DM's Sydney Walks: 11. North Sydney and St Leonards Park

13 April, 2020

Rocklands Road and Morton Street

We start this walk at the intersection of Morton Street (left-right) and Rocklands Road (straight ahead). We head up the hill, up Rocklands Road.

Claverton, Crows Nest

At the next intersection is this Federation Queen Anne style residence, built in 1909 as "Claverton", a private home. Some time after the 1920s it was acquired by the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic women's order who established a base here in North Sydney. The Sisters also established the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, to look after the health of people in the area. They used "Claverton" as a home for medical residents, and then later as a home for retired members of the order. The Mater Hospital still exists in an adjacent building, and has now acquired "Claverton" as an outbuilding and converted it into The Patricia Ritchie Centre, a cancer treatment facility.

Claverton, Crows Nest

A view of "Claverton" from inside the grounds. The building is heritage listed.

Rocklands Road

Here we look further up the hill of Rocklands Road, which has traffic calming and parking for the Mater Hospital. We walk up the hill.

Old Mater Maternity Hospital building

On the left is this magnificent Art Deco brick building, which was the original Mater Maternity Hospital building, built in 1939-40. You can see the cross in the brickwork on the front facade.

Mater Hospital

Across the street on the right is the modern Mater Hospital building. This is a private hospital, performing childbirths, elective surgery, and treatments for chronic conditions such as cancer. They don't have an emergency department. Emergencies are handled by the Royal North Shore Hospital, 1.8 km away, which we saw in walk 8. Artarmon.

Mater Maternity Hospital building

Further up the hill is another view of the old Art Deco maternity hospital building. This building has been extensively renovated inside, and turned into residential apartments. You can see the original sandstone Art Deco bas relief sculpture of Madonna and child over the main entrance. The building is heritage listed.

Pacific Highway at Rocklands Road

At the top of Rocklands Road (left) we meet the Pacific Highway. Here's the view north along the highway towards the centre of Crows Nest.

Pacific Highway, Crows Nest

And the view south, down the hill, towards North Sydney. We cross the Highway here.

North Sydney Girls High School

Across the Highway is North Sydney Girls High School. Established in 1914, this is a government school with selective student intake (prospective students must pass admission exams). North Sydney Girls is the most prestigious non-private girls school in Australia, and boasts a very long list of prominent alumni, as well as an outstanding academic record.

This building was built in 1914 as Crows Nest Boys High School, and the brick architecture is in the Federation Free style. The building is heritage listed.

Pacific Highway, North Sydney

We walk south along the Pacific Highway for a bit. Here we cross the suburb boundary from Crows Nest to North Sydney.

Cammeraygal High School

Across the Highway on the western side, almost directly across from North Sydney Girls is Cammeraygal High School. This is a new school, established in 2015, to cater to the increasing need for secondary education in the area. The building is old, however, and was in fact the original 1914 site of North Sydney Girls! NSGHS moved across the highway in 1993, to the former site of Crows Nest Boys High School, which closed in 1992. This building was turned into Bradfield College, a vocational college, until it was repurposed again to become Cammeraygal in 2015.

Cammeraygal is named after the Cammeraygal tribe of the native Eora people, who lived in this area before the arrival of Europeans.

Masonic Temple, 1922

A bit further down the Highway is this 1922 Inter-War Free Classical style Masonic Temple. It's now been converted into an art exhibition and sales gallery. The building is heritage listed.

Hazelbank Place

Just past the adjacent building on the right is this pedestrian pathway that leads away from the Highway, named Hazelbank Place (because it's directly across the Highway from Hazelbank Road).

Hazelbank Place

It's a nice little path that I like to use to get away form the bustle of the highway and into quieter back streets.

West Street near Ridge Street

The path emerges onto West Street. We cross West Street at the crossing and walk down Ridge Street, ahead and left.

Historic terraces on Ridge Street

Ridge Street has this row of Victorian terraces with wrought iron railings and fences. They're not in perfect condition. They've been converted from residences into offices for small businesses. The terraces were built around 1890 in Victorian Italianate Filigree style and are heritage listed.

Ridge Street

Ridge Street has a new bicycle lane. A lot of the streets around here are lined with London plane trees. Some of them are just starting to turn brown for the autumn as the weather cools down.

St Mary's Catholic Church, North Sydney

As we approach the end of the block, on our left is St Mary's Catholic Church of North Sydney. The rear of the church is to the left.

St Mary's Catholic Church, North Sydney

This is the side entrance, showing the gardens in the church grounds. The church is a veneer of Sydney sandstone over a brick construction. This building was completed in 1938, re-using the stones from an earlier church building on the same site which opened in 1896. Each block of stone from the original building was cut in half to form thinner stones for sandstone veneer of the new church. Original roof slates, marble interior elements, and stained glass were also re-used in the new building. The church is heritage listed.

St Mary's Catholic Church, North Sydney

The front of St Mary's. This is the church my wife and I got married in.

Stanton Library

We're now on Miller Street, a significant street running through North Sydney. Walking a little way south, we find Stanton Library, a large public library. Mostly hidden behind the trees in this photo.

Ted Mack Civic Park phone booth

Next to the library is Ted Mack Civic Park. Which has a functional public telephone booth!

Ted Mack Civic Park

Ted Mack Park is named after Ted Mack, a local politician who was elected Mayor of North Sydney for 8 years, and then moved to State politics, being the local MP for 7 years, before finally moving to Federal politics, again representing the North Sydney district for another 6 years. In all this time he was independent of any political party, and was one of the most influential and best loved independent politicians in Australia. He died in 2018, and the park was named in his honour in 2019.

The wall mural on the right is on the side of the Stanton Library.

The Independent Theatre

Across Miller Street from the Library is The Independent Theatre, showing Victorian Second Empire architectural style. The building was constructed in the 1880s as an electric tram depot for the tram line that used to run up Miller Street and along Ridge Street. The tram lines were removed and the depot closed in 1909. The building was repurposed as a theatre, opening in 1911 as The Coliseum. During World War I, the theatre operated as a munitions factory. It later hosted Sydney's Independent Theatre company from 1939 to 1977, when the company closed down. The site was bought by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, but then languished in a limbo of development plans for decades. The site was purchased by the nearby Wenona private girls' school in 2013 and is now used as the school theatre, but also hires out to host external theatre companies and functions. The theatre is heritage listed.

North Sydney Oval

Walking back north, directly across from St Mary's Church is North Sydney Oval. This is a professional sports facility, hosting cricket and rugby matches.

North Sydney Oval

The Oval was closed today, so I poked my phone in through the gate to take this photo. You can see some of the grandstands, as well as the commentator box at left.

Ivy terrace

Continuing further east on Ridge Street, we pass this late 19th century Victorian terrace, now standing alone as the adjacent block has been demolished. This one is covered in ivy and is heritage listed. In the background on the right are some of the modern office towers of the business district of North Sydney.

North Sydney War Memorial

On the north side of Ridge Street, behind North Sydney Oval is St Leonards Park. The park is large and technically contains North Sydney Oval as part of it. It also contains this Inter-War Stripped Classical style war memorial, designed in 1920 and completed in 1926. It's constructed of trachyte, a volcanic rock mined from Bowral, south-west of Sydney, and is flanked by four original brass light columns. The memorial is heritage listed.

Ridge Street dead end

Ridge Street ends at a dead end. The land beyond drops into a steep valley.

Saint Malo

Just before the edge of the valley is "Saint Malo", a lovely old Victorian Italianate style house, built in 1884. It was originally named "Lamorna" and owned by a Methodist minister. It was renamed to "Saint Malo" in 1903 by new owner Gertrude Walker, who was a nurse, and who operated the property as a hospital. Over the next decades, adjacent properties were built and the hospital expanded into them, becoming North Sydney Community Hospital in 1970. The hospital relocated in 1992, and the house reverted to a private residence. This is a heritage listed building.

Ridge Street lookout

Immediately beyond Saint Malo is this lookout. Wow! You can see the waters of Sydney Harbour to the left, the Sydney Opera House just right of centre, the steel arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge just right of the prominent white building, and a mix of North Sydney office towers in front of the more distant office towers of Sydney proper behind them.

The road below is the Warringah Freeway, leading towards the Bridge. We saw another part of the Warringah Freeway running by St Thomas Rest Park in walk 9. Crows Nest and Cammeray.

Ridge Street lookout panorama

A panorama to do the view more justice.

Ridge Street bridge

To the left is this pedestrian bridge leading across the freeway into the adjacent suburb of Neutral Bay. We're not crossing the bridge though - this is as far as I want to walk from home today.

Warringah Freeway from Ridge Street lookout

Another view, showing the freeway and a closer view of the city in the distance.

St Leonards Park

Turning back, we enter St Leonards Park. The grass here is undulating, and a few people are out exercising. St Leonards Park was set aside as a recreation reserve in 1838 and gazetted as a public park in 1867. The main cricket ground was established in 1867. The park is heritage listed.

View from St Leonards Park

The view from some of the grassy knolls is still spectacular.

Yoga video with a view

This couple appeared to be filming some sort of yoga video.

North Sydney Lawn Bowls Club

Inside St Leonards Park is also North Sydney Lawn Bowls Club, established in 1887. It has two bowling greens, as well as a bar, restaurant, and function centre.

Bon Andrews Oval

On the north-east corner of St Leonards Park is another cricket ground, in use since 1894. This one is known as Bon Andrews Oval. Not a typo: "Bon" was a nickname of Gavin John Andrews, a long time player, coach, team manager, and founding director and committee member of the Northern Suburbs Rugby Football Club.

North Sydney Bowls Club and vew

A view from a small hill back over the Bowls Club towards the North Sydney and Sydney business areas.

St Leonards Park ficus

We walk north-west through St Leonards Park. Much of the park is covered with trees.

St Leonards Park music shell

In the north-east corner of the park is this open air performance stage, where concerts and open air cinema occurs, with spectators sitting on the grass.

St Leonards Park trees

It's a nice park, with a lot of trees in this part of it.

Miller and Falcon Streets

We've exited St Leonards Park and crossed Miller Street (left-right), and are looking back towards the park (behind the bus) along Falcon Street. Falcon Street is a major road carrying traffic to and from the Warringah Freeway and ultimately across the Bridge to the city.

Falcon Street

We walk west along Falcon Street.

North Sydney Boys High School

On the left is North Sydney Boys High School, the mirror of North Sydney Girls. Also a selective government school, and also very prestigious and high performing. The school opened in 1912 on a temporary site and moved here in 1915, where it has remained.

Ryo's Noodles

Further along Falcon Street is Ryo's Noodles, which is widely proclaimed as the best ramen restaurant in Sydney. When it's open, there's usually a long queue of people waiting for a table. At the moment all restaurants in Sydney can only do take-away food - sitting in is banned under COVID restrictions.

At Ryo's Noodles we cross the suburb boundary from North Sydney back into Crows Nest.

Falcon Street autumn

For a major thoroughfare, Falcon Street is pretty when the London plane trees are in foliage.

The Old Church

Hidden behind a thick hedge on Falcon Street is The Old Church. It was formerly the "Church of Christ", built in 1927-29. It was converted into a residential home in the 1950s. The leadlight glass windows are believed to be based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There is a residential property listing and history online, which states that it was last sold in 2012 for $1.59 million. That link has interior photos and a floor plan - it looks like a very nice house inside. And the cool stained glass window you can see here on the right with the knight in a red cloak is a bathroom! The building is heritage listed.

North Sydney walk

Further up Falcon Street we see Woolworths supermarket, where I do my grocery shopping. This is a new building, on the site of the previous old supermarket building which was demolished a few years ago.

North Sydney walk

And nearby is the Crows Nest Hotel, which we saw near the start of walk 9. Crows Nest and Cammeray. We're now at the five-way intersection of the Pacific Highway, Falcon Street, Shirley Road, and Willoughby Road.

North Sydney walk

Across the highway from the Hotel is this old historic building, which is the former site of the Crows Nest branch of the Bank of New South Wales (bank established 1817). The building is an Inter-War Georgian Revival style brick edifice with decorative sandstone cartouche. The bank remained in this building until 2000, when it sold the property. It was converted into a retail furniture showroom in 2006. The building is heritage listed.

And here we end this walk!

Map of North Sydney walk

Map of this walk. Beginning at lower left, proceeding anticlockwise, ending at upper left.

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