sugar cane there in 1868.
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